With the long weekend looming, it’s time to start planning that much-deserved break you’ve been pining for. To help avoid any last minute frantic holiday hunting, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best destinations within five hours travel time of Dubai.
Where? Banyan Tree, Ras Al Khaimah Beach, UAE
How far? 1.5 hours by car
Why? If you’re looking for somewhere to spend the holiday that doesn’t require a trip to the airport – then Ras Al Khaimah is the place to be. Serving as a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Banyan Tree serves as a desert sanctuary complete with private beach and golf club, so you can while away the weekend in maximum comfort.
The deal: Guests who book a villa will be given the option to take part in a guided walk at a nature reserve, as well as learning about and trying their hand at both archery and falconry. A visit to the Mews will also be on offer, which houses an array of owls, falcons, hawks and eagles.
Price? Rooms from Dhs2,250 per night incl. package.
Contact: banyantree.com. Tel: (04) 2067777.
Where? The Chedi, Muscat, Oman
How far? 4.5 hours by car, 1 hour via plane
Why? The Chedi is only a 15-minute drive from the airport, and an equally short distance from the Muscat’s old city and all the tourist attractions. Oman itself offers a completely different take on the desert, with an array of natural mountains, hillsides and wadis to explore. With private terraces in every suite and a private beach to boot, The Chedi is great for a relaxing few days, or a hub for a more exploratory and cultural visit.
The deal: The Chedi has teamed up with Hud Hud Travels to bring holidaymakers the ‘Art of the Design’ package – taking guests into the Wahiba sands to explore Omani Bedouin culture and camp beneath the stars. Comes with a free 60-minute Ancient Balinese Massage.
Price? Rooms from Dhs1,600 per night incl. package, flights from Dhs300 with flydubai
Contact: lhw.com. Tel: (968) 24524400.
Where? Angsana Velavaru, Male, Maldives
How far? 4.5 hours by plane
Why? Located on Velavaru or ‘Turtle’ Island, this tropical destination comes complete with swaying palm trees, almond trees, and even the odd angsana tree. The ocean is mere metres away from their beachside villas or, if you opt for the suspended ocean villas, even closer. Expect spa time, sand, and a hint of romance.
The deal: The Live for Family Fun package is available until December 20, where children below 12 get to eat for free at the restaurants, and the parents get to sneak off for a cheeky complimentary 90-minute spa session. Also comes with free access to the Kids’ Club and a go at one non-motorised water sports activity.
Price? Rooms from Dhs1,835 per night incl. package, flights from Dhs2,200 with flydubai
Contact: angsana.com. Tel: (960) 6760028.
Where? Four Seasons Hotel, Amman, Jordan
How far? 3.5 hours by plane
Why? Amman, although relatively young in comparison to other Middle Eastern cities, is still chock full of things to do. There’s the urbane Western Amman complete with green districts, cafes, bars malls and galleries – contrasted by the more cultural Eastern Amman, where you can visit the more traditional side of the city. In Downtown Amman, you’ll find all the Roman ruins, museums, and thrumming mosques, souqs and coffeeshops your more touristy heart desires.
The deal: The Spa Break package entitles you and one other to a daily breakfast for two, accompanied by any 60-minute spa treatment of your choice. Alongside that is the three night deal, which entitles you to a third night’s stay completely free if you book a stay for two consecutive nights.
Price? Rooms from Dhs1,455 per night incl. package, flights from Dhs925 with flydubai
Contact: fourseasons.com. Tel: (962) 65505555.
Where? Wildernest Nature Resort, Goa, India
How far? 3 hours by plane
Why? Nestled in the Swapnagandha valley, 800m above sea-level lies Wildernest. With incredible views over swathes of forest, waterfalls and mountains, there’s very little out there to rival the view. A true escape from civilisation, Wildernest offers up a relaxing nature experience, with plenty of foot trails, nature walks, and animal encounters to keep you busy.
The deal: No specific deals, but guests are invited to partake in daily hikes, nature walks and spa treatments, and to enjoy shrine visits, dance performances and expert wildlife talks.
Price? Rooms from Dhs390 per night incl. package, flights from Dhs2,000 with Air India
Contact: wildernest-goa.com. Tel: (091) 8314207954.
