14 November 2018Last updated


Five of the best staycations

Whether you like to be active in the water, lazy on the beach, immersed in local culture, or pampered in a spa, here’s our pick of the best local breaks for every lifestyle

<i>Aquarius</i> team
1 Sep 2015 | 12:00 am
  • Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa.


Wet and wild fun at Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa

Get your sunscreen ready for this action-packed destination. Offering outdoor adventures for every family member, you can get stuck into anything from waterskiing to banana boating, parasailing (a must-try!) and non-motorised sports like kayaking, which the kids are sure to love. On the off-chance they aren’t aquatically inclined, pop them into Kidz Paradise – two floors of indoor play, where you can leave little ones aged four to 12 – while you get your adrenaline fix on the balmy RAK coastline. Great family fun at reasonable prices.

Need to know

Dh454 for a double queen room per night – Get an extra thrill by booking a water-plane ride from Dubai to Ras Al Kaimah – visit for details.

Banyan Tree Al Wadi

Cultural escape at Banyan Tree Al Wadi

Set amid the picturesque Wadi Khadeja, the protected enclave of the evergreen ghaf tree, Banyan Tree Al Wadi is an all-pool-villa concept complete with a nature reserve housing everything from camels to Arabian gazelles, and architecture and activities imbued with a strong sense of local heritage and history. Go on a bird-watching and nature hike to learn about the local flora and fauna, feed baby desert eagle owls in the hotel’s breeding enclosure, watch the daily falconry displays, take an archery or horseriding lesson, or go on a stargazing walk and be dazzled by the twinkling universe visible on a clear desert night. Or, if you prefer to take it easy, immerse yourself in the Rainforest hydrotherapy experience at the hotel’s magnificent Asian-inspired spa, while away the hours by your luxurious private villa pool, go on a desert picnic, or watch oryx herds at the watering hole while you sip sundowners on the Thai restaurant terrace.

Need to know

From Dh1,799 per night including breakfast. Visit

Sofitel Abu Dhabi

Chic city break at the Sofitel Abu Dhabi

Strolling along the beach in a maxi dress and floppy hat is all well and good, but sometimes you need to sharpen up your act and enjoy a bit of city chic. And there’s nowhere better to do this than the Sofitel.

This sophisticated hotel caters to your every need – in some style. You know you’re worth it, so treat yourself to a stay in a suite, which comes with access to Club Millesime. The club is on the 35th floor so you can relax with afternoon tea or an aperitif as you gaze at the stunning views of the corniche and Arabian Gulf.

This hotel is all about date night – have a massage or facial in the spa while your other half lounges by the pool, followed by a blow-dry in the salon. Add heels and an LBD and you’re ready for dinner in Silk and Spice, with traditional Thai cuisine. C’est magnifique!

Need to know

From about Dh1,100 per night for an Opera Suite with breakfast, club access, and butler service.

Chedi, Muscat

Breathtaking babymoon at the Chedi, Muscat

Every couple expecting a baby could do with one last hurrah before the new arrival, and there’s no better place for a slice of grown-up luxury than super-chic The Chedi. The zen architecture and tranquil child-free pools set a blissfully chilled atmosphere, while mums-to-be can enjoy a pampering prenatal massage on the spa’s Earthlite Maternity Beds, which are specially built to accommodate pregnant tummies. With a free mini bar and complimentary afternoon tea and evening canapés for Club guests, an array of top-notch restaurants, and stunning views of the coast and Hajar mountains, what is just a short hop from the UAE will feel like a second honeymoon a million miles away.

Need to know

From Dh1,631 per room per night including a 90-minute Ila Mother-To-Be Massage.

Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Dubai

Family adventure at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Dubai

The key to a successful family break is making sure the kids are entertained. At Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, on the far reaches of the outer frond of Palm Jumeirah, children of all ages are spoilt for choice at Sinbad’s Kids’ Club.

Not only is there a pool and outdoor activity area with slides, rock climbing and more, but there is also a clubhouse complete with TVs, Playstations, a band set-up (keyboard, electric guitar, electric drums), games, books, an indoor soft play area and lots more. Staff are on hand from 7am to 10pm – you have to stay in with your tots if they’re below four, but those four and above can be left under the supervision of the staff.

As if that wasn’t enough, there is a jam-packed schedule of activities every day, including arts and crafts, trampolining, treasure hunts, screenings at the hotel’s own cinema and lots more.

With the kids busy, it leaves you time to chill out in the stunning spa (try the Turkish hammam, which is arguably one of the best spa treatments in town), and to feed up at one of the fab restaurants. Our favourite JZS eatery at the moment is Rib Room – great ambience, lovely staff and a menu that will leave your mouth watering at the memory for days after your visit (don’t miss the sumptuous scallops starter and the melt-in-your-mouth brisket).

Need to know

From September 1 to 12, enjoy JZS’s UAE Summer Escape – prices are from Dh1,299, including buffet breakfast for two, Turkish hammam for two and access to the spa, plus access to the beach and Sinbad’s Kids Club. Call 04 453 0000.

<i>Aquarius</i> team

Aquarius team