Could this be the answer to your perfect post-pandemic, last-minute holiday?
With the world slowly, but cautiously, opening for travel once more, here at HA we’ve been thinking about which destinations could provide our valued clients with the well-deserved, last-minute holiday they’ll be needing. And so, we’ve added Dubai and the stunning archipelago of the Maldives to our list of destinations. As is the same with most locations currently, FCO advice is yet to change, but we’re confident that both of these remarkable destinations will be open for business very soon.
Here at Holiday Architects, the safety of our clients and the peace of mind you get from flexibility when booking a trip is paramount. How travel looks in this new world is ever-evolving, but we believe that our new flexibility guarantee will give you the confidence that when booking a trip with us, you are booking with a tour operator that values your safety and will support you every step of the way.
Introducing two new destinations, perfect for a last-minute holiday…
There aren’t many places on this earth you can reach within seven hours that will give you as much of a cultural contrast to the UK as Dubai. Whether you’re after a city-break feel, or some time to put your feet up on a sunny beach, Dubai has it all. Perfect as a last-minute getaway, or as a stop-off on the way further afield, this myriad of sprawling desert-scapes, golden beaches and towering cityscape could be just the ticket. Although known for its hypermodernity and ever-evolving skyline, nestled beneath the glass and glamour is a warren of souks, traditional bedouin gems and tantalizing Middle-Eastern cuisine just waiting to be discovered.
Best time to travel: Spring or Autumn, it’s too hot in the Summer!
Best for: Families, adventure, beach break, city breaks
Travel information: Although at the time of writing it’s not yet on the FCO safe travel list, Dubai has opened its borders to tourists so we’re hopeful that a travel corridor with the UK will be formed soon. For the latest travel information, visit the FCO site for Dubai here.
All over Dubai, you’ll be confronted by the clash between heritage culture and modern life. Take a Modern Dubai City Tour with Arabian Adventures, starting with a scenic 20-minute boat ride around the staggering marina before marvelling at the iconic architecture of the city. The Burj Khalifa, the World’s tallest building, the gigantic sail-like 7* Burj Al Arab hotel that floats above the waves, the World’s biggest picture frame; The Frame and the man-made palm-shaped island, Palm Jumeriah, unlike anywhere else on earth.
Counter this hit of glass, metal and towering structures with an afternoon enjoying a Traditional Dubai City Tour. Dubai is a city with rich Middle-Eastern history, values, architecture and cuisine. Join an experienced guide to explore the cobbled streets of the old neighbourhoods before being enchanted by the shady maze of the Spice and Gold souks.
Neverending adventures for families
Dubai makes the perfect getaway for families who are after something a little different. The beautiful beaches and exclusive hotels are just the start here. Whether you choose to spend an afternoon skiing, taking an exhilarating 4WD driving adventure through the Arabian dunes, or trying your hand at camel riding, your kids will be all smiles on this last-minute holiday.
Treat the family to a cooling adrenaline rush at one of the many world-class waterparks. Marine-themed hotel, Atlantis The Palm, offers access to its incredible Aquaventure Waterpark, and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel has the fun-packed Wild Wadi Waterpark to dive on into.
For an educational afternoon, visit The Green Planet, an impressive indoor rainforest to learn all about flora and fauna from around the world through its interactive exhibitions, or explore the depths of the ocean at the Dubai Aquarium, full to bursting with colourful sea life to ogle at.
For the adrenaline junkies
Whether you’re after an adventure by air, sand, sea, or even snow; you’ll find it in Dubai. Never a country to do things by halves, despite nestling amidst steaming hot deserts, it boasts the biggest indoor ski centre in the world – Ski Dubai. Take to the air and put your nerves to the test with a skydive over the iconic Palm Jumeirah man-made island, or perhaps flying via zipline at Xline Dubai is more your style? Get a little sandy with a quad bike ride through the desert, travel over the dunes in style with an off-road 4×4 sunset adventure, or grab a board and surf the golden waves with a spot of sandboarding.
Indulge in the food and drink
Dubai boasts some of the best restaurants in the world. From extravagant Michelin cuisine, through to street-food style canteens and indulgent afternoon teas, there’s something for every taste (and budget!) in Dubai. Whether you fancy dining under the sea, eating amidst the sand dunes, feasting atop the world’s tallest building or savouring the local flavours in the souks, there are flavours galore to sample. We’d always recommend an afternoon food tour early in your trip to familiarise yourself with the cuisines and flavours early on in your trip.
It’s worth noting here that Dubai is a predominantly Muslim country that practices Ramadan. Next year, Ramadan falls over the Easter holidays and although your experience shouldn’t be too affected, if you plan to travel during this time, you’ll just need to be mindful of the locals whilst eating and drinking in public.
For a spot of serious indulgence, you could do worse than spending an afternoon Bottomless Brunching. It’s a big thing in Dubai! Visit The Jumeirah Al Qasr for a slice of serious opulence. Prepare to enjoy four hours worth of stunning alfresco dining, some of the best food you’ve ever tasted, unlimited premium drinks and a fantastic atmosphere thanks to the top-class live music. It’s not a cheap way to spend an afternoon, but after coming away full, watered and feeling like royalty, we’d argue it’s money well spent!
