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Stopover in Dubai

 

OK guys, strap yourselves in for six whirlwind, mind-blowing days in Dubai with us!

(If you haven’t read Part 1 of our adventure, head here first.)


Starting points:

  • Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates. It was once a small fishing village but grew to become the most populated of the Emirates. It’s a modern metropolis in the middle of the desert.
  • We stayed at the Centara Mirage Dubai, and honestly, words can barely describe how incredible this place is. A dream world for adults and kids.
  • Dubai is a 14-hour flight from Sydney.
  • We went in early April, which is Dubai spring, and the weather was perfect: 25–30 degrees every day. The winters (December to February) are warm and the summers (June to August) are scorching. It was the tail end of the peak season (November to April) so wasn’t as busy.

 

Day 1: Dubai Mall + Resort Water Park

Dubai Mall, in the heart of Downtown Dubai, is the most visited retail centre in the world, and the second-largest shopping mall. It is absolutely phenomenal. It makes every shopping centre in Australia look like the Wish version! Everything in Dubai is GRAND; shiny and big and immaculate. And so clean. There’s more than a thousand shops here, an enormous indoor waterfall, ice rink, kids’ game zone. We didn’t really shop, just took it all in. Just to see it is an experience in itself.

Fun fact: Outside there is a line of taxis and limos. Take your pick!

After that, the girls were keen to hit the resort water park. There are so many cool rides and slides, a lazy river, lagoon pools and an inflatable obstacle course. We all had so much fun. Boredom is just not an option here, there is so much to see and do.

The hotel has its own beach (it’s such a mind trip: a beach (manmade) in the middle of the desert) just beyond the pool, and after dark they set up a cinema on the beach. We swam, ate and watched Despicable Me 2 under the stars. It was magical.

 

Day 2: Museum of the Future + KidZania

The Museum of the Future was high on my to-do list, because it sounded so interesting. It’s basically a setup of possible things that could be our reality in 2071. The building itself is INCREDIBLE — it’s a huge steel circular sculpture, with a curved entrance, capsule-shaped glass elevators, lots of archways, long winding spiral staircases … so architecturally awesome. The museum itself is amazing. There are different sections that focus on robots, flying gadgets, technology, design, mindfulness, a connection room, and futuristic kids’ play area. Very cool.

The next part, KidZania, was easily the best thing the girls had ever seen! It’s insane, like an entire mini city especially for kids. I was not prepared for how cool it was! There are like 60 ‘jobs’ kids can do in the city. They got their driver’s licence and learned how to drive cars, got their own bank card and passport, they got to be firefighters (trucks, sirens, hoses, the works!), they piloted a plane, were artists with easels, shopped at a mini supermarket with mini trolleys using their own bank card, they even got to work at Macca’s and make their own Happy Meal. Even as an adult I loved it. Much more fun than the real world!

It was a huge day and we were all exhausted, so we grabbed some food from the family lounge at the resort (more on that below), and relaxed in our room in front of MTV India!

Dubai Museum of the FutureDubai Museum of the Future

Day 3: Chill day at the resort

We deliberately scheduled a day without activities so we didn’t run ourselves into the ground. But even then, there is SO MUCH for kids to do at the resort, I couldn’t get over it. It’s like a giant playground.

Centara has a kids’ club, where they can stay up to three hours a day. There are lots of games, indoor slides, video games and stuff, and a full activity schedule for different age groups. I’ve not used a kids’ club before, but they were so well run and professional, they took our phone number, I felt very safe leaving the kids there.

We were booked in for Centara’s all-inclusive package, which I highly recommend doing. You get access to a family lounge, where you can go to get snacks, drinks, or just to get out of the sun for a bit and chill while the kids play. Such a great idea.

Dubai Resort

 

Day 4: Filming day for Visit Dubai campaign — Aya + The Dubai Frame + Dinner at Wavehouse

We had a big day of filming content for the Visit Dubai campaign, and it was a wonderful experience. The crew were so friendly and fun, and the girls loved hanging out with them for the day.

First, we went to Aya, which is described as an ‘immersive entertainment park’. It was like an otherworldly cosmic experience. Rooms that come to life with lights, sounds, patterns, sculptures, installations … It’s hard to explain, but it was truly breathtaking, like being in a different universe.

Next up was the Dubai Frame, a 150m tall rectangular monument that frames views of Old and New Dubai. It’s impressive from a distance but SO cool up close. We went up to the top of it, and it was so interesting to see the parallels from one side of the city to the other.

Last stop, Wavehouse at the Atlantis Hotel. It’s a dining and entertainment hub, so you can eat and hit up the kids’ zone, arcade games, and tenpin bowling.

A huge but memorable, incredible day.

