Written by Hermoine Macura - Special to Times of Oman
Eid is a time of celebration and family time – marking the end of the Holy month of Ramadan. It's also a time when many residents in the Gulf choose to travel abroad and some even choosing to extend the break with a summer holiday. Jacqueline Campbell from the Travel Collection explains: "Eid 2013 falls around the summer holiday period and many travellers from the GCC have not taken it as a break but the start of their summer holidays."
Eid trends this year include an increase of visitors to Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. "Interestingly, we have seen that the Arab traveler is choosing to explore more within a country and of course the comfort of luxurious hotels that offer great service in central locations."
Spa and wellness destinations are also becoming popular. "We are seeing more dedicated travel to wellness resorts where travellers are going for weight loss, detox, relaxation from stress." Many hotels are also now offering additional childcare services to cater to wealthy Arabs from the Gulf and large families. Campbell says that many hotels and resorts are developing facilities that cater to a variety of ages rather than a one for all approach. "Depending on the location and the hotel some offer a children's club that includes cooking classes to adventure tours to sporting activities."
Whether you choose to stay within the region or travel abroad, here are the top five Eid destinations for 2013:
1) Amsterdam, Netherlands
Known as the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the top financial centres in Europe. However it's the wealth of culture, history and heritage that makes this city a top Eid destination for art and culture lovers.
A stroll through the heart of Amsterdam and beyond reveals a city that is filled with history and charm, which can easily be discovered by foot.
Must see sights include the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Royal Concertgebouw. And for those who love shopping – the luxury shopping avenues including P.C Hooftstraat and Van Baerlestraat, the charming Vondelpark and the lanes of the Jordaan neighborhood.
Best place to stay:
Standing on the famous site of Amsterdam's former Sweelinck Conservatory of Music, the Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam opened at the end of 2011.
This magnificent Neo-Gothic building was originally built at the end of the 19th Century and in its new incarnation; it has been transformed into a contemporary luxury five-star hotel. The
Conservatorium Hotel is a true design hotel and combines historical architecture with modern design.
2) London, England
Featuring a history that traces back over thousands of years, London is the political, economic and cultural capital of Britain and a popular travel destination for many GCC nationals throughout the year.
Noted for its amazing shopping avenues and designer collections, London is more than just Europe's best shopping destination – About one third of London is devoted to parks and open spaces.
London is full of child-friendly attractions, and many – including the Science Museum and Natural History Museum – are free to visit. More than 6,000 restaurants and a bevvy of celebrity chef's make this city a world-class tourist destination.
Best place to stay:
True to its original glamorous spirit, Café Royal has reopened as a luxury 5 star hotel in the heart of central London. With elegant Mayfair to the west and creative Soho to the east, Café Royal hotel is perfectly positioned within walking distance of London's finest shopping streets, tourist attractions and theatre land.
Restored to revive the ornate Louis XVI décor and detailing, the iconic Grill Room (originally established in 1865), is now the place to enjoy the British dishes. Reservations are recommended and to recapture the spirit of the room we ask that guests dress to be festive and sophisticated. The Café, on Regent Street, revives the European tradition of café culture.
3) Zürich, Switzerland
Home to more than 50 museums and around 200 galleries, Zürich offers the unique mix of discovery, pleasure, nature and culture.
A relaxed stroll through the city reveals something amazing at every corner: architectural highlights, historic squares, streets and districts, works of art and much more – not to mention numerous events and countless green oases in the centre of the city.
International favourites include the Opera House, the Tonhalle Orchestra, and the Schauspielhaus theatre. Nature lovers will also love Zürich's local mountain, boat trips/cruises on Lake Zürich, and hiking excursions to lakes, rivers and forests.
Best place to stay:
The Dolder Grand is the perfect environment for people who are looking for pleasure, exclusivity and relaxation: 173 luxurious rooms and suites, exquisite cuisine, a spa covering 4,000 square meters, generous banqueting and seminar facilities and a remarkable art collection.
The original "Curhaus" dating from 1899 presents itself anew as the luxury-class City Resort. The hotel's elevated location, between the pulsating life of the city and a refreshingly natural green zone, provides a magnificent view of the city of Zurich, the lake and the Alps.
4) The Maldives
Home to some of the best beaches in the world, The Maldives is the ultimate destination for sun, sand and cobalt blue warm waters. A geological eccentricity nestled in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are a series of ancient coral reefs that grew up around the sides of towering prehistoric volcanoes.
Visitors who are looking for fantastic diving and snorkelling will love the variety of reefs and lagoons. The country embraces travellers from around the world allowing them the freedoms holiday makers require without compromising the islands' deep Muslim faith one bit.
Best place to stay:
A true haven for the discerning adventurer, Viceroy Maldives provides innovative levels of seclusion and luxury set within a spectacular locale.
The resort leaves no detail unanswered; with Viceroy's unparalleled service complementing perfectly designed elemental interiors and carefully crafted lounge areas.
Located in Shaviyani Atoll, the hotel is 192 km from the capital island of Malé and is located on the private island of Vagaru, over 17 acres of palm trees and pristine sand encircling a blue lagoon. Access to Vagaru is easily accommodated via seaplane taxi, less than an hour's flight from the main island of Malé.
5) Downtown Dubai, UAE
Home to the tallest tower in the world and shopping that will make you drop, Dubai is the city of glitzy and glamour. Visitors expecting VIP service will find all that and more including a dizzying array of dining options and international cuisine.
The new generation of business executives, entrepreneurs and leisure travellers who are looking for a short and sweet Eid break will find that Dubai is the perfect quick fix.
For visitors looking for a unique Arabian experience, spend a few fascinating hours by the creek, watching the traditional wooden boats and the abra's weave along the waterway. Whatever you end up doing, Dubai is the place for fun with the family especially during Eid.
Best place to stay:
As its name suggests, the Vida Hotel – meaning 'life' in Spanish, embraces warmth, simplicity and youthful vitality. Creating a stimulating environment for the younger business and the leisure tourist, the hotel offers all the frills of modern luxury travel but none of the fuss.
Billed as 'an urban hub where inspiring minds stay, play and connect', Vida Hotels and Resorts features a chic ambience, international cuisine, and the convenience of the latest technology, including check-in via iPad and uninterrupted Wi-Fi service.