Travel & Lifestyle


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This was my birthday weekend so we wanted to go somewhere extra special and we’d been advised to visit this mysterious land by many friends throughout our time in Dubai who had all returned with incredible tales and pictures of their adventures there. Two things stood out for me immediately from looking through their snaps and listening to their experiences. Firstly, was the beauty and diversity of the country’s natural landscape from the lush green mountain plateaus, to the technicolor coral kingdom’s in the South which bustles with aquatic life. The second was of the warmth and humility of the locals who are rich in culture yet humble & gracious in their ways. It was almost peak summer in Dubai so we opted to head for the cooler mountain region of Oman….the prospect of a chilled breeze running through my hair was sheer bliss!

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The Vanitas restaurant is located within the Palazzo Versace Hotel, the Renaissance-styled monolith that sits waterside within Dubai Creek’s up-and-coming Harbour district. The first thing you’ll notice when you enter The House of Versace’s latest extravaganza is the intricate & impeccable hand-crafted décor throughout. Within the lobby area itself rests a sprawling floor mosaic comprised of over 2 million hand-laid, marble fragments. These form an exact replica of the rug which sits in Gianni Versace’s Milan Villa… Now that’s quite the way to make an entrance!


This neoclassical emporium is home to a collection of stylish boutique restaurants, each boasting a different creative theme from street food to experimental concept fusion. Vanitas however, follows a similar line of styling to the hotel itself & its interior walls are lavishly adorned in hand-crafted artworks spanning the opulent, yet tasteful dining area. Following a warm welcome by the host we are taken to our table, as we walk across the room we catch the gaze of joyful couples enjoying candlelit cuisine together. To my right stands large French Doors which open out to a terraced area overlooking the Creek itself, on this occasion it was a little chilly for al fresco dining. This dimly-lit terraced area plays stage to some beautiful Italian renaissance statues that elegantly pose before a backdrop of the Versace Hotel & Creek, providing all the right ingredients for a romantic evening with a loved one.


Upon the recommendation of the host, we decided to try a selection of cuisines specially selected by the chef himself. Our first experience from the kitchen arrived in the elegant form of pan seared octopus, brimming with bright flamboyant Mediterranean colors. We were lucky enough to be graced with the presence of Head Chef – Andrea Gaea, who came from the kitchen to introduce himself and explain the imagination and history behind the vivacious dishes on display. Within a few moments of speaking with Andrea, it’s immediately apparent that his heart & soul, along with the heritage of Versace’s Italian homeland is lovingly reflected in each dish.

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Tilal Liwa Hotel is nestled in Rub Al Khali Desert in abu Dhabi and a good three-hour drive away from Dubai. The hotel was originally built to accommodate people who joins the camel beauty contest that takes place every last quarter of every year. People all over the GCC region travels to compete in the said contest.

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