Where? Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel, Baku, Azerbaijan
How far? 3 hours by plane
Why? Baku is one of the most rapidly developing Eurasian cities, and is considered South Caucasus’ largest and most cosmopolitan metropolis. With a beautiful blend of East and West, new and old, Baku is a largely overlooked treasure. And staying just outside of the city on the edge of the Caspian Sea in the Jumeirah Bilgah doesn’t sound too shabby either.
The deal: The advanced purchase rate dictates that all stays booked seven days in advance receive 15 per cent off their standard rate. The Jumeirah Bilgah is also offering the Romance Package, where couples are entitled to a complimentary couples massage, as well as a complimentary breakfast and three-course meal.
Price? Rooms from Dhs340 per night incl. package, flights from Dhs1,250 with flydubai
Contact: jumeirah.com. Tel: (994) 125654000.
Where? Yak and Yeti Hotel, Kathmandu, Nepal
How far? 4.5 hours by plane
Why? Once dubbed ‘the garden city of the East’, Colombo blends city chic with culture, with everything ranging from stylish shops, gourmet restaurants and cafes to incredible local food and street markets in the old quarters.
The deal: The ‘Himalayan Getaway Package’ offers three nights accommodation in a Deluxe room, accompanied by two half-day sightseeing trips and a 15 per cent discount on all food and beverage outlets in the hotel.
Price? Rooms start from Dhs2,200 per night incl. package, flights from Dhs1,800 with flydubai
Contact: yakandyeti.com. Tel: (977) 14240520.
Where? Banana Island Resort by Anantara, Doha, Qatar
How far? 1 hour by plane
Why? Dubbed by some the ‘mini Dubai’, Doha similarly sprang from out of nowhere. With its own unique and exotic skyline, plenty of greenery, and all the souqs, dhow rides, shops and restaurants you could possibly need, Doha serves as a brilliant city getaway that’s not too far from home. The hotel is another story, though. Situated on its own island, this sanctuary offers a romantic setting; replete with everything you’d need to pass away a relaxing few days. A 20-minute ferry to and from the island offers a quick way of getting into the city.
The deal: The ‘Banana Island Short Breaks Special’ is perfect for a quick escape, offering a complimentary room upgrade, daily breakfast, and 20 per cent off throughout the stay on dining and spa treatments.
Price? Rooms start from Dhs1,335 incl. package, flights from Dhs400 with flydubai
Contact: doha.anantara.com. Tel: (974) 40405050.
Where? Hotel Amira, Istanbul, Turkey
How far? 5 hours by plane
Why? A city absolutely brimming with history and culture. An incredible skyline, tea-houses galore, culinary delights and beautiful architecture. This multicultural city has things to do in every corner, so If you’re looking for an extraordinary cultural experience then Istanbul is the destination for you. The Hotel Amira is a boutique hotel situated in the heart of the capital, so you’ll never be far from the action.
The deal: The ‘Cultural Package’ deal includes three nights in a Standard Room for two people, as well as a welcome cocktail, chocolate fondue and fruits, and a 40 per cent discount for the Wellness Centre plus a 10 per cent discount on all massages. A half-day tour of Istanbul is also included, alongside complimentary buffet breakfasts.
Price? Rooms start from Dhs2,200 incl. package, flights from Dhs2,300 with flydubai
Contact: hotelamira.com. Tel: (90) 2125161640.
Where? Djibouti Palace Kempinksi Hotel, Ilot Du Heron, Djibouti
How far? 4 hours by plane
Why? This small yet beautiful country is packed with geological oddities, offering up crazily varied landscapes including salt lakes, volcanoes, limestone chimneys and huge canyons. There’s plenty of outdoor adventure to be had, and is notoriously good for whale shark diving too. The hotel provides you with beautiful panoramic views of the Tadjourah Gulf, ensuring that after a busy day’s exploration you’ll be able to relax in style.
The deal: The ‘Thrilling Djibouti’ package offers two nights in a spacious room overlooking the ocean. Also included is a day out and a night’s camping at Lac Abbe, followed by a day’s swimming with pink flamingos in Lac Assal – the lowest point on land in Africa. Lunch and dinner at various restaurants is included.
Price? Rooms start from Dhs1,050 per night, Dhs5,100 for three-night ‘Thrilling Djibouti’ package, flights from Dhs2,000 with flydubai
Contact: kempinski.com. Tel: (253) 21325555.