Monday, May 23, 2016


Laila Ånestad takes us to two of our most popular hotels in Dubai. One is a top seller among well-to-do families, and the other is one of our most luxurious hotels worldwide.

One&Only The Palm

Surely the best hotel in Dubai, One&Only The Palm faces the glittering sci-fi skyline but offers a refuge of quiet indulgence alongside its own beach, pools and palms. The hotel rests at the tip of a "palm frond" on the extraordinary man-made Palm island. It is quite close to the mainland, but to go there by car it takes around 15 minutes from where The Palm island starts. 

Seen from One&Only The Palm

There is a boat that can take you over to One&Only Royal Mirage in 7 minutes, which operates quite frequently, and then you are closer to all attractions and shopping. Entering the reception, it really gives you a wow-feeling – and you will be warmly greeted with cold towels and refreshments while checking in.

Reception area at  One&Only The Palm

The hotel has three different restaurants:

“101”, situated on a pier by the hotel's private marina, overlooks the Dubai skyline. They serve lunch and dinner offering selection of tapas or Mediterranean style menu. Also ideal for cocktails.

Restaurant 101

“Stay”by Yannick Allenco. Dining experience with stylish indoor or outdoor environment. They serve signature dishes and traditional cooking.

“Zest”. Very cool interior, serving Western, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Chef has a Michelin star restaurant in Paris, and visits Zest once a month.

One & Only’s private SPA has a partnership with the prestigious House of Guerlain. They offer body treatments and facials. They also offer renowned fragrances, make-up and skin care.

In connection with the SPA, there is an adult-only pool – and I was the only one there! This is an attractive quiet area! Next to the pool is the Fitness Center. Personal trainers can be offered for the most beneficial workout.

Couple’s treatments are now possible in the resort. This could not be done earlier because of religious rules.


Outdoor area of a Beach Villa

Entrance to one of the Palm Beach mansions

You can either be accommodated in the Manor house, Beachfront Villas or Palm Beach Mansions. I was upgraded to a Palm Beach Mansion (65 sqm) with direct access to the beach. See my entrance above.


As it was only for one night, I hardly had time to enjoy all facilities at the resort – would love to stay longer. If you like swimming off the beach, shoes are recommended. I preferred the pools.  Book a private cabana next to the main pool!

Main Pool at O&O The Palm seen from the reception area

Adult pool belonging to the SPA

I would recommend the hotel to those who seek ultimate luxury, privacy, wellness treatments and good food. Away from the city, but still connected to it - in a beautiful oasis. Best for adults/couples.

One&Only Royal Mirage    

One&Only Royal Mirage is one of Dubai’s most stylish beach resorts, overlooking the Palm Island Bay. It is surrounded by landscaped gardens, but you can still catch a glimpse of Dubai skyline from your balcony.

The Resort consists of three types of accommodation: The Palace, Arabian Court, The Residence & SPA.

The Palace at Royal Mirage is adored by families and those who love to see children enjoying themselves. The room size starts at 45 sqm. The building is close to the Jetty lounge, and the pool is huge and very attractive, with tropical ambience.

Main pool Royal Mirage

Tropical garden Royal Mirage
Reception Royal Mirage

In the reception area at the Arabian Court

I fell in love with Arabian Court.  There is a more dramatic, Moroccan architecture which creates symmetry, in the middle of beautiful landscape of fountains, walkways and lush gardens. 162 Deluxe Rooms, 8 Executive Suites where a family of 5 easily can stay, and 2 Prince Suites. It was much more personalized than The Palace.

Reception area, The Residence

For those that stay in The Residence & SPA, there is a private pool with beach access, private library and dining room for guests. The beach is for Residence guests only.

There is also one garden villa with private entrance.

A generous choice of restaurants is offered at Royal Mirage. World class chefs prepare classic dishes from Mediterranean, Morocco and the Middle East. In addition to this, you can book a table at The Palm as well – so the selection is vast.

One of the big attractions is a 1km long beach with white, soft sand.

The Health and Beauty Institue is located within The Residence. There is also an Oriental Hammam, Hair Salon and Fitness Center.

Several watersports activities are on offer at Royal Mirage, like sailing, kayaks, Hobie cats, windsurfing, waterskiing, fishing, diving and snorkelling. There is also a floodlit tennis court, putting green, volleyball and basketball. Just 5 minutes away, there is an 18 hole golf course (Emirates Gold Club). You can also do horse riding, scuba diving, desert safaris and a variety of sightseeing tours. Or shopping of course.

