. We first killed some time in the small city of Male, which was $1 ferry over from the airport island where our speedboat dropped us off . Male is a far cry from the popular islands that surround it. Its the capital of Male, and a busy city with not much to offer except expensive souvenir shops, and bland buildings and dusty streets. There was however, lots of stares from local men who don't see too many westerners visiting their city, especially a blond one, which I tried to hide as much as possible under a head scarf ,keeping my shoulders and legs covered as well. Male is a extremely conservative, Muslim country. The islands in which occupy the islands have more relaxed rules, but the city and island of Male still have strict restrictions on showing any skin as a women, and there is no alcohol on the island what so ever....NONE. You have to take a boat to another island and visit a western establishment if you want a drink even a beer. There is no local beer here as well, since no one drinks here, none is produced here. Its all imported, Stella and Heineken being the popular favorites.Our flight to Dubai was a nail biter if we were to make it on. We were flying back on Emirates, and even though there were plenty of seats available, they have huge weight restrictions on their loads because of the large amounts of Tuna that are shipped in cargo, mainly canned tuna that is caught and canned here and shipped out all over the world. They say almost all tuna comes from the Maldives, I will have to look next time I'm at the grocery store.We made it on, which I had little doubt, since I always seem to have the travel gods on my side. We arrived very early into Dubai, around 2:30 am and were off to our hotel, the JW Marriott Marquis, a Five star property here in Dubai and an amazing rate thanks to my buddy Julie...thanks again Julie! As we approached the cab stand we were directed to a pink lady cab, a sweet local women dressed all in pink, with a pink cab to match for women customers only
. I kind of like this segregation thing...! Her cab was super clean and smelled nice too, of course since no men get to ride in it! Okay, you guys don't usually smell that bad ;)The JW Marriott Marquis is a the tallest hotel in the world, and only has been open for about a year and a half. The lobby is so stunning, and makes you feel undressed right away after just getting in from a remote island were even sandals are barely required. The first thing I thought of right away is how much my friend Maureen would love this place. There isn't anyone else I know who can truly appreciate the details and the luxury of a really nice hotel. Since we were hours from check in, we were invited up to the executive lounge on the 36 floor with breathtaking views over the city of Dubai and we had the luxurious place to ourselves with no hurry to rush off to our room since we could of stayed in this lounge forever if they would of let us. We indulged in their complimentary breakfast for executives and invited guests ( us!) and were a little sad when they came us to tell us that our room was now available.This hotel is amazing. 10 restaurants, and a top floor vodka bar called " The Vault" that actually has two doors that look like a vault that you walk through to get to its two level bar surrounded by glass windows with mind blowing views over the city. We saved up our appetites and went for lunch at Kitchen 6, a international buffet that has 6 full stations of all different international food, one of them being a dessert station complete with a chocolate fountain. Know Ive seen some amazing displays of food in my life, but I have never seen anything like this place. Every detail of the way the food was carefully placed and lined up to perfection to the variety of tastes from around the world,,Asian, Indian, Arabic, Western, Salad & Sushi...and of course...Dessert. We spent almost 3 hours there. Taking small plates from each station to not miss a chance to indulge in the incredible variety of food, and giving ourselves time to not be full by eating too quickly! It ended up being our only meal that we ate that day, its one I will not soon forget.The Marriott In Dubai has the BEST customer service training I have ever experienced in my life, and it shows. Everyone greets you where ever you go,,,they walk you to the elevator, they even push your floor for you. They genuinely care how you are, they treat everyone like you are important and valued, I have never had such amazing service. If I could give them, 6, 7 stars I would, it was that incredible. The rooms were amazing, the decor and restaurants were stunning and grand, we could of never left the hotel and had the most amazing stay in Dubai, but that would be too convenient and easy, so it was off to see the city.
Talk about really finding it hard to leave a place...that's exactly how we felt leaving our island and our amazing home over the water in the Maldives. We booked the last speedboat available that day, but it was still departing at 3:30 in the afternoon so we were to have a long layover in Male before our 11 pm flight back to Dubai. On most islands they set there own time, an hour earlier than the local time to help with transfer times, and to give guests the illusion that the days are longer. I didn't mind that concept at all, and pretty much had no use for a clock or watch on our stay there, except for meal times which were very strict, and if you weren't there during the designated times for meals, you would miss out. Not that the food was really that spectacular, but we always seemed to find something we liked, and it kept us from over indulging too much, which was a great idea since we were practically living in our bathing suits.With the island slowly drifting out of our sights, we had a day and half in Dubai to look forward to, and this time we would be staying in the city, and really getting a chance to explore more of the fascinating city