Approximately three hours from the capital is the Emirate of Fujairah. An area of rocky outcrops, isolated beaches and a landscape quite unlike anywhere else in the UAE. Fujairah makes up the majority of the country’s east coast and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and those looking to get away from it all. Here, nestled between the towering peaks of the Hajar Mountains and the sandy shores of the Indian ocean lies the picturesque Fujairah Rotana Resort and spa.
The resort itself is located about forty minutes north of Fujairah City and although the journey is long, it’s one the rewards travellers with spectacular vistas, taking in deep orange sand dunes, rugged mountains passes, a winding coastal road and plenty of wild camels (and goats). It’s not the image that you might necessarily expect from the UAE but the more traditional approach and slower pace of life is what makes a weekend escape to Fujairah all the more appealing.
Returning to the Fujairah Rotana four years after our initial visit, little has changed in terms of apperance. Arriving at the powder pink complex we’re warmly greeted by the friendly valet team, who instantly recognise us despite the passing of time. They’re quick to learn our names, which seems to spread throughout the hotel like a wildfire with every staff member we encounter greeting us on a first name basis. It’s small touches like these that make all the difference and make the stay not only more personal but also more memorable.
Check-in is one of the quickest we’ve experienced, even more impressive given that the hotel was operating at full capacity during the weekend that we visited and we’re settled in the room within minutes of leaving the car. Something we certainly appreciated with two young children in tow.
All 250 palazzo-style rooms at the Fujairah Rotana are ocean facing which is exactly what one expects when spending time at the beach. Our one bedroom suite offers views over palm fronds and a central swimming pool before our gaze drifts out to sea and the small boats bobbing on the horizon. We remember from our previous visit that the standard rooms are in keeping with most Rotana properties and are a little on the compact size. Our suite is the exception and though it feels a little dated, it’s very comfortable at a generous 58 sqm. A glass partition separates the sleeping area from the living area and contains everything you would expect – sofas, a writing desk, safety deposit box, mini bar and the essential robes and slippers.
Our only criticisms come from the fact that that bathrooms don’t contain tubs and that the doors open directly onto the toilet. Also the dreaded packets of tea and coffee are present. We may sound like a broken record but in a five star hotel in 2017, powdered milk and instant coffee do not belong! It’s a small inconvenience but one that grates all the same.
These issues are definitely minor and the comfortable beds, darker than dark blackout curtains and a beautifully sun-kissed balcony more than make up for it.
The beauty of a resort like this is the ability to relax and unwind with everything you may need within easy access. As a popular weekend spot for UAE residents to visit there’s no pressure for sightseeing itineraries or choosing a restaurant to dine at, for everything is right there within the confines of the resort.
A 200 meter stretch of sandy beach is partolled by lifeguards and offers plenty of sun loungers for relaxing on the sand and working on that all important tan. The beaches of Fujairah are nowhere near as busy as those in Dubai and feel far more natural, with a darker coloured sound and the image of mountains literally tumbling into the ocean waves. For those looking to take it up a notch, a variety of water sports are available (at an additional fee) directly on the beach. We spotted snorkeling, kayaking, fishing trips, parasailing and scuba diving being offered.
The Fujairah Rotana is extremely family friendly and around the central garden area guests will find a number of swimming pools and a children’s playground. The two temperature controlled pools are ideal for relaxing, with one featuring shallow waters and a swim up bar. Crossing the wooden bridge to the children’s pool you’ll find basketball nets and a thrilling log flume. There’s also a shallow area for younger guests complete with a water feature that sprays jets at unsuspecting swimmers.
Unusually for the UAE there’s an abundance of activities poolside. Live singers, water polo to aqua aerobics add to the resort vibe that seems to attract a mixed crowd of European holidaymakers.
‘Flippers’ kids club is where children can participate in arts and crafts and other activities aimed at the 4 – 12 age group and is fully staffed by the friendly Rotana team. With the kids occupied for a few hours, adults can relax at Zen the spa, offering eight treatment rooms and an award winning Hammam. Those looking for something a little more active can hit the outdoor tennis courts, state of the art fitness centre or take care of your well-being in the sauna or steam room.
Fujairah Rotana seems to have it all and with six food and beverage outlets to choose from visitors are spoilt for choice. We didn’t visit Al Falaj the coffee shop in the main lobby (though the cakes looked very appealing) nor Bar Muda. Down at the beach we had lunch at Sharkey’s Bar, a vibrant and colourful venue perched on the sand that offers a good selection of bar bites and signature beverages. We wholly recommend the caprese wrap, fish and chips and the rum-heavy Rotana Punch. Tropicana Pool Bar is partially submerged in the water and offers the same menu as Sharkey’s.
Our dinner at Waves was the highlight of our stay. With elevated cabanas positioned to offer remarkable views of the sea and lit by flicking torchlight, it’s a romantic spot and one that is elevated further by the ability to see the night stars (something of a rarity in the UAE). On Fridays Waves has a seafood market concept where diners can select fish and crustaceans from the catch of the day, all of which are from the region and beautifully preserved amongst glistening ice. Omani Lobster, Hammour and Red Snapper are chosen, weighed and cooked to your liking (baked, grilled of fried) with a selection of delectable sauces. Waves takes more of a fine dining approach in terms of food and service and it certainly pays off when compared to the casual nature of the other outlets.
Breakfast is served at Mosaic and for us the experience is less pleasant. Due to the package nature of the resort, breakfast is a bit of a free for all and through no fault of the hotel itself, having to battle other guests just to get to the food detracts somewhat from idea of a relaxing stay. The food at the breakfast offers the usual selection of breads, fruits, yogurts and cold cuts though additional staff on the egg station may help to cut down on some of the queuing.
As we mention is every review of a Rotana property, you know what you’re getting from the brand and that’s a consistent quality of service and value for money. Fujairah Rotana is no different and may have the friendliest staff at any Rotana we’ve had the pleasure of staying in. There were some minor renovation works going on within the glass pyramid structure of the lobby but nothing that would cause any upheaval.
The Fujairah Rotana is aimed squarely at families and this is why we enjoyed our weekend stay so much. Kids are treated like royalty and with their needs catered too, the adults also get an opportunity to relax. The Entertainment may be a bit much for some with loud music, bellydancing and fire dancing disrupting the peaceful evening, though our kids were completely enraptured and loved every minute.
Having visited the Fujairah Rotana twice now, are we in any hurry to return again? While it’s a little far to travel for just one night, the peaceful change of pace and opportunity for relaxation certainly make us excited to return again in the future. Plus it’s an excellent place to explore the attractions and wadis of the Northern Emirates.
Location: Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa, Al Aqah, Fujairah
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Phone: 09 244 9888
We were invited to stay at The Fujairah Rotana. All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE with the exception of one image provided by Fujairah Rotana.