My husband and I are talking about a trip this spring. We have talked about going to Dubai for years but will probably bring the kids along. We noticed there have been a lot of new properties added in Spain with the AC acquisition. If anyone has stayed at Marriott properties in both locations, please let us know your thoughts, especially if you've travelled in April/May? Any particular hotels that come highly recommended? Not sure if Spain will be warm enough or if Dubai will already be too hot? What things should we be aware of traveling in each location with children ages 10 and 3? We like to keep a family travel blog www.worldfamilytravellers.blogspot.com to talk about the locations we've been and have gone to either. We've traveled a ton through Asia and always felt safe but not quite sure of a trip to Dubai.
Yes, I have been to both Dubai and Spain..In fact, I lived in Abu Dhabi for three years and my daughter was born in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, a short distance from Dubai. Dubai is a very interesting Arab City but to me is somewhat artifical. They have incredible hotels there including Marriotts. When I stayed there on one of my trips, I got upgraded to an incredible suite at the Marriott. Dubai is a very safe place to go, but if you decide to go there you should rent a car and go to all seven Emirates if you have the chance. With a three year old though, it could be more difficult to do this. I would save this trip for when your children are a little older.
But to me, Spain has a lot more interesting History to it and to me a more exciting place to visit. I rented a car in spain and toured throughout spain and included Granada, Seville (an incredible city), and Madrid...
My vote would be for Spain!!!!
Like Jasper and others I have lived in both locations. The basic thought I'd offer is that you are looking at a choice between two places that are not remotely comparable.
If you want to visit the Gulf States, then - Yes, Dubai has a number of advantages over most of its neighbours - stage of economic development, state of tourist industry, communication to and within , places of intrinsic interest as , for example, a state of the art horse race track; but you might also consider Oman, which is less commercial and much more relaxed.
Spain, by contrast, is one of the great repositories of world history and culture - and, again, if you like sport, it has the best soccer team in the world. I've stayed at several AC hotels - and have offered a couple of earlier posts which you might look at. Unless you choose the "Autograph" hotels, you need to pitch your expectations realistically;that is to say, the majority are not, and do not wish to be, conventional Marriott establishments. For example, you will not find Concierge Lounges and not all offer free breakfasts to Elite card holders. They are, however, very modern - in terms of design and facilities - and well run. Though they are nearly all "urban" in location, this does not necessarily mean "city centre": check the specification carefully.
Yes, the Andalucian locations are all exceptional, as are Madrid and Barcelona, but there are other, less crowded locations too - like Valencia, for example.
Have a great trip,
Thank you so much for this in depth reply. It is quite helpful. It sounds like Spain is winning quite handily. We would like to get out of some of the major cities. You recommended Valencia and we will look into that. If there are other places we should check out, we'd really appreciate your advice.
Here is my "sixpenny" worth. As Jasper suggests, I'd start by spending 2/3 days in Madrid, and then consider the following:
1. Use the Spanish AVE (hi-speed) trains, wherever available, to get to, say, 3 core destinations, and then hire a car at these places to explore the localities:
(I know that citizens of the US tend to be a little wary of trains, but the AVE's are excellent. If you use the RENFE web site to make your bookings, the costs are reasonable. However, a word of warning: that website isn't the easiest to use; take a look at TripAdvisor for a specific "tutorial" on how to make it work for you)
2. Have a week in Andalucia, exploring Seville, Granada and Cordoba - and possibly Jerez - with a 3 yo, you might need a drink! A critical point about the likes of Seville is that they are seriously hot in July and August - then, literally only "mad dogs and Englishman go out in the mid-day sun"! In the spring, you should be OK.
3. Have 3/4 days at Cuenca and Valencia; they are both on the newest of the AVE routes.
4. Have 4/5 days either at Barcelona/Girona in Catalunya, or or the north Atlantic coast at San Sebastian and Bilbao.
There are AC Hotels at each of these locations.
PS: I should confess an enormous prejudice: I hate the Costas - Brava, Blanca and Del Sol - but if you like crowded beaches and alcoholics:-) - then that's where you should go.