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Are you feeling the low after the highs of New Year and Christmas celebrations? Maybe a new perspective of what the Dubai has to offer might just be what the doctor ordered. With Valentine’s Day round the corner, we’ve handpicked exceptional experiences to help you create memories that will last you a lifetime – all without having to leave the country.


Life is a Beach

What is more symbolic of a holiday in Dubai than its stunning beaches, clear blue seas and endless sunshine? Forget everything else you know about Palm Jumeirah and head to the Fairmont Hotel on this iconic man-made archipelago for some sun and sand fun without the bother of running into busloads of tourists out on their Dubai day trip.

Designed by DSA Architects International, Fairmont the Palm opened in December of 2012. A respite from the crowd of overly designed hotels in the region, this property boasts of a refined and mature colour palette of beige, ecru and tan, brushed with natural building materials like granite and marble that takes guests seamless from luxuriously appointed interiors of the hotel to its expansive palm-dotted sandy beach.

The Gold Lounge offers the ultimate in discreet and personalised service with its own check-in, afternoon tea and coffee lounges. As a Fairmont Gold guest, you will also enjoy a selection of premium Arabian Sea- facing suites and dedicated butler service. But who wants to be indoors when there is a plethora of fun activities by the sea waiting to be explored. Glistening pools lead onto the expansive beach where you can enjoy an afternoon on the cabanas or sun loungers.

Wash down your sundowners at the Seagrill on 25° Restaurant & Lounge specialising in seafood with a Mediterranean twist. Ba Restaurant and lounge serve up an authentic flavour of China with culinary masterpieces hand-picked from eight Chinese provinces. At the weekend, the Brazilian Churrasco restaurant, Frevo offers a very refined take on brunch with an endless array of meats brought your table. When on the Palm, you can’t help but indulge in some water sports. Water skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, catamaran and sailing lessons are all at hand for those in search of a soulful water experience. And when you’re done with it all, unwind at the Willow Stream Spa before you dive back into city life. Go to fairmont.com


The Bedouin Experience

It opened in 1999, the first of its kind, offering an intimate view into the traditional Arabian way of life. Since then, Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa has set the benchmark for luxury ‘getaway’ experiences in the Middle East. A short 65km drive from Dubai, along the Dubai-Al Ain road, the resort is tucked away in golden landscape of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, one of the largest formally protected conservation reserves in the Gulf region. The minute you enter the reserve and take in the graceful solitude of shifting sand dunes, you’ve left 2016 and its chaos behind. This is space untouched by time, where 4x4s wait respectfully for a herd of camels to pass by, where you want to put your smartphones and cameras away, where you genuinely want to be in the moment.

Inspired by arabesque courtyard houses of yore, the main complex houses a welcome area, an arts gallery, a library and their signature restaurant under the stars, Al Diwaan. 42 independent suites are spread around the vast landscape that is home to Arabian Oryx and desert gazelles wandering freely across the plains and dunes.

The resort has also come to be an important repository for over 2,000 historic and rare pieces of artwork, weaponry, traditional jewellery, and

Bedouin handicrafts that dot the interiors of its suites and public spaces. If you can tear yourself away from your private infinity pool, enjoy some of the many desert activities on offer. Horse-riding, wildlife drives, guided nature walks, archery or even a visit to the falconry mews and horse stables will help you appreciate this oasis of calm and get a glimpse into the culture of the region. Before you head back to the city, arm yourself with a wide range of wellness, rejuvenation and beauty therapies at the Timeless Spa. A seven-course degustation menu, welcome drinks and roses await V-Day revellers. al-maha.com


The City Break

There are many among us who have a bit of a panic attack at the thought of leaving the city. If you are one of those city-dwelling, city-loving urbanites, head no further than Vida Downtown Dubai for a quick break, right in the heart of the metropolis. Designed by the award-winning LW Design Group, this Downtown property is an exploration into timeless minimalism, brought to life through a neutral, warm palette. Perfect for the cosmopolitan

set and in walking distance of the Emirate’s most stylish attractions, the hotel cuts a fine balance between high-design elements and an almost laid-back, rustic charm. Floor-to-ceiling windows, oversized drapes and high-design accent pieces add layers of understated luxe to the property. Add to that a cabanadotted pool deck that looks out to the Burj Khalifa and a roster of celebrated restaurants — what more do you need?

Toko Dubai offers a lofty take on Japanese cuisine. The menu and interiors complement each other without being cheesy or predictable. Each day of the week is a culinary celebration with specially planned themes and menus. If you’re in for a long weekend, indulge in the Urban Picnic — the highlight of Vida’s weekend offering, it’s a contemporary take on a picnic with all the frills of a Dubai brunch. You don’t need to leave the hotel for the perfect V-Day date, thanks to La Serre. The sumptuous menu is elevated by attentive service and charming interiors — the ideal ingredients for a romantic memory or two. Making your stay sweeter are their special packages for Dubai residents with special rates and downtown-experience packages on offer. Go to vida-hotels.com


An Aerial Adventure

For some of us, a staycation is long weekend of doing nothing and this is the perfect luxury adventure that offers all the thrills of a getaway experience without you having to step into a hotel. We’ve all seen Dubai by road. Stuck on Shaikh Zayed Road at peak hours and trying to make our way through the Marina, one often forgets what a beautiful city we live in. This Valentine’s Day, how about you see the UAE from a different perspective

— from high up above and in the luxurious environs of plush appointed Cessna 208 Caravan seaplanes. Indulge in this adventure that promises memories that will last a lifetime, but also leave minimal impact on our ecosystem. Seaplanes emit no oil discharge into the water, their propeller, engine and exhaust are above the water, hence no disturbances are caused to marine life. Seawings has been offering scenic seaplane tours of the UAE since 2007 with a flagship base at Club Joumana in Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa. A second base operates at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club in the heart of the Creek area.

Sink into deep leather seats and at 450m above sea level, fly around the Burj Al Arab or marvel at the majestic beauty of our desert landscape. Enjoy a panoramic view of Palm Jumeirah or take in a day long, out-of-Africa safari experience at Sir Bani Yas Island. Perfect for tourists and jaded expats alike, this seaplane adventure over the UAE is bound to make you fall in love with the region. Seawings tours fly over Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah. Also on offer are private charter trips to Emirates Palace and Zhigy Bay. Go to www.seawings.ae

— Pratyush Sarup is design manager at one of the UAE’s premium interiors firms.