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How often have you felt the urge to just leave the stress of your daily routine and take a trip outside town where you can be yourself, relax, stand and stare at nothing in particular? If the answer is 'more than once a week' then it's time to pack your bags right now and head to the mountains. What's more you don't need to plan way in advance, make changes to your work schedule and travel for hours to reach your destination. Now, if you are wondering where in Dubai or outside it can you find such a place, then we have the answer for you – the quaint Hatta Fort Hotel nestled right amidst the majestic Hajar hill range. Just an hour's drive away from Dubai, the chalet-styled rooms, the restaurants and rock feature swimming pools provide the perfect balm for your soul after a rather hectic week at work.
While I did revel in the peace and calm of the resort, after a few hours I did get into the mood for a bit of activity. There were plenty of options to explore: The Pools: The prime attractions are the gazebo pool and the garden rock pool. I felt I could stare for hours at the Hajar Mountains from the temperature controlled waters! Archery: I'm not very athletic and as much fun as this was, I could hardly even raise the bow properly! However, it ended up being lots of fun and a great workout under the guidance of experienced instructors. The next time, I will definitely hit bullseye! Sight-seeing: After a long while of 'doing nothing' I decided to go on the guided four-wheel excursions. After all who would want to miss out on exploring the beautiful landscape? The excursion covers the Hajar Mountains, the desert expanse, the surrounding wadis, bird-watching at the Kalba sanctuary, the Fujairah Museum & Fort and the Friday market in Masafi among other things. Golfing: I'm not much of a golfer but my friend had other ideas. She quite enjoyed teeing off at the mini-golfing range. We were told, for more fun, the cross-country golf course is hugely popular with tourists and after spending some time there, we could definitely see why that was!
THE GROUNDS AND ROOMS
The driveway to the main entrance itself gave us an indication of what to expect inside. Lush, well manicured gardens on either sides of the paved road and cute play areas for kids welcomed us as we checked in one weekend. We even saw a peacock on the premises! Yes, it was an unusual sight that immediately shook off the lethargy that had begun to engulf my friend and me after the drive – for there it was, a gorgeous peacock, proudly strutting its plumes and loafing on the lawns! Inside, the hotel was reminiscent of a typical mountain retreat I had seen back home – the old world look, with its rock walls, wooden dcor and large sofas reminded me of resorts in Ooty or Kodaikanal. The 50-odd chaletstyled rooms feature a private balcony or terrace, overlooking either the mountains or the gardens. Just perfect, I felt, for a long, leisurely cup of tea, snacks and a bit of reading! Decorated in warm, earthy colours I found some elements particularly charming – like the old-school chandelier and sloped roof!
RESTAURANTS & BARS
The cosy restaurant Jeema provided a warm, intimate ambience for dinner. The buffet was impressive with nice cuts of meat, seafood and vegetables. With live music and a decent choice of bubbly we had an enjoyable meal that capped a relaxing day. The shaded, glass enclosed Caf Gazebo is the all-day dining venue. Overlooking one of Hatta Fort's two swimming pools, I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast the next morning. A special recommendation: the parathas and keema should not be missed! But if your idea of relaxation is nursing a drink and having a long chat with someone special, look no further than The Sunset Terrace which offers great views of the scenery even as you have a sip of the cocktails from the adjoining Ramoul Cocktail Bar.
ROOM RATES: A Deluxe chalet style room will cost Dhs388 onwards. Rates vary upon inclusion of breakfast, dinner or other facilities. A one-bedroom suite starts at Dhs775 per night onwards. A two-bedroom deluxe villa starts at Dhs1,088.