Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Emirates Hotel that Time Forgot

Gary and Lorraine at the Sandy Beach Hotel and Resort. So how do they find these places?

Talk about off the beaten track.  Fujeirah is one of the Emirates of the UAE, but one that you don’t hear so much about...primarily because it has no oil.  However, it is probably the most naturally beautiful, with its own set of mountains (the Hajar Range) that come almost to the sea, and an unbroken line of beaches on the Indian Ocean (technically the Gulf of Oman, but the waves are ocean waves, not Gulf waves).

Nestled down the road from the new super-luxury Rotanas and Meridiens in Al Aqqah sitsthe Sandy Beach Hotel and Resort,  a throwback to the old days of the UAE.  In fact, squint your eyes a little, and you could be in a tourist court on the coast of Maine or a B&B down from Blackpool, with the year being 1965.  Ask about wifi here, and the quizzical tilt of the head tells you that you are a time traveller who set the Wayback Machine to “back in the day”.

The thing to do at Sandy Beach is to book into one of the “chalets” or “bungalows”.  These are detached little one-bedrooms and efficiencies  (bedsits?), each with a very basic kitchen (sink, electric kettle and fridge) and a barbeque out front to grill your dinner.  If you’re smart, you’ll stop at one of the Carrefours or Spinneys markets in Dubai before the 2 hour drive over the mountains—you can find magnificent  food from anywhere in the world (we had Australian organic steaks for dinner, and crisp, fresh California blueberries the next morning).  The beach, the pool, and the funky tiki bar await you and the friendly and helpful staff throughout will assist you in chilling out. 

If you are up for a bit more activity, the PADI-certified diving centre on site can take you out to the reefs, or you can take an easy swim out to the small reef around Snoopy Island (locals have no idea why it’s named that, but any American knows instantly).  Diving or snorkeling, your choice.

Finally, for those of you who haven’t travelled a great deal to this part of the world, there are certain times to come, and certain times not to.  Generally, avoid January (can be chilly and most of the rare UAE rainstorms happen then), and June through September (brutally hot, both air and ocean).  The rest of the year is glorious, and the weather will be spectacular.


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