So we’re back and suffering majorly with the holiday blues! It was such a fab trip and I’m so glad we decided to go for a few extra days this time! It’s never easy coming back is it?! Especially with no sunshine!
We had an amazing trip and it was so so nice to holiday with Preetam’s parents – it was Arjun’s first holiday with his grandparents and watching him interact with them in the pool, on the beach and at the aquarium were my highlights. I loved how happy and excitedly they reacted to this new little developments like his increased babbling too!
As I have lots to say, I thought I’d try and separate things to make it easier to the eye! So here goes …
We chose a night flight purposely and we flew business class so that Arjun could comfortably sleep (he’s too big for a bassinet). Also his daddy is a pretty tall lad (6’4) so it’s a lot more comfortable when sharing a seat with a baby. I’m a terrible flyer and before Arjun would fall asleep before the flight even took off and wake up just when we were about to land. I’m still a heavy sleeper on the plane and I’m so lucky I married someone that’s the complete opposite! Preetam doesn’t sleep a wink! Which works well with Arjun 😉 Preetam generally manages Arjun on the flight and I’ll manage him as soon as we land. It works well as it means one of us is semi rested at any given point.
Arjun was ok at the airport, enjoying the perks of the Virgin lounge! Their menu selection is brilliant for kids and as we are vegetarian, we went for veggie sticks for Arjun. He loved munching on them. He also had some fresh bread rolls which are available at the deli counter with some cheese as well as some mashed potato. His own mini feast!! High chairs are available but he was happy sitting on the sofa with us and eating. For adults, I’d highly recommend the deep fried brie (bye bye diet!).
The Virgin lounge also has a games area which kept Arjun entertained – Preetam and I played a few games (namely Pac Man!) and Arjun had fun bashing the control stick around.
There is also a children’s play area with lots of fun toys. Arjun loves playing with trucks and lorries, he loved playing with some new ones here.
I wrote a post on some tips for first flying with a baby (my in flight tips), all those merged together really worked for Arjun the last time we flew. This time we weren’t so lucky!
Our flight took off at 8.40pm and usually Arjun would fall asleep around this time. He didn’t. He cried and cried and cried. Preetam tried to settle him, I tried to settle him. Nothing worked. All he wanted was his daddy, but even then he was struggling to calm down.
At one point Preetam needed to go to the toilet so handed Arjun over to me. He cried and screamed and was so distraught watching his daddy walk away. I’m not sure what the source of Arj’s separation anxiety is with his dad and how to help him. It’s heartbreaking to see but it’s also tiring. He’s absolutely besotted with his dad.
It took Arjun about two hours to fall asleep. He slept with me – it was a very tight squeeze and I barely slept a wink as I was scared of squashing him! A good remaining flight is what I’d hoped for!
He woke after three hours.
Preetam was awake anyway so took Arjun but again he was quite unsettled for the rest of the flight.
I was relieved when we landed. I found the air hostesses comments about “he is such a good baby!” Funny. Not sure if they were being sarcastic or if they didn’t hear him or if their definition of having a good flight with a baby is different to mine! Either way I was so relieved.
The cabin crew were great and so accommodating. We were provided with baby food and extra bread rolls for Arjun :). They were also great in getting us sterile water for Arjun to drink.
On the way back, Arjun was actually very good, he was playful and happy however he suddenly got diarrhea at the airport which wasn’t great! I’m not sure if he’d eaten something dodgy or if it was due to his teeth but it was baaaad! I was alone in the bathroom at the airport, and his clothes were covered when I undressed him, the kind cleaner in the toilets helped entertain Arjun whilst I washed down his clothes.
The cabin crew on the flight were also really helpful – one of them even tried to feed him!
He slept most of the journey back and on landing we didn’t need to give him a bottle was he was distracted watching Mickey Mouse and laughed the whole way descending.
DAR AL MASYAF
I love this hotel as it oozes pure luxury and the attention to detail is right up my street. The views are magnificent from wherever you are!
