Looking for a long weekend that doesn’t break the bank? Whether you’re seeking family fun or a relaxing retreat from the city, there’s plenty on offer within easy reach of the UAE – and none of these options will leave you scrabbling for change behind the sofa…
Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa
This beautiful beachside sanctuary nestled in the mountains of Oman might feel a world away from our busy cities, but it’s actually brilliantly located for those who enjoy a bit of sightseeing in addition to some R&R, within easy shuttle distance of Marina Bandar Al Rowdha, the National Museum of Oman, the Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace and Al Jalali Fort. Don’t feel like you have to adventure out on our account though – with three pools, a private beach and a truly luxurious spa, there really is no need to leave. The facilities are five star for adults and kids alike, with everything from mini-golf and watersports to a lazy river, pony rides and a turtle sanctuary to keep the little ones busy. Can’t keep them awake after all that fun? Make use of the hotel babysitting service and head to Bait al Bahr for a delectable seafood dinner on the beach.
Muscat 100, Oman, from Dhs987 per room per night. Tel: (+968) 24 776666. shangri-la.com
Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort
This is one of Fujeirah’s most popular beach resorts, and with good reason. While the interior of the common areas of the hotel may feel a tad dated to some, rooms are huge and spacious, making them especially good for families used to being cramped when the extra beds roll out, and the views, over the resort’s private beach to one side and the stunning Hajar Mountains to the other, are pretty special too. There are plenty of entertainment options – crazy golf anyone? – in addition to a fantastic large pool and six restaurants and bars. The Penguin kids’ club is one of the best we’ve seen and will keep children entertained for hours, thanks in large part to the enclosed children’s pool with slides, fountains and plenty of splash toys, while for the adult contingent, there’s a relaxing spa and plenty of watersports options.
Dibba Road, Fujairah, from Dhs499 per room per night. Tel: (09) 2449000. Taxi: Le Méridien Fujairah. lemeridien-alaqah.com
Short on time but need to escape the hubbub of SZR? It might be situated in Abu Dhabi, but its peaceful location overlooking the Rub Al Khali desert feels a long way away from the city. As desert landscapes go, this one is rather special, boasting some of the biggest dunes the country has to offer. To make the most of them, let someone else do the hard work with a desert safari booking, or tackle them yourself on a quad bike or sand-board if you’re feeling truly adventurous. The resort’s pools also overlook the Liwa dunes, while the effects of the adjacent spa’s wellness treatments are somehow only improved by the serene views. Travelling with children? The dedicated kids’ club and swimming pool will keep them safely entertained, while the abundant wildlife meandering by will provide extra thrills for eagle-eyed young nature lovers. Don’t miss out on a visit to nearby Al Gharbia, where there’s a fascinating traditional village to explore.
Al Gharbiya, Western Region, Madinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs499 per room per night. Tel: (02) 8946111. Taxi: Tilal Liwa. tilalliwa.danathotels.com
Crowne Plaza Muscat
Looking for a historic city break spot? Only a short flight away from the UAE, Oman’s laidback capital is a joy to explore, mixing upscale shopping malls with 16th-century Portuguese clifftop forts and the fascinating modern, marble-clad Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which can accommodate a staggering 20,000 people. For those looking to explore, the elegant Crowne Plaza Muscat makes for an ideal base. Looking out from a lush clifftop in fashionable Qurum Heights, it features a panoramic terrace, pool and private beach, all mere steps away from Qurum Beach with its café-lined promenade. Finished exploring? Settle in for a sundowner at the English-style Dukes Bar, which also hosts weekend roasts and a great fun quiz night, or enjoy a meal at buffet restaurant Tropicana, where the coastal views from the outdoor terrace take some beating…
Muscat 112, Oman, from Dhs889 per room per night. Tel: (+968) 24 660660. ihg.com