IF you’ve used up all your leave and don’t know where to go, it’s worth checking out Jebel Dhanna for a couple of days.
Just about 100kms from the Saudi-UAE border on the west coast of the UAE, it’s a long drive from Dubai (340km) or even Abu Dhabi (240km), but getting there is reward in itself, driving as you do, past miles and miles of empty sands and through small towns that are a far cry from the region’s shiny cities.
Once you’ve arrived at the five-star Danat Resort Jebel Dhanna, which runs fabulous weekend deals for as little as Dh750 for two nights, there isn’t much to do except truly unwind – on a hammock by the beach, on a boatride, out waterskiing, getting a massage, or even looking at the animals at the Sir Bani Yas island, now a protected sanctuary.
Welcomed with the traditional check-in drink, we immediately proceeded to a seafront room for a quick lie down before zipping into the massage treatment room, to be pummelled and prodded into oblivion by the resort’s wonderful therapist. You can choose to have your treatment seaside, but seeing as it was 40-degrees-plus outside, we stayed with the AC.
The technique used was a combination of Swedish and Shaitsu therapies, both relaxing you and stimulating your blood circulation, and releasing your tensions. It used a refreshing combination of deep tissue kneading and light soothing strokes, and at Dh200 for an hour, was enough to make us book another session the next day.
On to dinner in the hotel’s signature Zaitoun restaurant, featuring a mix of pan-Arab and continental menus, with an allowance for chef’s creative licence. This means you’re quite likely to end up with an amuse bouche of prawns with Thai coconut sauce followed by a meal of antipasti and lobster with citrus butter sauce, all served on plates that are hand painted by staff at the resort and accompanied by an adequate wine list.
Almost ready to be wheeled to our rooms, we headed upstairs, too tired to appreciate the finer touches of the décor or use the thoughtfully provided relief pack (contents: a tampon, a condom, bandaids, fruit salts and some Panadol).
After a typical buffet breakfast the next morning, it’s off on a boat to cruise around Sir Bani Yas island. You can choose to take a boat with everyone else (the hotel has only about 100 rooms, so it’s not as large a crowd as you might think) and take the kids onto the island, where a variety of such wonderful people as emus, ostrich, giraffe, llamas and Arabian oryx are happy to see you, or you can opt for a smaller, more romantic, motorboat cruise, where you might spot the occasional inquiring turtle or dolphin coming up to nose about. It’s the ideal sort of thing to do while the kids are away painting delightfully hideous ceramic dust catchers for you to embarrass them with when they’ve got kids of their own.
There’s a lot more to do, too: deep sea fishing, kayaking, snorkelling, banana boating, bicycling and more – we, however, simply headed off to lunch and a good lazeabout in the fabulously appointed rooms before returning to Dubai.
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