Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dubai & Abu Dhabi, UAE with The Ritz-Carlton

After a quick weekend in London and Paris, and a six hour flight later, I had finally made my way to Dubai! I stayed at the amazing Ritz-Carlton, Dubai Financial Center, which is a luxury retreat located in Downtown Dubai. If I could describe this hotel in two words it would be luxurious, and sophisticated. This location is definitely a relaxing place to getaway to, with exquisite service. The airport is only 20 minutes away, and it's located just ten minutes from The Dubai Mall, and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world! Not to mention, there are great restaurants within walking distance.

From the front desk, to housekeeping, to the spa and gym staff, to the culinary staff, to the friendly gentleman who open the doors when you walk into and leave the hotel, every staff member at this location is amiable and so helpful. The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC offers seven restaurants and bars, including an excellent steakhouse, Center Cut  

On the balcony, looking at my incredible view. Sunglasses by Dita.

The amazing suite I stayed in is called, The Ambassador Suite. I felt like royalty in this spacious 1,303 sq. foot suite. The suite has a powder room, an office, a sitting room (to watch T-V), a living room, a dining room, a bar- fully stocked bar with everything you could want, and a vast balcony with a table and two lounging sun chairs. The large bedroom includes the most comfortable King bed with 400-thread count Egyptian cotton linens, and a feather down comforter. The beautiful and immense bathroom occupies a large marble tub, (which I used everyday), and a separate shower with a rainforest shower head.

The Ambassador Suite.

 I was greeted everyday with a beautiful (and delicious) culinary gift. Whenever I came back to my room from an afternoon of exploring, there would be a new gift. Each day, the gifts got larger, ultimately ending with a chocolate cake and an enormous fruit platter. This fruit platter is actually given to each Sheikh that stays at the hotel. I guess I was a real-life Princess Jasmine in Dubai. That's why I love the Ritz-Carlton, they really go out of their way to make you feel special, and definitely well fed! 

 On my first full day in Dubai, I visited the Emirates Mall for lunch, and then headed to see all of the sites. My first stop was the beach, I've always wanted to take a picture in front of the Burj Al Arab, the only seven star hotel in the world. 

Standing in front of the Burj Al Arab.

 After a little shopping, and more eating, I headed to The Dubai Mall area to see the Burj-Khalifa (aka the tallest building in the world). The Burj-Khalifa is 160 stories, and you can actually buy tickets to visit the top, but unfortunately, I did not have enough time to do that. The Burj-Khalifa beats the World Trade Center in NYC in height by 54 stories. After more site seeing, I headed back to The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC for a little downtime before dinner. I visited their indoor pool at the spa, and then got a blow out at the hotel's salon. That evening, I had dinner at the seven star hotel, the Burj Al Arab. 

At 160 stories, The Burj Khalia is the tallest building in the world. 

 On my second day in Dubai, I went on a desert safari. I was a little skeptical at first because it is very hot in Dubai in August. That day it was 111 Degrees/44 Celsius. Thankfully, the tour guide had his air conditioned SUV running nearby, which made it completely tolerable. You are literally in the middle of the desert, miles away from roads and civilization for a few hours. I am actually very happy I did this, because I got some of the best pictures I have ever taken, and I did something most people will never do in their lifetime. I love the quote, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." 

In the middle of the Arabian Desert wearing Trina Turk. 

At 8am, the tour guide picked us up from the hotel and then headed towards the desert. It takes about an hour to get there. Wherever there is. There were signs on the highway that pointed to Abu Dhabi (which is only an hour away) and Saudi Arabia (which is even closer). Before he could drive off of the road and onto the sand dunes, the tour guide had to get out of the car and release air from the tires. I had never seen anything like this before. This has to be done in order for the tires to grip the sand. It also keeps you from flipping over. We stopped at a few random desert spots to take the most beautiful pictures. It's crazy how the tour guide knows where to go in the middle of sand dunes with no map or directions. 

