Siam Kempinski Hotel, Bangkok

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You will find hundreds of hotels close to the city’s shopping areas but we were glad we chose Siam Kempinski.  Our hotel was right across Siam Paragon, a few minutes away from Siam Central, and walking distance to the BTS train station.  And if you’re too lazy (or have too many shopping bags), buggy rides can take you to and fro Central World.   But what we were pleased about was the comfort the place offered.  The hotel is impressively designed—modern yet cozy.

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The rooms are spacious with huge beds, extra soft pillows and duvets, and your choice of subtle or bright lighting. Despite the very central location, evenings were always peaceful and calm. Not a whimper of street noises at all.

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The pool was huge and inviting with plenty of lounge

areas to get a healthy dose of Bangkok heat.

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Breakfast buffet was nothing extraordinary but we found it extra sweet that the restaurant packed us sandwiches on the (early) morning of our flight, since we would be missing the breakfast buffet. This was a first for us and something we truly appreciated 🙂

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From start to end, our stay was perfect 🙂

Beach Getaway: 4×4 Beach

Temperatures are higher, days feel longer, climate is getting hotter…you know summer is just around the corner.

This warm season is never complete without white sands and cool blue waters.  So bring out your bikinis, put on sunscreen and get yourself to the b-e-a-c-h.

Last Friday, popular Jumeirah Beach Park was so full cars waiting for parking were overflowing to the road.

The good thing about holiday heaven Dubai is that when it comes to public beaches, you always have an alternative.  Plan B was this beach right next to it. A long stretch of sand greets you from the road all the way to the shore.  It didn’t have either shady trees nor toilets but at least it had room for us.

Parking was a breeze as you could drive your “4×4” right up to the beach.

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Location: Al Athar Road and Beach Road, next to Jumeirah Beach Park

Other Public Beaches:

Kite Beach

Sunset Beach 

Private Beach Resorts we’ve visited:

Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa

Six Senses Zighy Bay

360 Club, Jumeirah Beach Hotel

A perennial favorite of tourists and expats alike,  this odd-looking club is hardly noticeable from the rest of the hotel.  It is positioned so far out, sitting in the middle of the sea.

Walking toward 360 takes a bit of an effort. Somewhere back in Florence, I was relishing skipping on cobblestones but right here in the middle of a windy Dubai night, for someone wearing high heels, it was anything but pleasant.   Buggies are available but Jumeirah Beach Hotel is busy, even on weeknights.

Once you finally get there, you’ll see that the place wows! Classy interiors don’t fail to impress.  Plus one hundred meters into the sea promises a spectacular view of the Arabian Gulf and the Burj Al Arab.  And it doesn’t hurt that this club offers unparalleled views of sunset.

What surprised me is that it’s actually comfy with a chill kind of vibe.  Not the type of club where people stare each other down.   Crowd at that time (Tues night) was a mix of office people, boy band types, couples dating, and a few single ladies.

We ordered some cocktails, took some photos (with my itouch, pardon me, it’s blurry) , then left for dinner at Latitude Restaurant.

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Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa

Who goes to the beach in December?

We do.

Early this month, we headed to what is said to be the most pristine among the seven emirates, Ras Al Khaimah, which means “Top of the Tent”.   It was just a two hour drive but seemed like a world away.  This emirate had a relaxed, laid-back feel to it in contrast to contemporary, cosmopolitan Dubai.

We chose to have our mini-vacation at the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa.  This private beach resort has both chalets and hotel rooms adorned in familiar Arabian design.  I felt right at home (not because I am an Arab, because I am not, obviously) because this reminded me of our place, the Old Town.

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We booked a regular accommodation BUT because we are Hilton Honors Diamond members, we got upgraded to… Royal Beach Villa Suite!! How amazing is that??

Our chalet was huge. Just look at it!

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Our gated accommodation had a front yard which proved the perfect area for Lil T to run around on.   Inside our villa you’ll find a separate spacious living area with complete amenities and a separate bathroom.  The master’s bedroom has  a massive bed (I swear it can fit 10), a TV, his and hers wardrobes, a bathroom with his and hers sinks and a jacuzzi.

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The master’s and living areas open up to a backyard complete with lounge chairs and our very own private pool overlooking the shimmering waves of the Arabian sea.

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While I thought this month would be low beach season, both hotel accommodation and chalet beach areas were pretty busy, with the latter being quieter as it had an exclusive beach area.  IMG_2050

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I was surprised to see hundreds of bikini-clad tourists on the beach, others sunbathing, others on the sand, not in the water.   I did expect this part of the world to be warm at this time of year, but I was mistaken.  The water was frigid, unfriendly to us all that wanted to swim in the sea.  All the nearby communal pools were the same.  So at this particular moment we headed back to our villa and dipped in our very own temperature-controlled private pool 🙂  I have never appreciated an (upgraded) accommodation this much.  There are many chalets but only a handful had their own pools.  Our little family had a fabulous time swimming and playing games in our very own water abode.  Little T, as he usually is on water, was squealing with delight!

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With 13 restaurants in the area, you won’t run out of dining options.  I specifically enjoyed our buffet dinner at Maarid over the others though.

This resort has a great location, the food was impressive, and the service, excellent.   The staff actually seemed much friendlier than those in Dubai-based hotels.

The resort is also very kid-friendly having indoor and outdoor play areas and kid pools, plus if you need one, a day care center.  We were very relaxed and pleased with our stay here that my husband is considering going back to this beautiful place soon..this month!  I think otherwise, because it’s December.  And while I understand that others would rather go to a chilly beach than spend time experiencing zero degrees Celsius back home (I’d do the same), that wasn’t not our case.  We could always go back in the summer.  For now our memories here will suffice.

Buongiorno Firenze!

Florence makes me think of clear blue skies, lovers entwined in deep alleys, dogs and their walkers on cobblestones, and artists with works in museums or on the streets.

While I will not go and write about the famous tourist spots we have been to, as they are already a million of those on the web, allow me to share our holiday photos.  These pictures will always remind me of a place immortalized.. eternally influencing art, architecture, and culture.