Category Archives: Beach

5 indisputable reasons to stay at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

1 – The Stunning View

One of the first thing we have noticed upon entering our villa was the extraordinary view. The blue sea and the sky that you can enjoy from the comfort of your bed, the freshness of the available pool or any of the chairs, sofas or chaise lounge available. If you prefer something different, there are villas facing the mangroves area or the forest.

Villa with Sea View at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

The view from the beach villa at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

View at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

Amazing sunsets from Anantara Al Yamm Resort

2 – Astonishing wildlife

 It was surprisingly good to understand that the island is not a zoo but actually a wildlife sanctuary aiming to reintroduce into the wild some species considered endangered until few years ago. During the safari superbly conducted by our South African guide, we have learnt a lot about Oryx, Sand Gazelles, a Giraffe, Cheetahs and many other animals that are protected in the reserve and we managed to admire. Many birds, a rabbit and several sand gazelles were regularly “visiting” our villa.

Cheeta at Anantara Wildlife Park Sir Bani Yas Island

Giraffe at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

Desert Gazelle at Ananantara Sir Bani Yas IslandOryx at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

3 – Absolute Quietness

Whether we were sunbathing in the beach, dining at the restaurant or within the comfort of our room, we hardly heard something different from the smooth sound of the sea waves and the happy chirping of the birds. No cars, construction works or the usual noise where are daily exposed to in the city.

Total Quietness at Anantare Sir Bani Yas Island

4 – Superb service

Since the very first moment when we entered the Anantara Resort gate at Jebel Dhana Jetty, we have received a superlative service. The Sir Bani Yas Island crew was always smiling, very prepared, friendly and polite. We have never met someone from within the staff that haven’t approached us with a warm smile, a polite salutation and a request if they could have been of any help or assistance.

5 – Great Accommodation

Our villa was simply amazing. Dining room, living room, a very big bedroom, nicely arranged bathroom with cool amenities, outdoor seating and a private swimming pool (not too big though). Independent from any other villa, guaranteeing absolute privacy and quietness.  There is available also an area to arrange a fire for an amazing evening.

Beach Villa at Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island

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Tips about Rixos Bab al Bahr – Ras Al Khaimah

I have recently stayed at Rixos Bab al Bahr in Ras Al Khaimah to celebrate a friend’s birthday and had fairly good stay even though with some downsides.

The booking process was a little problematic. When I called the hotel at 8pm on a week-day, I was informed that the booking was closed because the relevant department works only between 9am-18pm. (!!!)

I called the next morning and after having obtained the information I needed, I booked my room on booking.com since cheaper. The resort offers an all-inclusive package where in addition to a room you receive also unlimited drinks (selected) and buffet meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) included in the price.

However, you are not forced to have the free buffet meal at all times because there are other restaurants available for those tired of the buffet selection, for which it is requested the payment of additional 100 AED/person only.

The resort is very popular among Russian tourists and Dubai’s residents especially during the weekends. When we arrived at the resort, we were warmly welcomed by the door man and then had to line up for the check-in.

The hotel has 600 rooms and to handle the load of visitors checking-in at around 12.30pm there were only 5/6 people. We waited 15 minutes to check-in, a thing that the management should improve in my opinion.

 The girl that handled the check-in was very polite. The room assigned was no. 2554 and a polite staff member escorted me at the room located in the second building while explaining the features of the all-inclusive package and carrying the luggage. Once in the room, I recognized that the Deluxe Room with Garden View I paid for was actually with a parking and construction site view.

I went back to the same girl that checked me in and asked to have another room, possibly with the Garden View I paid for. She tried to ask for a little extra for the “upgrade” but I was resolute and she politely assigned another room, this time with partial sea view, in front of the access road but slightly bigger and with a balcony. I accepted the change and the staff quickly moved my stuff and regularized my position.

Rixos Room with partial Sea View

The premium room I got at Rixos was spacious and well furnished. The bathroom was big and equipped with all the toiletries you might need.

View from Rixos Room with partial Sea View

The partial sea view from room 1438. The road is not very trafficked the balcony offers the possibility to enjoy the sunset.

