Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Traveler Lauren Schor and family ventured into the desert outside Dubai via vintage Land Rovers.

Lauren Schor and family ventured into the desert outside Dubai via vintage Land Rovers.

Justin planned an amazing spring-break week for our family of three in Dubai and Oman. We spent four nights in Dubai and three nights at a beach resort in Oman. There are so many areas to stay in Dubai, but he suggested staying downtown (at the Armani Hotel) as first-time visitors, and because he thought our teenage daughter would like being in close proximity to the Dubai mall, and he was right! Justin arranged a private yacht cruise around the harbor one morning, which was amazing as we got to see so much of the city from the water (vs sitting in traffic to drive around and see everything). We took a full-day tour of the city (both the old city and the newer city) which was completely customizable as the day went on. We really got to see and do most of the city in one day.

The next day, after a morning on our own (Dubai Gardens and the mall), we went on a luxury desert excursion for the afternoon and evening. Having been to the Sahara in Morocco, we were skeptical about doing something so similar and Justin was confident that it would be a completely different experience than we had in Morocco and again, he was correct! We loved it, definitely one of the highlights of our trip! We also did a day trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai which was great! Again, we got to see most of the major sites in the one day and while we could have stayed by the beach here for a few days, Justin instead suggested we take the two-hour drive to the Six Senses resort at Zighy Bay in Oman. Once again, Justin was right!

We have traveled a lot all over the world and this was one of the most special and amazing resorts in the most gorgeous setting that we have ever been to. As soon as we arrived we wished we were staying longer! The resort offers incredible activities such as paragliding which I would highly recommend—an unforgettable and bucket-list experience! Justin also arranged our WOW Moment here, which was an Arabic cooking class that we loved! Justin knew that we love to do cooking classes and food tours when we travel, but Dubai didn’t really have much to offer us. So he set up a private experience for us in Oman which was really special!

But, the biggest thing that Justin helped with was jumping into action when our international flight from the States got canceled at the last minute and we couldn’t get onto another flight for 48 hours. Justin communicated with me over a holiday weekend and at all hours of the night so that we could get everything pushed back by two days on our itinerary, and in the end it was seamless and everything worked out perfectly! We also traveled during Ramadan which I was concerned about, but it really had very little to no impact on our trip at all! And a lot of people have asked if we felt safe being in the Middle East and I can say, without hesitation, that we felt 100% safe 100% of the time.

This was a three-day stay after a long trip in India and Sri Lanka at the beginning of April. I really didn’t know much about the Maldives and Justin Parkinson helped me decide where to stay and which bungalow to pick. What we wound up with was one of the nicest bungalows, with a private pool overlooking the ocean. Truly beautiful. What I would urge people to consider is that apart from breakfast and dinner, everything else is chargeable. The costs are high because everything has to be boated in. Perhaps a place that is more inclusive of meals and drinks and some activities. We did the snorkeling with nurse sharks and stingrays and that was terrific. This time of year it was extremely hot and since you are near the equator we found it hard to be outside for long — something to consider.

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Dubai to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We booked the trip with Justin Parkinson and would absolutely recommend him. It was a perfect week with a combination of tours and beach days at our fabulous hotel. We had the same guide and driver for our tours of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and they were terrific. Our guide continued to check in on us via WhatsApp for the rest of our week in Dubai. We had another amazing guide/driver for our Desert Safari Excursion, which was super fun. We went on our last night, and it was a fantastic way to end our trip. Justin was always available for all of my questions and concerns regarding the trip, and I hope to use him again for a trip to the Maldives someday in the future.

We had a wonderful time during our trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi that was planned by Justin. The trip was very professionally arranged, from picking us up at the airport to all activities and transportation. We stayed at Jumeirah Beach hotel, which has beautiful views of the ocean and you can see the Burj Al Arab from it as well. Over the next few days we had our personal guide, who gave us a comprehensive tour of Dubai. We learnt about the city’s Bedouin heritage, bold architecture, Emirati culture, politics/sheiks. We got to see all the major attractions, the gold souk, Atlantis, and of course the Burj Khalifa. The guide had our tickets ready for us, which was nice. It took us 60 seconds in the lift to get to the top of the world’s tallest building. The views from there were spectacular. Once you exit the Burj Khalifa you end up in Dubai Mall (one of the world’s largest shopping malls), so we ended up walking around the mall and ate at the food court. Our kids had to try the McArabia from McDonald’s, which they thought was pretty good.

After a few days in Dubai we went to the desert. The highlight of our trip was the desert/Qasr Al Sarab Resort. It was a magical place, absolutely breathtaking. The desert sand is so soft, fine and has multicolored hues of khaki and orange. We all enjoyed rolling around in the sand dunes, and seeing the magical sunsets. Getting from Dubai to Qasr Al Sarab was flawlessly planned. We had our own private driver who was flexible in case we needed to make stops, as we were traveling with two kids (ages 6 & 7). Arriving there felt like arriving at a Arabian palace, the kind you see in Aladdin. They greeted us with some dates and a yogurt drink which was cooling in the hot weather. The breakfast was amazing, a lavish buffet having a mix of local delights. We enjoyed the dates, local jams, omelettes, and fresh juices. All the excursions were prefectly organized. We went on a camel trek, which was a great experience and felt like something out of a movie. In the evenings we got a chance to have some fine Arabic cuisine set in a beautiful ambiance amidst the desert lit up by lanterns, fire pits and the stars above. Certainly a dream. We dined amidst the desert dunes, a Bedouin set-up of plush carpets and cushions serving lamb, cherry rice, variety of dips/hummus, and breads. Another highlight of our trip was dune bashing. My oldest son loved it and said he would do it again, while my youngest said it was terrible. I would say it was exhilarating, however not for everyone. I would recommend not eating an hour before doing it.

Our next stop was Abu Dhabi. It was a quick two-hour drive from the desert. We only spent a day in Abu Dhabi, and then went back to Dubai. Abu Dhabi’s highlight was the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. We were greeted by our tour guide, who was well prepared. She had an extra head scarf for my wife, as the dress code is very strictly enforced. She was a wealth of information and was able to get us into the mosque the most efficient way. The architecture and design of the mosque is something quite special. It has intricate designs of flowers and geometric designs carved on the walls and exquisite carpets and chandeliers inside. After the mosque our guide gave us a tour of Abu Dhabi. We requested to go to some local markets, as we needed to get some souvenirs. She took us to a quaint market where they had camel key chains, local embroidered pillowcases, Aladdin lamps which my kids loved. Overall we really enjoyed our visit to the UAE. The tour guides, hotels, and recommended sightseeing spots were on point and made everything super-easy and stress-free.

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