Based in Jumeirah

Janet Woollard

It's Nice To Meet You

Whether you are looking for a thrill-seeking, adrenaline-fueled adventure of a lifetime, trekking a live volcano to see the sunrise or sunset, a relaxing and indulgent luxury retreat in the midst of white sandy beaches, or even a historic city break immersing yourself in iconic streets and hipster venues, let me take you there.

I'm Janet, your independent travel counsellor here to give you your tailor-made travel experience. I handcraft bespoke holidays to suit your needs and budget giving you the very best experience with an individual personalised service. Know where you want to go? Let me take you there. Need inspiration? Let me guide you.

As my wanderlust does not allow me to stay in one place for long, using my experiences let me show you around the world. I also have the extra benefits of being part of Travel Counsellors, which gives me access to a unique network of suppliers and local travel experts. I have fantastic buying power for package holidays, hotels, tours, theatre tickets, car hire - any holiday and travel requirements. As such, I can provide you with a tailor-made, stress-free holiday to suit your needs.

Based in Dubai, the world’s central travel hub, allows me the benefits of easy worldwide travel. Amongst my many trips, I have skied in New Zealand, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, cared for Giant Pandas in Chengdu China, enjoyed luxury beach staycations in the UAE, safaried in Tanzania, camped in an Igloo in Lapland and much more. Let me take you through the hot spots of various destinations to discover the panoramic views of undiscovered beaches, local culture, bespoke hotels, theatre and shopping trips, captivating tours and family friendly holidays to make your trips most memorable.

As an independent Travel Counsellor you can contact me anytime during the day, evenings and weekends, I am here to help. As well as a personal bespoke service, you will receive 24-hour support whilst on your travels so no need to worry about different time zones or closing hours, you will receive support whenever you need it, where ever you are.

For your peace of mind, as part of Travel Counsellors, every holiday you book with me is financially protected through Travel Counsellors Financial Trust so you can rest assured that your money is safe.

Let me guide you to your next destination. With me it’s personal!

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My Blog

I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.

