When heading out to one of the hotels in Fujariah it’s worth remembering that you’re not really heading for Fujariah but to Dibba, which is around two hours drive from Dubai. Fujariah city is a whole other ball game and to be honest it’s not really worth more than an hour or two of your time (the dusty excuse of a museum will take 20 minutes max, if it’s open). It’s also worth remembering how to get out of Dubai, which is easier said than done. The best way is to head for Ras Al Khaimah on the E311 and come off at exit 119 or head out through Sharjah, and aim for Dhaid then Masafi and the Friday market.
No matter how many times you go through Friday market, the over supply of inflatable animals will never cease to amaze. If you want a plant, a sun-blanched rug, a terracotta coffee pot or a sad looking inflatable zebra, this is the place for you. If not, best just to whizz through (mind the rather severe speed bumps).
Radisson Blu is signed just past Friday Market – it’s around 40km further on. Wind up through the Hajar mountains, past a cement factory then just before you hit the hotel strip, you’ll be rewarded with the first glimpse of the Gulf of Oman – the glittery blue always revives travellers who have tired of the rocky, scrappy landscape between Dubai and the Eastern coast of the UAE.
On this strip of coastline sit several hotels, including the older Le Meridien Al Aqah, but Radisson Blu is the first you come to – its low slung apartment style buildings give it a ‘70s beach resort kind of feel.
If you’re after a quick weekend away, and a touch of sun, sea and sand that’s not Dubai or Abu Dhabi, then Fujariah is your best bet but whether the Radisson Blu is the top option will be down to what you want from your time off. Decent size rooms come with large balconies but the hotel isn’t the most modern affair, it caters more to large families rather than urban professionals used to slick service and a variety of options.
On the upside, the resort has five pools, spaced quite far apart as well as a large slice of beach, so overcrowding isn’t an issue. Within the roped off section of the sea, there are inflatable contraptions including a rather ingenious inflatable trampoline. (Small tip, the hotel aren’t keen on guests trying to make a break for these after dark!). Parasailing and other watersports are also on offer for those who want a more adrenaline filled break. Kids are well catered for, with a games room, kids club and suitable shallow pools and playgrounds to keep them entertained.
You’ll want to eat and drink of course, so set up residence in the main pool, which has a pool bar and a casual restaurant attached. The hotel also has an Arabic restaurant, and a large bar within the main lobby building, as well as various spaces for shisha outside – you can plonk yourself down in one of the majlis that are dotted about and make yourself at home.
This does lead us to a couple of issues with the hotel, in terms of its location and facilities, it’s not going to amaze you, but it’s perfectly fine for a couple of nights. The service and the quality of the food however might have you looking at one of the other hotels further along the beach. Despite it being a large hotel, which sees high occupancy all year round, the team it has serving drinks and shisha just aren’t on the ball and ordering anything can be a rather lengthy drawn out process.
The other issue is the quality of the food. A family beach resort in Fujariah is never going to serve fine dining food and shouldn’t be expected to, but you do expect edible and appetising. The buffet breakfast they’re currently serving is sadly neither of these things. For a hotel with a high turnover of guests that is used to being full all year round, slick customer service and decent but basic dishes should be par for the course.
With other options literally next door in the same price bracket, the Radisson Blu needs to up its game if it’s going to keep its repeat business.