I broke two of my cardinal holiday rules early this month.
One, I took a staycation.
Two. I didn't leave the resort I stayed at all day.
Now, that may not seem like such an unusual activity, but I have often been accused of not knowing how to relax. If I have two days off, I will try my best to pack as much as I can into them. Midnight flight out of town on a Thursday, a packed city-break with a return at 7am on Sunday morning? That sounds like I could just about make it back in time and head straight to work. Booked!
Stay in Dubai when I had actually booked 3 whole days off? Let's just say it's not the way I usually plan my holidays.
But... I had a rather tempting reason to stick around town. A night at the newly opened Four Seasons Resort at Jumeirah Beach beckoned. I would have happily stayed there when I did a hard hat tour around the half-finished hotel last year. A chance to check out the completed version seemed like reason enough to break a lifetime's worth of staycation-scoffing habits. (And let's face it, there is something incredibly satisfying about taking a mid-week break in a beautiful resort in the city you normally work in. It just seems doubly rewarding sitting in a Jacuzzi when you could have been sitting at your desk.)
All I can say is that if you are like me and the thought of an exotic holiday ALWAYS seems better than the thought of a relaxing staycation in Dubai (even with the multiple hours spent at the airport, packing, unpacking and frantically finishing work fearing no access to WiFi over the weekend) then you haven't tried a staycation at the Four Seasons.
Also, having had a peek and a taste of the lunch menu at Sea Fu - the resort's beachfront seafood restaurant - on a previous visit, I couldn't wait to check it out in greater detail over dinner.
It's been a while since I have looked at a menu and almost every page has got me excited. As someone who could happily live off seafood for the rest of my life, a selection of dishes almost exclusively composed of fish, crustaceans and shellfish, coupled with inventive Asian-influenced flavours (like pineapple XO sauce and ponzu vinaigrette) seemed like a refreshing break from the rather uninspiring grill-heavy choices one usually comes across at many seafood restaurants in Dubai.
We started with pan-seared Duck Foie Gras and Abalone with artichoke, garlic puree and parsley butter and Marinated Mackerel, accompanied by a socca (chick pea flour) galette, sweet onion escabeche and a Thai Basil vinaigrette. The oily mackerel's sweet sharp vinagery notes reminded me of the flavours of cured boquerones (the restaurant does claim a Meditarranean influence too) and were a great start to the meal.
But the real highlight was undoubtedly the mains - we picked the Roasted Chilean Bass with azuki red beans, lotus root and Balqees honey and the Seared Black Cod with sweet carrot papaya salad, beansprout and yuzu dressing and I spent much of dinner alternating forkfuls of tender flesh from the two plates trying to decide which was my favourite (I think the Chilean Bass edged out the competition by the teeniest degree at the very last minute).
Dessert was another triumph with a selection of unusual flavours including a Beetroot, Coriander and Wasabi cake served with a palate-burstingly fresh beetroot and raspberry sorbet. (The sorbets at Sea Fu are my personal favourite - just drenched in flavour and incredibly refreshing. The lunch menu has a Citrus Salad served with orange and cinnamon sorbet and star anise dressing that is a real sweet and delicately-spiced treat!)
After dinner, having made slightly falsely-laid plans to check out the Dubai skyline from Mercury Lounge - the resort's stunning rooftop vodka bar (which turned out to be shut that evening as it was a Tuesday) we ended up instead at Hendricks Bar, the cosy, leather-ensconced gentlemen's bar leading off from the lobby with a truly inventive G&T menu featuring everything from gin infused with sochi, basil and roses (I opted for the latter and was very happy with the massive fish-bowl-style G&T I ended up with).
The resident mixologist infused our chosen gin with various botanics at our table using a fascinating contraption called a hot siphon and then mixed a zesty Cherry Negroni as a night cap to send us on our way (I think I will be heading back for another look at that gin-infusing machine.)
The piece de resistance of the resort is of course its gorgeously airy and elegant rooms looking out over the moonlit Gulf. And that Four Seasons bed!
I think Four Seasons Resort Dubai may have converted me to becoming a believer in the staycation ;)
PS: For someone who usually can't wait to head out the door and check out the city the minute I check into a hotel, one of the biggest factors that kept me happily indoors was the resort's amazing spa. (Ok, and the fact that I have lived in Dubai for almost a decade and have traipsed around Jumeirah plenty of times!) But I could happily sit in that spa for hours. A steam room maintained at the perfect temperature to melt muscles without cooking them through, a sunken Jacuzzi, a shower that you can set to rain down on you like a Caribbean Storm (complete with thunder and flashes of lighting) or a Tropical Burst (with twittering jungle birds providing the soundtrack) and an ice room where you can scrub yourself with ice chips while being blasted with chilly air reminiscent of a Siberian Night - this staycation came with a lot of arm chair (or maybe that should be shower cubicle!) travel perks..
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