My decision to travel 170 miles up North from Cheshire to Newcastle was a last minute one, having applied for a place on the Selling Travel / JA Resorts event at the Malmaison Hotel in the Quayside area, my confirmation came through the day before.

The event hotel was fully booked, so I stayed at the Ramada Encore hotel, it was clean, basic and fairly comfortable for an overnight. The important factor was location & overnight parking, it was only a short walk over the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, spanning the River Tyne.

The event was well attended with lots of local travel agents, Gill Shannon from JA Resorts gave an informative presentation on their property portfolio. This hotel group have a good choice of luxurious accommodation available in Dubai, from self catering serviced apartments to 5* all inclusive beachfront resort hotels. If you’re considering a holiday in Dubai, have a look at what they offer: JA Resorts & Hotels Dubai their all inclusive programme is unrivalled, guests can choose from 12-16 different bars and restaurants on site, versus the competition who limit guests to a couple of buffet restaurants. For families, their childcare ranges from the creche facility taking babies aged from 4 months old up to children aged 16 years old.

We were kept on our toes during the presentation, as a series of spot prizes were on offer. The first to correctly answer random questions relating to the presentation, took home a coveted JA Resorts & Hotels dressing gown. After a break for food and drink, with a chance to network, the presentation continued, covering the stunning JA Manafaru in the Maldives.

JA Manafaru Maldives

JA refurbished and relaunched the Manafaru in 2014, which was previously managed by Hilton. Situated on a 35 acre tropical island on the northern tip of the Haa Alif atol, these islands are the closest to India and Sri Lanka, an area renowned for it’s exclusive and luxurious 5* resorts. Accommodation includes 84 luxurious villas including beach and water locations and a choice of 7 restaurants for dining.

The Enchanted Island Resort in the Seychelles, was the last property in the presentation. With only 10 villas on the island, this is an exquisite hideaway location, accessed by a 15 minute boat ride from Mahé. Each property has direct access to the beach, an infinity pool and decking.

The finale of the evening was the prize draw, our business cards had been collected on arrival, and now a lucky few were going home with some really special prizes. A few agents were called up to collect bottles of champagne and a 3 night stay in Dubai, then it was time for the star prize………… and to my utter surprise, my card was drawn!! I couldn’t believe it, we’ve won a 5 night stay at the JA Manafaru!!

We last visited Dubai and the Maldives on our honeymoon in 2000, the Oasis Beach hotel on Jumeirah Beach was demolished in 2009 to make way for the JA Oasis Beach Tower, and in the Maldives, we stayed at the Ari Beach Resort, in the south of Ari Atoll, on an island named Dhidhu Finolhu – now known as the Lux* South Ari Atol. We’re absolutely delighted to have won this opportunity with JA Resorts & Hotels, we can’t wait to discover all that Dubai has to offer, followed with a serious chill out in the Maldives.