Hi everyone! Now we’re back from Dubai I’m following up on my promise to write all about our trip. I know everyone followed my stories and I’ve set up a little highlight on my Instagram so anyone can look at our best bits. And of course the photos on our grid. But this is more about my tips on Dubai and what it’s really like there and how it is travelling with children. I don’t think I’ve made it a secret that it is in fact one of my favourite places in the world! I haven’t been everywhere don’t get me wrong, and I still have a lot of places to tick off my list but Dubai has something special and it’s like nowhere else you can go, in Dubai anything seems possible.
So we start our trip at London Heathrow, I’ll begin this first post from our flight as it was an overnight flight with Virgin Atlantic. Me personally I don’t like night flights! I can never really sleep and whatever sleep I do manage is broken and not really restful. Kimaarah slept for a good few hours but by the time you arrive you do feel a little drained. Our flight left at 21.55 and landed into Dubai at 09.00 local time, they’re 4 hours ahead of us so in UK time that’s 5am. Which is another reason you start getting tired through the day!
Our flight with Virgin was good with a little bit of turbulence thanks to the great UK weather, once we got past the first hour or 2 it was smooth and all the cabin crew were lovely. I do suffer with my anxiety on flights as I don’t like feeling trapped on the plane and I may sound like a snob but I don’t really like flying in economy! Usually we try to fly in Premium as you get more space both widthways and in leg room and it’s a smaller cabin so feels a little more peaceful. I was a bit annoyed as I’d pre booked seats with my mum sitting on her own (she didn’t mind) and myself and Kimaarah sitting together as the plane configuration was 2-4-2 in economy. But they’d moved us so we were sitting together in the middle and my mum had someone random next to her! So this put me on edge a bit as I like to prepare myself for the flight. I like to have my own space and just try to make myself feel as calm as possible. So I really just had to make the best of these seating arrangements! Luckily the cabin crew were lovely and got me a big bottle of water as I told them the turbulence was making me feel a bit more anxious. Kimaarah loves the plane and after watching Happy Feet 2 she settled down to sleep. I do love flying with Virgin because they have so many different films you can pick, you have your own seat back TV and it’s all touchscreen, you can watch the newest films and they also have some classics like The Notebook was on ours and also lots of kids films like Moana, Tangled and also mega brownie points from me as they had the latest Drake album on there. At one point someone’s child was screaming, I thought what can I listen to to drown this out and found Drake, I was in heaven 😂 I also found a mindfulness recording on the TV too, which helped me to drift off to sleep. Unfortunately Virgin Atlantic will stop their route to Dubai at the end of this month so next time we go we will fly Emirates which I’ve only heard good things about so I’m not too worried! From looking at their website they seem to do lots for children as well like giving out kids packs and lots of kids movies to choose from. And from working in travel I’m always hearing my customers’ reviews on different airlines etc.
So we finally arrived in Dubai, the flight out isn’t that long compared to say the Caribbean, it’s 6.5 hours and went quite quickly. We went through immigration and the lady at the desk was asking Kimaarah if her baby dolly has a passport, it was really sweet and funny. Kimaarah noticed that some people were dressed differently and we explained it’s just their normal clothes here, I think travelling with children when they are younger definitely teaches them about the differences in the world and they become a lot more accepting to it and it becomes a lot more normal to them.
We were through really quickly and got our luggage and then found the Virgin Holidays rep who gave us a warm welcome and showed us to our driver. We had booked a private transfer as this is pretty standard in Dubai and you always get a good standard of car with leather seats, bottles of water. It only took around 20 minutes from the airport which was quicker than when we stayed on The Palm as that’s a bit further. When driving from the airport all you can see is big buildings, skyscrapers, car showrooms etc it’s very built up and I remember the first time we went to Dubai I had a few doubts of how things would be and would it look as nice as the photos online, I can hand on heart say it 100% does. You just have to remember that Dubai is an expanding city and there is always building work and construction going on. They are always building new hotels and attractions and our driver told us they are also building a new airport which is supposed to open in 2020.