The resort is nice, with several swimming pools, a nice beach and very attentive and polite staff always addressing guests with a smile. There many ways you can enjoy your stay with bars and shisha places conveniently located in the common area at the center of the three buildings forming the resort.

Rixos by night with pool

Rixos resort is formed by a common area and 3 identical buildings. The lobby and main restaurants are located at the center.

Rixos Main Restaurant by night

The Main Restaurant y night. It is a big area that offers an outdoor veranda for smokers, inside seating and an intermediate area that is covered but with big windows.

Rixos beach

Rixos beach is very nice. The sun beds are maybe too close to each other but sand, water and staff are amazing.

Rixos Garden

Between the beach and the pool there is a green area very well maintained.

The buffet was good in quantity but not in quality. The same selection of cheese, salads and bread was offered at all meals and left overs of dinner were displayed the morning after.

The kids’ selection was mainly a concentrate of junk food with fried chicken, fries and sausages with ketchup available.

 Don’t get me wrong. The food was alright but no one in our group of friends found something wow! Worth getting a second portion.

After dinner, the Mojito Bar serves free mojitos (not really the best I had) and Inferno disco club gives some good time with fairly enjoyable music.

Rixos alternative restaurant

all around the resort there are alternative restaurants and bars other than shops

Rixos Inferno DJ

Inferno’s club DJ. Fairly good music even though the club was almost empty when we were there.

Hotel Review: Mediterranean Hotel Limassol – Cyprus

We stayed in this hotel during our stay in Limassol and we were positively impressed by the beauty of the hotel and its facilities and by the almost perfect service offered. Quality of the food and management of pools and beach facilities are outstanding as well as the provided entertainment and security services. The hotel had just few negative points that you might want to consider in order to keep under control your expenses and properly plan your stay.

We reached Limassol from Paphos by using the Intercity Bus, a very convenient mean of transportation that connects the major cities in Cyprus and hopped off at Old Limassol Port. From there we caught Bus 30 and reached the hotel in 20/25 minutes. Indeed, the hotel indeed is quite far from the city centre.

When we arrived at the hotel, the doorman (a single doorman) was busy with someone else, hence we had to carry our luggage by ourselves. The check in was quick and hassle free and appreciated the warm welcome the desk operator gave us.

When we reached our room, we found a bottle of spumante (sparkling wine from Italy) and a chocolate mousse cake to celebrate our anniversary. Really a nice touch we have appreciated and the cake . . . wow it was super good. The room was spacious and well-furnished and the bed very comfortable.

The washroom was alright even though there weren’t as many amenities as we expected. No shaving kit, no toothbrush or paste, hence you might want to take them with you and no bathrobe or slippers. The shampoo and soap provided, on the contrary, were of great quality.

The best part of the room was the balcony and the fantastic view offered.

Mediterranean Hotel Room View

The breathtaking view from our Mediterranean Hotel Room – Photo rights reserved

We have immediately enjoyed the beach and the pool facilities that looked so inviting. We had to collect our towels from the gymnasium and select an available chaise lounge. We were impressed by the cleanliness of  the hotel and by the efficient security service that were patrolling the facility and quickly block beggars or unauthorized sellers.

The beach facility was very well maintained, clean and enjoyable. The hotel policy is that you cannot secure your bench for more than one hour in your absence. This solution guarantees a constant availability of lounges and reduces the number of complaints from other guests. The sand is dark color and it gets very very hot during the day, hence remember to wear flip flop or other beach shoes to move comfortably from/to the sea and around.

Mediterranean Hotel Beach - Limassol by AndreaDetto

The beach facilities at Mediterranean Hotel are great. – Photo rights reserved

One negative note is the price of food and drinks served at the beach or the pool. After few hours under the sun, we had to order some drinks: a big bottle of water and a lemonade. Nothing special but we ended up paying few Euro for a bottle of local water that in the street shops in front of the hotel costs 0,50/0,75 Euro. Same for other drinks and cocktails that are slightly more expensive than the average prices we have paid outside the hotel. Food is superb even though a bit pricey if you decide to go A La Carte. The most convenient option is to get advantage of the excellent daily buffet that is cheaper and provide you with a great variety of food options.. Just to have an idea: we had a lunch buffet for something around 20 Euro per person, while a single main course was around 15 Euro. We found the service always excellent and attentive.

