Dubai Diaries: Staycations are staying put

The column explores the ease and comfort of 'staycations' in the UAE

By Gopika Nair

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Published: Fri 11 Mar 2022, 5:10 PM

All I have to do is type the letter ‘b’ into my browser. The results that pop up are the numerous hotels I’ve bookmarked on since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

My bookmarks are a tempting reminder that an ordinary weekend morning could mark the start of a short, but relaxing vacation, where I’m soaking up the sun at a resort with a cocktail in one hand and a copy of Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half in another. And I don’t even have to leave the country to fulfil my desire for a change of scenery.

The first staycation I booked was an all-inclusive, three-day trip at a hotel in Ras Al Khaimah, an emirate I had never visited despite having lived in the UAE for at least 20 years. It was just my luck that the front desk agent upgraded my room to one with a terrace that offered panoramic views of the mountains and the beach.

Those three October nights were humid enough that my painstakingly straightened strands of hair were shocked back into their original, curly state. Still, we sat outside, playing rounds of Crazy Eights until it was so late that we missed our dinner reservation at the restaurant on-site. So, we settled for a meal at the buffet, where the battered calamari was cold and the lamb chops were too tough to chew. And yet, it was easily one of the best dinners I had ever had.

For my second staycation, I didn’t leave Dubai, but I did finally get around to visiting an area that is sometimes dubbed the eighth wonder of the world — Palm Jumeirah. This time around, there was no free upgrade; the balcony in my room overlooked others’, but it didn’t matter. How could it when my days were spent at the beach and my dinner was a silky carbonara that was perfectly al dente?

Now that most countries around the world have eased travel restrictions and reopened borders, booking my next staycation isn’t nearly as high on my list as hopping on a plane and learning to find my footing in unfamiliar grounds. But that’s not to say I’ve stopped scouring for staycation spots in the UAE.

The pandemic certainly popularised the concept of staycations, but even if the world gets back on its feet like it’s the first day of 2020, I have no plans to delete my bookmarks or abandon my beachside daydreams. Staycations, apart from offering a short respite from the daily grind, are also a way to see different parts of the UAE. If not for them, I might’ve never visited Ghantoot or finally gotten a glimpse of Jebel Jais.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I don’t have to scramble for a visa, find the best flight deals or plan months in advance. With a staycation, all I need to do is pack a bag and call a taxi.

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