Reviewed by Lulu Hamdan!
Weaving through curved roads bounded by high mountain peaks, I leaned forward in my passenger seat, taking in the surrounding sights in awe. A two hour drive from Dubai to Fujeirah exposed us to sights of blue seas, scarlet desert sands, lush green farms, and stone grey mountains. Work matters that were on my mind in the initial part of the ride were vanishing away as we became engulfed by the beauty of the mountains around us.
Entrance, Reception, and Hotel Design
As we pulled up to the entrance of Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa – Al Aqah Beach, the sounds of streaming fountains, children’s laughter, and a tennis ball struck by a racquet filled the air. I looked at my family and smiled as the staff helped us with our luggage, excitedly planning what to do first. Would we start off with delicious meal by the sea, dip for a refreshing swim, or join an afternoon yoga session on the grass?
The reception was bustling with energy, with families checking in around us speaking in German, Russian, and Emirati from what I could hear. Upon arriving at the desk, we were served iced lemon-mint juices to cool down after the drive and told we had lucked out with the last rooms available for the weekend. I felt grateful for the good news, my concerns about work seeming a million miles away.
We were lead out of the wide reception area, which was bright with natural light, past a neighboring café and buffet restaurant, and towards the outdoors to reach our rooms. A bridge straight ahead tempted us directly towards the glistening pools, while small pathways to either side lead to the rooms of the hotel in the shape of a wide V. We walked towards the right, admiring the structure of the two-story resort and the large open balconies where guests had slung their towels, children’s floaties, and wet swimwear to dry. The freshly-cut green grass brightly contrasted the turquoise blues of the pools, and I found myself quickening my pace to get changed so that my vacation could officially start.
Opening the door to my room on the second floor, I grinned while taking in the king-size white bed, the soft blue curtains and the mahogany desks and furniture.
As a bookworm, I was gratefully noting I had night lamps directly over the headboard of the bed to enjoy my reading. I tossed my handbag on a chair, practically running towards the balcony. Spacious and airy, I took deep breaths of clean air while I glanced across the pools, restaurants, and the sea on my right side, and the sturdy high mountains on my left.
In my swimwear and with a book in hand, I scanned the beach for a lounger by the water.
Although I was tempted to start off on a relaxed note, a water sports cabin caught my eye just as my cousin was walking towards me. We curiously sauntered over and were lured by options of diving, jet skiing or riding donuts. To check it off my list, my cousin and I chose parasailing. We figured – what better view to enjoy the mountains than up high? Strapped in and above sea, we laughed our entire 15 minutes in the sky.
While my cousin rushed back for a ping pong match with a resort competitor, I joined a beach volleyball game which the resort conducted. The sun was at its lazy hours, getting ready to set, and I had an easy initiation with my new team mates who were from all over the world. Despite not having an overlapping language between us, we were still able to win and laugh till our sides hurt.
The beauty of the resort is the amount of options available to choose from. If I didn’t want to swim, attempt a water sport, or play beach volleyball– I had the option to join outdoor yoga on the grass, play tennis with other vacationers, or go to the gym. If I opted for a more relaxed vacation, I could pamper myself with a facial or massage at Zen the Spa or even – right on the beach in an open cabana! During scorching summer months, there’s nothing like a trip to the calming spa during the hottest hours.
For those with children, the kids are in for a treat. There are curvy slides in the pools for the audacious ones, a jungle gym with swings and slides by the sea, and even Flipper’s Kid’s Club where they can enjoy painting, arts and crafts, movies, and plenty of other games. Your kids will come back to you at the end of the day with bright red cheeks and glowing smiles.
There’s even an indoor kids club so you can drop the kids off for a few hours of fun while you enjoy your holiday on a sun lounger!
By the end of my volleyball game, my growling stomach lead me to Sharky’s open air restaurant by the sea where my family was enjoying espressos after their late lunch. The wooden décor and soft honey colors at the restaurant were as soothing as the sounds of the waves close by. I ordered the Chef’s recommended chicken escalope with fries (and a salad to be healthy too! That’s the best I can do on vacation) and would have eaten more if dinner wasn’t just around the corner.
My family and I selected Waves Beach Restaurant for dinner where we sat in a cabana on the sand. Sitting beneath the stars with waves crashing on the shore and a cooling breeze teasing your hair can make for a romantic night, especially if you’re catching the sunset. But the experience of the restaurant is what you make it, and we were all sunburnt and smiley after our active day, each sharing funny stories which had us giggling loudly. There was no shortage on entertainment either, as a belly dancer and drummer preformed while we dined – enhancing the ‘Arabian’ experience for tourists.
We ordered grilled halibut fish with side vegetables and rice, and the chef personally served us and informed us that the fish on our plate was caught only an hour prior. I drizzled olive oil and lemon, a habit I adopted from growing up in Greece, but the fish was of the finest I’ve had in the country (and I’ve had a lot!)
After dinner, the night was still young, so my sister and I headed towards Bar Muda, a lounge bar and terrace that has a modern design and colonial references. There was a band preforming live, setting a social atmosphere, and the resort was hosting a ‘Miss Fujeirah’ pageant which was open to all ages. We light-heartedly entered, and were challenged with three tasks including impersonating a celebrity, acting out a movie for charades, and strutting through on a mini-runway with the model walk. We all had a good laugh and were given prizes for participation, while winners were selected according to audience’s cheering.
Breakfast was at Mozaique, a bright restaurant welcoming the morning sun which offered a wide variety of foods in the form of a buffet. Gearing up for another active day, we made sure to fuel up. I started off with fresh cold watermelon and a green apple, then moved on to poached eggs (made to order) on whole-wheat toast which I sprinkled with thyme and with a side of Emmental cheese. For a sweet touch, I couldn’t resist the rich chocolate croissants – made in bite-size, perfect to complement a coffee or tea. My family opted for more of a traditional Arabic breakfast – labneh (yoghurt with olive oil), foul (cooked beans), and mana’eesh (oven baked pies with either thyme or cheese). Kids had colorful and healthy choices as well – including oatmeal, cereals, and muesli. The spread of the international cuisine satisfied each of us, setting us off to an energetic start to yet another beautiful day in Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa.
Overall, this is an ideal place to go with the family – especially if there are lots of kids to entertain. It is an affordable resort with great value for money, there are tons of activities for everyone and the food is delicious. It tends to get very crowded during holidays, so avoid Eid weekends, otherwise, enjoy!
Beach chic is the name of the game at this resort. Have a blast in this fun ensemble!
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