Tag Archives: holidays

Review of the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa Dubai

Spacious grounds, wide soft sandy beach, thirteen restaurants and bars, three pools and a spa, Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa is a self-contained paradise. You could stay here for your entire holiday and not venture beyond its welcoming doors.

This is Dubai with plenty to see and do though, but staying within Le Royal Meridien’s confines for a few relaxing days is a oasis for your mind and body.

Arriving in its elegant furnished lobby, check in was a breeze and a first meet with one of an army of staff whose sole aim is to give impeccable service. Staff training must be a top priority here because everyone was polite, helpful, efficient and possessed the uncanny ability to anticipate every wish.

Review of the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa Dubai
Hotel Main Building

At only 9 floors, the building is low in comparison to the skyscrapers of Dubai. We found our room in the circular tower. A suite with separate sitting room beautifully decorated and spacious. A large shower and bathroom filled with fluffy towels and adorned with multiple bottles of sweet-smelling potions.

Our room faced into the city and the marina but you can ask for a room overlooking the beach and the Palm Jumeirah beyond.

Exploring the resort we discovered expansive grounds of well kep lawns, swimming pools and sun bathing areas all leading down to the beach. Whilst it’s a public space, Le Royal Meridien has a private, fenced off section of exclusive sand and we made this our main base for our stay.

A snack bar serves each pool and the beach area so you never have far to go for refreshments. In fact often the waiter arrives just as you realise you want to order something.

They offer huge fluffy beach towels in a pleasant pastel light blue for the comfy sun beds.

The clean deep white sand of the wide beach reminded me of Santa Monica in Los Angeles, except a New York style high-rise skyline lines this particular section of coastline.

Review of the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa Dubai
Beach at Le Royal Meridien with Dubai Skyline

The highlight for me was the choice and variety of restaurants and bars at Le Royal Meridien.

Le Deck: Near the pool and serving Mediterranean food, my favourite dish was a Thai style chicken noodle dish with bok choi and a pleasant hit of chilli heat.

Review of the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa Dubai
Le Deck at Night

Maya: Outstanding Mexican cuisine served with mojitos and beer. Check out their tasty chicken fajitas served with warm tortillas, bell peppers, onions, guacamole, salsa roja and crema fresca.

Zengo: Offering an artful blend of asian and latin flavours, Zengo offers a stunning venue and interesting surprising food. Try the boneless chicken wings with fenugreek oil, chipotle and citrus sauce. Don’t miss the chef’s 30 vegetable stir fry. Linger after your meal in the bar and lounge decorated with the same blend of asian and latin influences.

Ossigeno: Traditional Italian cuisine with a twist. Great tasty pasta and a “melt-like-butter” medium well done steak.

Review of the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa Dubai
Belly Dancer at Al Khaima

Al Khaima:  Arabic food served in an authentic atmosphere with traditional music and the occasional belly dancer. Fans of Shisha can enjoy a sweet-smelling smoke in this open air venue. I started with the Hummous: Crushed chickpeas flavored with sesame paste, lemon juice, sautéed meat and pine nuts. For main I went for Shish Kebab: Marinated tender lamb loin with Arabic spices, onion, parsley salad and grilled tomato.

Shades: A sports bar offering big screen entertainment and a range of burgers and sandwiches along with pints of ice-cold beer.

Rhodes Twenty10: A glamorous and intimate scene with opulent chandeliers, black chic and just a hint of lilac lined with Jack Vettrianno paintings. It’s Euro-inspired cuisine with some Middle East influence. They give you the opportunity to create your own dining experience beginning with your hors d’oeuvres to share, then creating your own main course and finishing with a classic pudding. Great steaks again.

Review of the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa Dubai
Vettrianno Paintings in Rhodes Twenty10

Pizzeria: Casual dining for families with frshly made to order pizzas and pastas.

Alas we ran out of nights to sample Geales (Fish restaurant) and Le Brasserie (Buffet meals) although the latter was our morning stop for breakfast each day on the way to the beach. I loved watching them prepare fresh wafer this crepes.

The Caracalla Spa, designed with a Roman theme and infused a well-being ambience  offers a holistic range of beauty treatments and unforgettable experiences for the body and mind. Set on three levels the spa is an oasis from the Dubai heat.

I struggle to find any fault with Le Royal Meridien, though the wifi was a little slow but hardly mattered given the surroundings. Excellent service, range of restaurants, ample acreage, semi-private beach and location in the Dubai marina make this a must visit destination.

A question for you: What’s your favourite place in Dubai? Please share your experiences on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn.

Searching for Unspoilt Tenerife – Up Mountains and Down Water Slides

Where can you experience most of the world’s climate zones in one day?

On Tenerife. The largest of Spain’s Canary Islands and home to some of the most stunning scenery in Europe.

unspoilt tenerife
Masca Trail

Like Mallorca, Tenerife has a reputation for being nothing more than a party island. The infamous Playa De Las Americas conjures up images of British themed pubs, hoards of drunken party-animals, fish and chip suppers, black sand beaches and the thudding bass of techno dance music.

