• 25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 4 – Dubai, Al Maha & Sheraton Mall of the Emirates

    by  • December 25, 2016 • Luxury Hotel, Miles & Points, Travel • 0 Comments

    Previous Trip Notes:
    25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 3 – IAD & EK232
    25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 2 – Trip Report Setup
    25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 1 – Planning

    We stayed at Al Maha for one night during our honeymoon in the winter of 2015. It was an amazing experience, and we made it a personal goal to return within five years. Fast-forward 18 months, and we were on our way for a two-day return trip.

    We landed in Dubai around 8am and were in our taxi heading towards the Sheraton Mall of the Emirates by 9am. Luckily, the Sheraton allowed us to check-in to our room when we arrived, and we were given a room right next to the Sheraton Club.

    As we used our Starwood Business credit card from AMEX, we were entitled to use the Sheraton Club. Due to our category six hurricane on the 13-hour plane ride from Washington D.C. to Dubai, we were all exhausted. We crashed in the room for about an hour, and then I went to explore the mall. It was, incredible. The mall had just about every store you can think of. It even had penguins and a ski slope.

    Mall of the Emirates – Borders Book Store??

    Mall of the Emirates Ski Slope

    I briefly explored the multiple levels, and then headed back to the room. It was time for afternoon tea.

    While this was my second time in Dubai, my first trip was mostly spent at Al Maha – so other than exploring the gold and spice souks, I hadn’t really explored much of the city. I wanted an over-the-top experience. So I booked “afternoon tea” at the Burj Al Arab – the only [self-proclaimed] Seven Star hotel in the world. You are only allowed on the premises of the hotel if you have a reservation for a meal or if you are staying at the hotel. At $2,000+ per night, afternoon tea it was.

    The lobby entrance is stunning; the architectural vision was just amazing.

    Burj Al Arab Entrance

    Burj Al Arab Fish Tank

    Burj Al Arab Lobby View (Upwards)

    We took our afternoon tea at the Skybar, overlooking the Persian Gulf and the Palm Jumeirah. The experience was great; unfortunately, only having an hour of sleep in the previous 48 hours made it hard to truly enjoy. You start with a glass of champagne, and each course was small, but they kept bring out more and more food. It just wouldn’t stop.

    Dates for Starters

    White Chocolate Apple Compote

    I Opted for a Caffeinated Ginger Tea

    Finger Sandwiches

    Lychee & Rose Sorbet

    Homemade Scones & Pastries

    View of the Persian Gulf

    By the end, we couldn’t even touch most of the last course. Our server looked offended, asked if we didn’t enjoy the experience, and wanted to know if there was anything she could do. We told her quite the opposite. Everything was great, we were just too full to eat anything else!

    We jumped in a taxi back to the Sheraton, roughly a five minute ride, said goodbye to NSPpeanut, and jumped in another taxi to Al Maha. Pro-tip: Most taxi drivers don’t know where Al Maha is located. We had this issue the first time we went there. Let them know to head toward the outlet malls outside of the city, and keep going past exit 50. About a mile or so past exit 50, you will see a sign for Al Maha. The sign is small – so keep your eyes peeled!

    I also use Maps.Me on my Android phone. You can download maps of countries in advance that then allow you to use it offline. The app works amazingly well, and it was easy to track and make sure the taxi driver was heading in the right direction. The taxi ride is about $65 USD, but we always give a nice tip since it is so far away.

    Ahhhh. Al Maha, how I have missed thee.

    We arrived around 3:30pm and were shown to our Bedouin suite. You can read all about our experience, full of pictures, from our first visit, so I won’t just rehash those. On our first trip, we took a camel ride out to a great vantage point for a sunset, and I also went SUV Dune-Bashing. You are allowed two complimentary activities per day, so we had up to four activities for our stay.

    On our first night we opted for the champagne sunset, but took an SUV instead of taking the camels:

    For day two, I chose an early morning falconing experience while NSPwife tried her hand at horseback riding (experienced riders only).

    While the falconing was interesting and I learned a lot about falcons in the region, I was expecting more interaction with the birds.

    Falconing at Sunrise – Al Maha

    We also had an archery lesson, which was absolutely fantastic and something I highly recommend:

    Al Maha – Archery

    The resort is beautiful. I apologize in advance for the poor quality of my drone video – it appeared that customs wanted to search the bag and actually ripped the camera off the drone. As such, I had to rig my GoPro camera on my drone, both dangerous, and quite ineffective for taking great aerial video:

    We enjoyed our stay as much this time as our first time. The only thing that I thought was interesting was that the menu was 95% the same. While that was great in terms of having the sashimi, lunch filet with pepper sauce and lobster thermidor, I would have loved to see some additional variety from the very talented chefs. We did check out the breakfast buffet this trip, which we did not do the first time…and wow was it amazing:

    Al Maha Breakfast Buffet

    Al Maha Breakfast Buffet

    Al Maha Breakfast Buffet

    Al Maha Breakfast Buffet

    Al Maha Breakfast Buffet

    I’m not sure when we will be able to return. While I’d love to do so again soon, there are so many places in the world to explore. For now, NSPwife and I are going to keep Al Maha in our “favorite places” file, and maybe come back in the far future.

    Al Maha, Take Two

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