Four Active Holiday Destinations for Families

04 June 2024

There are so many great destinations for families to enjoy time together, learn about the culture, and experience many different activities within the country. Here are four active holidays for families. COSTA RICA Costa Rica has natural beauty and amazing wildlife, making it a fascinating place to visit with children. From San José visit one of the many coffee plantations, the hummingbird gardens and La Paz waterfall. Head to Tortuguero, children will love exploring the lagoons and waterways by kayak or a boat ride, where they can spot abundant wildlife. Stay in La Fortuna which is at the foot of the Arenal Volcano, there is so much for the whole family to enjoy in this region start with a visit to La Fortuna waterfall and bathe in its streams, relax in thermal pools, walk along the network of hanging bridges to explore the forest, to discover the flora and fauna that reside there. A visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest is a must, take a night walk and observe the nocturnal creatures that live in the forest. Enjoy the thrill of zipling, the sky-tram and hanging bridges high up in the canopy of the forests. Children and adults will also love hiking and bathing in the mud baths in the volcanic region of Rincon de la Vieja National Park. ICELAND Iceland is a great destination for families and an excellent self-driving holiday. Bath in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon. Visit Iceland’s Golden Circle, drive through stunning scenery to Thingvellir National Park, one of the incredible geological wonders of the world. Children will love to learn about how bread is baked and how tomatoes are grown using natural geothermal energy. Watch the Strokkur geyser shoot boiling water high into the air. Visit Iceland’s most famous waterfall the Gullfoss Falls and the not to be missed Kerid Crater Lake – ‘The Eye of the World”. Drive to the south coast and visit the stunning Skogafoss Waterfall, walk behind it and feel the force of the water. Another stop is at the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, one of Iceland's most photographed waterfalls. Families will love the 'Icelandic Lava Show' at the Lava Exhibition Centre to witness hot molten lava at close proximity. Take a glacier walk on Sólheimajökull glacier. Visit Reynisfjara the most popular black beach in Iceland and view the basalt columns, which are said to be trolls that have turned to stone by the sun. Kayak in lagoons and lakes and spot the different species of birds and plants that live in the waterways. Explore the walkways of lava tunnels where you will see how volcanic activities formed the tunnels thousands of years ago. Hike through the beautiful Raykjadalur Valley and witness the geothermal activity and bath in the hot springs. SWITZERLAND Switzerland - Getting around Switzerland independently is easy, whether you hire a car, or take advantage of the all-in-one Swiss Travel Pass which includes trains (including panoramic trains) bus and boat, as well as free access to over 500 museums and discounts for many leisure activities, but it doesn’t end there, the Swiss Travel Pass is free for children under 16 so an ideal and affordable way to travel for families. Switzerland is a perfect destination for active family adventure, take a boat ride on Lake Geneva and get up close to The Jet d'Eau fountain. Visit cheese and chocolate factories in Gruyères, a perfect experience for adults and children alike, children will especially love the immersive experience of making their own chocolate. Visit the Transport Museum in Lucerne, which has many interactive exhibitions. Whilst in Lucerne don’t miss the summer toboggan experience on Mount Pilatus. Zurich is the place to head for a day out at the zoo. For families with older children, a must stop in Switzerland is Interlaken for adventure sports such as paragliding. Head to Flims for rafting and canoeing and don’t miss the Stoos funicular that is the steepest in the world. And of course, there is mountain biking, swimming in the mountain lakes, and hiking galore, as well as summer skiing on the Glaciers that have snow all year round. SRI LANKA Sri Lanka is another great holiday destination for families travelling with children of all ages. With its mix of wildlife, culture, and beaches Sri Lanka has so much to offer travellers. A visit to the ruined city of Polonnaruwa is a must for the whole family. Take a jeep safari at Minneirya National Park where elephants can be spotted year round. A visit to Sigiriya Rock Temple is not to be missed, look out for the frescos and climb to the summit to see the foundations of the ancient Royal Palace. Next visit the magnificent caves of Dambulla a living Buddhist site inhabited by Buddhist monks since the 3rd century BCE. Enjoy a cultural show in Kandy, and visit the Temple of the Tooth, where the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha is said to be enshrined. Another family activity is a stroll around the Peradeniya Botanical Garden and spice garden where you can learn about the plants used in Ayurvedic medicine. Take a scenic ride through the tea country and visit a tea plantation and learn all about the importance of this industry. Head to Horton Plain to enjoy hiking, and look out for Sambar deer and other wildlife, this is an easy walk so it is great for families with young children with several impressive waterfalls en route. Continue onto Yala National Park for a jeep safari, watch out for macaque monkeys, elephants and leopards. Time for some water activities, enjoy surfing, boating through the mangroves, white-water rafting, snorkeling and fishing. Accommodation All the destinations above have plenty of choice for accommodation that caters well for families. Many hotels have family rooms, inter-connecting rooms and Junior Suite to suit all budgets. Swimming pools, kids’ clubs, and other facilities suitable for families are readily available. Contact me for more information on any of the destinations or for a personalised itinerary.