Mediterranean Food Selection - photo by AndreaDetto

The food quality and taste was excellent as well as the service. In this photo sea food salad and halloumi sandwich – Photo rights reserved

The hotel is very alive and provide a great selection of entertainments that is weekly repeated. We had the chance to enjoy a Greek buffet at one of the many restaurants available and the entertainment was amazing with Greek music and dancers and an extraordinary equilibrist who was holding a tower of 20 glasses on his head. there were other organized nights with Italian buffet, live Jazz music and so on. Definitely a nice stay. The only little problem is that if you have a sea view room and want to stay in your room and relax, you might be annoyed by the music and laughs that, however, eventually stop at 11pm circa.

Mediterranean Hotel Interiors - photo by AndreaDetto

The hotel is very well decorated both inside and outside. – Photo rights reserved.

The WiFi coverage is great and works perfectly in the rooms, restaurants, pool and beach area. Concierge and front desk operators were very helpful and polite and ready to answer to all our questions.

Regarding the expenses, remember that water is not daily provided in your room and hence you are forced to buy it from within the hotel. As already said, it is more expensive than outside the hotel and therefore you might want to smuggle it in your room from a local shop. It can seem silly, but if you drink an average of 2 bottles of water a day per person, you might easily save a 10/15 euro per day.

The shops that are in the hotel should be avoided if possible. We have found magnets and other souvenirs costing even 10 times more than outside the hotel and swim suites costing up to 200 Euro while in the shops in Limassol city there are much cheaper options. Moreover, we asked for a late check out that was granted for few hours for a small fee of 15 Euro.

If you have to go to the airport from the hotel, ask the concierge to book for you a shared taxi. It is really convenient because it will cost you only 12 Euro per person and it is much faster than the available buses.

Hotel Review: Constance Ephelia Resort – Seychelles

We visited Seychelles some time ago and found the Islands amazing. There are many reason to visit Seychelles, as well summarized in this article.

It is quite complicated to rate this hotel because it has great potentials and various pros but also many areas of possible improvement that sometimes generate disappointment. We stayed in the hotel, one of the most expensive in Mahe island for 4 days enjoying a special offer granted by the Entertainer Middle East with a free night.

General Pros

One of the pros of the resort is that it is located in a 120 hectares of tropical forest and includes many protected areas where it is possible to admire spectacular flora and fauna. There are few Albadra giant turtles, one of which is 104 years old; there are many species of birds and crabs, a mangrove forest and many fruit bats that fly just before the sunset.  The presence of the coral reef on the northern beach of the resort allows snorkel lovers and scuba divers to enjoy the beauty of the sea life.

The resort architecture is brilliant. Very elegant and clean with a lot of well maintained tropical plants all over the property. Being so widespread, a system of boogie transportation is available to transport you from south to north and vice versa in case you might be tired and do not want to walk some 20 minutes from one side to the other.

Peacocks are present on the island as well

Another plus for this resort are the available free activities to entertain in an easy and nice way the guests whether it is a sunny day or a raining one. We tried the Fruit and Spices tasting, where a local guy described the local production and allowed you to taste some particular fruit like the star fruit, passion fruit and so on. We tried the photographic tour around the resorts during which a local guide brought us in stunning places ideal to take nice photos while he told to us many interesting facts regarding Seychelles, its people and its culture. We enjoyed the Hiking tour that is a medium level trek. You will be asked to walk in sometimes difficult terrain and conditions and as such is not for everybody. No flip flops, no technology with you because you will be asked to walk few meters in the sea. A nice activity is feeding the turtles every day at 4 p.m. – a must see for kids even though it is worth paying a visit for ‘older’ ones too.

Daily sessions of gym, meditation and abs are also scheduled and could be very useful to kill some hours in case of a rainy or cloudy day. Free availability of kayaks and other marine equipment help the guests to enjoy the beautiful sea.

