7 Wonders of Dubai

Dubai is one of the greatest cities in the world- it is named the City of Gold for a reason. Located in the United Arab Emirates, it has recently been rated as the best place to live in the Middle East by Mercer, and it is the fastest growing city in the world.

The hotspot has a wealth of modern shopping malls, exclusive restaurants and bars, and the hotels are renowned for being high quality. There is plenty to do and see whilst on holiday and here are the 7 best wonders of Dubai that are an absolute must-see.

The Wadi Adventure Wave Pool

This is one of the most unique waves in the world and is a brand new surf pool situated in the desert. It is the Middle East’s first man-made artificial wave park in Al Ain and its righteous waves can reach over 3.3 meters high every 90 seconds. If you fancy your own piece of Oasis, surf the desert with perfect waves and warm water.

Watch Sally Fitzgibbons surf The Wadi Adventure Wave Pool here.

Dubai Mall

Dubai is the shopping capital of the Middle East and it is home to the world’s largest shopping mall Dubai Mall. It was created as part of the $20 billion Burj Khalifa complex and it has a whopping 1,200 shops. The phenomenon attracts over 750,000 visitors every week, surpassing landmark leisure destinations from around the world including Times Square and Niagara Falls.

Burj Al Arab

Dubai is the home to the world’s first 7-star hotel. It is the fourth tallest hotel in the world and is connected to the mainland via a bridge as it rests on an artificial island constructed offshore. The accommodation has been designed to mimic the sail of a ship and it cost USD $650 million to construct.

The cost of such an extravagant stay? Room prices vary from $11,000 to $45,000 per night.

Burj Khalifa

This sky scraper is a world-class destination. It is renowned for being the tallest building in the world and it is estimated to cost around $4 billion. It is the magnificent centrepiece of Downtown Dubai standing over 828 metres and more than 160 stories. Not only does it have the tallest service elevator in the world but also the highest outdoor observation deck.

The Palm Islands

These are three man-made, palm shaped islands in Dubai and from above they look absolutely breath-taking. Constructed by a property developer called Nakheel Properties, they are named The Palm Jumeirah, The Palm Jebel Ali and The Palm Deira. On the three islands alone there are over 100 hotels as well as water theme parks, health spas and exclusive beach side bungalows and apartments.

Dubailand

Dubai is home to the world’s biggest amusement park and it is definitely a dream come true for both adults and children. Owned by Tatweer, it features six different theme worlds and is the epitome of an entertainment complex. It cost a massive $64.3 million to build.

(Image used by permission under the Creative Commons Licence)

 

Luxury Holidays Becoming Latest Travel Trend in UK

Luxury holidays are fast gaining popularity in Britain, even if the nation is still in an economic downturn.

The luxury and budget holiday markets have experienced the highest growth in the UK holiday market recently. Families are reportedly saving all year around to take luxury breaks in international destinations.

Thomas Cook Group, a UK-based travel company, has reported an increase in luxury holidays, including all-inclusive trips, adventure holidays and stays in exotic locales.

Holidays to Cuba and luxury Mexico breaks are gaining ground with British vacationers, who are keen to travel halfway across the world for the perfect holiday.

Earlier, Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based association of travel agents, estimated that around 13 million UK holidaymakers will be taking a long distance vacation in July and August, 2012, with 90% heading to countries around the Mediterranean Sea, such as Spain.

Victoria Bacon, the head of communication at ABTA, said, ‘The UK is a beautiful country with exceptional holiday appeal but the weather this year has been setting records for all the wrong reasons and it is no surprise that millions of us are looking to head off overseas for more reliable weather and high temperatures.

British holidaymakers will also get a pleasant surprise in their favourite Eurozone destinations with the pound 10% stronger than last year. It’s important that people book sooner rather than later as late offers are proving popular.’

