Travel

By Josie Lattini

The City

Cranes as far as the eye can see. Construction EVERYWHERE you go. It may not sound like heaven, but it might be someday.

Dubai is without a doubt one of the most rapidly developing cities in the world. With an incredibly westernized state of mind and projects underway that include underwater hotels, the tallest building in the world and Dubailand – a billion dollar project that will soon make Disneyland look like your local church carnival – Dubai is set to lead the tourism industry in the years to come.

For all I know, it’s doing so right now. But at the moment, the city is nothing to write home about. A 15 minute drive turns into a 45 minute one with all the traffic, detours and general congestion. You can forget about a beautiful skyline. At night, all you can see is the bright lights of construction sites and during the day, a low-hanging smog (which I am told is all the sand being kicked up from the building) covers the tops of the few skyscrapers that are completed. The projects that are up and running won’t take your breath away.

But there is fun to be had. My stay at the Park Hyatt was like being transported to a tropical oasis in the desert. Another perk is that it’s very close to the airport and easy to get to.

Here’s another thing. Depending on where you stay, it seems not worth it for most Americans (at least not right now) to make the trip to Dubai, especially when they can get to most islands in under three hours, compared to the 12 hour flight to the U.A.E. And that’s without a stop-over.

The Hotel

Start your day with a good soak in the pool. Surrounded by palm trees and a staff trained to serve you hand and foot, it is rarely crowded. Swim, have a meal, take in some of the Middle-Eastern sun and don’t forget to make yourself a tall glass of ice water with mint leaves. Pitchers of it can be found all around the pool and spa area.

Then move over to the spa. Two treatments which are a must-try during your stay are the stress-relieving back massage and the peppermint scrub exfoliating treatment (I had the first and my friend had the second).

The stress-relieving massage is 45 minutes of concentrated back and head massage. Before each treatment your feet are washed and post-treatment you are offered tea and dates. But the best part for me, was the face massage towards the end of the treatment. When my masseuse asked me to turn over, he started in on my forehead and in-between my eyes, clearing up any jet-lag headache that I had.

When my friend saw the “helps to reduce cellulite” phrase under the treatment description of the peppermint scrub in the book we were reviewing, she was sold.

The scrub is perfect for the summer months when it’s a necessity to stay smooth and sexy.
The exfoliant is rubbed over most of your body. After, she enjoyed a private terrace with a shower and a cabana with magazines, pistachios and tea.

Afterwards she felt incredibly smooth and revived. “And my butt never looked better!”

The Tour

The best part of our stay though was our desert tour, courtesy of Arabian Adventures (http://www.arabian-adventures.com). Ask for the “Sundowner” half-day tour and avoid the relentless sun of Arabian days.

Our guide picked us up around 4:30 p.m. and it took us approximately an hour to get to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.

Be aware though, the tour is not for those prone to nausea or queasiness. Our guide took us flying over the steep dunes in our jeep. Often times, the entire car was in almost a completely vertical position, or we were sideways, staring down at the sand.

The tour includes a few stops, including a camel ride (don’t forget to hold on when the poor guy is standing up or sitting down), a visit to a camel farm as well as a full meal and belly dancing performance.

But the best part is the stop to view the sunset. As we sat on a high dune and watched the sun disappear behind the horizon, we realized the annoyances of dealing with a burgeoning city are worth it just to witness this site.

Originally published July 2007
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