Images and text by Laila Ånestad, Select Collection, May 2016.

Follow our links for more about One&Only The Palm and One&Only Royal Mirage.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Kamalaya is a tropical seaside paradise of palms and flowers, devoted to health and wellbeing. It is nothing like a clinic – warm, colourful and relaxing. Ulrika Thelander returned to Kamalaya for the third time and found this wellness retreat on Koh Samui even better than before…

Under palms that reach to the sky

I last stayed at Kamalaya a few years ago and found that so much has improved! The new large gym facing the ocean and next to it the large lap pool are just amazing. 
The lovely new lap pool

Overlooking the pool are new rooms and suites in a 2-3 story building – nice views from there but unfortunately they were fully booked so I could not see them.

Hillside seaview room

A garden paradise

The gardens are gorgeous, and the sunsets to die for.

Built on a slope Kamalaya offers stunning views everywhere
and the most magnificent sunsets

Views forever

Flowers everywhere

What accommodation?

I stayed in my old room – a standard garden view room (number 11). This room is spacious and has a very large bathroom (designed to be able to have a wheel chair). If you want to treat yourself, of course you should stay in one of the suites with sea view or in one of the charming villas. But at Kamalaya you spend so little time in your room that I think it is more value for money to take a standard room and invest in a great treatment programme instead.

If money is no object,  the 2-bedroom oceanfront villa with 2 bedrooms is stunning! 

Two-bedroom oceanfront villa

A one-bedroom villa near the goddess pool and Amrita restaurant

Getting fit and feeling good

I tried their new “Comprehensive Optimal Fitness” this time and it really keeps you busy every day. It is all from training to a private yoga lesson as well as mentoring. It is not only for athletes who want to improve their way of training and eating – it is for everybody who needs to change their life into a healthier one!

To have personal training lessons (including Thai boxing if you want) is best – I also had a private aqua class which I did not think I would like but it was really good. (I do not like classes with a lot of people). All wellness programmes include delicious healthy food and juices.

Freshness, colour, taste and a very wide choice

Glistening with green goodness

Room service with a difference

Kamalaya is for everybody (and those over 16 years of age are allowed in the spa/gym etc.). In our so stressed world this is a place to come back to when you feel that you have to rewind, de-stress and get new energy. You can have massages every day to totally melt down, or choose to combine them with fitness, weight loss, detox, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and yoga. In addition to one or two treatments per day in your personal programme there are classes and other activities.

You get 1 day of free wifi (only in your room) and after that they would prefer if you did not use wifi so you can give yourself totally over to healing, rejuvenation and wellbeing. Of course you can buy wifi for extra days. Kamalaya is a warm and tolerant place. You can even order a glass of wine if you want to (extra). 

Spirituality around the garden

Keeping busy or just relaxing

Kamalaya offers a full day programme of classes and activities so you can just book a room with full board to enjoy their delicious healthy food, join their daily scheduled programmes when you feel like it and stay at the beach for a couple of hours every day to enjoy the sun and the warm climate.
Kamalaya's beach

Activities begin early at 0730 with yoga, tai chi, or meditation up at the yoga platform with its stunning  views. At 0830 more choices of types of yoga. Further activities during the week I was there included talks, workshops and demonstrations, a sunset boat trip, temple tours and water blessing festival.

The main restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner (starting from 07.00 and 18.00) and serves the very best healthy foods, full of colour, taste and nutrition. The menus are extensive and for lunch (open from 12.00-18.00) you enjoy the Amrita Restaurant close by the sea.

Those coming from Europe should stay at least 7 nights as the flights are long and time difference 6 hours. If you can stay longer – even better. I met a man who was going to stay for 4 weeks as he had just been diagnosed with diabetes.

Both women and men travel to Kamalaya and most of them are single travelers even though I saw a few couples.


I flew with Qatar Airways in Business Class and I must say they are one of the best!. I flew to Bangkok and then with Bangkok Airways to Koh Samui -  you can buy your ticket all the way.

The return was via Singapore which was also a good connection even though you have to change between two Terminals - both have a short train connection.

For more about Kamalaya click HERE.

Review: by Ulrika Thelander
Images: By Ulrika taken during her visit, other images byAleah Stanbridge.