Exclusive Swiss FAM Trip

07 July 2024

I was lucky enough to be invited on an exclusive Swiss FAM trip hosted by TCA Hotels and Resorts, Villars Alpine Resorts and The Bürgenstock Collection. It included a stay at Villars Palace Hôtel & Spa, The Chalet RoyAlp Hôtel & Spa, The Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne and The Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa Lausanne, hotel inspections at Villars Lodge, Victoria Hotel & Residences; and The Schweizerhof Hotel & Spa Bern and guided tours of Villars-Sur-Ollon, Bretaye, Glacier 3000, Lucerne and Lausanne, as well as a trip to Montreux and Évian-les-Bains. Part 1: The Villars Alpine Resort in Villar-sur-Ollen - four unique hotels and a private villa, offering accommodation to suit all pockets. The hotels are in superb locations for both winter and summer activities. The Chalet RoyAlp is a short drive from the other three hotels. Each hotel has stunning views of the mountains and forest. The transfer time from Geneva Airport is 90 minutes to Villars-sur-Ollen. The nearest train station is a 10-minute drive to the hotels. Villars-sur-Ollon is a pretty little town with many shops and restaurants and home to the famous international boarding school, the Collège Alpin International Beau Soleil. The train station to Bretaye ski slopes is a 5-minute walk from the hotel. From Bretaye you can ski to Les Chaux, Les Diablerets Glacier and Meilleret mountain ranges. Our first stay was at the Five Star Villars Palace. Stepping through the main doors I felt at home, the beautiful lobby has comfy sofas, large chandeliers, a huge open fireplace and amazing views. The room and suite have an amazing view of the mountains or forests and have original features and modern touches. The concept at the Villars Palace is to offer meaningful experiences - learn about sustainability from the Villars Institute of Knowledge Hub, and expand cultural knowledge through the displays and information on each corridor. The four-star Victoria Hotel & Residence and the three-star Villars Lodge are modern and stylish. Both hotels are ideal for solo travellers, couples, and families, looking for comfort and value, with room types to cater for all needs. Villars Lodge is geared for groups especially school groups offering movie sets, a karaoke stage and dance floor, a MasterChef kitchen, a science lab and an art studio. Other facilities include a football pitch, tennis court, indoor swimming pool, a gym and spa, a kids club and storage room for outdoor equipment. Each hotel has superb dining venues, we ate at the signature restaurant Le1913 at Villars Palace and Le Peppino’s at The Victoria, and the food & beverages, and service at both restaurants were excellent. Chalet St-François is a private 6-bedroom villa, facilities include 4.5 bathrooms, a fully fitted kitchen, and storage for outdoor equipment. Before moving to Chalet RoyAlp we visited Glacier 3000 to experience the Peak Walk by Tissot. The drive is approximately 30 minutes from Villars-sur-Ollons. The walk across the suspension bridge is not for the faint-hearted but it is worth it for the spectacular views. The Five-star Luxury Chalet RoyAlp is a member of Leading Hotels of the World. This is a large hotel but feels like a small cosy chalet, it has wooden panelling, large comfy sofas, several large open fireplaces many nooks and crannies, and stunning panoramic views over the Swiss Alps. The hotel has 63 rooms and suites, 27 apartments, and the Royal Penthouse which is over two floors and sleeps 8 people. The dining options include La Table d’Hotel - the chef’s table, The Cellar - for private intimate events, and Pods that are ideal for a romantic dinner. Other facilities are La Cigare Lounge, a kid’s club, a cinema and games room, ski lockers, a gym, a spa, and an indoor pool. The Chalet St-François is the Villars Resorts private 6-bedroom villa, with 4.5 bathrooms, a fully fitted kitchen, and storage for outdoor equipment. Each hotel in the group can host business and private events, as well as wedding services and private receptions. What I most take away from the FAM trip is the uniqueness of each hotel, the quality of food and the customer service. They each offer many services, from transfers to hiring ski/summer adventure equipment, which will be delivered to the hotels before arrival, and organizing tours - nothing is too much. This beautiful region is worth visiting, and you can’t go wrong with a stay at any of the hotels mentioned. I’m looking forward to returning to the Villars Resorts.