Stopover in Dubai

 

Day 5: Sky Views, Dubai Mall, resort beach activities + kids’ club (mum and dad chill time)

Back into the city today for some more sightseeing. Where better to see the sights than from up high? Sky Views was insanely high — 219.5m — with the most incredible 360-degree views over Downtown Dubai, Dubai Mall, the marina, and the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building at 829.8m). But I was most excited for the glass slide. Yep, a slide made of glass on the outside of this 54-storey building, sliding from one floor to the next. It was WILD but so fun. Not as scary as I’d thought it would be actually, even Harper did it (Willow didn’t make the height limit unfortunately). 

We then checked out the famous dancing water fountain at the back of Dubai Mall, which was beautiful. There’s just so much to look at — up, down, around; every direction is filled with awe-inspiring sights.

We had lunch at P.F. Chang’s, which was a honeymoon throwback from the US for Ryan and I, and it was delicious.

Back at the hotel, the kids wanted to go to the kids’ club, so Ryan and I got some downtime to ourselves. Spent some time at the beach chilling in a kabana. Bliss!

 

Day 6: Desert Safari + Day Spa

On our last day, we were headed on safari. We booked in for an early session, starting at 5.30am, but we were back by lunch, so we could chill at the hotel and get ourselves organised to leave the next day.

The safari company, Platinum Heritage, picked us up at the hotel. When we arrived, we got to pick a head scarf to wear, which was to protect from the sand and sun. The setup was incredible. Lounge and dining areas, there were even these amazing luxe bathrooms, in the middle of the desert! Such a spinout, and such great service.

We started with coffee and breakfast in this beautiful picnic area, laid with rugs, day beds and cushions. They offered a spread of fresh fruits, traditional bean mix, even pancakes for the kids. So delicious. Then we got into the open-roof Land Rover and went cruising across the sand dunes. We stopped for some sandboarding, which was so much fun. Silly us didn’t bring closed-in shoes so couldn’t stand up, but sitting down worked great (for me, not so much Ryan lol, he just dug into the sand). The walk back up the dune hurt a bit though — here’s me thinking I was fit! We continued on our drive, and honestly, the scenery was spectacular. The vastness, the contrast between land and sky, it’s truly another world.\

Top tips:

  • I really think the company you go with will make or break the experience if you have little kids
  • If you’re going sandboarding, bring closed-in shoes with you (don’t be stupid like us!)
  • Check with the company that they aren’t doing extreme dune bashing if your kids won’t like that (Platinum Heritage doesn’t do that and it was perfect for the kids)
  • Bring car sickness medication if you get sick (my kids get carsick but because of the open roof they were fine)
  • Opt for a morning or evening safari as the desert gets very hot in the middle of the day
  • If you go on a morning safari, wear sandals, because… sand. At night, they get you to leave your shoes on in case there are scorpions
  • Take an insulated water bottle with you to keep your drinks cold
  • Sunglasses for the whole family
  • Sunscreen!
  • Notify the company you go with if you have any food allergies/intolerances, as Dubai can be a bit harder for gluten-free options sometimes.

I was treated to a massage at the day spa in the afternoon. It was the best massage of my whole life, I was a new woman! Finished with tea and water, and the opportunity to use the cold plunge pool, spa and sauna. Again, just luxury and thought in every detail. Plus, there’s a kids’ day spa too, which was super cute.


We were actually sad to leave Dubai the next morning. Usually by the end of a holiday I am ready to leave, but I truly wanted to stay a bit longer. We fit in so much in just 6 days, as a stopover you can cram so much in, but there is a lot more on offer for a longer stay as well.

 

Dubai SafariDubai Safari

 

Final thoughts:

  • The hotel was incredible, best resort I’ve ever stayed in. So family friendly. Both kids’ and adults’ facilities were five-star every step of the way. Be sure to get the all-inclusive package, we saved so much money on food that way as there is food available for your convenience in the family room.
  • To eat out in town is a bit more expensive than in Australia, but there were so many options at the resort we didn’t feel we needed to. The breakfast buffet was amazing; kids had their own special buffet, there was a whole tower of Nutella jars, beautiful colourful baskets of fruit, kids thought it was amazing getting to eat at a restaurant every day!
  • The hotel has a shuttle bus service to take you downtown if you wish, which is much more cost effective than a taxi.
  • Downtown Dubai is 20 minutes from Centara. Once in town, use the metro to get around to cut back on costs too.
  • There were no strict rules for tourists regarding dress, and we felt very safe and comfortable there.

 

Dubai was an incredible, eye-opening experience. It also felt somewhat serendipitous and bittersweet, as the last place my dad travelled before he passed away last year was Dubai. I almost feel like he had a helping hand in us securing this trip, in some cosmic way. It was really, really special to do this, as a way to honour him and his love of travel, and also feel connected with him again, seeing things that he saw and loved.

Next week, we continue on with Part 3 of the series: the Pases hit Santorini!

 

* This is a paid partnership with Visit Dubai and KAYAK Australia.

 

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