We stayed at DAM the last time we came to Dubai (November 2014) when Arjun was just 5 months old. Our expectations were yet again exceeded this time in many ways. We stayed in the Gulf Summer House Arabian King villa.
There are several other accommodation options which can be found here: Dar Al Masyaf
The Dar Al Masyaf is part of the Jumeirah group which also includes the Al Qasr, Mina Salam and the Burj Al Arab to name a few. All brilliant hotels. We chose this particular one as the rooms are very large villas with huge bathrooms (60 square foot) – perfect when travelling with a baby. The spacious rooms means there’s ample space to set up “stations” for changing, sterilising and feeding. There’s also plenty of wardrobe space for all our clothes.
The beds are also huge (super king) which is perfect for us. I’m a little uncomfortable with putting Arjun in a cot there (OCD) so we have him in our bed with us when on holiday.
Each room comes with a balcony and with a nice view – ours was of the river.
Private Pool/Main Pool
You also have access to a private pool which you share with three other villas. The pool is usually very quiet and was especially handy for when we didn’t fancy the hustle and bustle of the bigger pool. Or if we wanted to practice Arjun’s swimming. The bigger pool we used when Arjun was in his float.
I’ve never seen so many lifeguards in my life – there are sometimes more lifeguards than people actually in the pool! It’s really reassuring especially when you have a baby. The private pool has one life guard at all times and the big pool has a lifeguard every few meters.
The only thing I’d say is, going during half term meant the main pool was a lot more crowded than when we went in November. We ended up using the private pool a lot more and dadaji and dadji had great fun splish splashing about with Arjun!
An added bonus is that with Dar Al Masyaf, you are assigned a personal butler. Each butler takes care of two villas. Again not necessarily something we were looking for but definitely a nice perk to have!
Our favourite butler was Rem – he was absolutely amazing. He formed a very special bond with Arjun and went out of his way for us. He took the time and effort to really get to know us – our likes/dislikes and little gestures went a long way. For example, at happy hour (6-8), he’d especially arrange my favourite drink (lemon and mint) as we don’t drink alcohol. A few times when we ordered drinks he’d also bring up olives for Arjun as he knew Arjun loves them (Preetam would suck the salt out of them and let him have one – I’m not an olive fan!). Little things like that went a long way with us. Rem made such a fuss of Arjun, it was so sweet and Arjun took a natural shine to him too.
The butler is available to help with most things from dinner reservations to spa treatments to arranging special days – for example Valentine’s Day Rem arranged flowers to be delivered to my room from Preetam and also a cake for our anniversary.
The butler service was handy with a baby as they were always on hand to e.g. help carry things up to the room (we were on the first floor) or arrange certain foods to be made.
The staff at the Dar Al Masyaf can’t be faulted – we felt like everyone from the restaurant staff to the pool staff made a huge effort to get to know us. The staff got to know Arjun and made such a big fuss of him – he’s a friendly little guy and melts hearts quite often!
The manager, Eldar also contacted us when he found out we were staying there again. He called us to ask how our stay was going and whether there was anything else they could do. He also made the effort to come and see us in person just to see how we were doing. Gestures like those made our stay so warming.
Thilakh at the Al Qasr restaurant for breakfast always had our order ready before we even reached his stand as he knew what we’d want (we ordered the same thing every day!).
Flora at the restaurant always grabbed a moment with Arjun and has promised him a trip to Africa! I wonder if that means mummy and daddy get a free trip!?
Genisis the chef at the restaurant who always accommodated my daily Nutella need (yep it’s a need!)!
Lorenso the Abra driver also made such a big fuss of Arjun, engaging in convo everytime we met and giving him infinite blessings. It was so sweet. There were many Abra drivers like this who’d play with Arjun, give him their walkie talkies and sing to him.
Ifran the driver on the way back to the airport was also so lovely.