Six Senses Yao Noi - Luxury in the midst of nature

28 May 2022

As this was our first proper holiday in over 16 years without a child in tow, we wanted to experience Phuket but also to end our holiday with a romantic escape. Six Senses Yao Noi ticked all the boxes. From the moment we were met at the port for our transfer to Six Senses, we knew we had made the right choice. Six Senses Yao Noi is situated on the small paradise island of Koh Yao Noi in the province of Phang Nga, Thailand, just 45 minutes from Phuket and 55 minutes from Krabi by speedboat. Although located between these two main tourist destinations, Koh Yao Noi has remained undeveloped which makes Six Senses Yao Noi perfect for anyone wanting to disconnect from daily life. Sitting back and relaxing on the speedboat taking in the most spectacular seascape of Phang Nga Bay was a great way to start the final few days of our holiday. As we approached Koh Yao Noi we could see the thatched roofs of Six Senses on the hillside, blending in with its tropical landscape. We were met by our Guest Experience Maker who drove us around this tropical island resort in a golf buggy for orientation. This eco-resort has a herb garden, mushroom huts and a small farm with goats, chickens, and ducks. Guests are encouraged to collect their eggs and mushrooms for breakfast – the chef made us the best omelettes ever with the eggs and mushrooms we collected! Our Guest Experience Maker was on hand throughout our stay to attend to our every need, nothing was too much to ensure that we had a magical experience. We stayed in a Hideaway Pool Villa which was surrounded by tropical greenery. The villa has floor to ceiling windows in the main living area and bathroom, so we were able to take in our private piece of paradise. The villa is very spacious both inside and outside. All villas and suites have an outdoor shower, an infinity pool, a large terrace, and a Sala and all have amazing views, either a romantic forest or a view of the dramatic bay. As we had hoped, everything about this resort was perfect. The service throughout the resort and the food and beverages at both the Living Room and the Hilltop restaurants were superb. The Den bar was a great place to enjoy a sundowner on one of the many comfy sofas, bean bags or suspended day beds, the view is truly mesmerizing. Whilst the pool at the Hilltop was the place to be to watch the sunrise over the limestone karats, a not to be missed experience! After watching the sunrise on our first morning I headed off for an early morning yoga session surrounded by nature (yoga is not my husband’s thing), with a serene calmness I was ready to start the day. We set off on our private longtail boat to some of the islands of Phang Nga Bay including the James Bond Island. The natural wonders of Phang Nga Bay are truly jaw-dropping and as it is a bay, the waters are always calm. Thailand was still very quiet during our visit due to COVID-19, this was good for us as not only were there only a handful of people at the James Bond Island instead of the hordes of tourists that visited every day pre-COVID-19 but there were also only a small number of boats on the bay. Our longtail boat glided from island to island taking us to several caves, one we crawled and waded through water before it opened to mangroves, with monkeys and hundreds of crabs and mudskippers. We clambered over rocks to enter a cave to reveal one of the most stunning lagoons surrounded by immense cliffs, our longtail boat was small enough to enter low caves and land on the beach, one of these was a bat cave filled with ‘lots’ of bats hanging from the stalactites. We stops at secluded beaches where we cooled off with a swim. This was another amazing experience for us during this visit to Thailand. We couldn’t stay at the Six Senses without a visit to the spa. Just walking toward the spa is a relaxing experience. The spa menu is extensive, it includes mother and daughter as well as father and son treatments. You can even create your oils and scrubs in the Alchemy Bar. We entered our beautiful spacious treatment room with its private garden with a calming waterfall - sheer paradise! There are so many things to do and enjoy at Six Senses, not only can you enjoy the two beaches at the resort, but you can also stay fit with a Thai Boxing class or enjoy a movie night on the beach after the sunsets. The resort offers many other tours including a tour around the island of Koa Yao Noi by bicycle or tuk-tuk, cooking classes, and kayaking in the mangroves to name a few. Six Senses is not just for couples, this is a great resort for solo travellers, groups of friends and families. Children are well catered for and this is a perfect place for them to learn about sustainability first-hand. Oh, almost forgot, they have an ice cream parlour which offers free homemade ice-creams throughout the day...! Definitely, a holiday to be remembered.

Laidback Holiday in Phuket

21 May 2022

I’ve visited Thailand many times, but this was my first time in Phuket. I decided on Phuket as it was the easiest region to visit with the COVID restrictions still in place. Phuket is a year-round destination, with the peak season from December to March and the rainy season is from May to October when you will experience rain showers and thunderstorms, although these do not last long so still a good time to visit. Phuket is known for its party vibes but if you’re not into the party scene you shouldn’t let this put you off as there is so much more to this island which makes it a great holiday destination for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a lively holiday or just want to chill and relax you will find this in Phuket. There is also a great variety of accommodation from backpacker hostels to luxury hotels, Phuket suits all budgets. This holiday was a laidback chilled holiday for myself and my husband, we stayed at three different hotels, so we could experience different regions of the island. Our hotels were the Since Phuket Luxury Hotel in Siray Bay, Paresa Hotel in Kamala and Six Senses Yao Nai in Phang Nga Province. This blog will cover our stay in Phuket and a separate blog will cover our stay at the Six Senses Yao Noi in the Phang Nga Province. We started at Sinai Phuket luxury hotel, this is a small boutique hotel designed in a fishing village and is set on the hillside of Siray Bay. The individual villas are perched high on the hill, and all have spectacular views overlooking the Siray village, the Andaman Sea and the gorgeous coastlines of Phuket. The sunrise from the villa was the best sunrise I have seen from a hotel room, it was truly stunning and made even better by the call of the Cicadas. Each villa either has a private pool or a plunge pool and is beautifully decorated, although I personally felt the bathrooms are a little small for a luxury hotel. We used this hotel as a base to explore Phuket and visit the Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary. We hired a driver for our tour of Phuket so we would have flexibility. We visited the main tourist attractions including the Big Buddha, Wat Chalong and Phuket Old Town. Due to COVID, these areas were very quiet, but it was good to see that a lot of shops, bars and restaurants were open for business. The highlight of our trip was our day at the Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary takes care of domestic elephants that have either been mistreated, are sick or old, or the owners can no longer care for them. It was good to see how well they were taken care of. The only funds the sanctuary receive is from donations and tourists. There are limits on the number of tourists that can visit each day so there are no hordes of people surrounding the elephants. Our visit included preparing the food, and feeding and bathing the elephants. Our next stay was at the Paresa Hotel Kamala beach this is a beautifully understated elegant hotel - a perfect wedding destination. The hotel is perched on the cliffside amid tropical forests, overlooking azure blue waters and a picturesque panorama of the sea. We stayed in an Ocean pool suite which was very spacious with a beautiful large bathroom. Each suite or villa has a private infinity pool and a large terrace to take in the stunning views. The food and service at the Paresa were second to none. I loved the attention to detail, each guest is made to feel special from the moment you arrive. Each morning the General Manager greets each guest at their table at breakfast and has a little chat, for me this was a lovely touch. Although the Paresa is a little remote, they offer a shuttle bus service to Kamala Beach many times during the day. They will also arrange tours and transport for you to get around. Another highlight of our stay was playing a round of golf at the Red Mountain Golf Club, which is easy to reach from the Paresa Hotel. This is the most stunning golf course I have ever played and has some very challenging holes. This is a must for all golf lovers! Tourism is starting to pick up again in Thailand, but it will be some time before the crowds return so if you want a more laidback holiday, whether this is relaxing on one of the many sandy beaches and coves, or doing a little island hopping to some of the most famous islands, this is the time to go.

