Middle East Paradise - My journey to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Maldives

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Anxiety and excitement began when I checked in at the LAX Emirates counter.  I was flying business class, which gave me access to the private lounge to relax before boarding my flight -- a great perk, especially for such a long journey.  Stepping aboard the plane we were greeted by a beautiful flight attendant dressed in a beige suit, an Emirate style hat and a draped tool.  Emirates Business Class proved to be very comfortable and with a flat bed that made the 15.5 hour flight much more pleasant.   A few movies, a couple of naps and some good food, especially by airlines standards, I arrived in Dubai.

Dubai... Wow... What a skyline.. The amazing buildings are each designed with their own very unique modern theme. it's no wonder this has become a popular visit for travelers on a Middle East vacation, or passing through en route to Africa, the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, and beyond.

A beautiful low rise hotel, the Park Hyatt has a great location 15 minutes from the airport. The staff's greeting was warm and welcoming. Arched hallways and lit candles along the paths guided me to my beautiful room. Rooms are spacious and the amenities wonderful, with a beautiful bathroom and a tub set in the middle for a nice relaxing soak. A terrace with lounge chairs faced the creek. The breakfast buffet offered fresh pita bread and croissants, fresh juices including watermelon, Jalaab (a Middle Eastern fruit drink to which pine nuts are added before serving, and tamarind juice, popular in the Middle East, Mexico and South and Central America. Cold cuts, cheeses from around the world, and typical Middle Eastern items such as Zaahtar Bread (herb bread popular in the Middle East).

Hunger satisfied and restful after a good night's sleep, we headed to Burj Al Khalifa, the tallest building  in the world at 162 stories high. After passing security you ride the elevator 2/3 of the way to the top, where there's a large viewing deck with a gift shop and many photo ops. The Burj building is where Tom Cruise filmed the scene from Mission Impossible where he is dancing from the top of the building. Our tour ended with a visit through Old Dubai and the souk.

We drove an hour and half to Abu Dhabi and checked into the Hotel Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, where we were met and escorted to our beautifully appointed rooms with ocean views and a pristine beach. Rooms are large and featured a soaking tub and a terrace with a day bed. After unwinding and cooling down we had an inspection of the property including the villas, which offer 1- to 3- bedroom villas with kitchens and some with private pools.

After a morning beach walk to watch the sunrise, we headed over to the Hyatt Capital Gate. The hotel is modern and located next to the convention center, withand offers a wide range of room categories. The hotel sports a great spa and a rooftop pool, which turns into a hangout for enjoying drinks and watching the beautiful sky line, including palaces in the distance.

Excitement built for our organized tour of Ferrari World, an amusement park offering one of the fastest rollercoaster rides in a Ferrari style roller coaster. Here there's Italy Landscapes in miniature through which guests can ride mini Ferraris through cities such as Rome, Florence and Venice. This theme park is very popular and Abu Dhabi hosts Formula 1 every year. Still being in a trance after riding a rollercoaster that speeds up to 125 mph, we rushed to the hotel for a quick change and head to the Palace Hotel for an inspection and dinner. The Palace is amazing, very grand, with gold throughout the property and Swarovski Chandeliers. The suites are amazingly beautiful and attract many political leaders who stay here. The next morning we enjoyed an Arabian Adventure tour of Abu Dhabi with a visit to Sheikh Zayed Mosque, an amazing excursion not to be missed. This is the 3rd largest mosque in the world.

We departed Abu Dhabi back to Dubai. Arriving at the Grand Hyatt Dubai we were welcomed and greeted before touring the property, which offers many great dining choices and a beautiful indoor garden. We savored a wonderful dining experience in the Italian restaurant, meeting chef Ferrari who made great pizzas and a delicious risotto.

After a short rest we're off to our Arabian Adventure Sundowner Dune Dinner Safari.  We drive on the highway for 45 minutes before we exit and drive through the dunes as the sun sets. The ride is a bit rough, but as the sun sets in the desert we're provided an unforgettable sunset in 50 shades of orange. We arrived at a camp set with camel rides, photo ops, Arabic coffee stands and a "shisha."  The service is set up Arab style, sitting on the floor with carpets and pillows.  Of course there's a belly dancer to entertain us. Then, all lights are extinguished to enjoy a spectacular star gazing experience.

We headed to the airport for our flight to Maldives.The Emirates flight takes four hours and arrives in Male airport, where we are greeted by the gracious General Manager, Mr. Pierre, who leads us to the VIP lounge to relax and unwind. He hands each one of us an iPad with information on the Park Hyatt Maldives and our personalized itinerary for the next three nights in Maldives. Off we go on another one hour flight on Maldivian Air and a one hour boat ride to our resort.

And we arrive.... Paradise.... Pinch me if this place is real and I'm not dreaming. Typical of resorts here, the Park Hyatt is the only property on one of the islands. The staff is lined up and greet us, shaking our hands. Our check-in is a breeze, accompanied by chilled champagne and canapés. We are individually driven in golf carts to our villas. Our accommodations are priceless, with outdoor showers and tub in the back and an infinity pool overlooking the ocean. Chilled white wine is served as we unpack and head for a jet lag massage. I chose the cucumber green tea scrub, which feels wonderful and energizes me for the cocktail sunset hour and a wonderful dinner to follow. After a long day and a beautiful setting, we call it a night and enjoy our villas. Turn down service includes lit candles and wonderful banana bread for snacks.

A good night's sleep energizes me to wake up early and take a sunrise stroll. You can walk around the island in 15 minutes so we decided to do it six times.  At Park Hyatt Maldives we see all the restaurants, and hear  a presentation about the coral reef that surrounds this island. A true surprise occurred in the evening, when we were led to a water villa as the sun set.  The deck had beautiful unobstructed views of the ocean. Then we spotted two divers approaching. They emerged from the water and onto the deck with two bottles of champagne! Waiters quickly appeared with champagne glasses and we cheered for good times as we enjoyed the amazing surprise in this unforgettable setting.  Later, a wonderful dinner included about 20 staff dressed in matching uniforms entering the room playing drums, singing and dancing and having us join in.

On our last  day we visited the island where locals and most of the staff reside. The main island is very interesting, and fishing is the main source of income.  We witness small homes in narrow streets, and locals sitting in their homes or patios. The women are covered as they are Moslem, and children stare at us as if we are from another planet. We visit a school where kids are dressed perfectly and behave in a very respectful manner. We are delighted as we meet them at the school and answer their questions. We enjoy our last night in Paradise with another incredible meal. The table is set with many candles and a beautiful dark orange chiffon, which looks amazing. Dinner is beautifully presented.

Our last morning was a bit sad as we prepared our luggage for our long journey back home. But all great things come to an end, and personally this will not be my first or last time to visit these wonderful destinations. I had a great experience, that was unforgettable.  I would love to help create your adventure to this amazing destination! Connect with me on my travel expert profile page:  Maral Nazarian.