You know, growing up, I went on vacation all the time. Vacation, as I knew it, meant tents, sleeping bags, and roasted marshmallows. We'd fight off mosquitoes, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, swim in various lakes, go hiking, and head off home. That's because our family was, if not poor, then definitely middle lower class. That means we had a roof over our heads, but breakfast was usually rice puffs and powdered milk, and clothes consisting of the best of the bin at K-Mart.
For countless other people, vacation usually means Mickey Mouse, mojitos on a Mediterranean island, or train-hopping around Europe. Oh, and let's not forget the traditional English "teaching"/drugs & sex tour of southeast Asia.
None of those are in the realm of my own experience, which is why I maintained a less than jaundiced eye as our family went on our first real, honest to God vacation - at the Ras Al Khaimah Hilton Resort & Spa.
At first I had no idea what to expect, sine I had never stayed at a resort, or even a decent hotel before. Even though by the simple fact that I am white, I appear to many in the UAE as upper class, I am most definitely not. Not too long ago, a Keralite colleague of mine was shocked to learn that not only could I not afford university without (a lot of) debt, but that I had no house or lands to my name. Indeed, she was barely able to comprehend the notion that she'd had a far, far more privileged upbringing than I, and that in terms of economic status, even though our salaries were on par, I would never be able to afford the life or amenities she took for granted where she was from.
I've always maintained a firmly lower class mentality. That is, when I'm being myself, and I make sure that I am not "myself" at work or in public, I've got more than a little trailer-chic going on. So when we arrived, I wasn't sure how things would go.
Thankfully luck was a lady for us.
After arrival, we learned that our room had been given free upgrade. We were now booked in a chalet. But before I could sign the dotted line, one of the attendants at the reception desk noticed that my wife was extremely pregnant. Moments later I was given a choice of other villas, one of which was mere feet away from a massive, shaded kids swimming pool.
Moments after stepping into our new temporary home, we knew that two nights was not going to be enough, so off I went to the front desk. Right then, even though they had a wave of guests heading in for the weekend, and the day I was looking to take was a Friday (Friday is the weekend here), and that our villa was booked, the reception attendant was able to swap things around, and we got our place for another day.
The kids couldn't have been happier.
From then on our weekend went without a hitch. Sure it was incredibly humid and hot, but the view was wonderful, the room service exceptional, and for the first time, I think since my wife and I were married, we really felt like we could relax. My littlest one, Kathleen, had no problem settling in.
For my older daughter, it was something else. You see, for some reason, over the past few months, every time we passed a body of water, she will yell "Water!" at the top of her lungs, and then tell us how she is going to go to the water, and jump in the water, and swim in the water! Were we were was like Nirvana to her.
From then on life consisted of swimming, watching cartoons, walking on the beach, ordering room service, and swimming some more.
My wife was able to finally rest her feet and look happy for the first time in a long time.
And the best part? All this activity had the awesome side effect of tuckering those little ones right out.
One thing is for sure - we're going back there in January.
|From Hilton Resort & Spa in Ras Al Khaimah|