This Eid Al Fitr, people from across the emirate will be heading to the airport to catch that flight home to spend the holiday with loved ones.
But what about those of us, still seeking adventure, or relaxation for that matter. Ask any travel agent and they will tell you, the best time to book a holiday for the Eid break, is waaaaaaay in advance. But it’s often difficult to plan so far ahead, who knows what you’ll be doing six months down the line (many of us barely have the next five minutes mapped out)? Then there’s the fact that holidays often aren’t confirmed nationally until close to the date.
These trifling inconveniences should not stop you from having a holiday. At Dubai Week, we’ve rounded up some of the best options for a last-minute Eid Al Fitr breaks both home and away.
Words by Rachael Perrett
Make Al Raha Beach Hotel in Abu Dhabi your home away from home during the Eid holidays. Here a family of two adults and two children (under the age of six) can enjoy a getaway for AED 995. The staycation package includes buffet breakfast, complimentary Eid brunch on 15th June, 30 minutes of non-motorised watersports, plus 20 per cent off your dining bills and a generous 30 per cent discount on spa treatments. There are also swimming lessons for little ones and free movie nights. Contact: 02 408 0555.
Jumeirah properties in Dubai are offering up to 30 per cent off the standard summer rates for residents over Eid. Find club rooms from AED 455 at the beautiful and fully family-friendly Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. This price includes breakfast and dinner, as well as free entrance in to Wild Wadi waterpark. There are also a tonne of attractions close by, and of course that warm Jumeirah Group hospitality that keeps guests coming back again and again. 04 230 8555.
If you’re not content just whiling away the weekend by the hotel pool, then book yourself into Grand Millennium Al Wahda, where if you book a night’s stay in a Superior Room, you’ll be taken on an exhilarating 4WD Desert Safari with dune bashing. A buffet breakfast and delicious barbecue for two adults for just AED 698 per room (exclusive of services charges and taxes) make this a really tasty deal. Contact: 02 443 9999.
Aloft Palm Jumeirah has undeniably amazing views, in addition to its delicious dining options. With the special summer staycation deal, you can enjoy both. AED 799 lands you a Friday night stay, pool and beach access, complimentary breakfast AND the famous Luchador Mexican brunch for two people. This great deal is available all summer long. 04 247 5555.
For some all-inclusive luxury, check in to the Rixos Bab al Bahr in Ras Al Khaimah. There’s a discount on rooms of up to 20 per cent when you book at least three night stay. The prices aren’t the lowest at around AED 1,200 per night (incl taxes), but remember that the packages entitle you to breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as unlimited beverages. This deluxe five-star Rixos also has one of the most spectacular pool areas in the emirate and if you want to catch the fun mid-week, later in the summer you can find rates as low as AED 800. babalbahr.rixos.com
The Mystery Box
So you’re the type that likes a surprise, eh? Can’t resist the allure of the mystery box? We’re the same. Dnata, the region’s leading travel agency, is offering something special for those willing to roll the dice for a surprise statycation.
Each weekend during the summer, there will be a package price for a different short getaway, somewhere in the UAE. You will be informed of the inclusions before you pay, but not the specific hotel. All you know, is that it’s likely to be a great deal. Then after you’ve booked and confirmed – the agent will perform the grand reveal, and tell you where you are staying. Our inside source at Dnata has told us that the breaks being offered for the Eid weekend – are VERY special indeed, particularly for families (just check out the inclusions). For more details, call 04 389 8999 or jump on to www.dnatatravel.com
(remember wherever you travel outside of the UAE, to always check visa and passport restrictions with the relevant embassies)
It’s been dubbed as the world’s strangest capital and when you fly into Astana you’ll see just one of the reasons why – the glistening city certainly stands out among a vast landscape of open steppes. The second thing you’ll notice is the fantastical design of the buildings vying for your attention. Many are designed by top international architects and are the result of an aim to create differing styles of government and public buildings when the city became the capital in 1997.