The resort is the perfect destination for honeymooners, families (they have a kids zone and separate villas for them) and couples in general, however if you inform them that you are in honeymoon the resort will shower you with presents that are not available/offered for normal couples.

The staff is very polite and attentive and always providing a smile and a happy face whenever you encounter them. The locals are even more positive and friendly, ready to talk to you and greet you on whichever occasion. Having been a French colony, the majority of the crew speaks French other than English; however considering the amount of Italians guests, the hotel employed some Italian native speakers and the locals learnt enough Italian to understand and be able to answer basic questions.

The food is very nice and served in different restaurants that provide different cuisines. Corossol, the main restaurant for BB, HB and FB guests, offers a great breakfast and dinner buffet with a mix of English, Italian and Creole food that should guarantee to have everyone happy.

The south beach from the helipad

General Cons

We experienced some difficulties during our stay and would like to share with you all in order to help you in better planning your stay in this resort that is anyhow very respectable.

In the first place, we had some problems in booking our room via e-mail. Or better, the room was duly reserved by the appointed personnel but we received the confirmation only a few hours before our departure from home. We called many times and it was impossible to find the right person at the working station. Maybe we are a little spoiled being used to Dubai standard, but a 5* resort should have a dedicated task force to manage such a important thing.

We were assigned to a Junior Suite at the extreme east of the property (on the right on the map) that was very well furnished and decorated. There were many amenities available like soap, shower gel, hair drier and the like, with the exception of toothbrushes and toothpaste. Hence bring it from home if you do not want to be forced to buy one there where surely it is more expensive.

Based on my experience, I would suggest to get a Junior Suite on the first floor: more privacy, generally a better view and a different feeling in staying on a veranda instead of the ground floor where people could possibly walk in front of you all the day long.

We experienced many troubles with the boogie service that rarely passed in front of our accommodation when needed. Many times we called the reception for it and awaited more than 20 minutes before deciding to walk all the way to the reception. Not a big deal if it is sunny, but a very annoying thing if it rains.

We were on a Bed & Breakfast basis and hence we could enjoy the breakfast buffet at Corossol restaurant and then we had to pay separately for lunch and dinner.

The first day for lunch we had two sandwiches, one beer and one water at Cabana, the little kiosk located on the north beach, for 550 SCR (around 42 USD)!!. So we decided to stuff ourselves at breakfast and tried to skip lunch whenever possible.

For dinner the cost calculation is more complicated. We were offered to upgrade from BB to HB for 50 Euro each (total of 1,640 SCR per day per couple). Well, considering that an open dinner buffet is 1,900 SCR per couple (drinks are excluded), it is convenient to upgrade to HB.                       However we had dinner in Adam&Eve restaurant and paid a la carte for 2 appetizers, 2 mains, 1 side dish and 2 desserts together with a beer and water only 1470 SCR!! Much less if compared to the 1,640 SCR for 6 dishes and drinks excluded. So be careful with the hidden costs that can reach a significant amount at the end of your holiday.

Another area of improvement is the beach management. The south beach is abandoned. Almost no service, a few lounges, no towels. Just sand and the sea. The Junior Suites have a series of pools available well equipped, but if you want to enjoy the beach you have to go to the north one. Once there, if it is peak time, you will find that almost all of the beach chairs are taken and start walking up and down as looking for a parking spot in a very busy mall. The beaches are quite small but surrounded by a gorgeous tropical flora that provides a natural shelter when the sun is stronger. In relation to this, please note that the sun is very strong and as such you are recommended to bring a sun lotion of medium to high coverage degree,

Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the peak days whereas the other weekdays seemed to be more quiet.

Conclusion

The resort is very well equipped and definitely can assure you a pleasant stay. Just take note of the few problems we encountered in order to be ready and prepared minimizing the disturbances and lowering the extra budget of your stay.