One of my most favourite things about DAM are the abras. Abras are beautiful gondola style boats that are used as water taxis. The abra stations are beautifully made and are so well kept. It’s like a mini Venice. You’d expect there to be a smell of damp with the river and boats but there isn’t. It’s so well kept, clean and tidy. The abra can be used to get to the other hotels, the swimming pool, beach, 40 restaurants, Madinat Jumeirah and provides spectacular views of Dubai including the Burj Al Arab and the beach.
I’m already missing my morning abra ride to breakfast!
Arjun loved the daily abra rides and was either super excited or super calm!
As well as the abras, if you get sea sick (haha!) there are also buggies available to get around.
The only thing to note was; as we went during half term this time, the wait time for an abra (10-15 minutes) was a lot longer than when we went in November (2-3 minutes!).
My other favourite thing about this holiday was the fact that Arjun is now eating and is able to try new things. Going on holiday makes it so much easier to explore!
The hotel was exceptionally well catered for babies offering steamed vegetables, purées, fresh fruit platters to name a few! Children under 4 are catered for free.
Arjuns favourite and most balanced meal of the day was definitely breakfast. He loved it. He got to try such a wide variety of different foods such as different cheeses, breads, fruits and fresh juices.
I adopted a baby led weaning approach wherever possible whilst in Dubai as he was happiest feeding himself. It was also really nice as we were all able to have a meal as a family.
Arjun is a total carbaholic – he definitely hasn’t adopted daddy’s diet just yet! He loves all different types of bread (from Arabic bread, to tortilla wraps, to your bog standard bread and bread rolls!), potatoes (in any form!) and pasta! He always picks those over anything else on the plate APART from grapes! Those are his number 1 favourite thing right now.
The beach food facilities were also great for babies, they were more than happy to provide us with foods that weren’t even included on the menu such as steamed vegetables. They also have high chairs which is handy though we didn’t end up needing one for now.
We also went to the lobby area of Al Qasr a few times to have coffee with friends and sat outside. It’s such a relaxed and peaceful setting and is perfect for catching up with friends.
For adults, I’d highly recommend Pai Thai – the best Thai food I’ve ever had! And for kids and adults, I’d recommend Tortuga for delicious authentic Mexican food – again the best mexican food I’ve had!
The hotel complex also offers a kids club called Sinbad’s. Arjun is a little too young at the moment to really enjoy what the kids club has to offer but it’s great for older kids. They have a separate closed off area with a fence around it, the pool has many swings, fountains and slides and there’s also a climbing frame and indoor play area. They also offer a baby sitting service.
For more on Sinbad’s: Sinbad’s
THINGS TO DO
Staying in such a beautiful hotel meant we very rarely felt the need to go out. We wanted to make the most of our family time and enjoy what the hotel had to offer us. We did venture out a few times on our last trip to Dubai and this time.
Jumierah beach offers white sands and clear watered sea with stunning views of Dubai. Our view to the left was that of The Palm – we have a clear view of The Atlantis in the distance. To the right you have a view of the Burj Al Arab.
Although we didn’t really take Arjun in to the sea – apparently the sea water although clear is heavily polluted in Dubai so we didn’t want to risk it, he really enjoyed watching the sea, walking with us in the sea and playing in the sand.
This was Arjun’s first feel of sand. Initially he didn’t like it and flinched everytime he touched it. But he quickly warmed to it and it wasn’t long before he was trying to eat it! It seemed like he found it relaxing grasping sand in his hands.
We spent a few days at the beach – two of which were with Arjun’s dadaji and dadiji and they loved watching him. He seems to grow so much when on holiday! It was on our anniversary at the beach that Preetam’s mum noticed his teeth had cut! I cried of course – how is my baby growing so so fast?! This also explained why he was not himself on the plane journey in.
There is a Cheesecake Factory in The Mall of Emirates as well as The Dubai Mall. This is an absolute must especially as we don’t have it here in the UK. But be warned, you’ll come out in a major food coma with an accompanying food baby! The portions are huuuuge and most things are deep fried (who doesn’t like deep fried food!?). Us aside, this was a meal Arjun really enjoyed – it was his first proper three course meal where they especially give babies bread and banana for starters, we picked a cheese quesadilla for his main – he ate half, and strawberries for dessert. Preetam’s parents loved watching him in his element here.
