Since moving to Dubai, I’ve been introduced to the idea of a staycation.
In New Zealand, you would never really think of staying anywhere near your city for a day or two, or a long weekend. I guess the closest equivalent would be something like going to Waiheke Island from Auckland, or to Martinborough from Wellington. But I guess you don’t have the luxury of hundreds of five-star hotels within a few hours drive, as you do in Dubai. It is quite normal here to check into a local hotel or resort for the weekend, a night, or even for the day! We thought we’d give it a go ourselves, and booked two nights at the Saray Ajman.
The drive to Ajman was a typical wild UAE cab ride, with a relatively pleasant (if not slightly speedy!) driver. We negotiated as a team using Google maps to avoid a major traffic accident, which took us on a bit of a random tiki-tour throughout the desert. It was interesting to see the differences as you go from Dubai, to Sharjah, to Ajman. I didn’t get to see much of Ajman, but I’d imagine that 99% of visitors just stick to the resorts along the corniche… lets just say that it doesn’t look like a buzzing metropolis.
Our friends had recently visited and recommended the Saray to us. We got a great deal through our Platinum card, and a beautiful view overlooking the ocean. Even though the hotel is named as a ‘luxury’ resort, it was actually really good value. It was hot. I’m not sure what temperature we were quite expecting, but the strong air-con in our room was a necessity. I did enjoy sitting outside on the deck late at night though, when the temperature cooled, listening to the waves. The rooms were luxurious without being over the top, and had a couch as well as a bed… always appreciated. The resort was nearly empty, and all the other tourists seemed to be Russian. They certainly make some interesting fashion choices.
We got up early on the second day to head down to the beach in the morning. It was a lot less humid, and with so few people around, very relaxing. The sea was rather warm (apparently!) but I stuck to the pool, which was lovely and cool. The resort is quite small, so I wouldn’t want to be here during peak season, but during the low season it is great.
There was also an amazing Ramadan special for massages. 120AED for 50 minutes. Yes, seriously. I have paid 225AED for 50 minutes at hotels in Dubai, and that was already half price. We both went and enjoyed an amazing massage in the spa. Bliss! It was one of the best massages I have ever had, and I’d highly recommend you check out Goco Spa if you decide to stay.
We skipped on the buffet and Iftar for dinner, given neither of us were particularly hungry. The only slight low point of the visit was the food. There wasn’t a heck of a lot of variety, but given it is Ramadan, that was to be expected. The food we had was nice, but not amazing. We did enjoy some nice room service sitting in our bathrobes on the second night though. Living the dream, truly.
Apart from the food, the service at the hotel was very good, with attentive staff who were kind and friendly. I would highly recommend the Ajman for a night or two away during the summer – particularly if you can catch a day with the sea breeze rolling in! With Ramadan coming to a close, the Saray will be back up to six restaurants, and the neighboring Kempinski will be opening all its restaurants during the day, too. If you are a looking for a quick break away from the hustle and bustle of Dubai, the Saray is an excellent choice.
Location: Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi Street, Ajman
Cost: From 580AED per night
Platinum Discount: Yes, email the Saray direct to confirm.
Tips: Spring for an oceanview room – the rooms around the back of the hotel look out over a lovely building site!