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Holiday showdown: Dubai versus Florida

  • Published 31 May 2018

Once you’ve chosen your destination simply give one of our personal travel managers a call

You may think that Florida and Dubai are complete polar opposites but don’t be fooled – these two destinations are more alike than you think. Imagine sparkling city lights, gourmet food that is to die for and stunning beaches that have to be seen to be believed. Suitable for every kind of traveller including adrenaline-loving adventurers and families of every size, Dubai and Florida are both the ultimate holidays if you’re on the hunt for a whole host of unforgettable memories – but which one do you choose? Perhaps you’d prefer the exhilarating rollercoasters of Universal Studios Florida and the chance to mingle with Mickey and pals in Orlando. Or maybe the out-of-this-world shopping experiences and silky soft sands of Dubai are calling your name. But one thing is for certain. Once you’ve chosen your destination simply give one of our personal travel managers a call and let them do the rest… 

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Bright Lights, Big City

Welcome to Miami… Most holiday makers tend to get so caught up in Orlando that Miami becomes a distant thought but this exciting metropolis most certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. Known as the playground for the rich and famous and home to the world’s best Cuban sandwiches outside of Havana, this Floridian city is a hub of exhilaration that’s suitable for everyone. If you’re a self-confessed party animal then you can’t go wrong with letting your hair down on the South Beach boardwalk or heading to LIV, the holy grail of all dance clubs located on the top floor of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel. In the mood for something a little less fast-paced but still equally exciting? Ocean Drive is the place to be. This vibrant strip in the Magic City is perfect for grabbing a drink with friends in a lively bar and sampling the local cuisine before hitting a few clubs should they tickle your fancy. Soak up the Latin music and the electric ambience for a holiday that you definitely won’t forget in a hurry.  

The phrase ‘over-the-top’ was undoubtedly created in Dubai, the city where too much is never enough, where boundaries are limitless and luxury is found around every corner. This buzzing metropolis is brilliantly fast paced, slowly taking over from New York as the city that never sleeps and is one of the most-visited destinations in the world. As soon as you step off the plane you’ll understand why. The stunning Dubai Mall is where you’ll find more than 1,000 stores, a plethora of restaurants and an aquarium while the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, needs to be seen to be believed. On top of all that, it’s the amazing social scene in this city that deserves a special mention. For some stylish food and drinks with friends in an instagrammable setting, head to the Flamingo Room by Tasha at Jumeirah Al Naseem. Here guests are enveloped in smooth pinks and African inspired décor, with gold detailing throughout. Diners should expect glamour in abundance with an artfully crafted menu and cocktails to match, why not pull up a pew by the marble champagne bar and celebrate your holiday with a bottle of their best bubbles?

Visitors should note that Dubai is a Muslim region and operates under Sharia Law. There are consequences for consuming alcohol outside of licenced bars and restaurants and for public drunkenness. The legal drinking age in Dubai is 21.

A Gourmet Affair

America is known for its super-size portions and extreme overindulgence so don’t expect Florida to be any different – but everyone knows that on holiday calories simply don’t count! From quick bites to fine dining affairs, going hungry definitely isn’t an option. When in the Sunshine State, sampling the famed key lime pie is a must – this creamy oven-baked treat is truly to die for and simple to recreate when you get back home. How about washing it down with an ice-cold glass of Florida orange juice? The beaming all-year-round sunshine means that the tropical fruit in the state constantly flourishes and the oranges are full of sweet juices that make the perfect glass of OJ. Oh, and you can’t leave without trying the delicious Cuban sandwich (also known as a Cubano). Found prominently in Miami, this tasty snack consists of slow-roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard that’s grilled to perfection until the meats are piping hot and the cheese melts in your mouth. The gourmet restaurants here are also out of this world so ditch McDonald’s and head to a world-class eatery that uses fresh Floridian produce.

