Slipping into the clear water, I swim towards the waterfall and lie back, looking up towards the bluest of skies. The waterfall and the rocks from which it is tumbling may be manmade but it is nevertheless a cooling sound in the heat of the day. I slowly float beneath the fronds of a palm tree (a real one) as the skyscrapers of Dubai come into view; the juxtaposition of beachside resort and gleaming city towers mesmerises me.
While I knew I would love the old town’s souks and activities such as the fabulous food tour with Frying Pan Adventures, what I didn’t see coming, on a recent visit to Dubai, was just how much I would utterly adore the cityscape of bright, shiny, modern, gigantic and simply stunning skyscrapers.
Dubai is a city that has always fascinated me. It’s not my usual style city break that’s for sure – think shabby chic in Paris or exploring the ancient sites in Rome – yet for many years now I have yearned to visit Dubai, known as the City of Gold thanks to the vast amounts that change hands every day in the famous gold souks.
While no manmade structures could ever surpass Mother Natures’ handy work, the city is never-the-less a magnificent sight, rising up out of the vast desert sands that surround it.
The Burj Khalifa
There is no denying that the skyscrapers of Dubai collectively are impressive, yet one lone, astonishingly tall tower rises high above them all; standing sentinel, quietly watching the vibrant city at its feet.
If you have ever read my tale about overcoming my fear of heights in Bologna, you may well have questioned my sanity had you borne witness to my excitement at the prospect of ascending the Burj Kahlifa, the tallest building in the world. (I think skipping was involved but let’s keep that just between us if that’s OK.)
And what a sight it is, glistening in the morning sunshine before a backdrop of deep blue sky with just a smattering of white, wispy clouds floating by. It took 6 years to build, finishing in 2010. Its potential successor, Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, on the banks of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, will be a staggering kilometre in height and was started last year. But for now, at least, the Burj Khalifa still reigns supreme as the tallest building in the world.
On the day of our visit, I stand at its feet and gaze up in awe of the 830 meters of smooth, shining glass that rises up before me. We’re joining the ‘At the Top’ experience and I’m eager to start. Luckily the weather is on our side that day. Our tickets are already booked, as they do sell out, and leaving it to the last minute to check on the weather is risky (and more expensive than booking in advance online).
We are shown into a dedicated lift and start the ascent. The floor counter whizzes past numbers at an alarming rate and before we know it we reach our final destination, floor 125. Stepping out onto the viewing terrace I look up at the tower which still seems to carry on forever, up and up into the sky. There are another 37 floors above us. Looking down the 456 meters to the ground, the neighbouring skyscrapers take on a diminutive appearance as the city stretches out before me. The views are staggering; a not-to-be-missed experience for any first-time visitor. While I may get giddy if I look down an escalator or a steep flight of stairs, there is no such feeling here, just pure wonderment.
The Ritz Carlton Dubai
This urban jungle made a spectacular setting for our hotel, the Ritz Carlton, in the heart of the Dubai Marina District by a pristine sandy beach, lapped by the waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Each time I entered the lovely garden and walked out into the warm, fragrant air, the city’s towers greeted me and filled me with delight. Add to this the seven superb restaurants and bars, offering a fabulous range of cuisines including Italian, Asian and Emirati, five lovely swimming pools, a sumptuous spa and outstanding service, this elegant hotel made a superb base from which to explore the truly memorable and fascinating city of Dubai.
I do have to give a quick shout out for the staff at the Ritz Carlton – every single person that I met and chatted to working in the hotel, seriously impressed me. I imagine each one of them, whether in housekeeping, management, the kitchens or the spa, had been hand-picked. Their dedication to ensuring the best possible experience for their guests was exemplary. No fussing or fake smiles, simply a warm and welcoming, first class service, with that little extra something that is hard to define.
The only thing I could say that I didn’t like was the offer of a free drink on a Wednesday evening in one of the bars, for every inch of heel a lady wore. But hey, that’s just me. And this is Dubai.
For more photographs from the Ritz Carlton, their fabulous restaurants and more of the city,
please visit my Dubai albums on Flickr. More coming soon.
You can read my review of the Ritz Carlton on Jumeriah Beach, Dubai on Boutique Travel Blog.
Travelbag (0845 543 6615) are currently offering three nights at the five star Ritz Carlton Jumeirah Beach starting from £689 per person – a saving of £170 per couple. This package is based on two people sharing a room on a bed and breakfast basis and includes direct flights with Emirates from London Heathrow. The package is bookable until 23 March 2015 for travel during the month of June, so you’ll need to act fast to catch this particular offer.
The ‘At the Top’ experience on the 125th floor of the Burj khalifa, costs from 125 AED (around £23). An even higher experience on floor 148 is also available. You’ll find all you need to know on their website where you can book tickets online here, Burj Khalifa.
My thanks to the sponsors of this trip including Dubai Tourism, The Ritz Carlton, Alpha Tours and The Dubai Food Festival. As always, I will give you my own, honest opinions throughout my posts from Dubai. There are no affiliate links in this post.
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