The Ultimate First Class Experience: Emirates’ Private Suites Mix High Roller and High Flyer

For most travellers, long haul flights are an uncomfortable nightmare. From small seats to limited service, the average long distance flight is a task that few wish to repeat. Until last year, travellers had just one option to relieve the stress and discomfort of a long haul flight: buy a first-class ticket and simultaneously triple their fare – a solution that few were willing to pay for.

But Dubai-based airline Emirates Airways may have found the ultimate solution. Priced in excess of £9,000 and aimed at travellers with an eye for extreme luxury, the airline has introduced its private seating range – a collection of onboard private suites that offer travellers privacy and untouchable comfort. The suites are available on a limited number of long-haul flights and special charters.

With a £9,000 base price, they’re certainly not for budget travellers. But what they lack in frugality is more than made up for by the luxury features on offer. Standard private suites include a complete recliner-bed combination seat, a twenty-three inch television set, and over six-hundred channels of on-demand visual entertainment, radio programs, and satellite broadcasts to tune into.

If that’s not enough, they’re also a versatile business centre. Plug in your laptop and you’ll run into free onboard internet service and a private power supply. The suites are aimed at luxury travellers and high-end businesspeople, and it shows – alongside the reclining seat is a desk and small private workspace. While it’s unlikely passengers will be able to work, it’s certainly a nice addition.

It’s unlikely most travellers will step inside an Emirates private suite. It’s even less likely that they’ll even get to spend an entire flight inside one. But for the travel world’s true high roller class, it’s one experience that’s unlikely to be forgotten.

Picking the Perfect Hotel: Should You Choose a Chain or a Boutique?

Hotel occupancy rates are climbing, albeit at a fairly sluggish pace. While this presents a difficult situation for many of the world’s largest accommodation chains, it’s a golden opportunity for low-cost travellers and bargain seekers. In an effort to increase occupancy and boost financial records, many of the world’s most comfortable hotel chains are offering record low prices.

But does that really make a chain hotel a good deal? The majority of international travellers still opt to stay in a major chain hotel, with industry leader Accor noting that despite financial concern, most travellers are still staying in well-known hotels and ‘big brand’ accommodation. With boutique hotel operators gaining ground in many markets, that dominance may soon disappear.

Boutique hotels are often passed over by international travellers due to their limited online visibility and difficulty in catering to major groups. The vast majority of boutique and independent hotels are limited to low-rank placements on major aggregators and travel booking websites, despite offering service that is on par with – if not above – that provided by major five-star chains.

Where are these hotels found, then? On independent tourism websites and private weblogs. Smaller local hotels are typically marketed through word-of-mouth and unsolicited reviews, with blogs and other ‘unconventional’ holiday information sources acting as unofficial third-party marketers. It’s an idea that’s beginning to gain ground – many referral-fuelled independent hotels and expanding.

So before you book into the Sofitel, Intercontinental, or Ritz-Carlton, consider looking at the value offered in an independent hotel. While most travellers associate independently managed hotels with limited quality and low-cost accommodation, there is an increasingly large market for luxury hotels outside of the traditional big-brand architecture.

Luxury Travel: Comparing Bali’s Best Private Villas

Few travel destinations match Bali in variety. The Indonesian island plays home to backpackers and multi-millionaires, with a vast array of different accommodation and leisure options. A shining light in Asia’s tropical travel selection, the acclaimed ‘Island of the Gods’ offers more than meets the eye, with an extensive selection of cultural attractions rounding out its immense water sports offerings.

There’s no shortage of information on Bali’s lower end – the ultra-cheap bungalows situated on its southern shores and tourism centres. What we’re more interested in is the island’s luxury side – the beachfront villas and private residences. The island’s top villas can command prices of over $1000 daily, leaving all but the most affluent travellers forced to search for shared hotels.

The first spot any millionaire is likely to look is Bali’s Pererenan Bay, an almost completely empty expanse of beach and smooth rocks separated from the island’s tourist-heavy mainland. Prices tend to be on the high side, with a six-bedroom beachfront villa available from just $2200 nightly in the island’s peak tourism season. Our pick is the ultra-luxurious Villa Waringin, which houses up to ten.

