Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Al Wadi Resort - family retreat in Ras Al Khaimah

Last weekend, we headed to the desert for a family retreat in Ras Al Khaimah. Not our first time in the Emirates, we always had fond memories of this side of the UAE. There is an enchanting tranquil atmosphere that brings us back. This time, we had the lovely opportunity to stay at the newly launched Al Wadi Desert a The Ritz-Carlton Hotel property. Since January 2016, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company signed a management agreement with RAK National Hotels and Al Hamra Real Estate Development for the new property, marking the brand’s entry into Ras Al Khaimah.

The beautiful landscape, rolling dunes, warm light, rugged mountains, wildlife and magical sunset offer the perfect set up for a family stay in a pristine natural setting. Only one hour drive from Dubai, the northern Emirate holds many traditional wonders.

The last 10 minutes drive into the Resort, set the tone for beautiful surroundings. Earthy colours, warm glow from the Arabian sun over the dunes and an inviting original architecture.

We stayed in one of the amazing Al Khaimah tenanted pool villa. Have a look! The very large signature villas are one of best feature of the resort. Traditional tented villas with an arabic decor in a modern and plush way. We loved the large wooden deck with the dark blue infinity pool over looking the desert. Truly blissful. We enjoyed our villa so much, we decided to stay in for dinner to catch the last rays of the sunset over drinks by the pool followed by a traditional arabic dinner on the terrace. Perfect for family with young children.

The resort offers many activities for the family based around the Al Wadi Nature Reserve, the perfect opportunity to learn and connect with the surroundings. Make sure to contact Guest Services to schedule your set of activities. Here's some of the experiences we got to enjoy as a family.

Sitting on lounge deck facing the lovely desert with the sun setting down in the dunes, we watched a falcon, hawk and owl show. It was amazing to see those raptors up close, to hold one and learn about the species and the training technics. 

Horseback riding
We enjoyed our visit to the stables and peek into the future animal sanctuary that will soon be a new added feature to the resort. The girls got to ride into the desert on a horse for Luella and an adorable Shetland pony for little Josefin. It's a nice experience for kids, definitely some fun memories for the children to remember.

The Morning Nature Walk
On Saturday morning, after a good night sleep and an early swim in our pool, we went for the Nature Walk with Gabriel the Resort Ranger. We could have lounge around, stay longer in bed, but the beauty of nature was calling and we decided to join the walk around 8.30. Gabriel was a fountain of knowledge about the Al Wadi Nature Reserve. A lovely way to connect with the land, learn about the different trees and the wild life. The protected area cover around 247 acres and is home to some Arabian Oryx that we could observe from close by. Beautiful experience. The walk took about 45min and got our appetite ready for breakfast, which is serve at the Safran restaurant just over looking the waterhole. Keep an eye open for a gazelle coming down for a drink of water...

Other activities available
Archery, biking, bird watching, nature drive, night walk, stargazing, family picnic ...

The Ritz Kids Program is another family feature that the resort offers guests. A program to keep the little ones busy by immersing them in adventure, exploration and fun educational activities like camel rides, kid archery, mini falconry and owl interaction, fish feeding, trail tales and feathered friends bird watching tour.

Our food experience was great from villa dining on the terrace by the pool, to gorgeous buffet breakfast overlooking the waterhole, to our family picnic. Another nice spot for sunset or after dinner drinks is the rooftop lounge Moon Bar with shisha, pretty lighting and 360 view of the desert.

Dubai our Sandbox recommends...
- Beautiful setting in the desert, close to nature away from the busy an glittery Dubai life.
- Easy access from Dubai, 45 min from Dubai Airport
- Great guest service and choice of activities for the family based on the desert, local culture and traditions. Fantastic and fun experience for children to learn because "Not every class room have four walls". 
- Beautiful private Arabian tented villa, large enough to accommodate very comfortably our family of four. All villas have private pool.
- Family friendly with grown up elegance
- The resort is under a transition phase and will be fully refurbished as a Ritz Carlton Property after the summer. We are looking forward to see the upgrade to the already very beautiful resort.
- The sister property Ritz Carlton Al Hamra Beach, located on a private shore in Ras Al Khaimah is under total refurbishment. Another exciting project we look forward to experience after summer.
We LOVED Al Wadi Resort, a tranquil oasis in the Ras Al Khaimah desert.
Thank you for your hospitality Ritz Carlton team!