Discover AlUla the world’s largest living museum

30 March 2022

Saudi Arabia - Part 2 I recently visited Saudi Arabia on a familiarisation trip with several colleagues. The visit included Jeddah, Riyadh, and AlUla. This blog covers AlUla only, Jeddah and Riyadh were covered in my previous blog. AlUla was the highlight of the tour for me, I had quite a lot of knowledge about this city, but seeing it was something else. There is so much history and beauty in AlUla, and yet only a fraction of this area has been excavated, who knows what will be found! We stayed at the Shaden Desert Resort, which is surrounded by mountains, all rooms are chalet design that blends nicely in with the surroundings. Other accommodation options in AlUla are Habitas Resort, The Banyan Tree, and RV rentals, all of which are built with the environment in mind. Our first visit in AlUla was to Dadan which was one of the most significant discoveries in AlUla. In this area, you can see the ancient tombs that remain as the legacy of 7000 years of human civilization. The city dates back between the late 9th and early 8th century BCE and was one of the most developed areas due to its proximity to the incense trade routes. We next visited the AlUla Old Town with its stone and mud-brick building, this is the ‘modern’ site of AlUla and is slightly elevated in the AlUla Valley. The Old Town has quite a buzz, it has five squares with many shops, cafes, restaurants, and art galleries. One of the funniest sights we witnessed was when we came across a group of international and domestic tourists on a guided tour of the town. They were wearing headphones and suddenly broke into dance, such fun! The Old Town of AlUla is the place to have a bite to eat or sit with a drink and people watch, also to buy the perfect souvenir or gift to take back home. Day two in AlUla started with a visit to Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. As we approached, I was totally in awe of the sheer size of Hegra in its desert landscape. Hegra is the second-largest settlement of Nabataeans with more than 100 well-preserved tombs, with elaborated carved facades. A guide is needed to visit the tombs of Hegra, you can also hire bikes, or go horseriding in the area as well as vintage 4 x 4 experiences. We had lunch at the Habitas Resort, this is another unique resort that blends into its surroundings, offering villa-type accommodation, a spa retreat offering yoga and pilates, a restaurant, and a pool. As a lover of sculptures, I was impressed with the many pieces around the resort especially the blue structure in the yoga pose on a rock overlooking the resort. After lunch, we visited the Maraya Concert Hall. Well, what can I say about this modern feature that is camouflaged by its surroundings - it’s simply magnificent, definitely something you need to witness yourself!! Unfortunately, there were no concerts during our visit, which was such a shame as I would have loved to have experienced a live concert in this magnificent building. Our final stop in AlUla was to Elephant Rock (Jabal ElFil) this monolithic red sandstone elephant has been shaped over millions of years by wind and water erosion. This is a great place to watch the sunset, you can sit in one of the dug-out pits with a drink and a bite to eat from one of several food trucks whilst listening to music or watching the big screen projected onto a huge rock. AlUla is a must when visiting Saudi Arabia, in the two days we had, we could only experience a small part of AlUla. There is so much more to see and do, including a visit to the outdoor library, stargazing, concerts, desert safaris, and hiking to name just a few. Additional experiences Our visit was a taster of a large country with much to offer and much more to come. Beyond what we experienced, Saudi Arabia boasts quite an adventurous itinerary, from desert, mountaineering and water activities to camping and hiking through caves and craters. The balloon festival is an annual marvel, so is the Saudi Cup, one of the world’s richest horse-race. Our trip also didn’t cover the beautiful eastern region known for its lush green parks, airy waterfronts, and sandy beaches that boasts endless views of the tranquil Arabian Gulf. There will be the next time!

