Overlooking the knarled, knotted mangrove trees, lies a pocket of calm in the middle of a bustling city. With tiny blue crabs and chattering birds playing hide and seek beneath the low boughs, the mangroves are worth investigating. Our first visit involved a canoe. I felt like an intrepid explorer, pushing my way through sand bars and jungle vines, through narrow streams and open stretches of water. Momentarily I had been transported onto the film set of Mosquito Coast. It felt exotic and adventurous. I was half expecting a crocodile to jump up to greet us.
On the edge of this intriguing microcosm is Anantara’s Eastern Mangroves hotel.
Only an hour’s drive from Dubai, this is a great way to spend the weekend away from all the hustle and bustle, within arm’s reach of nature and the city. From the dust and distractions of the roads, buildings and city life, the hotel lobby acts as a transporter, moving you from urban to rural life.
The experience starts with a warm welcome and cool drink. As soon as you walk through the door, the light and airy foyer drawers your attention to the beautiful infinity pool over looking the swamps. Attention has been paid to detail; from the lavender water spray and cool towels you’re offered besides the pool to the presentation of food in the restaurants.
Our visit was co-ordinated for us to sample The Big Brunch, a deal that allows you to indulge in a beautifully prepared languishingly long lunch, sipping cocktails and wine, without having to worry about getting home – you only have to stagger to your room for an afternoon nap. And the food was delicious, whether you’re looking for Western or Eastern flare, carvery or sushi, or hope to try it all, accompanied by live music.
The hotel itself is calm in décor and calm in its approach. This is a hotel that doesn’t over-service, so if you’re looking for the noisy kids’ club and entertainment you might be disappointed. But if you wish to enjoy an aperitif on the funky rooftop bar overlooking the hidden secrets of the mangroves, or relax during a leisurely lunch, or a spa treatment, this is a great weekend get-away.
The practical bit
Accommodation: We stayed in a standard room with queen-sized bed, plus a roll away bed and a converted sofa for the children. The bathrooms are large with a shower and bath.
Brunch: There are three packages for The Big Brunch starting at AED 295++ up to a premium package that offers the finest wines and French bubbles for AED 495++.
The deal: The Big Weekend Special offers accommodation, buffet breakfast for two and The Big Brunch on Fridays for two people. Prices start at AED 1,200. Available until December 22, 2013 on Thursday and Friday night only. A bit of trivia: Anantara is taken from an ancient Sanskrit word that means 'without end'. For more information: www.anantara.com