If that’s what you want then you can’t go wrong with Tenerife.

But drive two kilometres inland from any point on the coast and you find unspoilt Tenerife. Sleepy villages, orange groves, hidden treasures. You’ll also climb steeply up twisty turns and before long will be able to gaze back at the coast thousands of feet below you.

unspoilt tenerife
Mount Tiede and Las Canadas Caldera

At the centre of Tenerife is Mount Tiede. At over 12,000ft, it is Spain’s highest peak. Ascend by cable car for amazing views of the island and the curvature of the earth. A hiker’s paradise, in winter, Tiede gets buried in white snow and ice.

The crater from which the mountain juts is called the Las Cañadas Caldera. A stark landscape of impossible rock formations resembling the desert in Arizona. You’ll notice the deafening silence here as there is no vegetation and no birds to create a background melody.

If you twist and turn your way around the rest of the island you’ll see pine forests, grasslands, green valleys and other magnificent peaks; some shrouded in cloud and fog. Explore the lovely village of Santiago Del Tiede in the shadow of the mountains.

unspoilt tenerife
Los Gigantes

Back on the coast you can find many smaller resorts offering a more relaxing atmosphere than the bustle of Las Americas. Los Gigantes offers a compact town nestled beneath sheer cliffs. From the harbour you can take boat trips or hire a jet ski or simply sit in one of the many restaurants and eat a plate of Tenerife’s signature dish – the “wrinkled” salty potato with hot pepper sauce.

unspoilt tenerife
Swimming With Turtles

Learn to suba dive from Los Gigantes or if you are a seasoned diver go with the learners as they swim with turtles in the crystal clear blue sea.

unspoilt tenerife
Statues in Candelaria

Candelaria to the east offers a long sweeping coastline lined by statues, bars, restaurants and low-rise hotels.

unspoilt tenerife
Hotel Abama

For more luxurious surroundings check out the Hotel Abama – part of the US Ritz Carlton chain – with its own man-made white sandy beach and several Michelin starred restaurants. Whilst it is expensive, consider tagging a few days on your stay and take a room here. They know how to pamper and the resort is sprawling and immaculately maintained.

unspoilt tenerife
Siam Park – ProSlide Tornado Dragon Ride

For thrills go to Siam Park. A water slide paradise with rides such as the ProSide Tornado as big and scary as some steel rollercoasters. Authentic theming transports you to the Far East with accurate and detailed temples and statues. It’s so real you really could be in old Siam.

At only 4 hours flight time from the UK Tenerife offers a perfect combination of vibrant nightlife, picturesque scenery, stomach churning thrills and chill out luxury.

Now it’s your turn: Have you been to Tenerife recently? Where did you stay? What were your favourite parts of the island to visit. Please leave a comment or share a link to your own article.

If you want to find out more about Tenerife check out:

 

Taking a trip through Unspoilt Mallorca

What’s the first thing that springs to mind when someone mentions Mallorca?

Could it be high-rise hotels and packed beaches teeming with sun burned Brits. Stag and hen week parties? Noisy techno dance music playing in nightclubs, pubs serving Tetley bitter and drunken hoards of youngsters staggering from one to the other?

Certainly Magaluf and some other Mallorcan resorts fit this stereotype. But most of Mallorca is unspoilt, beautiful, quiet and magnificent. You can find deserted beaches at the end of windy roads, hidden restaurants serving real Spanish tapas, and scenery that is breathtaking.

Unspoilt Mallorca
Port de Soller seen from the mountains

As I travelled to Mallorca this year I saw some of the the Magaluf crowd. Sharing the Jet2 flight with us was a gang of guys all sporting “Fat Grant’s Stag” T-shirts, individualised on the back with their nick names. “Chopper” was the loud one constantly out of his aeroplane seat and tormenting his fellow passengers and crew. “Murdo” was the good-looking one trying unsuccessfully to flirt with the cabin crew. “Fat Grant” himself sat quietly in the back row. Was he already regretting the drunken blur that was about to begin?

Fortunately Fat Grant’s crew were whisked away by bus into the concrete jungles west of Palma whilst we drove north through orange groves towards Pollenca. Here the countryside is quiet save for the sounds of dogs barking, birds singing and donkeys braying. Sometimes the sound of a strimmer or a power saw tries to ruin the peace but rarely succeeds.

Unspoilt Mallorca
Beach at Port de Pollenca

The foothills of the stunning Tramontana mountains frame the Pollenca countryside . Villas here all have private pools, outdoor barbecues, palm trees and flowers of all colours. The busy but very pretty Puerto De Pollenca is five minutes drive away. Close enough for when you run out of food and beer or fancy a meal in a restaurant, but far enough away to convince you that you live in your own private paradise.

When night falls there is no light pollution. Lie back and watch the stars light up across the sky. Look for shooting stars. You might miss some of them. Those you do see are like fireworks burning across the blackness.

This is unspoilt Mallorca. And there’s so much of it to see.