He made the most of his meal – the proof was in the nappy that evening!
The staff at The Cheesecake Factory on all three times we visited with Arjun (over our two trips) are so so friendly. They made a huge fuss over him and the general atmosphere is pretty relaxed and fun. Arjun loved it.
The GuruNanak Darbar Gurdwara, Jebel Ali
The architecture in Dubai is phenomenal and this Gurdwara definitely doesn’t fall short of that. Last time we visited Dubai, I forgot that their weekend begins on a Friday, we ended up going on a Sunday which is their Monday and it was really quiet.
This time we went on a Friday night and WOW! We went with Preetam’s parents and our friend Amrit who lives in the UK but was also out there for business. The traffic getting there meant a 20 minute journey took well over an hour so we only caught the last 20 minutes of the program. When we entered, the divaan was absolutely packed and there was beautiful blissful simran happening. It felt so warm and comforting and so peaceful.
Straight after simran was the Ardaas, and as we were unable to do matha tekh on entering whilst simran was going on, Preetam was with Arjun right at the front of the queue. Arjun decided to flex his vocals to the top of his voice during Ardaas – i don’t think the local giani’s were too impressed! Oops!
The langar was delicious and it was a nice break from the heavy restaurant food we’d been having.
I love going to the Gurdwara, it always makes me feel so balanced and calm. Going to the Gurdwara made our trip complete.
That Friday evening was the first time Arjun saw his dadaji and dadiji in Dubai (they were staying at a different hotel) and they were super excited. Arjun made a fuss about going to anyone else other than daddy at first but quickly warmed up and it wasn’t long before he was getting up to mischief with his dadiji and trying to talk to everyone!
Indego by Vineet at The Grosvenor Hotel: Our Anniversary Dinner
For our three year anniversary, we decided to pick a slightly swankier restaurant to celebrate. We don’t often go for dinner with Preetam’s parents in the UK so we really wanted it to be a nice experience for them too.
As mentioned, we spent the day with them at the beach and then headed out to the Grosvenor Hotel bar for a quick mocktail and chill out before dinner.
Indego is a Michelin Star Indian restaurant based at a hotel by the Marina. A great restaurant for fine dining with a lovely view of the Marina if sat on the terrace.
The vegetarian selection was great and we went for the almond tikki, 3 chaats and the malabari magic. Of the three, my favourite was definitely the almond tikki – perhaps because it was something new and refreshing to my palette. The chaats were also good and the noodles and sambar that came as part of the malabari magic were divine. Everything oozed different flavours. The beetroot chutney with the poppadoms was delicious!
For mains we went for paneer makhani, dal maharani and aloo firdausi. Everything was absolutely delicious and the flavours complimented each other.
Dessert was on the house as it was our anniversary – a nice little surprise, they bought out a rasomali cheesecake and it was AMAZING! One of the best desserts I’ve ever tried. I highly recommend trying it!
Arjun again had plain naan with plain yogurt. The yogurt tasted homemade – one of the best we’ve had at a restaurant.
The ambience at the restaurant was absolutely perfect – the decor inside is modern yet beautifully warm. The warmth, the romance, the air of grandeur all manifest from the effective use of mood lighting. The terrace offers a relaxing setting with a similar feel just with the added view of the Marina and the cool evening breeze.
The staff at the restaurant were very friendly and hospitable. They made a great fuss over Arjun and also catered to all our needs.
We would highly recommend this restaurant – great food with a lovely view and it’s great value for money.
Burj Al Arab Afternoon Tea
The last time we went to Dubai, we went for Afternoon Tea at the Burj Al Arab – it was a nice excuse to dress up and do something fancy as a family.
As we have a baby, our afternoon tea was on the first floor as opposed to the Sky Bar which I imagine would have stunning views of Dubai. Our view was ok, nothing to write home about though.
