Just got back from another fab trip to Dubai, and have picked up such great tips from this forum I had to put my report on here - trip advisor karma and all that! warning - it's a long one !
anyway the purpose of the trip was to celebrate my mum's 60th birthday. She lives in Kuwait with my dad, and she knew that they were coming to Dubai for the weekend to celebrate at the Mina a Salam - what she didn't know was that me, my brother and my boyfriend were also flying out to surprise her there. It's been almost impossible to keep this a secret and we'd been planning it with my dad for 10 months or so !!!
we live in manchester but had booked emirates from birmingham as it was much cheaper. a few weeks ago we realised our air miles were expiring in the summer, so I decided to chance it and rang to see if we had enough for an upgrade and whether they had availability. amazingly, they did, and £40 in extra tax later we were in the rarified atmosphere of business class on the way out - result!! now i knew this would totally spoil me for economy for ever, and when the chauffeur arrived to collect us for the drive down I thought that this was definitely the life. a few bacardi and cokes at birmingham airport later, and we watched our plane land before being called to the gate. meanwhile i am texting my mum telling her to have a wonderful time in dubai and all the while thinking that we'll be there too ...
i have never turned left on a plane before and, sad as it may sound, i was so excited to be starting our trip this way. i was goggle-eyed at the space (and it was only half full), the size of the tv etc. when i heard the woman behind us moaning that the seats were awful and how rubbish she thought it was ... how the other half must live ! we got offered pre-flight champagne (or orange juice - no contest there!) and lovely amenity kits. when my boyfriend was smelling the aftershave, and accidentally knocked the cap down the cabin, he called the air steward to ask for another bottle or for him to just get rid of that one since it was now open. instead the steward insisted he had a whole new amenity kit and keep the one he already had ! i kept an eye out for the lid rolling around during take off but we never spied it again!
flight was amazing - got plenty of sleep, and the most fantastic service. the food was lovely, the cheese trolley was great and there was lots of wine and champagne! even better, we got fast-tracked through dubai airport where we met my brother who had flown in from gatwick. we snuck him into our chauffeur car to the Mina so he got a little of the business class stardust on him too!
arrival at the Mina confirmed it was just as beautiful as we remembered and it was great to relive the first-time experience through my brother. i'd emailed ahead to ask if they could put us in a room next to my parents - emphasising that they were NOT to say anything at check-in - and they said they'd sort that out for us. they were apologetic that the room wasn't ready (we arrived at 9am) but we said it didn't matter as we were off to wild wadi for the day. then - it got better - they said that as of 2 days ago, wild wadi was free to hotel guests. i had to stop myself from doing a victory dance in the lobby (with great difficulty!). so we went for a drink on the beach and got a golf buggy over the wild wadi.
had a great day - it's so much fun - and was good to get in an hour ahead of everyone else too thanks to staying at the Mina. nearly lost half my swimming cossie on the jumeirah sceirah (although I'd remembered this from before and bought a more sensible one with me - having seen a woman lose her bikini top on it i learned that lesson!).
anyway we then went back to check in - nobody i recognised at reception but the man asked for me by name and said my room was ready. how did he know who i was??!! our bags were there already AND they'd allocated the room next door for my parents. went back to the Mina pool for a couple of hours and drank frozen margeritas, thinking this is definitely the life and much better than a regular thursday at work!
we then got ready and went for drinks at centimetro in the souk. i knew my parents' flight was landing at 8.20pm, so we thought they'd be at the hotel between 9.15-9.30pm (knowing the traffic). we picked up some cans from the souk to go with our duty free rum, wandered back to the hotel at about 9pm and as i walked into the lobby who did i see at the check in desk but my parents !! panic!! we reversed out of the door, wondering how on earth they'd got there so quickly from the airport, and spent a few minutes hiding round the corner before we could go back into the hotel! we then snuck along the corridors, mission impossible style, peering round each corner to make sure they weren't there and as i put my ear round the final corner i heard my dad saying thank you to the man who'd shown them to their room. so we waited for him to pass - god knows what he thought, or anyone watching us on cctv!! - and crept into our room.
we then knocked on my parents' door & my dad answered. we walked in and said 'happy birthday' to my mum who was on the sofa. she just stared at us like her brain couldn't work out what was going on - she just couldn't believe it - we were jumping around and i was high-fiving my dad for having kept it such a secret! there were a few tears, lots of very happy people, and the most wonderful feeling of having pulled the surprise off!
i then said we needed to go out as i had a table booked at layali on the beach - wonderful meal and they'd made a surprise birthday cake for my mum too without me even asking!! my mum just kept staring at us, the burj, the mina, as if she couldn't believe it was all real !
phew - long start to this one - well done if you've read this far!! will update the rest soon - about the mina / al qasr, drinks at the burj and the rest of our whirlwind visit!!