Of course, the island’s tourism hot spots are also home to some impressive private accommodation deals. Search along the famed Kuta Beach and you’ll see mid-range hotels and large chains, but go just two kilometres down the main road and you’ll hit a string of privately owned villas. Prices are high, but typically below that found on less crowded beaches, at around $500 per night.

With Eat, Pray, Love pushing Bali’s luxurious side to the forefront of any traveller’s mind, now is the best time to plan any ultra-luxury trips. While the island’s luxurious side is far from cheap, it’s one of Asia’s most exotic and appealing travel spots. Aside from the cost, is there anything to hold you back from beachfront luxury?

As UK Travel Companies Close, High-End Operators Take Their Place

The collapse of travel firm Sun 4 U  has raised questions for thousands of British holidayers. With over one-thousand travellers facing extra fees and accommodation expenses due to the company’s closure, an industry-wide drop in confidence could soon happen. It would be the first of many hits to Britain’s travel industry throughout the year, but it may not hurt all operators.

The high-end travel industry is fairly small in its visibility, but has remained highly profitable even throughout the financial crisis. Luxury holidays targeting those with a high net worth and unlimited holiday time have sold consistently over the last three years, keeping occupancy steady in some of the world’s most expensive and luxurious hotels.

It’s expected that the collapse of mid-range travel operators will do little to hurt the reputation of those that cater to the higher end, instead reinforcing their brands as icons of quality and customer support. Private luxury travel operators tend to operate with higher margins than other companies, targeting their operations to those with disposable income and the desire to relax overseas.

With the Intercontinental Hotels Group announcing an increase in occupancy, it appears that high-end travel is alive and well. The hotel chain has pointed to an increase in business travel and luxury personal travel as the primary reasons for its recovery, claiming that occupancy is up in most of its hotel network. Growth remains highest in the chain’s East Asian hotel and apartment properties.

The bankruptcy of Britain’s leading travel agents certainly won’t be a welcome sight to the country’s thousands of middle class holidayers, particularly those with package tours booked through a travel firm. While the ongoing cash flow struggle is unlikely to hit those at the top of the spending chain, a downturn in mid-range travel sales can and will push many travel agents towards insolvency.

High-End Flyers: Luxury Airlines See Bookings Increase

While the recent recession certainly hurt the travel industry, several of the world’s largest and most luxurious airlines appear to be on the road to recovery. New figures from a variety of travel industry bodies have demonstrated an increase in the number of people booking international flights, with a noticeable increase in the proportion of tickets booked on high-end airlines and ‘luxury’ carriers.

From 2007 onward, a number of smaller low-cost carriers have reported increased patronage and higher revenues, largely due to limited consumer travel spending. Travel industry experts theorized that the increase was relative rather than absolute, with a greater number of budget travellers opting to fly overseas during the recession, aiming to take advantage of low-cost hotel rooms and tours.

The increase in high-end flight bookings, on the other hand, represents a more ‘complete’ recovery for the travel industry. The ‘bread and butter’ of consumer travel – holidaying families and package tour travellers – appear to be returning to the air en masse, inspired by reasonable fares and visible promotional efforts from major airlines and international carriers.

Singapore Airlines is one of several high-end airlines to see increased demand, largely due to the gradual recovery of economies in the region. Singapore’s economy was damaged more severely than many others throughout the financial crisis, as the city-state depends on its financial services sector and heavily export-driven trading industry for income, employment, and prosperity.

For high-end airlines, the surge in bookings is likely to be accompanied with a smaller surge in the price of international flights, as airlines have a history of complementing demand with raised fares. Travellers aiming to maximise the value of their ticket are best off booking flights independently as soon as possible, before price hikes and the elimination of low-cost package tours occur.