Journey from Al Ain to Fujairah

Here is my first draft of an article to show you what the car journey looks like from Al Ain to Fujairah. It takes about 3 hours to get to the beach hotels there like Al Aqah Beach Resort (our favourite), Sandy Beach, etc.

If you have a Garmin satellite navigation device, or the Tom-Tom app on your iPhone, enter N 25°30′ E56°21′ to be directed to Al Aqah Beach Resort, which is metres away from the other hotels on this short strip of beach.

I don’t know how much use this will be to you, but it does show the kind of scenery along the way.

Here goes…

We set off Al Ain around 9am – and reached this petrol station just to the right of a roundabout around 10am…

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90 mins later, here’s the view. Notice the way the mountain has been cut out in ‘steps’ in the middle of this photo…

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5 mins later…

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5 mins further on…

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2 mins later…

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4 mins later…

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Another 4 mins later (!), fruit and veg sellers by the road side with the sign to Le Meridien behind them…

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On the other side of the road too…

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2 mins later, the sea on the left…

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7 mins later, we reached this roundabout: the hotels Mirimar, Al Aqah, Sandy Beach etc are 10-500 metres to the right of here…

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Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort Hotel, Fujairah – views from balcony

Here are some photos taken from the balcony at Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort Hotel in Fujairah…

Looking to the north, the row of green trees in the middle of this shot marks the edge of Al Aqah’s land…

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Coming south down the beach, you can see the canvas tent covering the climbing frame and sand pit in the Kid’s Club on the left, an outdoor restaurant in the centre right, and the edge of the large pool…

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The pool, in 3 sections, and a blue table tennis table between the camera and the middle pool. You can see Snoopy Island in front of the Sandy Beach Resort in the top right corner. You can rent a kayak and paddle out to this big rock and go round it before heading back…

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Snoopy Island in the distance; a new hotel being built next door…

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All the rooms face the sea. As you come out of your room, you have a wall of glass in front of you: this is what you see, looking out to the front of the hotel: entrance canopy in the bottom right of the shot; the manager’s home is the white building centre right; tennis courts on the right; mountain across the main road (we’re looking west now)…

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This next shot is to the right of the shot above, of course, so you can see the hotel next door…

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Now you can see right up the beach to the north. You can walk along the beach to the mountain and back: it takes about 45 minutes there and back in 50 degree heat in the morning – as we did one July when I took these photos. The sky was hazy this day…

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So you have now seen almost 360 degrees round the hotel. See my other articles for more info on this terrific hotel.

Danat Hotel, Al Ain

The Danat Hotel in Al Ain was, until 2010, called the Intercontinental Hotel (and still affectionally known as the ‘Intercon’). The Danat is very busy with tourists and new arrivals to Al Ain who are sometimes lodged there temporarily until their apartments or villas are ready to move into.

Here are some photos of it…

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The children’s pool (I popped round one quiet morning as we’re not members here)…

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The grown-ups pool (a full-length Olympic pool no less)…

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Looking back towards the hotel…

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Children’s play area…

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The gym…

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There’s lots of other great stuff at this hotel: various restaurants, shops, various massage treatments (including with hot stones), martial arts lessons, and more.

Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort Hotel, Fujairah

The reason we Paynes moved to Al Ain was because we discovered this hotel a few years ago and then came twice a year ever since, then finally decided to move to this country as we like it so much!

We’ve stayed at this hotel 11 times so far, ranging from 2 to 15 nights at a time.

We come because the service is beyond anything we’ve experienced anywhere else: way better than the likes of the Peninsula in Hong Kong, or the Atlantis and Jumeriah Beach Hotel in Dubai.

The hotel looks fabulous…

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…and it has a terrific range of facilities which surpass those of other hotels we’ve tried.

Here’s part of one pool…

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Kid’s Club inside area…

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The outside area of the Kid’s Club…

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And here’s a 1-minute video I took on a cloudy day one July when it was 50 degrees, and 110 per cent humidity – though still quite bearable to sunbathe in, surprisingly (we had got used to the heat after nearly a year in Al Ain)…

The manager, Patrick Antaki, is a stickler for detail, and comes across as obsessed with giving superb customer service.

Here’s me with Patrick at a fair they held a while back with Bucking Bronco and tug of war…

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I have been so amazed by the service that I’ve grilled the staff as to their philosophy, and also talked to Patrick about it.

Here are a few bits of information which may give you an idea that this is a hotel worth visiting…

If you are on the beach and you want, to take this to an extreme, a glass on beetroot and spinach juice, then the staff are trained to say “Yes, I can get that for you. It will just take a little time.” (Of course, this drink is not on any menu.)

The lifeguard staff by the pools are rotated every 30 minutes or so to ensure that their concentration is 100%. (In other hotels, lifeguards can be at one post for hours at a time.)

If you see a member of staff walking by, and you ask for something, they make it happen. There is no “please go to reception and ask” etc attitude. They really go the extra mile.

They make it a priority to learn guests’ names and greet them accordingly.

