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Dubai: Dar al Masyaf Review

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An excellent choice! The Dar al Masyaf is the more private enclave within the Al Qasr, so if you are asking for transportation from the Dubai Airport, tell them to take you to the Al Qasr lobby, where you will take an abra (boat) or buggy (golf cart) to your building. There is a small pool for every three or four buildings (each with about 8 rooms; 4 upper with balconies and 4 lower with patios). There is a butler for each building, which is essentially a concierge service. The butler also holds a nightly happy hour (6:00 to 8:00 pm), which is a nice touch so that you can enjoy some complimentary drinks and snacks and swap stories with other travellers. The rooms at the “Dar” are lovely, with a king-size bed, large seating area (two couches and coffee table), wet bar, dressing room area, and huge bathroom (separate shower, bathtub, water closet with toilet and bidet, twin sink vanity). GREAT selection of toiletries: separate shampoo, conditioner, body wash for men and women, toothbrushes, paste, talcum powder, lotion, cotton swabs, nail kit, sewing kit, shower cap). They supply nearly everything that you will need (minus mouthwash, floss, razors). You are supplied with robes (two kinds per person) and slippers, and more towels than you can use (they do the towel animals, too). Rooms have hair dryers and safes. You also get a fruit basket (replenished daily), and two boxes of amazing sweets (in neat leather boxes that you can keep). Bottled water is free in the rooms. The lighting in the rooms is good, with plenty of artificial and natural light. The mini bar prices are steep ($5 for a can of soda), but comparable to the hotel itself. We ate a light breakfast in the Al Faroozh lounge, where four sodas and two bagels with cream cheese ran about $15 (not bad). There are also two breakfast buffets, but it was too much food for us. There were too many restaurants on the property to mention; sadly, we did not use any of them for dinner. We didn’t eat on our first night after arriving late, and we chose to eat at the Mall of the Emirates on our only other night there. We walked along the concrete pathway past the ocean and the main Al Qasr pool (huge, great amenities like fruit kabobs, Evian facial sprays, cold towels throughout the day), and staffed by TONS of lifeguards. (In fact, EVERY pool had its own lifeguard, even the small ones). We didn’t really see the Mina a’Salaam, and unfortunately, it was TOO ungodly hot in August to take advantage of our free visit to the Burj al Arab (which was not as tall as I had imagined). August really isn’t the best time to visit Dubai. While 107 degrees merely sounds hot, with the humidity, you really can’t be outside for even 2 minutes without sweating and experiencing breathing difficulty. I’m not sorry that we stopped over in Dubai; it’s something to be seen once, but I wouldn’t hurry back for an extended stay anytime soon.

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    The Burj al Arab is taller than it appears.

    This from Hillmans Wonders: The hotel is significantly taller than it appears to the eye. The Burj Al Arab's streamlined shape and its double floor design help create the optical illusion. To grasp the Burj Al Arab's height, imagine the 102 floor Empire State Building standing next to the the Burj Al Arab, which is just 16% shorter.

    You can appreciate its height from the Skybar.

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    I wish it wouldn't have been so ungodly hot that we could have walked over and checked out the Burj. We even had free access to look around as guests at the Dar, but the heat was truly unbearable. I'll take your word--and Hillmans--that it is taller than it looks. It certainly is unique.

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    fluffnfold: Was this hotel part of the Emerites overnight offered with their business class ticket purchase? We are considering going for the AmX platinum in order to obtain the tickets 2 for 1. Is that what you did and was it worth it to you. Did they give you choices in Dubai as to where you would stay? I know its unbearably hot there but yet feel if I fly in I should see it! Thx Cc

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    I tried to get the free overnight package, but Emirates told me that since we bought the tickets through the Amex International Airfare program (buy 1/get 1), that they weren't really full-fare tickets, so we didn't qualify. (Only one of us got frequent flyer miles, too, but I guess we should have expected that. They were on United, though, so very usable.) With the free nights, though, if you purchase a first class ticket, you can stay at the Ritz Carlton, I think (since it didn't apply to me, I'm not positive). With the business class tickets, you had to stay at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, which seemed quite nice, although located in the business area as opposed to near the beach, where I really wanted to be. For free, I would gladly have taken it and driven over to see the ocean. You also got some hotel credit for meals, spa services, with the promotion--I think it was $100 per stay or $100 per night. In any case, with Amex we didn't qualify.

    We bought business class tickets, but it wasn't exactly the buy 1/get 1 deal that I had priced myself. You must buy the higher priced refundable no-restrictions business class ticket, of course, not the least expensive one that you are probably seeing online when you look yourself. For example, business class seats were priced around $7000 each when we booked (I think the price is still similar), but we had to buy the first ticket for $10000 in order to qualify for the promotion, then just pay the taxes on the second ticket (around $150, I think). I really didn't intend to give prices, but I wanted you to know--I wish I had known ahead of time that it isn't exactly as it sounds. To defend myself, this was the trip of a lifetime (and my dream vacation), so it was a real splurge for us. And it was actually worth it! The flights (well, JFK to Dubai anyway) were fantastic--great seats, entertainment, service, food, and we slept for the first time on any international flight (worth its weigh in gold, arrived with no jetlag, not really needing the 2 nights in Dubai to recuperate). The tickets are also fully-refundable, so we figured that we saved on travel insurance (which would have been 2% to 4% of the total cost of the tickets). I also (foolishly) thought that if the fares dropped, we could cancel and rebook at the lower fare with no questions asked (and we could have, except that the fares never dropped during the entire 11 months that I looked).

    Would I purchase with their program agin? Probably, provided I had the funds it was still cheaper than buying two separate business class tickets). It's really easy to get used to sitting in the front! Would I stop over in Dubai again? Probably not, but like you, I just had to see it for myself rather than taking someone else's word. Maybe you can stay for just one night? If you time your arrival and departure right, it might leave you with enough time to see something. I wish that we had spent that second night somewhere on safari because it's so much more special. Dubai is newly-built, manufactured, and HOT HOT HOT (and therefore not especially enjoyable to me)! Glad that I saw it, but probably wouldn't spend the time again.

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    Thanks so much for the info. We are trying to decide whether or not to splurge for the business class - mainly because of the comfort factor in that I have major hip problems and would rather be "up front" than squeezed in the rear of the bus. And, we would like to break the trip up ,but instead of flying through Europe these days, I'd rather go to Dubai. My neighbor's daughter teaches there and is looking for a place for us to stay, so if she can find something reasonable (unfortunately she will be moving on by the time we travel in '08)we will stay one night. I appreciate your forthright answers: its difficult telling the world about your finances, but for most of us this is a dream trip coming true, and we should just go for it! Everyone says we will be hooked and repeat our travels to Africa; and I would love for that to be true, but I honestly do not think it will be a monetary possibility to do so in our case. So I am planning to make the most out of this one opportunity...We are also staying in higher end lodges and flying to them instead of driving. Just a choice one needs to make for their own desires! I am also looking forward to a soak in a tub after bumping around in a rover all day!
    Thanks for all your reviews of your trip and your response to my questions. We will be going to Kenya in Sept. 2008 and I hope I can return the favor to someone when I return! CC

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