Shop ’till you drop
Sticking with the Dubai theme of ‘biggest in the world’, it’s offering in the shopping department is no exception. Slip on your comfy walking shoes and prepare to soak up the air-con for a day at the Dubai Mall (obviously the biggest shopping mall on earth), the similarly large Mall of the Emirates, or the quirky shipping-container shopping haven, BoxPark. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, hours can easily be whiled away exploring the never-ending souks.
If relaxation is what you’re after – understandable after the year we’ve all had! – then Dubai offers countless opportunities to lay low and get those feet up. With beach club lounges and luxury spas aplenty, alongside the impressive Kite Beach that combines sandy beach days with endless activities, you’ll be able to take a much-needed breather here.
The perfect stop-off…
Fancy Sri Lanka, the Maldives, or South East Asia but a little put off by spending that long in the air? We’ve got you covered. Dubai has more than enough to wow as a stand-alone destination, but it also works perfectly as a stop-off en route to a further afield destination. So break up that flying time and soak up some of the unique culture, architecture and experiences that the United Arab Emirates have to offer.
Where could be better for a bit of post-quarantine R&R than a pristine archipelago of islands nestled amidst the vast turquoise of the Indian Ocean? Made up of 1,190+ little coral islands, this beautiful country is just a short hop from vibrant Sri Lanka and would make the perfect last-minute holiday.
Best time to travel: December to April
Best for: Relaxation, watersports, beach holiday, families, couples
Travel information: The Maldives have handled the Covid-19 crisis fantastically from day one and at the time of writing, have already opened their doors to tourists, with each island taking strict measures to ensure all guests are tested on arrival. All being well, we’re confident the FCO will move it to their approved list any week now. For the latest travel information, visit the FCO site for the Maldives here.
Relaxation and wellness
Relaxation and wellness will be high up anyone’s priority list once we’re able to get travelling properly again. And you couldn’t do much better than slowing down and taking a deep breath in the Maldives. Spend a morning treating your soul to a spot of yoga on the pristine beaches, take a dip in the cleansing ocean before heading to one of the prestigious resort spas to relax all afternoon. That doesn’t sound half bad to us!
We’d always recommend visiting the Maldives on an All-Inclusive basis in order to really unwind and enjoy everything on offer without worrying about the bill at the end! The Maldives boasts some of the most luxurious resorts on earth, and what’s more, many of them are now offering ‘dine-around’ options, meaning a selection of restaurants, including many à la carte options, are included in their all-inclusive room packages. We love the stunning Dhigali Maldives, which offers six different restaurants and two bars to indulge at, all equally delicious and sure to wow your taste buds.
Your resort will undoubtedly cater to all tastes and cuisine choices, but traditional Maldivian food is absolutely worth a try. Similar to the cuisine found in neighbouring Sri Lanka, expect a great deal of fresh fish, coconut and fragrant curries all flavoured with an appetising array of spices.
Watersports: For when you need a break from the sunlounger
Getting a little toasty on the beach? Cool off with a dip in the calm, shimmering waters of the Indian Ocean. If you fancy something a little more challenging than bobbing about, the Maldives have plenty of water-based activities to enjoy. Many islands are circled by their very own coral reefs, full of colourful and exotic marine-life to take you away from the world for an hour or so.
Each island has its own options when it comes to watersports. Some are great for snorkelling and diving (We love Oblu by Atmosphere at Helengeli, with it’s 30+ top dive sites nearby), where others boast waves perfect for surfing (Cinnamon Dhonveli is considered one of the best surfing spots in the Maldives!).
Take off on a nighttime excursion by trying your hand at night fishing, swim with whale sharks, paddleboarding, kayaking, windsurfing and sailing are all activities on offer in this little slice of paradise. Have a chat with our Maldives specialist about the best island and resort for each activity!
Something for everyone
The Maldives are the epitome of luxury, your archetypal island paradise, so it’s no wonder they are popular as a romantic holiday destination for many couples and honeymooners.
For that ultimate slice of opulence, opt for a stay in your own private overwater bungalow, built on stilts over the glistening waters. There’s something seriously special about getting up in the morning, moving a few steps to your sun lounger and soaking up the sun before stepping straight into the ocean from your own private deck, then drying off whilst dangling your feet in the water with a well-earned glass of fizz. The absolute ultimate in pinch-yourself lavish tranquillity.
The Maldives aren’t just for adults though. A last-minute holiday here would certainly make a memory-worthy break for all the family. With watersports, cooking classes, local tours and various beach sports on offer at many of the resorts, there’s plenty to break up the sunshine-filled days on the glistening sands. If you’re travelling with young children, we’d recommend a beach bungalow. You’re closer to the action this way, yet still with stunning sea views, direct beach access and surrounded by tropical foliage. Reethi Beach resort is a great option for families!
If any of the above has awakened your inner-traveller and tickled your need for a well-deserved holiday, we’re here. Our travel specialists are on the end of the phone at 01242 253 073 to talk about all things Dubai and the Maldives today. So, whether you want to discuss the current travel situation, how we’ve adapted to change how we work post-covid or talk about getting a holiday in the diary to look forward to, we’d love to hear from you.
Alternatively, fill in our quick and easy form to get a free quote for your very own tailormade Dubai or Maldives holiday…