Food, glorious food! Dubai is a city that knows how to eat, holding nothing back when it comes to the extensive culinary options that draw worldwide inspiration in a number of exquisite restaurants and eateries. The Middle East is known for its bursts of flavours from rich herbs and spices that are found in shawarma, a popular Dubai street food dish of spicy meat served in a wrap with mountains of mint sauce and salad. The meat in the city ranges from chicken and lamb to camel (which tastes exceptional when it’s tenderly roasted and stuffed with herbs) and beef – that’s right, as Dubai is a Muslim region you won’t find any pork served in major restaurants. Here, brunch is a Friday afternoon staple and the only way to kick off the weekend in style. From bottomless champagne to child-friendly themed brunches, everyone is catered for to the highest standard. With many hotels, bars and restaurants now offering brunching options by day and night throughout the weekend, the difficulty will be choosing where to go! 

For the best places in Dubai for Friday brunch, click here. 

Thrills and Spills

When it comes to excitement in Florida, your mind may only flutter to one thing: Walt Disney World. The abundance of excellent theme parks are catered towards visitors for every age, from the very young to the young at heart. Located in the heart of Orlando and nicknamed the happiest place on Earth, the four Disney parks (Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios) boast thrilling rides and family-friendly attractions that promise a whole host of unforgettable memories. Walk along the iconic Disney Boardwalk and be presented with first-class shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife options, wave to Cinderella as she emerges from the castle and dance through the streets with your most-loved characters during the Disney parade. Don’t forget, no trip to Orlando is complete without a trip to the Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventures theme parks. The place where your favourite blockbusters come to life, guests are invited to throw webs with Spiderman, trek through the swamp with Shrek and Fiona and cast spells with The Boy Who Lived at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We told you it was the happiest place on Earth. 

Did you know that the ‘A’ in UAE stands for adventure? Dubai is an emirate that knows no boundaries when it comes to adrenaline from thrilling sand-boarding down the dunes of Big Red (or Al Hamar as its locally known) to the indoor slopes of Ski Dubai. Excitement comes in many forms in Dubai but one of our favourites simply has to be skydiving in the centre of the city for the heart-pumping experience of weightless freefalling with the most spectacular views below you. Although this activity isn’t for the faint-hearted – or those under the age of 18 – all travellers will fall in love with this excursion whether you’re flying through the air or spectating the brave souls from the ground. If you’re more of a tamed thrill-seeker rather than a full-blown adrenaline junkie then the likes of Wild Wadi Waterpark will be right up your street. Perfect for every kind of visitor, Wild Wadi is located in the heart of the Jumeirah Beach complex and is home to the tallest and fastest speed slide outside of North America as well as stunning cascading waterfalls, a relaxing Lazy River and an abundance of exhilarating attractions. Did we mention the incredible theme parks in Dubai too? Although not as jam-packed as Orlando, the emirate is home to Legoland, Motiongate Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai all of which are brilliant for a day out with the family.
To find out more about the adventurous side of Dubai click here.

Luxury From Check-In To Check-Out

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney Resort
Burj Al Arab

Looking for a place to call home couldn’t be easier in Florida. If Disney is your main port of call while you’re in the Sunshine State, the abundance of in-house resorts for easy access to the theme parks will send you head over heels. Eight words – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney Resort. As the only hotel in Florida to win the world-renowned AAA Five Diamond Award, you know a stay here is going to be one for the books. This spectacular family-friendly establishment goes above and beyond in every way possible from the dedicated Disney concierge and the private transfers to each of the parks, to the endless amenities found in the spacious suites and the out-of-this world facilities. Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando is also ideal if you’re travelling with teenagers that prefer the thrill of Universal over Disney. Your entire family is sure to adore the close proximity to Universal CityWalk and the thrilling theme parks, the fabulous dining options and the 12,000-sqaure-foot swimming pool at the heart of the hotel. If you’re after something a little more secluded then you can’t go wrong with renting a private villa, a popular choice in Florida. Can’t wait to submit an enquiry to begin your Floridian adventure? Click here and the rest will fall into place faster than you can say “magic” … 

Luxury is Dubai’s middle name and one step on this emirate’s soil will have you understanding why. The superlative nature of the city is reflected in the plethora of five-star hotels and resorts scattered throughout the emirate that promises your UAE experience to be one of the highest standard. Boasting some of the world’s most elegant names in the hotel industry including Jumeirah, St. Regis, One&Only and Anantara, wherever you stay in the city is guaranteed to blow your mind. For families, Atlantis, The Palm is ideal. The hotel is 64 times the size of Wembley Stadium, home to 23 restaurants including Nobu and Bread Street Kitchen and features an on-site waterpark and aquarium. It’s safe to say that Atlantis, The Palm is a landmark in itself. Speaking of landmarks, the Burj Al Arab is the iconic sail-shaped building in Jumeirah Beach that boasts seven stars – yes, seven! This is undoubtedly the place where luxury has been rediscovered from the infinity pool and private cabanas to the fleet of Rolls Royce cars that provide airport transfers. Sound like a bit of you? Simply click here to begin your Dubai extravaganza at the drop of a hat. 