After an intense (but super fun) drive through the sand dunes, I arrived at Al Awir Desert Safari Camp Site. There was a man who let me take pictures with the friendliest falcon. There were also sand buggies, but it was just too hot for me to go farther out into the desert. 

Fun Fact: Falcons only eat the meat of the animals they kill. The will not even eat meat that is offered to them by a human. 

Fun Fact: Camels are much like dogs, with a life span of 11-18 years.

My favorite part of the safari was riding the camels. Camels are very kind and friendly creatures. I asked why they had their mouths covered, and was told that camels eat absolutely everything and store it in their humps for future meals. Although, that is very clever, they can also eat very bad things like metal and garbage without even knowing it's bad for them. The covers on their mouths are to protect the camels from eating things that they shouldn't. 

Dress by Chelsea & Walker, Sunglasses by Porsche Design, Sandals by Chanel. 

After a hot afternoon in the desert, I went back to the hotel to relax and enjoy the Ritz-Carlton's Club Lounge. The Club Lounge provides complimentary culinary and beverage presentations throughout the day. That evening, I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Zuma. Zuma is actually within walking distance to the hotel.

Dress by Trina Turk, Sunglasses by Thierry Lasry, Shoes by Valentino. 
On my third day, I had lunch at Pier 7, at the Duabi Marina. Pier 7 has seven floors, with a different type of restaurant on each floor. The Dubai Marina is so beautiful, with rows of skyscrapers in every direction. 


After three wonderful days in Dubai, it was time to head to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is only an hour drive away from Dubai. I stayed at the amazing Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, which is basically a palace. This hotel is the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed in. If I felt like royalty before in Dubai, I truly felt like a Queen in my suite at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi. 

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal offers a luxury beach resort experience minutes away from the city centre, and located across from the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi also has the largest pool in Abu Dhabi at 1,600 square meters.

The largest pool in Abu Dhabi. 

A gorgeous chocolate display from the Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal that was almost too pretty to eat..Almost!

Another special greeting from The Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal. 

The beautiful suite I stayed in is called, The Venetian Executive Suite. The suite was much like my grand suite in Dubai, with a powder room, an office, a living room, a dining room, a large bathroom with double sinks, a separate bathtub, and a vast balcony. The view from my suite was the gorgeous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.       

Standing in from of the famous Etihad Towers. 

With only two days to explore Abu Dhabi, my first stop was Emirates Palace. Emirates Palace is a grand beachfront hotel that used to be a place where only royalty could stay. Now, Emirates Palace is a hotel open to the public. Across the street from Emirates Palace, are the Etihad Towers, which most people recognize from the famous car scene in Fast and Furious 7. It was very cool to see the buildings in person.  

At Emirates Palace. Earrings by Kendra Scott. 
 The theme inside Emirates Palace is gold. Inside the lobby is a gold ATM. Basically, you can input your own money inside the ATM, and receive actual gold bars in exchange. The minimum is $1,000 USD. I ate lunch at an Italian restaurant called, Mezzaluna. The cuisine was so amazing, I went back the next day for the exact same thing. Another fun thing about Emirates Palace, is that you can order 24k gold cappuccinos. These were very yummy.

24 Gold Cappuccinos.

 On my last day in Abu Dhabi, I wanted to visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Thankfully, The Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi offers a shuttle service that leaves every 30 minutes to the mosque. As a woman, you can only enter the mosque If you are completely covered and your hair cannot show either. The mosque is truly beautiful inside and out, and is a must see. I was told by the hotel to go during sunset to get the best photos.

In front of Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

It is very quiet, and calm inside. Prayers can be heard throughout the day, and it is such an amazing experience.  
Sheikh Zayed Mosque at sunset. 

 Now, I can finally say that I have been to the Middle East. Thank you so much Ritz-Carlton, DIFC and Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal for hosting me on a trip of a lifetime! I hope I have inspired others to visit both Dubai and Abu Dhabi at least once in their lifetime. 

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