We spent our first Christmas ever in the UAE at the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal in Abu Dhabi.

As Christmas approached I was starting to regret my pragmatic decision not to travel to Ireland at 31 weeks pregnant. I thought of all the lovely family traditions at home and a stint in the desert just didn’t quite compare!

After weighing up the pro’s and con’s of travelling, Simon and I decided it would be best for our little bear if we spent Christmas with The Morris Family who are not just our friends but our family here in the desert.

Pro’s of travelling home at Christmas:

*Getting to see our families and friends

Con’s of travelling home at Christmas:

*Flying for 7 hours with a bump (twice!)
*Being cold for 3 weeks
*More prone to catching a cold/flu
*Watching everyone else stay up late and party but not being able to join in the fun.
*Missing appointments with my doctor.
*Coming home after the holiday and panicking at the thoughts of nothing being done.


Christmas at the Ritz was just the tonic we needed.

We checked into our spacious villa on Christmas Eve with the help of the lovely and efficient villa manager Blanca Alcantara.

No sooner had we unpacked and organised our goodies and treats for the night ahead when there was a knock at the door! Santa Claus called in with gifts for everyone and we took pictures with Alexander and Jacob before tucking into a few mince pies and non-alcoholic mulled wine! (Nicely organised by the dutiful husbands…it didn’t take them long to scarper off to the Shisha lounge to reward themselves).

Seeing Alex’s face when we opened the door to Santa made my Christmas Eve, the magic of Christmas returns when you see it all through a child’s eyes.

Simon and James popped out to the shops to get milk for the tea and other bits and bobs whilst Louise and I got the boys into their pajamas and settled for the night and they were as good as gold.

Santa visits the children at our villa in the Ritz.

Santa visits the children at our villa in the Ritz.

The next morning, we woke up to a sea of presents (nicely organised by Mummy Louise) and we all watched Alex tear open his spoils with a cup of tea.

After a lovely breakfast on the terrace we enjoyed a lazy swim at the pool before heading back to the villa to get ready for Christmas Day. A big shout out to Granny Mel who knitted the boys their matching Christmas jumpers, they looked like little Lord Fauntelroy!

The lovely pool area of the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal where we enjoyed the perfect Christmas morning swim.

The lovely pool area of the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal where we enjoyed the perfect Christmas morning swim.


Christmas Dinner at Giornotte Brunch

Cost: Expensive but extensive!

Considering we agreed to ‘go big or go home’ this was a real Christmas Day treat.

ritz-carlton-abu-dhabi

A life size gingerbread house formed the entrance of the brunch and every conceivable Christmas dish was extravagantly laid out for the 800+ people who sat down to dine (not exactly intimate but UAE opulence for sure!).

Alex saying goodbye to Mummy whilst he heads of with Uncle Simon to beat the queue!

Alex saying goodbye to Mummy whilst he heads of with Uncle Simon to beat the queue!

Lobster, Oysters, scallops,a wagyu beef station, Foie Gras stations, an entire cheese room and a separate dessert cafe meant that no one was going home hungry! Santa greeted the kids and a fantastic choir sang Christmas hymns around the piano forte. We almost forgot about our families….not quite!

In the midst of the mulled wine (in my case decaf latte) and turkey carving I felt my little bubba ‘drop’. At first I thought I was imagining it (and secretly panicking at the thoughts of going into labour on Christmas Day) but later I was sure that the baby had engaged. I must admit, the pain was somewhat overwhelming at points. A doctors appointment yesterday confirmed I had indeed experienced ‘lightening’ and baby is now in position for birth at just 31 weeks. No more pain and my lungs feel like my own again. A self assured and determined little bear I have on my hands it seems!

Alexander the elf on Christmas morning tearing opening his presents!

Alexander the elf on Christmas morning tearing opening his presents!

Simon playing with Jacob the elf whilst Mama Louise gets ready for Christmas brunch.

Simon playing with Jacob the elf whilst Mama Louise gets ready for Christmas brunch.

Mama Bear at 31 weeks not long before baby bear decided to engage!

Mama Bear at 31 weeks not long before baby bear decided to engage!

We enjoyed the most amazing 4 days of relaxation and bliss. Not even the dreary weather on St Stephens Day (Boxing Day) prevented us from a swim in the rain. Naps and swims and dinner in Li Jiang Chinese restaurant ensured that we left the Grand Canal feeling full and well rested. A fantastic Christmas had by all!

Christmas treats from the villa team to go perfectly with a cup of Barry's Irish Tea.

Christmas treats from the villa team to go perfectly with a cup of Barry’s Irish Tea.

Tips.

*Book well in advance

*The villas come with a fully equipped kitchen so they are far more baby friendly.

*Note that there is a kids club if you feel like escaping to the spa.

*Budget in advance-it’s a pricey Christmas treat.