Al Wadi Desert, Ras Al Khaimah, a Ritz-Carlton Partner Hotel
Phone: +971 7206 7777
Email: reservation.RAKdesert@ritzcarlton.com

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Luella's Cocoa, Banana and Coconut Smoothie

Luella's Cocoa, banana, coconut smoothie. The girls love making it nearly as much as eating it. Rich in antioxidants from the raw cacao and a good source of calcium from the yogurt and from our favourite Organic Milk in Dubai, KOITA. Super easy, I just make sure to use good quality ingredients and organic if possible. It's good option for breakfast or snack.

1 1/2 banana
3 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of yogurt (we use organic vanilla)
2 tablespoons of honey
Fresh grated coconut to sprinkle
Mix it all your nutribullet or blender, sprinkle with grated coconut. Done. Yummy!

Side note, the KOITA 'milk' family is expending! 

Whole Milk, Low Fat Milk, Chocolate Milk and now also a Skim Milk version (perfect for your skinny latte!)

Lactose Free 
Low Fat Lactose Free Milk
First lactose free milk in the UAE market that has no added hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or preservatives. Koita added the natural enzyme lactase to the milk which breaks down the lactose milk sugar into more easily digestible sugars, enabling people who are lactose-intolerant the ability to enjoy drinking milk

Soy Milk with Non-GMO soy

Why we love KOITA milk?! Read it here!
Order online at Koita.com and get FREE Koita Milkman delivery anywhere in the UAE. Conveniently have milk delivered to your home within 2 business days.  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Heavenly Mother's Day Spa at The Westin Al Habtoor City

Yesterday, I got to celebrate Mother's Day a little early with a special treat from Heavenly Spa at The Westin Al Habtoor City. I was so grateful to be there, surrounded by peaceful and relaxing vibes. Every mama needs a special treat like that to recharge. Because the truth is, you can better take care of your family if you take care of yourself in the first place.

The 'Heavenly Mom's Escape' included a refreshing 50min facial, 80min stress-relieving massage, access to steam and sauna facilities and yummy treats. I arrived early and took some time in the Sauna before meeting with my therapist, it was just a lovely way to get into it. After the full body massage, you feel obviously super relaxed and thankful that you can just lie there, a little longer while enjoying your facial. The therapist used Farm House Fresh products for cleansing, detoxing, moisturizing and anti ageing purposes. My skin felt fresh and glowing.

Perfect ending, lounging in the relaxing room, while enjoying light bites, sparkling fresh juices and a cup of ginger lemon tea.

Conveniently they can take care of your little ones at the Westin KidsClub while you get a well deserve pampering.

Mother’s Day – Heavenly Mom’s Escape
Heavenly Spa by Westin Al Habtoor City
From 1 March to 30 April from 9 am to 9 pm
AED 900
Booking: +971 44 373 300

Loved it! Treat yourself mamas!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Zip Water - Filtered, chilled, boiled and sparkling drinking water in one tap

This week, we had a mini revolution in our house. A life changing update to our daily life as a family. We consumes a lot of water, we buy bottled water (1.5L and 50ml) and have a dispenser in the kitchen with a scheduled home delivery weekly of gallons containers. That has been our set up for the past years. As a Dubai family, we understand the importance of drinking the right amount of water in this climate. Not like back home in Sweden, tap water is not an option for me here in the UAE :  “Tap water is completely safe to drink at the time of dispatch. But, the tanks must be cleaned systematically, at least once in six months, to ensure it is unpolluted. Commercial tanks are monitored by us, but not the residential ones,” said Bobby Krishna, Principal Food Studies Officer at Dubai Municipality. So I preferred up to now to rely on bottled water.

Here comes the most intelligent filtered drinking water tap: The Zip Hydrotap. Let me tell you why we are now relying on our new tap for our water consumption and all the benefit for our family.

Since it's inception in Australia in 1962, Zip has been producing boiling water system. Now the multinational company has evolved and now provide world class filtration technologies. The tap technology is now sold in 70 countries and provided great tasting, pure drinking water and instant boiling water.

Characteristics and functions
Zip filtration system is the solution for pure and crystal clear water, by removing chlorine and bacterial contaminants from your ordinary tap water. The single inbuilt-action-sub-micro water filter removes micro-organisms tiny as one thousandth a millimetre.  Zip Hydrotap system has a NSF certification, a public health and safety organization which provides third-party certification to ensure the product complies with the technical requirements of the relevant standard. The Zip 0.2 micron filters is one of the most advanced and most practical filtration system available anywhere today.