Saudi Arabia, The Kingdom Awaits You - Part 1

30 March 2022

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah, AlUla and Riyadh, along with some of my colleagues. I was intrigued to see how this recently closed country was adapting to tourism, and especially how female tourists would be perceived. I was pleasantly surprised that we were treated no differently from our male counterparts and that we didn’t need to cover up, just dress modestly which applied to men as well. This blog covers Jeddah and Riyadh, part 2 will cover AlUla Jeddah the cosmopolitan hub of the Kingdom - We flew into Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport and were instantly made to feel welcome. We met our guide who was very excited to show us around the city, he pointed out many landmarks including the King Fahd Fountain which is listed in Guinness World Records as the highest water fountain in the world – an Instagram-able feature. Our hotel in Jeddah was the Ritz Carlton Hotel right by the corniche. Our first stops were to experience the modern side of Jeddah starting with one of its many art galleries, the Athr Gallery to see the Jeddah Photo Exhibition that was showcased. This was an impressive exhibition displaying photographs from local photographers and from further afield. The following day started with a morning at the Oia Beach Club at the Red Sea. This for me was the biggest surprise of the tour; I really didn’t know what we would be allowed to wear or do but it was just like being at any good beach club anywhere in the world. We snorkelled in the stunning blue-green sea (known as the Red Sea due to the extensive blooms of algae that turn the sea red upon dying off), played beach volleyball, and just had a great time. We next experienced the ancient side of Jeddah, visiting Al-Balad, the Old Town a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We wander through the labyrinth of streets with our guide who shared the history of the Old Town, especially the history of the well-preserved Roshan Tower Houses constructed of coral and wooden beams with their elaborate windows and balconies. Many of these houses are now used as retail shops, cafes, restaurants, museums, and art galleries. We were able to mix with the friendly locals, who were happy to talk to us about Al Balad and Jeddah as a whole. There are a lot of amazing projects in progress in Jeddah, the main ones to note are the Red Sea project which will extend over 28,000 square kilometres on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast and will offer a diverse range of experiences from the island getaways, mountain retreats, and desert adventures. The second notable project is The Jeddah Central Project which will include four main landmarks – an Opera House, Museum, Sports Stadium, and an Oceanarium. Although Jeddah is still developing as a tourist destination, it already has a lot to offer tourists and is worth a visit, whether you like art, history, shopping (over 300 shopping malls), good restaurants, diving or just chilling on the beach you will find this is Jeddah. Riyadh is a blend of medieval and millennial - Before visiting Riyadh we visited AlUla, which is covered in my next blog. Riyadh is a city that has hit the ground running when it comes to tourism and it’s pushing forward very quickly on this front. We stayed at the Hyatt Palace Hotel in downtown Riyadh. As with Jeddah, Riyadh has a lot of history but is also very modern. We started in the old quarter and visited the restored Masmak Fortress, originally used as a garrison to protect the city. Our next stop was at At-Turaif a UNESCO-listed site that was founded in the 15th century. The site contains ruins of mud-brick houses connected by narrow alleyways, this will shortly be opened as a museum. Off to the ‘modern’ side of Riyadh. Our last visit of the day was to The Boulevard, I definitely didn’t expect what was in store. This place was buzzing, with shops, restaurants, dancing fountains, laser shows, entertainment including a live DJ in the centre of the Boulevard, it’s a really ‘happening place’! Our final day started with a trip to the National Museum, this is a very interesting museum and is worth the visit especially if you don’t have the time to visit Masmak or At-Turaif. The final stop of our whistle tour was the Sky Bridge in the Kingdom Centre which incorporates the Four Seasons Hotel. The Sky Bridge is a stunning piece of architecture curving 300 metres above the city. From here you can get an amazing view of the Riyadh skyline and beyond. As with Jeddah, there are plenty of hotels and restaurants to suit all budgets. There are also many tourist projects under development including ‘The Rig’ which will span an area of more the 150,000 square metres and will include three hotels, world-class restaurants, and a range of adventure activities, including extreme sports. Would I recommend Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination? Most definitely!

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