5 Indisputable Reasons to Visit Seychelles

The Indian Ocean offers a wide range of tropical paradises where it is possible to spend a dream vacation immerse in the nature and enjoying beautiful beaches and turquoise waters that most of the time are really breath taking. Those destinations are easily reachable from Dubai, since they are very well connected and the flight duration is of just few hours.

Among the long list of available destinations, there is no question that the Seychelles archipelago should be at the top of everyone’s list of tropical dream vacation.  Composed by more than 150 islands of different size, the Seychelles were firstly substantially inhabited by the French during the 18th Century and proclaimed independent only in 1976 after a period of British possession.

They are the ideal destination for a romantic stay (it seems to be one of the favourite destination for European honeymooners) or for a vacation that the whole family can enjoy.

Do you need some more? Here there are the 5 indisputable reasons to visit Seychelles to definitely convince you to book your dream holiday today.

1 – The beautiful beaches

There are not only the post-card like beaches to entertain tourists and visitors that most of the time are properly maintained by the various hotels and resorts. as a matter of fact, Seychelles is characterized by many secluded beaches that can be easily reached by a short walk through the forest or alongside the beach and that are pretty much untouched by humans and could be enjoyed in their natural status. The white sand and the turquoise water together with the vegetation that grows close to the beach, make the Seychelles beaches one of the best in the world.

Beaches in Mahe island – Seychelles – Photos taken by me

2 – The amazing flora and unique fauna

The Seychelles are characterized by a luxuriant vegetation that includes mangroves, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon-grass, pineapple, coco de mer and many other trees and colourful flowers. During our stay in one of the available resorts on Mahe island, a local guy (Seychellois or Seselwa in Creole) brought us in the forest and showed to us the different variety of flowers and spices naturally available. Apparently there is also a plant that produce a red seed that if received as gift from a Seychellois brings a lot of luck.

Seychelles Flora - Mahe Island

Flowers in Seychelles – Mahe Island – Photos taken by me

Moreover, the island is inhabited by many particular animals that in most cases are endangered and as such protected. The most impressive one is the Giant Aldabra Turtle that can reach and easily pass the threshold of 100 years  of life. The one present in our resort was 104 years old and seemed to be still in good health. There is also a community of fruit bat that are characterized by a yellow head and many species of crabs always busy in excavating new tunnels in the sandy soil. Butterflies and peacock are not so rare to encounter during a sunny day.

Seychelles Fauna - Mahe Island

Seychelles Fauna – Mahe Island – Photos taken by me

3 – The diving and snorkelling spots

The favourite activity in a tropical paradise that hosts a great coral reef is certainly snorkelling or diving. The Seychelles, as all the other islands and archipelagos present in the Indian Ocean, offers a wide range of corals, tropical fishes and underwater life in general, that can be easily enjoyed by anyone. If you prefer to ‘snorkel around’, just bring your equipment with you and pay attention to avoid unpleasant encountering and to damage the fragile corals. If you are more keen to scuba diving, please consider that many resorts have available a diving centre where professional staff can assist you with equipment and providing you guides. Anyhow, there are also many local companies that organize daily trips to the best spots to visit.
Scuba diving in Seychelles

Scuba diving in Seychelles – photo from www.diverdaily.com

4 – The exploring possibilities

Other than scuba diving and snorkelling that can be done almost everywhere in the tropical  world, Seychelles has the unique characteristic to conjugate the marine activities with the possibility to explore the main land where the irresistible uniqueness of the flora and fauna can be really appreciated. There are indeed many hiking and trekking possibilities and curious places to visit (especially on Mahe island) like the waterfalls and the ‘steps to heaven’.

hiking in seychelles

Hiking Activities in Seychelles – Photos from Google Image

5 – The unique friendliness of the local people

You will be surprise in noticing that all the local people, the Seselwa in Creole, are very friendly and ready to help. Of course, someone will definitely try to get some extra dollar from you but most of them are very nice, polite and honest. I remember that the last day of our holiday we booked a taxi through the resort with the intention to drive to Victoria (the Capital) and then to go to the airport. Well the local driver was so kind to stop from time to time in some special locations to allow us to take photos and to describe the cultural particularities of the Seychellois and the island most recent history.