We took a trip to Soller, a quaint Spanish village nestling in a hollow valley surrounded by towering mountains studded with green pine trees. The drive to this oasis is both scary and beautiful. Perhaps only the Grand Canyon can beat the slopes around Soller for sheer breathtaking magnificence.

Unspoilt Mallorca
The Soller Trams

Sit in the main square in Soller and have a glass of fresh orange juice and watch the tram clank by on its way down to the port. Soller is one of the smallest towns in the world with a tram system. They built it in 1913. It’s still a popular form of transport and now a tourist attraction in its own right. Have tea at the five-star Gran Hotel Soller or pop into the cake shop next door and sample one of their multi-coloured macaroons.

Unspoint Mallorca
Port de Soller

Four kilometres at the other end of the tram’s route is the Port De Soller a huge horse shoe bay of sand, yachts, restaurants, bars and hotels. We really are a million miles away from the plastic pubs and pounding base riffs of Magaluf. I wonder whether Fat Grant is enjoying his hangover.

Unspoilt Mallorca
Sunny Spanish Streets

In the centre of Mallorca is Inca, one of the bigger towns. Thursday is market day and every street boasts a line of stalls and tables. Fresh fruit, green vegetables, meat, fish even live chickens and ducks, sit side by side with clothes, leather goods and household utensils. It’s like a department store on the streets. You have to haggle and obviously sift through some tourist tat, but you can find bargains in this maze of narrow streets.

Back to the Pollenca countryside for a few more days of good food and great wine.

Unspoilt Mallorca
Pollenca Countryside

When someone mentions Mallorca to me I think of these sun-baked days in the Pollenca countryside, the cafe culture of Soller and the market at Inca rather the concrete sun soaked replica of Blackpool where Fat Grant drunkenly celebrated his last days as a single man.

Your turn: What are your favourite hidden gems in unspoilt Mallorca? Please post your links or comments below and share your experiences.

The only thing missing is the sea – Four Seasons Hotel Scottsdale

We grabbed a cab at Phoenix Sky Harbour airport and headed north through Scottsdale for about 30 miles.

The Four Seasons Hotel Scottsdale nestles on the edge of the Sonoran desert. It is surrounded by mountain peaks, statuesque cactuses with many spiky arms reaching for the sky, and rocks and boulders of interesting shapes and sizes. The buildings are authentic to their American Indian origins, decorated in warm reds and oranges. A slight burning smell wafts through the resort from the many blazing chiminea fireplaces.

The view from the sundeck in the cocktail bar literally takes the breath away. 35 miles of unbroken horizon right back down to the Camelback Mountain in downtown. Whilst the resort contains all the amenities that you would find in a normal seaside resort, this amazing vista is more than adequate compensation for the obvious lack of sea.

four seasons hotel scottsdale

The weather was pleasantly hot, never quite rising above 80° each day. Most of the American guests would not appear until after lunch leaving the poolside relatively empty until then. The poolside staff are attentive, but not intrusive, and always happy to help and talk.

four seasons hotel scottsdaleLiv who works there set up our sunbeds each day with fluffy towels and supplied us with an endless supply of Bud Lights, nibbles, sundaes, smoothies and of course lunch. Try the spicy chicken skewers with hot green dip. You need the cold beer to cool your mouth down.

four seasons hotel scottsdaleThe guest rooms are luxurious, the beds gigantic and soft enough to sink into. Fortunately for us we also had that astonishing view down towards the Camelback. A huge shower, a separate bath and double sink filled the bathroom which was suitably replenished daily with a range of lotions and potions. There was even a fireplace in the room should the temperature drop too much, and although not a real log fire, it was a great fake gas one.

Breakfast was in the Mexican themed Crescent Moon restaurant. Isn’t it just fantastic to have breakfast made order? No cold congealed buffet sludge here. Great fresh food cooked as you like it. Eggs over easy. Eggs sunny side  up. Muffins with sharply sour but refreshing grapefruit juice.

The Talavera restaurant was much posher and somewhere to spend a pleasant evening. Although chilly in the evening, the patio has fire-pits which keep you toasted and warm. Fine dining, great steaks, great chicken again with a Mexican and American Indian twist. And what a great bottle of Ravenswood Barricia Zinfandel.

The on-site spa is simply lovely. They have the steamiest steam room I’ve ever seen in any spa anywhere in the world.

I can’t fault the service in this resort, always efficient and delivered with a smile, especially the concierge who keeps you fully updated on all arrangements they make. There is golf nearby with two 18-hole courses. If you want to see the desert on horseback, they’ll arrange for Cave Creek Outfitters (here’s a review of a desert horseback riding trip) to come and collect you.

four seasons hotel scottsdaleYou can walk to Pinnacle Peak Park and take a gentle pleasant hike of about 4 miles up to a summit another fifteen hundred foot above the resort. From here again the views are stunning. You can see 50 miles in every direction and the peaks merge into the horizon and into the light wispy clouds which gather as the sun goes down.

four seasons hotel scottsdale

Over to you: I love this part of the world.Have you ever been? Do you live there or do you visit? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Here are some more hotel reviews: