Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel

We stayed at Bahi Ajman Palace while we were in Ajman.

Room:

The rooms were lovely. We made sure we asked for a pool facing room at reception, that way we were looking down at the pool and the sea from our room. The room had a little balcony with a chair so you could sit outside if you wanted to, it’s just a shame the balconies were too small for two chairs. The bathroom was a good size as well and had a really big shower in it. This hotel did not have a hairdryer in the room, I don’t know if I could have called down to reception to get one, as I decided to just let my hair air-dry while we were here. The rooms all had a safe as well as an iron and ironing board, which was really handy since we were living out of our suitcase while in United Arab Emirates because we were only staying at each hotel 2 nights.

Breakfast/Dinner:

This hotel probably had the most choice at breakfast out of all the hotels we stayed at while we were in United Arab Emirates. The food was lovely, and one morning when we walked down to breakfast, Phil’s parents were already there, as soon as the staff saw us talking to them as we walked in they offered to push 2 tables together so we could all sit together. We also had dinner at this hotel one night, we went for the Iftar buffet and the food was absolutely lovely. There was plenty of choice and they even made some things fresh there and then like curries. There were loads of different foods: pasta, spring rolls, curries, fish.. Anything.

Staff:

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The staff was lovely. We had to call down to reception when we first arrived at the hotel because the card-holder-thingy on the wall for the key-card was making a strange noise, and they sent someone up straight away. Normally we bring our own luggage up to the room when we go to the hotel, but the staff was insistent so we let them bring the cases up for us, what I didn’t realise until the porter brought the cases up was that I had left my purse with the money by the pool, so I wasn’t able to give him a tip. Luckily the porter just dropped the case off and left. At some hotels they would basically be pausing and hinting to get a tip.

Pool/sea:

The pool was lovely and big, there are plenty of sunbeds, most of them on the grass between the pool and the beach. There is not enough parasols, but you can get some shade under the palm trees. The sea was lovely and warm, there was some seaweed which made the water look a bit murky in places, but it wasn’t the long type of seaweed that gets wrapped around your legs, it was just loose and soft so once I was actually in it it didn’t really feel any different than just walking on the sand. The sea is lovely and warm as well.

Location:

We didn’t walk around the area a lot but there is a little shop across the road for snacks, which was nice as it was open even though it was Ramadan when we were there. There is also a couple of restaurants across the road. Getting a taxi to Dubai Mall was about 40 minutes, I was quite surprised as it is in a different Emirate, but it was nice to be able to get there in a relatively short time. This hotel is a dry hotel so there is no alcohol served, but right next door there is the Fairmont Ajman where you can get a drink if you want it, and there is a beach bar between the hotels for a drink in the daytime.

If you are looking for a holiday in the Emirates where you can just relax by the pool and sea I would definitely recommend Bahi Ajman Palace, it’s a lovely hotel and you can still get in to Dubai if you want to. The only thing I will mention is that I don’t know how easy it is to get to Dubai if you want to catch public transport instead of a taxi, because there was 6 of us travelling it was cheaper for us to get a taxi, about 100AED.

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Distance From Dubai Mall: 40 minute drive

Distance from Dubai airport: 30 minute drive

Distance from Aquaventure water-park: 55 minute drive

Hairdryer in the room: No

Iron in the room: Yes

Safe in the room: Yes

Grand Millennium Al Whada

While we were in Abu Dhabi we stayed at Grand Millennium Al Whada.

Room:

The rooms were spacious and clean, there was a decent size wardrobe to put clothes in and a good size bathroom. The rooms all had a safe and hairdryer as well as an iron and ironing board, which was really handy since our clothes had all gotten a bit creased in the suitcase.

Breakfast:

The food was nice, the staff made omelettes to order and there was plenty of choice and also plenty of tables. As we went during Ramadan, this is the quiet season so I don’t know how busy it gets during the winter months.

Staff:

The staff was really nice and friendly, and really helped us out when it came to travelling to Ferrari Wold. We had been planning on catching a bus or something as we figured this would be cheaper, but the concierge pointed out that a bus pass would be at least 35AED each, but for a taxi it would only be around 90AED for all of us if we shared a 7-seater taxi. Not to mention a lot quicker!

Pool:

The pool at the hotel was closed while we were there for maintenance, but it looked ok. It was only a small pool at the top floor. It looked like it would be quite pleasant actually as it had a roof over it so it was in the shade along with the sunbeds (can you still call them sunbeds if they are permanently in the shade?), but the “room” was open on the sides so you still got the heat from outside. It gets so warm in the sun, that it would be nice to just lay and enjoy the heat without having to worry about getting sunburned. There is also a bar next to the pool, but it wasn’t open when we had a look around so I don’t know what that’s like.

Location:

The hotel is connected to Al Whada Mall by a passageway on the 3rd floor. The passageway was nice and clean and felt very safe to walk through, it was about a 2 minute walk through the passage from the hotel to the Mall. There is also a bar where you can get alcohol, right next to the main entrance to the hotel, just turn left as you exit.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know how central it is in relation to things in Abu Dhabi, as we arrived in the middle of the night, we only had one full day in Abu Dhabi, which we spent at Ferrari World, and we left for Dubai around 8.30am the day after. So I didn’t get to see Abu Dhabi itself and we didn’t explore the area surrounding it, other than Al Whada Mall

I would recommend staying at Grand Millennium Al Whada if you are in Abu Dhabi, although like I said earlier we didn’t explore the surrounding area while we were staying there, so other than the Mall we don’t know what is there. But if you are going to Ferrari World or anything else on Yas Island, this is only a 30 minute taxi ride away.

View from the room

Distance From Ferrari World: 30 minute drive

Distance from Abu Dhabi airport: 30 minute drive

Hairdryer in the room: Yes

Iron in the room: Yes

Safe in the room: Yes

UAE Day 5 – A relaxing day in Ajman… Mostly

Turns out we didn’t get away from the organised trips completely. We were picked up from our hotel in Dubai at 8.30 am today and then taken to a gold and precious stone souk, followed by a leather souk. Now, don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that things work differently in different countries in regards to how shop assistants behave and what is considered good customer service for them. Like for example, my dad had told me that in the Philippines there are assistants at the end of every aisle ready to help if you need it. But at the same time I think that if you work in a place that many tourists comes then maybe it would be a good idea to adjust your approach accordingly, as this would probably work out better for them in the long run.

Basically what happened, in both souks, is that as soon as we arrived the assistants were on us like vultures! I might have bought something in the jewellery souk if had been given the freedom to just look around on my own, but when someone is hanging over me telling me to look at certain things, or trying to make me try on different things it just makes me feel uncomfortable. What I really don’t understand is when we did look like we weren’t interested in anything due to them pestering us, they basically kicked us out! “Exit is that way!” I would have loved to have a look at all the jewellery they sold, and maybe even buy a little something if I had managed to get it cheap enough, since we were told they were open to bartering, but with the way they behaved I was happy to get out of there.

Just a tip if the same happens to you though; wait inside the souvenir shop! In the first souk, we walked outside, and the coach had gone somewhere else, so we couldn’t sit and wait in the coach for the rest of our group. The stop was scheduled for 1.5hr, and it did get rather warm and uncomfortable after a while. At the leather souk we just stopped inside the souvenir shop, it was still boring to have to wait, but at least it was air conditioned and we didn’t get kicked out.

After the souks the coach drove around Sharjah to show us a couple of landmarks, excuse the yellow tinge to the pictures but they were taken though the tinted coach window as the coach didn’t stop to let us off.

Again we arrived at the hotel in Ajman before we were able to check in. So we changed into our swimwear to use their facilities while we waited. This hotel is actually on the beach, which we have been looking forward to since we found out about the holiday. The first thing Paul did as he was about to run into the sea, was to step on a dead fish, which had a bone sticking out of its body! The bone went straight into his foot so he had to get checked out by a lifeguard, luckily he was fine, they put some iodine on it, but he had to wait a bit before going into the water.

Other than spend time by the pool and sea we didn’t do much today. We were going to get a taxi back to Dubai this evening, but because Phil didn’t feel great we decided to have a meal in the hotel instead. The hotel was doing an iftar buffet, so we decided to see what that was like. The food was really nice. They had all sorts, curry, pasta, rice, desserts, and just lots of different things. I love buffets, it’s the easiest way to try something new, but not feel like you’ve wasted you money if you don’t like it, because even if you don’t like one thing, there is sure to be something else that you do like.

After dinner we walked to the Fairmont Hotel next door, which is the other hotel we might have ended up at instead of Ajman Palace, and we had a drink. Ajman Palace is a “Dry” hotel, so they don’t serve alcohol but Fairmont had a really lovely bar where we could get a few drinks, and because it is low season and Ramadan it was really quiet, there was hardly anyone else there, and luckily, no one that was smoking!

For the first time on this holiday we are planning to have a lie in tomorrow! We haven’t been able to so far because we have either had plans or it has been transfer day. But tomorrow we have nothing planned, so I am looking forward to being able to just wake up naturally and get up when I feel like it. We’ve not even made plans to meet the others for breakfast, we’ll all just meet at the sunbeds when we’re all up.

UAE Day 3 – Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountains and Burj Khalifa

We only set one alarm for this morning, for 6am. Which I managed to turn off only to lay back down and go back to sleep. Luckily I managed to wake up again at 7am, which is when we had planned to meet up with the others for breakfast, so it was a mad dash to throw some clothes on quickly and get down to breakfast for 7.10am just as the others were about to call us to find out where we were. I do love the blackout curtains in hotels, but at the same time they do make it more difficult to wake up if you have to get up early because the room is so dark. At least we packed everything last night, so once we were finished eating breakfast we could just have a shower and get ready properly and then check out. I don’t understand why the tour guide had arranged a wake-up call yesterday when we had a meeting that didn’t start until about 10am, but when we’re being picked up at 8am there is no wake-up call?

The tour guide told us about United Arab Emirates on the drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, I thought it was quite interesting to learn more but I think some people wishes he had just been quiet. A couple of facts that stuck with me was;

UAE is working on creating artificial clouds to lower the temperature in the summer months so that they still get tourism during those months

UAE have created a village for some scientists to live in to find out if they can live off solar power, because due to the sandstorms that UAE get they have been worried about the solar panels getting covered and damaged, the scientists have to live in the village off solar power for a certain amount of years to prove it can be done.

When we arrived in Dubai the coach driver dropped off the people that had paid for a Dubai tour at Dubai Mall before taking the rest of us to the hotel. Because it was still quite early by the time we arrived we were not able to check in yet but the hotel let us use the facilities until we were able to check in. We got our swimwear out from our cases and headed up to the rooftop pool. All the sunbeds with parasols had already been taken so we had to lay out in the sunshine, so we all made sure we put on loads of sun cream! It was nice to just be able to relax for a couple of hours and go in the pool. Because it is so hot here the pool was more like a bath so I didn’t have to brace myself or get used to the temperature of the water.

Once we were able to check in at the hotel around 3.30pm we all got showered and ready and caught a taxi to Dubai Mall. The hotel is close to a monorail stop, but again we figured that because there are so many of us it would probably be cheaper to get a taxi, as long as we get a big taxi to share. I think the taxi was around 80AED as the hotel is at the outskirts of Dubai, near the airport.

As soon as we got to Dubai Mall we found the counter for tickets to Burj Khalifa and Phil Sr and Jackie treated us all to tickets up to the 124th floor at 9pm!

Dubai Mall is a lovely place to walk around. Just like the mall in Abu Dhabi it didn’t feel busy at all. Someone told me there is a ski slope in the mall, but I think it might have been a different mall, as I didn’t see any signs for it. But what we did see was a massive aquarium, a couple of waterfalls, an ice rink and a small football pitch. The food courts were sectioned off so that non-Muslims could still get a drink and bite to eat before fast ended. There are a lot of high-end shops in Dubai Mall, but also “normal” shops like Boots and H&M etc. It keeps surprising me how many shops from the UK and Europe is in the rest of the world.

We decided to head outside for something to eat, it is absolutely beautiful outside the Mall where you can see the fountains and Burj Khalifa, I had seen Burj Khalifa in the distance, but this time we got really close to it. It is a stunning building. We decided to eat at Carluccio’s, where we had a nice view and the food was lovely, I’ve never actually eaten at a Carluccio’s back home, might have to now. We ended up seeing the fountain show twice, the first one was at 7.30 pm and then it was on every half hour after this . I don’t know if it is normally on earlier outside of Ramadan or if it is just a night-time thing. I want to come back another night to watch the fountain show so that we can stand a bit closer and see it better.

The entrance for Burj Khalifa is inside the Mall where we got the tickets, normally I am quite good with directions and finding my way places but I think because we are a group and we are obviously talking to each other while we are walking around I had not paid attention to where we had been walking earlier and so we got a little bit lost… We followed the signs for “At the top Burj Khalifa”, but then suddenly the signs just seemed to stop. Turns out we should have taken a lift downstairs, but the lift was hidden behind a billboard type thing. We did make it to the entrance and only a couple of minutes late. Seems it is a day for being late today.

The lifts at the bottom of Burj Khalifa displays what floor the lift is on and how long the lift has been travelling for, from the ground floor to floor 124 it took 1 minute exactly! My ears popped when I was in the lift.

The view from 124th and 125th floor was amazing. The viewing area on the 124th floor is actually outside, I didn’t actually realise it at first but then I looked up and realised there was no ceiling, the heat should have tipped me off really. There is also a gap between the glass panes so you can put your hand outside if you wanted to, just make sure you’re not holding anything that could drop, as it’s a LONG way down! I would love to go back up in the daytime, maybe even to the 148th floor, but I think this might be best to do during the “winter” months, as the heat haze does obstruct the view a lot now in summer, and there’s no point paying all that money if you don’t even get a decent view. 125th floor was all inside, but still amazing view of course, and they also had a little gift shop. Phil, Paul, Ellie and I bought a frame for Jackie and Phil Sr to say thank you and we’ll put a picture of all of us in it before we give it to them.

UAE day 2 – Ferrari World

Before heading out for the day today we had to go to a meeting with our RSD travel guide to find out the itinerary for our stay in United Arab Emirates. We didn’t really want to go as we wanted to get off to Ferrari World, but we have to know when we are leaving this hotel tomorrow and also we had to get our passports back as he had taken them to get them scanned for us at the hotel last night since we arrived around 2am.

The meeting was ok, but a lot longer than what it had needed to be. Basically he was trying to sell us tours to go on while we are in UAE. I understand it is something they have to do to make more money, but the way he was going through them he made it sound like we HAVE to go on their arranged tours while we are here, it wasn’t until the end that he gave us a price list and said it is up to us if we want to go on the tours or not. We chose not to go on any of the tours, and just do our own thing instead, I don’t think he liked this as we are a group of 6 and if we had gone on a tour that if quite a bit of money, there was also another group of 8 that didn’t go on many of the tours, so to be honest the guide wasn’t very happy.

I don’t mind if someone is trying to sell tours, as there were some that sounded interesting, and it is good for people who haven’t made any plans or is unsure about what to see, but I don’t think the meeting needed to last an hour for a holiday that is only a week long. All that is needed is just to say; if anyone is interested we’ve got a few tours, these are the tours – give a description – let me know if you’re interested, here’s a price list, done.

What we also think seems a bit strange is that the guide is saying he doesn’t know when we’ll be picked up from the next hotel to go to the last hotel, as he doesn’t know which hotel out of 2 we will be staying at… Very strange, but I’m sure it’ll work out.

Anyway, after the extremely long drawn out meeting we got our passports back from the guide and then headed off to Ferrari World. The staff at the hotel (Grand Millennium Al Whada) was very helpful and pointed out that because there is 6 of us it will be cheaper to get a taxi than public transport. The hotel concierge advised a ticket for public transport would be about 35AED each, but a taxi should only be about 60-70AED all together, so we got a taxi, which was quite nice as it was a lot quicker than public transport would have been as well. It ended up being around 80 AED for all of us, but that’s still cheaper than public transport, and this is with the taxi driver going to a petrol station on her way as one of her tyres were flat…

Ferrari World was a lot bigger than I though it would be. I had seen pictures and videos on You Tube, so I knew the park is all inside, but it looked a lot smaller than what it actually is. Ellie did have some issues when we were going in to the park, as the jumpsuit she was wearing was a little bit too short, so she got to borrow a wrap around skirt to cover the top parts of her legs, the skirt was only a couple of inches longer than her shorts anyway, but what I thought was strange is that we had to leave Phil Sr driving licence as security that we would return the skirt. I was a bit surprised that they made her cover up because Jackie’s shorts were about the same length, but they didn’t make her cover up. My shorts were a little bit longer as I had put a bit more thought into what I packed for this holiday to make sure I’m dressed appropriately for UAE culture.

I am not great with big rides, they terrify me. However, I surprised myself by going on all the rides at Ferrari World, although I only went on them one time each, except for the go-carts, which I went on twice.

One of the rides, called Turbo Track goes really fast from inside the building and then vertically up though the ceiling in the middle of the building, it looks like you are going to come off the track and then it drops back down again. Absolutely terrifying. Phil, Paul and Ellie really enjoyed that ride and went on it 4 times I think! The park was actually really quiet, probably because we’re not in peak tourist season anymore, so one of their goes they came back down and asked if they could just stay on it, which they did. I honestly don’t know how they can do it.

The big rides in Ferrari World started inside, then took you outside. It was a strange feeling when you went outside on the rides because suddenly you could feel the heat after being in an air-conditioned building, even though I was going fast on the rides the breeze didn’t cool me down, and it was almost a relief to get back inside again. Don’t get me wrong, I like that it’s warm, but when you’re on a ride, even for a short amount of time you can’t control where the sun is, if it’s going to be in your eyes, and you can’t really wear a hat and sunglasses on the ride.

Phil Sr and myself thought we would be brave and go on a ride called Flying Aces, we had a look at it from the viewing point before we went on and we were bricking it. Apparently it had the highest loop in the world, but the loop is kind of heart shaped because the track twists at the top… Deep breath… But we got on the ride, then we were waiting, then there were some strange sounds, then the bars across out bodies went back up, then they put them back down again, more strange sounds, then they took the bars up again… I have to say, this is not helping my nervousness! The staff told us it was going to be a few minutes but we were welcome to wait until the ride was back up an running… Err, no thank you! So we all got back off it and went to find a different ride. I think both me and Phil Sr was happy for the excuse not to go on the ride. I did go on the ride later in the day, but this was after I had seen it go round the track once after the issues while we were waiting, I had to make sure it was still safe to ride. Once I did go in it I hated it. There were a lot of sharp turns and my head kept sliding off he headrest, but then again I don’t like big rides anyway, Phil, Paul and Ellie enjoyed it.

I have to admit that looking at photos from rides is quite funny, I look like the most miserable person in the world because I am terrified but I keep my mouth closed and keep a steely expression on my face because I’m just waiting for it to be over.

There were quite a few rides and things to see at Ferrari World, a few of them were closed, probably doe to Ramadan and the season, but most things were open, and like I said earlier I did go on everything that was open. When the others went back on rides for a 2nd or 3rd go I stayed back and watched the bags and took some photos. The coaster I didn’t really mind was Fiorano GT Challenge, it normally have 2 coasters running next to each other but it was only one running today as it wasn’t busy enough for both.

I also really enjoyed the go-carts. it was only the electric ones inside that were running, apparently they also have petrol ones outside. To go on the go-carts it was 35AED extra, we all went on them the first time, but when we drove them again before we left for the day Jackie and Ellie watched instead. I have never done go-carting before but I really enjoyed it. I did keep hitting the barrier on the side though but because they were electric they didn’t goo too fast so it didn’t really matter. I felt like I was in a game of Mario-cart.

Although I don’t like big rides I still enjoyed Ferrari World, it might just be because I like seeing and experiencing new things, I probably would go back, but I’m not sure I would go on all the rides again, it is nice to go to theme parks with other people and not just me and Phil, because at least this way Phil has someone to go on the rides with when I don’t want to go on them. We were able to get a bite to eat at Ferrari World as well as they had sectioned a couple of restaurants off so that we were hidden from view with it being Ramadan.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was 6pm, so it was only 1 hour until fast was breaking and all restaurant would reopen so we all went and got showered and ready back in our rooms before meeting on the 3rd floor of the hotel, which has a passageway that connects to Al Wadha Mall. The mall was nice and a lot bigger than I expected, and practically deserted, so I didn’t feel like I was fighting my way past people like I usually am in Meadowhall. At the meeting this morning the tour guide made it out like we would really struggle to get a table anywhere because once fast was over everyone would go out to eat, but this was just to try to get people to sign up to the evening tour with a meal that he was selling, because we didn’t struggle to get a table anywhere. We ended up eating at TGI Fridays which was nice.

After our meal we went back to the hotel and to the bar attached, Porters Bar. Jackie, Ellie and I got vouchers for a free drink, but we could only use it for either Cuba Libre or a Tequila Sunrise, I don’t like coke and I don’t like tequila but I decided to try a Tequila Sunrise, it is a free drink after all. They were both awful! Way too strong and just not nice at all, it’s nice to get more alcohol, but I don’t think it was good quality alcohol, we didn’t finish our drinks, and just left one the guys finished their beers. I will also point out that people are allowed to smoke in the bars in UAE, for a non smoking group it wasn’t very nice, especially as we don’t get it back in the UK, but we found a corner that wasn’t too close to any smokers.

Tomorrow we are moving from this hotel to a hotel in Dubai, so Phil and I have made sure our cases are packed and ready so we don’t have too much to do in the morning, we’ve not unpacked our cases anyway but we have still ended up with taking a few things out.