Our first spring break as a party of four! This year the school district cut spring break from 10 days to 6. I was trying to think of a destination that would be unique and appealing to the kids, but also where this would seem like enough time. I finally settled on Dubai and it turned out to be a great choice.
We flew on Emirates using Ultimate Rewards points, which was a far superior experience to any we have ever had on a U.S. airline. Our standard economy seats were very spacious and the large entertainment system kept us busy on the long flight. We were all able to get some decent sleep, and arrived on Wednesday evening at 7:30pm Dubai time.
We used points to stay at the Marriott Harbour Suites, which was a very nice all-suite property in the Marina area of Dubai. The room was enormous and had two large bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms in addition to a kitchen, large living room, and two separate balconies that overlooked the big manmade Palm Jumeriah island and the Atlantis resort.
Day 1: Today we dropped the kids at Wild Wadi water park for the day. Kevin and I then headed across the street to Barasti Beach Club, and spent a few hours beachside. The view was interesting . . .
The kids came back around 4:00, and we headed out to our afternoon activity, The Yellow Boats.
Day 2: After breakfast, we headed over to Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. We had tickets for 10:30, and were up in no time. It was interesting to see the city from so high up. After coming back down, we explored the mall a little bit, had lunch, and waited for the famous Dubai fountain show. We were not impressed. Perhaps the night show is a little more exciting with lights.
At 4:00, we were picked up for our afternoon activity, dune buggies with Big Red Tours. This was so fun! Kevin and Luke shared a buggy with Kevin driving the whole time, and Riley and I shared one with us splitting the driving. Riley really surprised me with how well he did driving, but it was much scarier as the passenger. We had a perfect night with a bright full moon.
Day 3: Kevin’s birthday! The wait staff at the hotel breakfast brought over a piece of chocolate cake and sang to him. They were so attentive and friendly during our whole stay. Then we were off to Abu Dhabi. We grabbed a taxi and headed to the Sheik Zayed Grande Mosque. Once in the visitor center, I was given an abaya and Kevin, Luke, and Riley were given sweat pants to cover their shorts. We did the free 45 minute tour, and all thought it was interesting.
Next we headed over to Ferrari World. For Kevin’s birthday, I had booked a drag racing experience for him and a tour of the Yas Marina Circuit facility. While he spent the day doing this, the kids and I enjoyed Ferrari World. An indoor theme park is so vastly superior to melting in the Florida sun. Do you hear me, Disney? How about a dome?
We returned to the hotel and were surprised to find a full chocolate cake in our refrigerator with HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEVIN written on it, along with a candle and matches. The hotel really did a great job of making us feel special.
Day 4: We were picked up at 6:30 by Platinum Heritage Tours for a falconry and desert safari experience. On the way to the desert, our driver swung by a track where they have camel racing.
Our first experience upon arrival was getting our headwear, which is useful in the event of blowing sand.
Next, we headed in the Land Rovers to the camp, where we had a great demonstration using falcons and an owl.
Following a traditional breakfast, we all had the opportunity for a short camel ride.
Finally, we finished with a drive through the wildlife reserve, where we spotted some oryx and some sort of lizard.
In the afternoon, we headed to the Mall of the Emirates for our final activity at Ski Dubai. I was intrigued by the novelty of an indoor ski facility, and we chose to do the snow pass tubing and other activities rather than the skiing, which honestly is probably much better for little kids. But we did enjoy the penguins!
Our flight departed for home at 2:15 am, so we headed out for the airport at 11:30pm and were back in DC by 8:30am Monday morning. We all agreed that this was one of our best trips. We were really surprised by how big Dubai is and how westernized everything seems. We had expected many people to be in traditional Arab dress, but found that not to be the case at all. The vast majority of people look like they could be walking down any American street.