As we drove up to the resort – Madinat Jumeirah – we laid our eyes on the many statues of gold horses, giving the property a very lavish and rich feel, I knew this would be a beautiful hotel as I had already spent most days / weeks beforehand researching and reading reviews, speaking to clients at work, this is a hotel that makes you go WOW from the second you arrive! As you get into the forecourt there’s a massive fountain with more horses, the wonderful staff are there to greet you before you have even got out of the car, in their lovely blue uniforms. One of the staff sat Kimaarah on the horse statue in front of the main entrance, and we took photos. We were then led into the main lobby of the Al Qasr hotel (meaning ‘The Palace’ and it truly is one) and taken to a private check in area, given a refreshing lemon juice drink which was so needed after our journey. We would be staying at the Dar Al Masyaf (meaning ‘Summerhouse’) it’s designed to be just like a prince’s summer villa, so you can imagine the standards we are talking about and of course you’ve seen my photos & videos.
The normal check in time for hotels is 3pm and at this point it was around 10.30am, the lady who was checking us in explained she didn’t have a lagoon view as I’d emailed the hotel before with a few requests. I thought oh dear, but without missing a beat she said don’t worry, we are upgrading you to the Gulf Oceanview villa because of this cute one here, and pointed to Kimaarah – knew she would come in handy haha 😂😉 I was SO happy because that villa would have cost quite a bit more (around £800 extra for the 5 nights) so we well and truly got a touch there. The hotel was at about 70-80% capacity so if you went at a busier time like school holidays I doubt an upgrade would be on the cards.
We took a golf buggy to our villa and met our butler, yes every villa has its own private team of butlers who take care of the 12 rooms inside. They deal with restaurant reservations, arranging transport, any services you need through your stay. We didn’t use the butlers a lot but we saw some of the guests putting them to work! When we stepped inside our room we were so excited! It was amazing and beautiful and everything more, we had been in there for a few minutes when our luggage arrived for us and then after only a few more minutes there was a knock on the door and the butler presented my mum with a small vase of roses and a chocolate cake for her birthday, and said ‘Happy Birthday, wishing you will always have happiness in your life’ it was such a beautiful moment and this is how all of the staff were, they were all so caring and ready to help you and just make you have the best holiday ever. Our balcony had views of the beach and my favourite Burj Al Arab soil was over the moon! I took Kimaarah to see the Sinbads kids club as it was right next to our villa! Another perk of being located oceanfront. They had an outside splash park with lifeguards and inside they had lots of activities for children including a whole soft play centre with a big slide, it was huge. We found out that by staying in the villas I could leave Kimaarah there for either a morning or afternoon session each day complimentary but I didnt just as we had so much planned. But if we were staying there for longer I would have felt safe to leave her there! To leave your child in the kids club you had to sign them in and out and they had to have a photo taken through the computer there so it was very secure.
All of the staff inside were so attentive and on our first day Kimaarah fell over in the splash pool, the lifeguard rushed over to her before I had even got to her (she was fine) They were honestly amazing with the children, and while being there I saw them all having fun.
The pool area I discovered was huge and they had an ice lolly man who came around through the day handing out free ice lollies! They would also give you cool bags with bottles of water and put your towels on your loungers, it was top class service all day every day.
In the afternoon we had a nap and then got ready for dinner, we had half board which included our breakfast and then lunch or dinner and lots of restaurants were included, our first night we went to the Al Qasr buffer called Arboretum. It was no ordinary buffet, there were king prawns, all the meats you could want (except pork obvs) everything was cooked to perfection and presented beautifully, you were really spoilt for choice. And I’ve never seen a chocolate fountain like theirs! Bringing children to Dubai is nothing to worry about with the amount of food choices on offer and it’s not somewhere you have to worry about getting an upset stomach either, which is a big win in my book. With our half board we just had to pay for our drinks but we later found out we had a resort credit of 1250AED (around £300) so we didn’t actually pay for one thing in the hotel! We got this by booking in January when the sales were on as it was a Jumeirah promotion.
We settled into bed but Kimaarah was a little over tired and cried, and said she wanted to go home! I was like oh no, I shared a sofa bed with her on the first night which I was dreading with my dodgy back but it was really comfy and my back never hurt once (maybe because of Kimaarah’s knees in me but not the actual bed lol). I let her watch some Mr Men stories on YouTube and she calmed down and went to sleep.
That was our journey to Dubai and our first day at the Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf! I didn’t actually think it would be this long so well done if you read it all 😂 I’ll be back soon with our Day 2!
Love, Emma x