The staff are well paid, have their own gym, have a 24-hour lounge, get involved in inter-hotel tournaments, take part in events like a vertical marathon: running up the stairs of the hotel from the bottom to the top.

If a member of staff gets married in their home country, management make an effort to find employment for that partner in the hotel.

When a member of staff had kidney failure at the age of 29, all the staff chipped in to pay 70,000 dirhams for his hospital treatment.

When the tsunami destroyed homes in Sri Lanka, the hotel helped pay for the rebuilding of 7 of the homes of the families of some of the staff members.

Patrick reads most of the comment cards that people leave behind. The bad ones are displayed on a noticeboard for all staff to see. The person who made the complaint is rung up and invited to visit again.

Patrick told me, “If you treat people like kings and queens, they come again and tell their friends.”

Patrick relates a whole series of stories which show his philosophy. “One man, who had stayed with us a few times, decided to try one of our competitors, who offered him a lower price to stay there. Within several hours the man rang Patrick up and said, “I don’t care how much you charge me, just get me a room in your hotel because my wife is giving me hell here.”

I spoke with one of the other guests at the hotel who told me this story: “We got stuck in this hotel when the volcano in Iceland erupted and so many flights were cancelled back to the UK. We had friends who were staying at hotels in Dubai, and some of those hotels put the room rates up much higher, which made their prolonged stay that much more expensive. This hotel, the Al Aqah, offered us special deals, free meals and free drinks. That’s the way to treat guests.”

Although, on average, this hotel is 150AED or more per night than the other hotels in the area, their occupancy level is far higher: a testament to the power of supreme customer service.

We Paynes have stayed in many hotels including the Atlantis and the Jumeriah Beach Hotel, and the service at these hotels is way behind that which we experience at Al Aqah.

Al Aqah offers some very special deals at times. The best rates we got were last July when we came for 3 nights and got free breakfast and evening meal included. We had such a wonderful time that we stayed an extra night before we drove back to Al Ain then caught a flight back to the UK for several weeks.

If you have a Garmin satellite navigation device, or the Tom-Tom app on your iPhone, enter N 25°30′ E56°21′ to be directed to Al Aqah Beach Resort, which is metres away from the other hotels on this short strip of beach.

Go to this article for photos taken from 2 balconies of the pool area, nearby hotels etc.

This article shows images from our 10th anniversary celebration at this hotel.

This article shows photos of the journey from Al Ain to Fujairah.

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sohar, Oman

This terrific hotel is only a 65-minute drive from the Hilton Hotel in Al Ain – so it’s much closer than Abu Dhabi or Dubai for a quick getaway.

You can get across the border 2 ways…

  • by driving past the Hilton, heading east
  • via the Hili border crossing

Don’t try crossing at the border next to the Lulu Hypermarket as we did – unless you’re a GCC resident!

The hotel is very new, and has real 5-star appeal. We got a deal including half-price massage: and this was an excellent 60-minute session.

Here is a snap of it…

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…and this one is what it looks like as you drive from Al Ain: the hotel is up on a little hill on your left, about 25 minutes from the final border crossing…

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The hotel is 25 minutes from the sea, which was fine by us: we just drove down the next day to check it out.

You may find the price here to be cheaper than the Sohar Beach Hotel which is on the coast, but that is a little ‘tired’ by all accounts, and not quite what we want from a hotel.

I didn’t take many photos there. But you can play table tennis…

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…and snooker…

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…and there are 4 lanes for 10-pin bowling….

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Just a short video from the pool area…

Hilton Hotel in Al Ain

We spend one afternoon most weekends at the Hilton Hotel in the south east of the town…

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…because of its excellent facilities.

There are 3 pools: a laps pool for adults…

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a paddling pool for infants…

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…and a large family pool with water features and a water slide.

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Here’s a video lasting a few minutes, showing the hotel and main pools…

There are some swings and a climbing frame too…

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Inside you’ll find two table tennis tables, squash court…

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…a fully equipped gym…

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…sauna, Jacuzzis, steam room etc.

When children want a break from the heat, or if they just want to slow down after a couple of hours in the pool, they can watch a DVD in a special play room (there are 12-15 DVDs to choose from, ranging from Shawn The Sheep to The Aristocats)…

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The lunchtime menu in the restaurant next to the pool…

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…is excellent, and the staff are a delight: here are 3 of the 5-strong team: from left to right: Joy, Rameez and Diago…

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Our children have tennis lessons there every week and they also have fun on the swings and climbing frame. There is also a small putting green for golf enthusiasts. My wife and I have enjoyed massages there from Elizabeta, a skilled masseuse from Romania.

At the entrance to the Hiltonia Club is a busy noticeboard offering cars, apartments, discount furniture and white goods (often at a half to one third of the original purchase price for goods which maybe be only 8-12 months old).

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You can use these facilities by paying the day rate, but it’s much more cost-effective to pay for a full year. Often there is a discount depending on which company the main breadwinner works for. And it’s worth knowing that sometimes at the weekend the Hotel facilities are closed to non-members and non-guests.