The 7 course afternoon tea was delicious and extremely filling! They catered well to non drinkers and vegetarians offering us non alcoholic champagne and yummy vegetarian alternatives. They were also well catered towards babies and were happy to chop up some vegetables for Arjun to gnaw on.
The decor inside the Burj Al Arab is quite different to anything Arjun had seen, so it gave him something new to look at!
The Dubai Mall & The Emirates Mall
The malls in Dubai are great if you fancy splashing out. For us, it was nice to window shop but most things are a lot more expensive when compared with the UK as most things are imported. You’ll find all the usual high street brands as well as your luxury brands.
We went to the Mall of Emirates to go for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory and had a walk about after as we needed a few baby bits.
We visited The Dubai Mall with Preetam’s parents to go to the aquarium, see the famous fountains and get a glimpse of The Khalifa at the same time.
I’ve written about the aquarium separately below. The fountain display is absolutely beautiful. It starts from 6-11pm daily and happens every half hour between these times. I’ve never seen a fountain display like it before and Arjun found it mesmerizing. You also get a nice view of the Burj Khalifa at the same time.
We didn’t spend very long shopping at The Dubai Mall, purely because it didn’t really excite anyone – it just felt like being in London at Westfield and why would you want to spend your holiday feeling like you’re at home!? I did manage to upgrade my busted flip flops for some Birkenstocks this time though 🙂 and a super cute outfit from Carter’s that was made for Arjun and his daddy!
The Gold Souk
If you’re looking for gold or diamonds, this is your place. It isn’t a myth that Dubai is cheaper and the variety is immense.
We paid a quick visit on our first day, Arjun loves bling (Ring Inspector!) so was in awe of all the sparkles around him!!
Full of colourful fabrics and all things Indian. Not Preetam’s favourite place to go – he doesn’t like shopping! But it’s nice to have a browse. You can find most things in the UK at similar prices. The hustle and bustle of Meena Bazaar is nice – especially when you know you’re going back to a tranquil hotel setting!
I absolutely loved being located here. People come daily from outside to the Madinat. There are lots of little shops selling all sorts from diamonds to souvenirs to kaftans to costume jewellery to nuts to Havaianas! Most things are pretty pricey as it’s a tourist attraction but it’s nice to have a browse and a nice walk after dinner. I picked up a few cute jewellery bits and the nuts they sell at the nut place (I don’ know the name but there’s only one!) are amazing – I recommend the honey roasted cashews!There are also lots of restaurants located in and around the Madinat ranging from your Starbucks’ to local restaurants. I’d recommend the Times of Arabia restaurant for AMAZING Lebanese food and brilliant hospitality. This was my first experience dining at a Lebanese restaurant and the falafel, baba ganoush and the sweet chilli potatoes come highly recommended! Arjun had some Arabian bread mixed with an Ella’s Kitchen bean pouch.
I’d also recommend Ushna’s Indian restaurant. We decided to go here on Valentine’s day as we both fancied indian food. After receiving Arjun’s red roses and after he got suited and booted (minus the boots!), we decided to head out to Ushna’s.
They recognised us from the last time we visited and chef came out especially to meet us and offered to cook us whatever we fancied even if it wasn’t on the menu – I went for Chilli Paneer! Arjun had his first taste of plain naan bread with plain yogurt here. He loved it.
The setting is also beautiful in this restaurant – there are various seating options including a swing seat, booth seats and terrace seating. Arjun found the lights and mood lighting fascinating.
As we resided at the Dar Al Masyaf, we had the privilege of having several daily Abra rides as our water taxis. However even if you aren’t staying at one of the Madinat Jumeirah hotels, you can still book an Abra tour. It’s a lovely experience and lasts about 20 minutes. They show you around the complex and you get a great view of the Burj Al Arab. Arjun loved the abra rides and watching the water flow past.
