Fancy a change of scenery? A sense of a true getaway without taking a flight? Look no further than Fujairah.
Fujairah is the fifth largest of the seven emirates that make up the UAE and the only one of the seven that has a coastline solely on the Gulf of Oman and not the Persian Gulf, nestled on the East. Some two hours drive from Dubai, it’s easily accessible for short staycations when the shadow of the skyscrapers gets that bit too much.
The drive down to Fujarah is a rather pleasant one, if of course, you have the air-conditioning turned up! Once through the borders of Ras Al Khaimah you are greeted by the stunning scenery of the Hajar mountains which truly are a treat to drive through.
Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort is nestled on the coastline set against the backdrop of these mountains and has a reputation as the best of few five-star hotels in the area. Located on a 230m stretch of pristine private beach it’s easy to see why.
Following the typical exterior and indeed, interior detailing of many Meridien hotels across the region, everything is clean, polished and tasteful. The rooms are spacious and offer panoramic views of the ocean, the suites also offer a stunning view of the mountains which is currently a little interrupted with construction work next door but pretty nonetheless. There are a total of 218 rooms in the hotel which at full capacity can make the resort seem quite busy.
Staying in a Le Meridien Club room high up on the 17th floor I cannot recommend this enough. The higher floors offer truly fantastic views out across the resort and ocean and ensure you maintain a sense of calm and peacefulness away from any hustle and bustle of guests. A little tip; if you can tear yourself away from the extraordinarily comfortable bed, then you must get up to watch the sunrise over the ocean which is a truly romantic sight. The room interior is typical Le Meridien style with a large sofa, dressing table and mod cons. Some of the touches may be a little eclectic but the room is maintained perfectly and my personal favourite part was the enormous bathtub and power shower that are most welcome after a day splashing around in the ocean. If you opt for a Club room you are also eligible for access into Le Meridien Club Lounge located on the 15th and 16th floors which offers refreshments, reading options, wi-fi and daily happy hours. Afternoon tea seemed to be a favourite with guests with finger sandwiches and a delicious selection of pastries and cakes on offer.
The hotel boasts nine restaurants and bars including the Views brasserie for all day dining which has regular theme nights and is honestly a little bit hit and miss, which is expected from a hotel’s buffet but some of the independent dining outlets such as Sapore, a modern Italian fine dining restaurant that is open for both lunch and dinner. The sophisticated dishes are most welcome with signature seafood and pasta dishes. In the cooler months you can also dine alfresco under the stars.
After dinner venture up to Astros bar, high up on the 20th floor with fantastic views out across the coast. This popular bar serves delicious cocktails and plays live sport which is a welcome addition for male (and female) guests, it’s far too easy to while away the time until the early hours chatting happily and sipping on refreshing delights.
For me, the part where this hotel really comes to life is outside. From the diving centre, huge variety of watersports on offer to the extensive temperature controlled swimming pool complete with swim-up bar, it’s enough to turn grown adults into children and little ones into very happy guests indeed. The hotel is very family orientated with lots of children’s activities organized and enough to keep all ages entertained.
The beach area is again fantastic with powdery sands leading into incredible surf, something residents of the west side of the UAE rarely see. Guests splash through the waves of the cusp of the Indian ocean and gasp in amazement at the fabulous marine life, bring a snorkel if you can. There is plenty of shade on both the beach and the pool protecting you from the elements, however it is advisable to get out early as the sun loungers get taken up when the hotel is near capacity.
There is also a spa at Le Meridien Al Aqah Resort which plays home to signature treatments from world-class beauty brands such as Clarins and Softouch Ayurveda. The anti sun and after sport stopovers are great ideas that refresh your skin after a day in the Arabian sunshine.
Le Meridien Al Aqah is a great family destination for a weekend stay or as a destination when discovering the Emirates, it is unpretentious hospitality at its best with a wide range of nationalities staying in the hotel. For the stunning scenery alone it is well worth a visit.