Zip Hydro tap offers different water options. You can pick a tap that deliver filtered chilled water alone to chilled, boiling and sparkling all at the touch of a button. We decided that our home will benefit from the all options. It's been a week already and we have enjoyed filtered chilled water for school water bottles, boiling water for instant coffee or tea and sparkling water for diner and refreshing lemon concoctions through out the way. I also tent to use it while cooking. It's so convenient!

There is many technical benefits, from power-pulse energy saving technology, adjustable water temperature function, sleeping function when inactive , programmable timer. Love that the water is instantly dispensed at the set temperature, no longer any need to waste water running the tap until the water is at the correct temperature. No water wastage.

Cost and environmental friendly
Zip filtered water will be cost effective, a much cheaper solution then bottled water. The bottled water market is exploding in the Middle East. Bottled water can cost up to 124 times more than filtered water. The bottle, cap and label amount 90% of the total price of mineral water. We should also rethink bottled water from an environment post of view. Water bottled are made of completely recyclable polyethylene (PET) plastics, but PET's don't biodegrade they photodegrade, which means they break down in smaller fragments over time. Those fragments absorb toxins that can pollute our waterways, soils... There is also a Carbon Footprint to consider, with delivery and manufacture of bottled water.

Stylish design
The Zip Hydrotap is well design and offers different aesthetics to suit your kitchen from Classic, Cube, arc and Elite in different finishes. You will find the one for you. It will become a stylish highlight in your kitchen.

Interested? How to go about it?
Check out zipwater.com or Facebook.com/pg/ZipWaterME to learn more.
Contact Info.me@zipindustries.com or 04 391 3670.

The process is relatively easy and the team behind Zip Water in the Middle East will assist you.
1- Pick your Hydrotap Design
2- Pick your water options
3- Select the finish
4- Decide where the tap will go
5- Talk to the team for assistance and installation.

We were very happy with the customer care provided. Our kitchen set up required some thinking in order to install properly at the right spot our new Zip Hydrotap. It was all sorted and installed after the second visit. Now we can call for maintenance to check on the under-sink unit and every 6 months to change the filtration cartridge. With a 2 two years warranty contract and a team of professional staff to provide great service, we trust it will be a good set up for our family. It's an investment but in the long run, it will be cost effective and more convenient.

Very happy to have teamed up with ZipWater in Dubai to offer you a special discount of 15%, just mentioned DubaiOurSandBox at the time of enquiry. Give them a call...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lightfoot Travel for tailor-made holidays with kids

Travelling with children is not always easy, sometime frustrating, sometimes daunting but always worth it! I truly believe it's one of the most important parenting activities that you can do. It’s an enormous teaching opportunity for your children and a fundamental way for parents and children to bond with each other and create memories.

Travelling with children is an opportunity for us as parents to teach our children first-hand about the differences that exit in the world. It's about learning to do and see things in a different way and it's an eye-opening experience.

There is many articles on the subjects, specially tips on how to travel with kids and making the journey easier... I have also covered the subjects previously on the blog. Travelling with Kids / Guest post: Travel Junkie Diary with kids / Mums travel...

When planning a holiday with children, think about the destination, accommodations, things to do and see. You might need to do a little 'homework' to prepare yourself and avoid disappointment. You can also ask for help. I would advise to ask the expert... We checked out Lightfoot Travel for tailor-made family holidays.

How Lightfoot Travel can help you and your family design a holiday of a lifetime.

Get inspired
They will inspire you with destination, activity and accommodation ideas that suit the ages of your children and the type of holiday you’ve been dreaming of.

Get the details that matter
Does the hotel have interconnecting rooms? Do they have kid’s meals for the fussiest of eaters? Are bottle sterilisers readily available? Questions answered, so you are ready to start on your adventure knowing that everything has been considered and taken care of beforehand.

Logistic for peace of mind
With children in tow coordinating things like airport pickups, car seats and kid-friendly routings are all the more stress inducing. Lightfoot Travel can makes sure your holidays are worry-free and keeping the little ones needs in mind.

This is the key word when holidaying with kids! Plans and needs of your family are always subject to
change, so you have to pick an itinerary that is flexible and can be tailored to your requirements at a moment’s notice.

If you are looking to plan your Spring or Summer holidays, you might want to keep in mind Lightfoot Travel. This luxury tour operator with an office in Dubai specializing in designer holidays to countries spanning six continents around the world. Lightfoot only uses properties they have personally experienced and trust. For inspiration and to plan your personalized holidays check out their online magazine and Lightfoot Inspiration . And start dreaming of your next family holiday destination...

Photography by the lovely and talented Uschi Irani, www.photocreations.me