Ask the Expert
HEAD OF PRODUCT AT DNATA TRAVEL
Rob Arrow is a self-confessed hotel geek. With over a decade of experience in the luxury travel industry, Rob loves nothing more than talking hotels and discovering destinations. His favourite country is Lebanon, his beloved city is Melbourne, and his dream is to own a boutique retreat in the Italian Alps
Q. Ramadan is upon us, where would you recommend visiting during the Holy Month?
A. Firstly I’d like to say a blessed Ramadan to all. This is a time for reflection and peacefulness and, for many people, is also an opportunity to explore the region and beyond whilst things are a little quieter. So where to explore? As temperatures in the GCC continue to increase, it’s a good time to venture to some of the cooler nearby countries and the good news is there are some great prices to be found, as well as some amazing new hotel openings to discover.
In the Maldives, Soneva Jani is a stunning overwater villa concept that’s brought to us by the same owners of the acclaimed Soneva Fushi. The resort is true luxury coupled with a relaxed, laidback attitude and the villas are very much oversized, each with private pools and many of which feature waterslides that plunge directly into the sea. The Gathering is the largest overwater structure in the Maldives and offers sublime food and beverages with dedicated chocolate and cheese rooms that are guaranteed to satisfy even the most demanding of taste buds. A little further south, the beautiful archipelago of Mauritius is another great choice. Try the stunning Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita. Recently renovated, it’s perfect for relaxing in and there are plenty of on-site activities to keep you entertained, not least the Ernie Els-designed golf course.
If you’re staying closer to home, now is a good time to try some of the newly opened properties in the GCC. The St Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Club and Resort offers an Andalusian experience overlooking green polo fields just outside Dubai’s city centre. If the ocean is more your thing, enjoy Nikki Beach Resort and Spa without the party crowds – you’ll really feel like you’ve escaped to Europe and the private pool villas are perfect for a romantic weekend. Meanwhile, Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel is the newest part of the Madinat Jumeirah complex and offers a vibe that’s entirely new for the brand with distinct Indian Ocean vibes. It has some great dining options, a fantastic indoor and outdoor balcony concept and, unsurprisingly,
a stunning beach with amazing views
across to the Burj Al Arab.
On the up
If you plan on taking a slightly longer holiday this month, then on-the-up Morocco is a good choice for a place to indulge without the high price tag. The Mandarin Oriental in Marrakech has some of the most mindblowing one-bedroom villas I’ve ever come across – complete with private pools, Jacuzzi, outdoor fireplace and super luxurious bathrooms and lounges. Close to the Medina with the Atlas Mountains as a backdrop, it’s a true hideaway in a very happening locale. Elsewhere in the Red City, Royal Mansour is a fantastic choice especially with its newly opened Le Jardin. Designed by Spanish landscape designer Luis Vallejo, this beautiful area contains lush surrounds, a stunning pool and an Arab-Asian fusion restaurant. Beyond Marrakech is Casablanca, another city worth a visit especially if staying at the Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca, an urban resort with a fantastic feel both in-room and poolside. The super cool Mint complete with roaring wood fire offers fantastic Moroccan cuisine. Whether in the immediate region or a little further afield, there’s much to explore this Ramadan.