Seas The Day

It’s not a Florida holiday without a little sun, sea and sand, right? This glorious state is home to multiple stretches of golden grains that are met with sparkling cerulean waters that no camera would ever do justice. Palm Beach is the area you want to head to for sheer perfection, ideal for those who want a taste of adrenaline by surfing the waves or simply to soak up the rays relaxing on shore. The popularity of Palm Beach makes it perfect for any party size to enjoy the experience but if you’re looking for something a little slower-paced, Clearwater is ideal. It’s in the name! Clearwater boasts oceans that are beautifully transparent, sands that slip silkily through your toes and the classic Floridian sunshine that you just can’t get enough of. The beaches in this area are also the perfect location for a sunset viewing – trust us, when the blood orange sun dips into the water you’ll be pinching yourself in complete awe. Oh, and we can’t forget about Miami Beach! The subject of many summer tunes, both Miami and South Beach are a party paradise, a vibrant location where visitors will arrive and leave with a smile thanks to the cool waters, the exciting watersports and the non-stop fun from dusk ‘til dawn. 

Thought that Dubai was nothing but a concrete jungle? Think again! Grab your sunscreen and head to the emirate’s sunniest sands or beach clubs to get the best of both worlds while you’re in the UAE. The brilliant sunshine all-year-round in Dubai means that the beach can be a daily occurrence. One of our top recommendations has to be The Beach by JBR, located adjacent to The Walk promenade at Jumeirah Beach Residences where guests can partake in watersports, banana boating and even camel rides. If you’re after that perfect Instagram picture that will make all of your followers jealous, head to Sunset Beach to capture a quintessential image of the Burj Al Arab against a vibrant background of oranges and purples as the sun slowly disappears for another day. Don’t forget to visit Sunset Beach when the sun is shining and head to Surf House Dubai to rent a board and ride the waves. If you don’t fancy venturing out, most hotels in the emirate have private beaches boasting pristine sands that are simply the icing on the cake of your UAE adventure. 

If you’re after something a little more secluded then you can’t go wrong with renting a private villa, a popular choice in Florida

Still stuck? We’ve answered your most burning questions when it comes to Dubai versus Florida...

Would you recommend either of these locations for a romantic honeymoon?
Of course! Both Florida and Dubai are an adult’s playground and have a romantic side that’s truly divine. If you want fine dining and sky-high views as you look into your spouse’s eyes then Dubai is the one for you. Or, if you’re in the mood to capture your inner child and laugh your way into married life then hit the theme parks in Orlando. 

I’ve heard Dubai can be a little strict. What are the do’s and don’ts while in the city?
Like anywhere in the world, the rules and regulations in Dubai are in place to ensure that tourists and locals alike can successfully thrive in the city. Operating under Sharia Law, expect to find restrictions such as alcohol consumption whereby you can only drink in licenced bars and restaurants. To find out more about Dubai’s rules click here.

Myself and my golf buddies are looking for the perfect place to tee off in style. Where would you recommend?
While Dubai has many fantastic golf course, the beaming sunshine and the lush greenery in Florida make this state nothing short of a golfer’s paradise. Expect a plethora of state-of-the-art championship courses that are accessible to every player’s ability. We’ve even compiled a list of Florida’s five best golf courses. Click here to check it out. 

Out of Dubai and Florida, which would you suggest is more family-orientated?
Although the obvious answer would be Florida due to the plethora of exciting attractions, Dubai caters just as well to families of any size. Both destinations promise a whole host of memories for the family photo album from the mermaid and pirate themed brunches in Dubai to the Disney magic in Florida. 

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