Last weekend began with me annoyed because of a siren that went off all night long. This led to a sleepy-brained me driving too far off the road during an attempt at a U-turn, where I quickly discovered that sand is soft and, apparently, it’s deep. The more I revved my engine the deeper a hole I dug.

So, my poor travel buddy and I got dusty and sweaty trying to dig ourselves out. Note to future sand dwellers: I’ve since been told all you have to do is let some air out of your tires. Luckily, some men stopped to help. We may have frightened them a little with our jumps of joy, or, hopefully, we made them feel like the heroes they were. All I know is they took off to wherever they were going, and we got back on the road headed to Abu Dhabi to begin our weekend at the Emirates Palace, which we’ve been daydreaming about since we booked our reservation in April.

Every year the 7-star resort has a sale for residents. From May until September those of us with normal paychecks can afford to live like aristocrats. Before moving here, I assumed sipping 24 Karat gold-laced coffee in the lobby and posing for pictures in front of the gold vending machines was all that I would ever get to see of this magnificent hotel.

It’s a little intimidating pulling your filthy Hyundai Accent into the check-in area where there are more town cars for hire than the standard taxicab. I told my valet driver that he was welcome for getting to drive something other than a Mercedes or Rolls Royce.

The minute I walked into the lobby, I totally forgot who I was (and the fact that I probably had dusty sweat tracks on my face). A lovely hostess welcomed us, took our documents and asked us to take a seat. We no longer needed to do mundane things like wait in line to check in. She brought us each a bouquet of roses, scented washcloths (perhaps a hint to freshen up) and our choice of beverage. Then our butler kindly escorted us to our suite (we booked the Khaleej Suite) where he unlocked the double doors with a faux gold coin, our key.

Again, we made a man feel frightened or heroic with our squeals. Our massive room had a chandelier in the living room and another one in the bathroom. The bathtub could fit two, and our balcony had a view of the sheikh’s palace. So, yeah I spent the night that close to real royalty.

It was tough leaving the room, but how else would you experience the pools, beaches, restaurants, and other rich offerings? You are never made to feel like anything less than golden. Even while huffing and puffing at the gym, someone will ask if you’d like a new towel or some lemon-cucumber water.

It’s been a few days since my stay, and I’m still feeling like Princess Bettina. I have to admit I’m typing this with my pinky in the air. Obviously, I’ll be back at my royal rooms this time next year!

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Bettina Bennett

About Bettina Bennett

Bettina Bennett is currently a Cycle two and three educator here in the UAE. She is also a Teach UAE Magazine Blogger and Guest Contributor.