Monday, January 30, 2017

Dubai Part 3: Burj Al Arab, Abu Dhabi and a free night at the Grand Hyatt

This is part 3 of a 4 part series about our travel deals in Dubai in October, 2016. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 first. 

After eating a leisurely free breakfast at the Waldorf, we spent some time exploring the grounds of the hotel before going on to our next adventure, which was an afternoon meal reservation at the Burj Al Arab, the world's only 7 Star hotel. The Al Arab is built on another man made island, and you can only go inside if you are staying there, or if you have a reservation at one of their many restaurants.  I had originally thought it would be fun to spend the night here, but the least expensive rooms go for over $2000.00 USD per night, so this was obviously out of the question. While the structure, built to resemble a sail, is certainly impressive, it reminded me of something straight out of Las Vegas or Macau, with its over-the-top golden glitzy splendor.
View from above. It was never this clear when we were here. Always dusty. 
In the lobby. They gave me roses!

Baked Alaska.

After our meal, which was nice, but not something I would do again, we took a taxi from the Waldorf to our next free hotel, the Grand Hyatt. It was quite late at night when we arrived, and I accidentally left my cell phone in the taxi....which also had my debit card it it.  Although the concierge at the Hyatt was very helpful, and I did end up getting the phone back, it made for a stressful evening and I didn't get very many photos of the hotel itself. The pool and grounds around the back were quite lovely, and I wished we had more time there. As a Platinum Elite Hyatt member, (which you receive simply for having a credit card with them,) we were again given a room upgrade with a lovely fruit basket. (In case you are wondering, I did carry all this fruit with me from hotel to hotel!)
Personally, if I could keep only one hotel branded credit card, it would be my Chase Visa Hyatt Card. (not a referral link.) When you sign up and spend $2000.00 in 3 months, you get 2 free nights at ANY Hyatt properties in the world. Some of these hotels are over $1000 a night, so this can be a fantastic perk. The best part is, every year on your card anniversary, you get one free night at any Category 1-4 hotel. That was how we scored this free night in Dubai, and considering it would have cost about $400 USD, it's well worth the $75 annual fee. You also get free room upgrades, early check in/late check out and free wifi. Last year, Mike and I used our free night stay in Hong Kong. Because the hotel happened to be really busy that night, and because I was a Platinum Elite member, they upgraded us to a Club Executive room for no charge, and we were able to eat a free dinner and free breakfast in the Club lounge.  Nice! Something else to keep in mind: If you are married, you should always sign up for these credit cards separately, so that you can both get all the perks.  We get 2 free nights with Hyatt each year. 

The next morning, we used a  Cobone (like Groupon) for an all day trip to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, which was about 2 hours south of Dubai. If I remember correctly, this only cost about $30 USD per person. The tour was a "group tour," but there were only several other people in our van, so it was not very crowded. They picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel, and gave us bottled water and juice drinks. This day ended up being far more driving than actual site seeing, as it was rush hour when we returned, and we were the last people to be dropped off, but it was still a good outing at a very reasonable price. We visited the Sheik Zayed Mosque, the largest in the world, and Ferrari World, which I suppose is self explanatory. We also stopped at a few other tourist spots and malls.

The stone work in the mosque was stunning. 

Ferrari World.

Upon our return, we went to our final free hotel, which I'll tell you about in part 4!

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