The Lost Chambers Aquarium vs The Dubai Mall Aquarium
Definitely preferred the Lost Chambers aquarium at the Atlantis even though it’s pricier. We took Arjun there on our first trip – I preferred it but Arjun was still quite young to know what was going on back then. This time we took him to The Dubai Mall and he had such a wonderful time trying to interact with the sea animals – his Dada ji and Dadi ji really enjoyed watching his reaction to it all. It was so cute. Banging on the crocodile tank was definitely a highlight – fearless now but I’m guessing one day he’ll be running away from that tank!
ARJUN & HIS TRIP
Our typical routine was:
09.00: Wake up
16.30: Snack and milk
20.00: Walk at the Madinat
22.00: Bed time bottle
22.30: Bed time
Some of the key changes in Arjun whilst we were away:
Separation anxiety: I’ve mentioned before that Arjun is going through separation anxiety from his daddy. That didn’t change on holiday! Sometimes it served me well (when i needed a break!) and other times it was difficult. For example, one day we were at the main pool (full of guests!) and Arjun was having a play on the sunbed, Preetam decided to go for a quick swim … the moment Preetam left, Arjun went in to a full blown distressed screaming fit. I didn’t know what to do, my cuddles offered him little comfort and in the end i had to call preetam out in fear of upsetting all the other guests around us with his mini melt down!
There were many special moments between Arjun and his daddy which I tried to capture in the images below. They really are so sweet together and Arjun absolutely dotes on his papa and Preetam is besotted by his son.
Crawling attempt: Every time we go on holiday, it feels like Arjun suddenly grows up really quickly. I don’t know if it’s because he’s surrounded by new things or if it’s just because we notice it more but wow he’s like a different person compared to when we went a few months ago (expectedly!).
He was so over excited after his first Cheesecake Factory meal when we got back to the hotel, he was trying to crawl! It’s like the food gave him a super quick growth spurt.
Baby wearing vs Pushchair: The last time we went, we predominantly used the push chair. However due to Arjun’s separation anxiety with daddy, we used the carrier a lot more this time. It meant Arjun was able to move a little more too.
Communication: Arjun is not only trying to speak by babbling a lot more, but he’s also started showing us what he’s after which is bloody amazing! I know this is all pretty normal for a baby, but I find it so fascinating and I’m in awe of how much he changes and grows everyday!
He now takes his bib off when he’s done eating.
This video also shows him telling us he’s hungry!
Of course the biggest change is that he now has teeth! He has two little two pegs at the bottom, his gummy smile is going to be missed!:( My baby is quickly turning n to a little boy!
More animated: Arjun’s so much more animated – especially compared tot he last time we went. Now he’s splashing about more in the pool and isn’t so reliant on the baby float for comfort; trying to talk to the animals in the tanks at the aquarium and a lot more character. It’s only going to get bigger and bigger!
He’s also a lot more animated when watching his favorite TV shows. He’s a bit of a tele addict but managed to go a few days with no TV at all and when he did watch anything it was for a maximum of 20 minutes when in Dubai. We had downloaded his favourite Baby TV shows. He’s full of giggles and smiles when his favourite characters make an appearance on screen.
Baby Led Weaning vs Spoon Feeding: In Dubai we ended up doing a lot more BLW just because Arjun was happier feeding himself. This is a stark difference to our last trip where he was just starting to be weaned and would gnaw on a carrot for two minutes and quickly get bored. He’d them start crying and Preetam would have to hold him during dinner! Not the nicest dining experience! However this time, there was only one night where Arjun got upset during dinner, otherwise he was happy feeding himself and babbling with us during dinner.
Some of the new foods he tried whilst away included:
Bread rolls (usually standard bread)
Freshly made hummus
Cottage cheese pancake
Rupa Masi!: We met my school friend Rupa who lives out in Dubai. Some things HAVEN’T changed with Arjun – she was able to put him to sleep as quickly as she was able to the last time! She’s a natural with babies and Arjun feels some sense of comfort with her and was happy playing with her and rummaging through her hand bag!
We had a fabulous time in Dubai and would recommend it especially as a first holiday with a baby!
Where was your first holiday with your little one and how was it?x