Once in Victoria, he brought us to the restaurant earlier suggested by the hotel concierge (Marie Antoniette) and promised to be back in one hour to pick us up. Well, he did not ask for any advance payment nor our details. He simply stated: “you will pay once we are safe at the airport”. and so we did.  Truly honest and friendly population.

Seychellois in a beach dance – Photo from Google Image

Paphos Sea Cruises – A big disappointment

It was our last day in Paphos before moving to Limassol where we ended our holiday in Cyprus. We enjoyed the UNESCO world heritage site and decided to explore the beautiful west coast of the island by cruising from Paphos up north to Coral Bay, Lara Bay and Akamas Peninsula.

We got various brochures and informations from the numerous kiosks present at the Marina and asked our hotel’s tour operator to arrange the booking for us. Among the various options, we opted for a full day sea cruise offered by Paphos Sea Cruises that promised to have beautiful scenery of the coastline, Coral Bay, the Sea Caves, St. Georges Island, Lara Bay (Turtle Beach) in its itinerary with, pick-up/drop off at hotel, open bar, lunch and seasonal fruits included in the price.

The next morning we were timely picked up by a bus rented from a wedding celebration company. Once arrived at the harbour we were welcomed on-board of the Sea Star boat and let free to choose our favorite spot. Unfortunately, there were very limited sun bed available that were taken in few seconds by the first comers.
We managed to secure a seat on the deck eventually; others were forced to stay inside or close to the anchor mechanism.

Soon after the cruise started, the captain informed us that the weather was getting bad, hence the sea rough and therefore he decided to turn the boat eastwards for safety reasons. He assured that the B plan was entertaining and exciting as the original one.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Instead of exploring a good deal of coast, we managed to navigate a few miles and have a swim in a perfectly useless bay close to our hotel!!! Definitely not the same value nor excitement as promised.

Paphos Sea Cruises Itinerary

The B plan offered is not even comparable with the original itinerary (A)

During the cruise music and live singing entertainments were provided. However, since the majority of the tourists were Russian, the live songs performed were pure Russian music!! I am in Cyprus and would expect to hear Greek music or party music or chill out music during a cruise, certainly not Russians hits.

The cruise offered the possibility to have two swim stops and to enjoy free snorkelling gears and canoes. For the snorkelling gears, they were completely useless since the Timis Bay where we stopped, had just sand to admire. Moreover, with more than 50 passengers, there were just 2 canoes!!!

Finally it came the time to enjoy lunch. Bread, salad, butter, jacket potato, boiled vegetables, boiled rice, pasta with tomato sauce and grilled chicken. Just one piece of grilled chicken.
The pasta was something outrageous, at least for an Italian. The rest was just ok even though I was expecting something different in light of the previous experiences we have done around the world.

The boat had tables enough to accommodate 20 people only, the others had to eat somewhere else.

At 2 pm circa, we were offered bananas and watermelon. Very tasty and appreciated under the sun.

I guess if the weather was good and the cruise went the “right” direction, we would have enjoyed it much more, notwithstanding the Russian songs and the very fair lunch. Definitely, Russian speaking people had enjoyed the cruise more than we did.

I would have personally preferred to be dropped at the harbour and refund some money, leaving us upset with the weather but not felling cheated by the organizers.

Dubai Easter Weekend

Originally published on 20th April 2014

Luckily I had the chance to pay a visit to some friends and my partner in Dubai during the Eater Weekend, for a short break from the Saudi routine.

Even though I lived in Dubai for almost 4 years and I could manage to come once per month, Dubai has always something new to surprise the visitors.

This time I had the chance to check the newly built Beach Mall located at JBR, where once there was the parking area.
Honestly I thought it would have turned out to be a ‘monster’ of concrete in an already congested area and instead I found the new mall really well designed.

A new and nice promenade with an excellent access to the beach, a cinema and many restaurants have been set in a wonderful way.

I was lucky and during the past week there was a sand castle context where many different sculpture were sapiently created by specialised designers.

I decided to take a photo of the sand creation that most represent Dubai – Host city of EXPO 2020.