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Eid Al Adha is right around the corner.

While most will have their travel plans already drawn up, there is still time to book a last-minute staycation in the UAE – personally, I enjoy staying in the UAE at this time of year because it tends to be quieter and calm.

Staying at the recently opened Anantara Santorini in Ghantoot could be an option for the upcoming long weekend. The adults-only resort has a private beach and Mediterranean-inspired architecture.

For those seeking a family-friendly offering, there’s The WB Abu Dhabi, where a night’s stay includes access to one theme park on Yas Island. The hotel is themed around Warner Bros characters, offering interactive experiences with favourites like Bugs Bunny and Batman.

For something more glamorous, a stay at the two-bedroom signature villas at The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah could be an option. Nestled in Al Wadi Desert, the villas have plunge pools and desert views.

Alternatively, the QE2 offers a unique experience as the only floating hotel in Dubai. The retired British ocean liner now serves as a hotel and museum, preserving its historical charm.

Visitors to Dubai can spend a night on the QE2, the city's only floating hotel. Photo: Accor
Visitors to Dubai can spend a night on the QE2, the city's only floating hotel. Photo: Accor

The summer is certainly a good time to head to cooler climes. One destination that I can recommend having recently visited is Vancouver. The cosmopolitan city has plenty to do, from a stroll around Stanley Park to adrenalin-rushing activities like skiing or snowboarding on Grouse Mountain. Getting there is easier than ever, thanks to a new direct 15-hour flight route from Dubai with Air Canada.

Another enjoyable summer destination could be my home city of Boston, now that Etihad is operating a direct route. The city in Massachusetts is home to the Red Sox, who play at Fenway Park, the oldest baseball stadium in the US. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Museum of Fine Arts are worth a visit, and shopping areas like Newbury Street and Faneuil Hall Marketplace can be explored.

Last year, I went on a 10-day solo trip to Seoul in April for cherry blossom season. I explored vibrant neighbourhoods, visited historical palaces and enjoyed delicious Korean cuisine. And in September I embarked on a remarkable African safari in Tanzania with my family, and we were lucky enough to catch the great migration in the Serengeti. Witnessing thousands of wildebeest and zebras crossing the plains was an unforgettable experience. We also enjoyed game drives, where we spotted lions, elephants and giraffes in their natural habitat.

Two ends of a spectrum but both were immensely rewarding trips. Hopefully, this also offers some inspiration for your next travel adventure. Whether you choose a luxurious staycation in the UAE or an exciting journey abroad, there are endless possibilities to create memorable experiences not only this Eid Al Adha but also all year round.

Until next time, stay safe, travel well and keep up to date with all the latest travel news and stories online.

Evelyn Lau
The National Travel desk

 

DESTINATION SPOTLIGHT: Istanbul

Istanbul's captivating Blue Mosque is just one alternative to Hagia Sophia. Getty Images
Istanbul's captivating Blue Mosque is just one alternative to Hagia Sophia. Getty Images

Istanbul's most visited historical landmark is the Unesco-listed Hagia Sophia, a former church turned mosque that depicts a brilliant moment in Byzantine architecture and art. The world-renowned attraction is incredibly beautiful and filled with dazzling chandeliers but access is expensive and comes with long queues. Ronan O'Connell explored five alternative mosques in the captivating Turkish city, each of which has free entry and no winding queues.

 

TRAVEL NEWS THIS WEEK

Travel Unpacked: Madagascar flights and Saudi Arabia tourism boom
Colombia seeks to attract more visitors from the Middle East
Hotel of the week: Downtown vibes and views at Shangri-La Vancouver
Watch the opening ceremony of Paris Olympics on top of a Parisian museum
 

TOP TIPS

Three new waterfront hotels

  • One&Only Hotels and Resorts has opened its newest outpost on the picturesque Greek island of Kea. Set on a 65-hectare waterfront location in an off-the-beaten-track destination in the Cyclades, the hotel has rooms surrounded by Aegean views, villages and beaches. Guests staying at the all-villa resort can enjoy private infinity pools, Greek cuisine and Mediterranean sunsets.
  • NH Bentota Ceysands, an upscale retreat from Minor Hotels, opens on Sri Lanka’s west coast on July 1. It promises tropical waterside views thanks to its location between the Indian Ocean and the Bentota River. It will also offer five restaurants and bars, a palm-surrounded swimming pool and mangrove views.
  • Melia Hotels' new premium Mediterranean concept, in partnership with tennis ace Rafael Nadal, opened a second outpost on June 1 at Zel Costa Brava in Spain. Spread across 35 hectares, the 214-room hotel has a hillside location with sea, mountain and garden views, a beach club, a spa and a heated outdoor pool. Available activities include everything from Nordic walking to swimming circuits and painting sessions.
 

THE LAST WORD

“Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector's extraordinary achievements last year mark a pivotal moment in its journey towards becoming a global tourism leader.”

Julia Simpson, chief executive and president of the World Travel and Tourism Council

 
 
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