I had anticipated that flying in and out from one state to another to discuss existing and future projects with five different clients from five different states in the US – with no time for leisure, whatsoever – would be very much exhausting. And knowing myself, I knew that for me to be able to smoothly implement the new projects and updates for my company back in Manila, I will need to revitalize my energy first and get my act together. And so, even before my brain screams, “I need a Breaaaaak!!!,” I willfully rewarded myself with a well-deserved vacation… hehehe…
To my friends, they know me as a beach-loving person; or maybe, someone who would rather prefer a tranquil nature trip for a typical getaway – exactly just as how I usually do most of my travels. But, quite unusually, my busy feet pointed me to a different direction – somewhere I have never ventured into traveling before; somewhere that no one, not even myself, would even think of going to – quote unquote – “CHILL”. Somewhat quite ironic, after ten strenuous days of non-stop work, I found myself on board the Emirates, flying my way to… guess where?? The hot and arid deserts of Dubai!
Yup!!! You read it right. I actually decided to cool off in the desert! Quite weird?? Actually… Not really… Keep reading…
Tourists, especially first-timers, who get to travel to this part of the Middle East, would normally go to the city center where the renowned Burj Khalifa is. But, who wouldn’t, right? However, since I always have that “Classic Kris” penchant of doing my adventures quite distinctively, I was fortunate to have been led to a luxurious hotel in the middle of the desert, located just an hour away from the city – BAB AL SHAMS DESERT RESORT AND SPA.
My transport to the hotel was a breath of fresh air for me despite the intense heat. This is not a paid advertisement; but, traveling via Business Class with Emirates Airlines instantly gave me the perk of free hotel transfers, which normally costs around 400 Dirhams two-way. And take note, not only was it just an ordinary free ride, I was lavishly brought to the hotel in style by no less than a BMW limousine! What else can I say? I was just at the start of my trip and I feel as though I’m already blessed by Allah!
Hotel and Accommodation
Upon arrival at the hotel, any visitor, just as I did, would get to experience the true richness of the Arab culture straightaway – from the grand and elegant Arabian architecture of Bab Al Shams, to the warm and hospitable reception of the hotel staff, who, by the way, all wear the traditional and iconic Emirati clothes. They gladly served me with refreshments as soon as I stepped into the lobby, while they neatly arranged my luggage in preparation for my check-in.
Believe it or not, it took me just around three minutes to get my keys; after which, I was courteously escorted to my room located at the hotel’s ground floor. The room location was certainly a great convenience for me, since I will no longer have to go up and down the stairs just to get around the hotel.
And if that wasn’t enough, my room was jaw-droppingly amazing! It has a super king-size bed and comfy pillows to match perfect enough for someone needy of relaxation as I am. The room also has a sofa-bed, a mini-bar, free daily coffee and fruits, and a stone bath tub that simply spells “luxury”. I even remember staying there for an hour after a very tiring photoshoot, just to bathe and relax over wine.
But, the most picturesque part of all would have to be the balcony! There, I can watch the majestic Arabian sunrise across the vast desert right at the comfort of my own room. This was a totally new experience for me since I’m generally more of a beach type of guy. But, trust me. Sunrises over dunes and seas of sands are an entirely different kind of wonderful that everyone must see!
Food and Activities
Bab Al Shams offers a wide range of activities for visitors and tourists alike. As for me, I was given one free activity per day as a staying guest; which included the “Falcon Encounter” and a “Walking Tour into the Desert”. The hotel also takes pride of their two large pools – a family pool and an infinity pool – where guests can simply take a dip to beat the Arabian heat. But, of all the activities and amenities in the menu, the one that I really enjoyed most was my stint on “Archery”. All my adventures in Dubai were captured with great precision and detail. Thanks to my friend – Abu Dhabi-based professional photographer, Jorell Ariolla.
Altogether, most of the outdoor activities offered by the hotel would require physical discipline, strong stamina and endurance. As a fervent advocate of healthy lifestyle and fitness, I can say that I really enjoyed all the activities, including the Walking Tour where I crossed the desert under the scorching heat of the sun… And this is the part where I thanked the inventors of sunblocks, haha…Finding food in the middle of the desert, especially that I arrived at Bab Al Shams on a Ramadan Season, never became a problem for me. The hotel has several restaurants that serve almost every type of food that a visitor’s tummy could want; except, of course, for pork, which, I don’t eat – apart from it being a no-no for most Muslim countries.
And if you’ll ask for my recommendations, I would highly suggest that you try my favorite restaurant in Bab Al Shams – AL SARAB ROOFTOP LOUNGE. There, they serve seafood; and despite it being in a highly-Muslim country, they can serve alcoholic drinks and wine anytime, anywhere. All these you can enjoy while marveling at the magnificent sunset view.
Dubai presented me with a totally unique experience that I will definitely cherish…
I stayed in Dubai for 4-days and 3-nights; and given the chance, I will surely go back. Why won’t I? The hotel, which is literally an oasis in the middle of the desert, has everything that any tourist could ask for. Not only do they serve good food, they also have excellent service, great ambiance, the price of their food and accommodation are pretty reasonable; and to top it all, they have Filipinos working for them as staff, which made my stay even more relaxing and closer to home.
My “chill” and relaxing trip in “hot” Dubai did serve its purpose well. The experience really brought me back to myself and got me feeling tuned-up and rejuvenated enough to face the happy challenges that await me in Manila.
Now, tell me… With all these, would you dare say that staying in the desert cannot be SO COOL?