What to do: Naturally, you’ll want to visit said buildings, and some you can even explore inside. Start with the Norman Foster-designed Khan Shatyr, the world’s largest marquee. But what looks from the outside like a lop-sided circus tent is actually a multi-level, high-end mall with a sky beach club, 500-metre monorail and a flume ride. After this strange representation of Kazakh culture, get a feel for the country’s history at the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan where artefacts display everything from a yurt to the famed remains of a golden-clad warrior. Other top attractions including the glass and steel pyramid that houses the Palace of Peace & Reconciliation, the 97m-high Bayterek Monument and Nur-Astana Mosque, the third largest in Central Asia.
Where to stay:
Budget: If you just need somewhere to rest your head and refuel before sightseeing, then ibis Astana ticks the box. It’s conveniently located near major attractions, the rooms are kitted out with basic amenities, and there’s an all-day-dining restaurant on hand. From AED 156 per night. Visit: ibis.com
Blowout: Located in the heart of the city in Astana Central Park, the beautiful St Regis Astana is a perfect reflection of the capital itself: a remarkable façade, neo-classical interior and no shortage of modern luxuries. Chill in the spa, dine in utter sophistication and soak up the infamous St Regis hospitality. From AED 1,002 per night. Visit: thestregisastana.com
Getting there: Fly Dubai flies up to four a week to Astan, with prices starting around AED 1,180. Visit: Flydubai.com
Madhya Pradesh, India
Billed as the ‘heart of India’, India’s second largest state is dotted with beautiful temples, forts, stupas and palaces, as well as three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. But it’s the state’s natural heritage that’s the biggest draw, with various mountain ranges, meandering rivers and miles upon miles of dense forest teeming with wildlife.
What to do: The area is home to several national parks and nature reserves, including Mandla Plant Fossils National Park, Bagh Caves and Bori Wildlife Sanctuary. What’s more, the area’s dedication to the protection of India’s national animal has given it the nickname of the Tiger State. In fact, it was the Pench Tiger Reserve that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 novel The Jungle Book, and many of the book’s locations – like Mowgli’s birthplace – can still be visited today.
A visit to Madhya Pradesh wouldn’t be complete without exploring the natural environment, so look for accommodation at one of the various boutique jungle lodges and retreats. From there you can enjoy daily safaris, jungle walks, bird spotting and bush dinners. Visit: mptourism.com
Where to stay:
Budget: If you’re here for the history, then the Maharaja style Deo Bagh by Neemrana, in Gwalior, is a great option, with rooms starting around AED 220 per night. Inside the grounds of the heritage property are temples, chhatris and plenty of noisy peacocks. Visit: neemranahotels.com
Blowout: Stay in the heart of the jungle in a luxury tent at Banjaar Tola nestled in Kahnha National Park. With beautiful views of the river, delicious food, nature walks and more, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the pages of The Jungle Book. Around AED 810 per night. Visit: taj.tajhotels.com
Getting there: Jet Airways offers direct flights to Delhi from around AED 1,580 (budget airlines will have lower fares). From there, India’s fastest train, The Gatimaan Express, is a three-hour trip to Gwalior. Visit: jetairways.com, irctc.co.in
Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah
If you haven’t yet explored the sites of the UAE’s northern emirates, then the country’s tallest mountain is a great place to start. In stark contrast to Abu Dhabi’s flat, sandy landscape, Ras Al Khaimah is home to some impressive peaks and stunning scenery.
What to do: Given its incredible natural attractions, activities like hiking should be top of the agenda. If you’re a bit of a daredevil, then you can tick off the world’s longest zipline, which sees you whiz at a height of 1,680 metres above sea level at up to 150kph – definitely not one for the fainthearted. AED 325. Visit: toroverdeuae.com
For a more relaxed Eid weekend, families can cool off at Iceland Water Park, go sailing at Al Hamra Marina & Yacht Club, visit the UAE’s only existing hilltop fort, Dhayah Fort, or take a step back in time at the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah, which houses manuscripts, treaties and archaeological finds. Visit: rasalkhaimah.ae
Where to stay:
Budget: If you prefer fuss-free accommodation, book yourself into the Tulip Inn Ras Al Khaimah where the service is friendly and the rooms are comfortable. From AED 264. Visit: tulipinnrasalkhaimah.com
Blow out: For a more pampered weekend, go for the beachfront Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah with its award-winning spa, pristine beach and sports. From AED 1,105. Visit: waldorfastoria.hilton.com
Getting there: The easy drive to Ras Al Khaimah takes nearly three hours on the E311.