I love my home. It’s tiny and to-the-point, but I love it. If I’m ever asked what my favorite place is, I’ll always say “home”, without a second thought. I sense a lot of nods in agreement. Yes, I love The Dubai Mall. Yes, I LOVE the beach. No, I’m not an introvert. At the end of the day though, when we’re totally burnt from exhaustion, home is where we all want to return.
As much of a safe haven as home is though, it’s nice to sometimes break free from the daily grind and change your surroundings; to plop yourself onto 600 thread count sheets on a bed that was neatly made by someone else (M never makes the bed). While the first thing that comes to most minds when they read the aforementioned proposition is “VACATION!!”, when one can’t afford the time for one, a staycation isn’t a bad alternative.
Last weekend, M and I therefore decided to take a not-so-long drive up to Ajman, and give ourselves a short break. Our preferred choice of hotel: Ajman Saray: A Luxury Collection Resort.
It was easy to find (using Google Maps) and just at the entrance of the hotel stands a golden statue of Escape, the prized horse of the Crown Prince of Ajman. We were warmly welcomed with a berry smoothie and those dehydrated wet towels that swell up when water is poured over them (I’ve always been one for a steak that sizzles). The drink was a tad too sweet, and I think a more regionally relevant drink or a simple mint lemonade would have been nicer
Our room did not disappoint. The sheets were fresh, the surfaces polished and the decor easy on the eyes. I absolutely loved how their intricately detailed iconic silver lamps and chandeliers -that can be found all over the resort- incorporate Khaleeji heritage into the otherwise modern decor. The overall ambiance is no Bab Al Shams, but it is certainly Khaleeji enough for any tourist to feel like they’re at a 5* resort in the UAE. The closet was big enough for us to put our entire luggage inside, so you don’t have to worry about tripping over unsightly luggage in your room. Our balcony overlooked the clear blue sea, and we could have just sat there the entire time. The glass-top on our balcony table clearly hadn’t been cleaned since the last guests left though, so that was a bit of a put off. Luckily though, the chairs were more welcoming.
The bathroom was fan-friggin-tastic. I felt like a princess in there, with the grand silver framed mirrors, the silver chandeliers, and marble countertops. Here’s my favorite part: the shower and bath area were completely separate from the toilet. Not just a separate cubicle or a little glass divider, but they were completely independant with a concrete wall in between and separate entrances. I don’t know why, but I liked that. What I did not like, however, was that while the bathroom and toilet were both spotless enough to see my reflection in all surfaces, the brand new toilet paper roll in next to the bidet was all pruned up- clearly it had been accidentally drenched and left to dry rather than being replaced. A small detail to some, but clear negligence on the part of housekeeping. That aside, everything else was perfect. I loved the rain shower and a small detail that some hotels tend to overlook: the level of the flooring was just the slightest bit lower than the rest of the bathroom, hence preventing wet floors (which any normal person hates)
Ajman Saray offers some decent beach facilities, water sports options, and temperature-controlled pools. They’ve also got your kids covered, with the kiddy pool, sandpit, outdoor play area, indoor play area, a movie room, and even a nap room close to the pool and beach facilities! Children over the age of 4 can be left unattended, but you can also request a hotel nanny 48 hours in advance. The lavender-scented pillow spray that was delivered to us after dinner, and the newspaper delivered to us the next morning made us feel very welcome too.
After swooning over the pool, jacuzzi, and the massage pool (!), (and M getting very cross over how I forgot to pack his swim shorts), we proceeded for lunch at the Bab Al Bahr Beach Grill. The best part of the meal was my Watermelon Coconut drink, and the Falafel. The freshness of the watermelon and the creaminess of the coconut was the perfect refreshment, but the strawberry garnish was a little confusing. With this, we had a Greek Mezze that comprised of lamb meatballs atop labneh, grilled octopus atop pear puree, a grilled Tiger prawn atop Baba Ganoush, and grilled Halloumi. My favorite part of the mezze was the pear puree that the octopus was placed atop, and the Hallmoumi. The prawn and octopus were cooked perfectly, and the lamb meatballs tasted better than they smelled. For mains, we had the Mixed Seafood Grill,and I was especially impressed with the salmon, as far too many people tend to overcook it, which was not the case here.
I felt quite zoned out throughout the day as I was drugged out on an antihistamine that I’d taken the night before thanks to an oncoming cold, so I took a short nap after lunch, before my 4pm appointment for a 50 minute Classic massage at the GOCO Spa, located inside the hotel. I think the combination of the cool breeze on our balcony, peaceful sounds of the sea that made for a sweet lullaby, my very exhausted self, and a very comfortable bed, made me want to sleep throughout the weekend. I did manage to drag myself out of said bed though, and head over to the “S” floor. The relaxing aroma of lemongrass pulled me in, and I never wanted to leave. I was welcomed with a cup of herbal tea, shown the sauna, steam room and locker room. My masseuse, a certified physiotherapist named Mariam, gave me a really relaxing massage and was extremely delightful. After my massage, she brought me some more tea and welcomed me to nap/lounge around as long as I wanted, and so I did- on one of their balcony loungers, overlooking the sunset.
Dinner was at the sweet and classy, Safi. Live Jazz on a saxophone in the dimly lit dining room, cool winter breeze, and wok-fresh seafood made for a perfect meal. We started off with delectable Tiger prawns wrapped in crispy vermicelli and placed atop mango salsa and plum sauce. This appetizer was perfection. It was actually the first (but not the last) thing I had eaten all day that really stood out, and it was memorable and worth coming back for. The prawn was perfectly cooked, and the mango salsa and plum sauce had the perfect balance between sweet and sour. M had a Soto Ayam soup that was very comforting in the cold weather.For mains, we had batter-dipped and wok-fried cubes of Sultan Ibrahim (Catch of the Day), and a Beef in Black Sauce. The former was presented impressively in the deep-fried carcass of the fish (looked better than it sounds), and the latter comprised of juicy, succulent strips of tenderloin in a delicious black sauce. One of the chefs at this brilliant restaurant is from Thailand, and the other from Indonesia, and they both clearly know what they’re doing. Dessert was a Ginger Creme Brulee, a Matcha Tiramisu, and some Mango with Sticky Rice. The Matcha Tiramisu was AMAZING, and while mango and sticky rice is perhaps the most common Thai dessert, it was really elevated at Safi and presented beautifully. Absolutely stunning. A meal truly worth coming back for.
We woke up the next morning to the sounds of the waves crashing against the docks, and a crisp newspaper hanging on our door in a leather case. We had breakfast at Vista, which was simple but ample. The best part was the plethora of fresh juices! I absolutely loved that they even had a green juice option. There was also a huge variety of breads, fresh cut fruits, cheese, greens, eggs, croissants, muffins and jams. There were panko-crusted tomatoes, sausages, miso soup, parata with chickpeas, french toast, waffles, hash browns, sautéed mushrooms and baked beans. I jumped for joy when I saw some Bircher muesli, and while it was delicious, I felt it should have been unsweetened and served with an option of honey on the side. I also wish that the waffles were made to order rather than being left on the hot plate to get sweaty and tough. Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed breakfast in the outdoor seating as the weather was beautiful, the service was excellent.
In a nutshell, it was an extremely pleasant staycation, and a much-needed break from the daily monotony. I’m already looking forward to my next staycation, any suggestions for where I should head off to next? 🙂