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On the Spot: Advice about Dubai

When it's hot, prices fall, but it's best to consult an advisor when traveling to such an exotic land.

August 14, 2011|By Catharine Hamm | Los Angeles Times Travel editor
  • Vacationing in Dubai
Vacationing in Dubai (Reuben Munoz / Los Angeles…)

Question: I would like to know when is the best time to go to Dubai and when it's best to get tickets for a vacation like this one.

Jose Peralta

Inglewood

Answer: I don't mean to sound too Bill Clinton-esque, but "best" depends on what your definition of "best" is.

The hotter it is in Dubai, the lower the hotel prices, for instance. So if your definition of "best" is "least expensive," get those reservations made. From June to September, average temperatures are above 100 degrees during the day and level off to the 80s at night. On randomly chosen August dates (18-25), the going rate for the Méridien Dubai, which Kayak.com lists as a five-star hotel, is $89 a night, and the Burj Al Arab, which some say is the most luxurious hotel in the world, goes for a paltry $1,220 a night.

Wait until temps dip, and you'll pay for being cool (or coolish, anyway). For randomly chosen dates in January (12-19), the Méridien Dubai starts at $238 a night and the Burj jumps to $2,098 a night. (Prices include taxes but may no longer be available.) As for airfares, you can keep an eye on them at http://www.bingtravel.com, which has an airfare predictor.

Figuring out the logistics of a Dubai visit or any exotic destination can be difficult; it was for Lindsey and Tara Wallace, owners of Linara Travel in Boise, Idaho. When the two married a decade ago, they wanted to honeymoon on some of the islands in the Indian Ocean. They found very little information, so they set about learning. Now that area is a specialty. Because many flights stop over in Dubai, the second largest of the United Arab Emirates both in population and land, they've also become experts on it.

Which brings us to this notion: If you're dealing with an exotic destination, you will probably do best if you put yourself in the hands of a travel agent, preferably one with a specialty. How do you find such a person? A great starting place is Condé Nast Traveler's (www.cntraveler.com) annual list of top travel specialists.

If you do use a specialist, be aware that some charge for their consultations. (The Wallaces do not. "We don't think people should pay us just to talk to us," Lindsey Wallace said.) They also can help you figure out what you want to get out of your vacation. But you do need to do a little preparation

Check out guidebooks, foreign tourist office websites (www.dubaitourism.ae) and clips of favorite writers and publications and make a list of experiences you might like. (Dubai Tourism North America suggests the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, the Burj Khalifa [tallest building in the world] and Ski Dubai, the indoor ski experience; Wallace also mentions the spice and gold souks and a trip to the desert.)

Kjersti Anderson, marketing projects manager, and Riva Bacquet, destinations manager, for PeruforLess.com and LatinAmericaforLess.com suggest you talk with "as many people as possible who have been to the destination," they said in an email. Then contact a travel advisor who will "help [clients] discover where to go by asking them questions about their interests, budget, preferred travel time, length of desired trip, etc. With these details the advisor can suggest destinations/itineraries."

Letting someone else concentrate on the details frees you to take care of the myriad things you'll need to do before you can leave. Take a look at latimes.com/travelchecklist. And don't forget to pack the sunblock.

Have a travel dilemma? Write to travel@latimes.com. We regret we cannot answer every inquiry.

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