Five-star turkeys without the five-day preparations. After scouring the market for the best takeaway turkeys in Abu Dhabi, we've narrowed the search down to three hotels. Not every hotel is offering Christmas-to-go menus: As chef Dominique Morin at Le Méridien Hotel explains, "Guests are expecting something and they get something else", adding "if I can't do it right, I don't want to do it at all." That said, the following hotels will do it all for you. Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, 02 509 8888 What it offers The Shangri-La offers 6-10kg turkeys at Dh65 per kilogram, with either gravy or jus at an extra cost. It provides an apricot and pine nut or traditional chestnut stuffing at Dh60 per kg. Starches such as roasted potatoes, pumpkin and parsnips, as well as creamed potatoes, are available from Dh40 for 500g. The Christmas-to-go menu has a large selection of vegetable dishes including corn on the cob, sautéed mushrooms and courgettes with thyme, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and cauliflower cheese from Dh30 per 500g.
When to order Orders should be placed 48 hours in advance. Value for money With a set minimum of 6kg, you should expect to dish out at least Dh390 and have nine people to feed. Unlike the other takeaway turkeys, the Shangri-La's does not come with any side dishes, which must be ordered separately. The turkey stuffing comes at an extra cost, as do the sauces, resulting in a Dh820 bill for a stuffed turkey with two side dishes. However, the hotel does have the widest variety of stuffings, sides and sauces, and you can almost be certain of a perfect feast.
Hilton Abu Dhabi, 02 681 1900 What it offers The Hilton has a traditional Christmas takeaway menu with 6-8kg chestnut-stuffed turkeys, served with roast potatoes, glazed carrots, Brussels sprouts and gravy at Dh79 per kilogram. It also supplies "Hilton cranberry sauce" at Dh12 per 100g. A lighter option of 2-2.5kg roast turkey breast is available with the previous side dishes at Dh149 per kg. When to order Orders should be placed 72 hours prior to pick-up.
Value for money The same minimum 6kg order is required at the Hilton, but with the added benefit of stuffing, side dishes and gravy included in the price. The minimum spend would be Dh474, and considering that the order includes more than just a plain turkey, it's surprisingly only a little more than half the price of the Shangri-La option. The Hilton is also the only hotel serving cranberry sauce and turkey breast on its takeaway Christmas menu. Out of the three takeaway options, the Hilton's is definitely the most generous and wallet-friendly.
Sheraton Abu Dhabi, 02 697 0243 What it offers The Sheraton presents a turkey with two vegetable side dishes, one potato side dish, stuffing and sauce at Dh750 for 4-5kg (6-8 people) and Dh950 for 7-8kg (10-12 people). When to order Orders must be made at least 48 hours in advance. Value for money Although the Sheraton's menu is the most basic, it is also the most expensive of the three. Strangely enough, its 4-5kg turkey almost costs the same as the Shangri-La's 6kg bird, but at least this one comes with the side dishes, stuffing and sauce included.
If slaving over an oven is not a hindrance, then you might as well go with a quality bird. We found two places that are importing organic turkeys from France: Jones the Grocer and Spinneys. They're not as big as the hotel's turkeys, so consider buying two if you have a crowd to feed. Spinneys, 02 681 2897 Spinneys receives organic turkeys from France every Sunday and Thursday on a regular basis, so you don't need to order ahead. They weigh 2.5-3kg and cost Dh300. Jones the Grocer, 02 443 8762 Jones the Grocer is bringing in organic turkeys from France as well, but needs seven to eight days' notice to receive an order. The turkeys also weigh between 2.5kg and 3kg, and they cost Dh160, almost half the price of the turkeys at Spinneys. Nadia El Dasher
Travel stress-free with children For many people, holiday time means flying home to be reunited with loved ones. Of course, if we have small children, the whole idea of travel could put us off packing our suitcases or, at least, inquiring after kiddie kennels for the fortnight. However, holidays are booked and doting grandparents want to see our little treasures, so pack we must.
Here are some tips from seasoned parents to ease the pain: 1. Book child-friendly seats and kid's meals online and reserve your seat number. Get a bassinet seat if possible. If your toddler is too heavy to hold for the length of the flight, consider buying them a seat, even if they are under two. Some extra space and a rest for your weary arms can make all the difference. 2. If you are flying without your partner, keep your hands free. A baby sling is a must for infants. A smallish buggy is great if it gets you to the gate but, more often than not, it will not be returned until the baggage hall at the other end: check with your airline. Take a backpack as hand luggage so you can push a buggy or hold hands and drag your wayward child.
3. Bring along some handy travel gear. Trunki offers a child's ride-on suitcase that is hand-luggage approved (Dh229 at Virgin Megastores in Dubai). They're brightly coloured, fun and, most importantly, children can sit on them while you pull them along. For those seriously committed to travel, the Sit 'n' Stroll by Lilly Gold is a car seat, a stroller and a booster seat all in one (Dh1,100, Fun City Shop, Marina Mall).
4. If possible, use the family lounge in Etihad's Premier Lounges at Abu Dhabi Airport. (This is also available to Gold Card Etihad Frequent Flyers when you fly economy.) It is staffed by trained nannies and ex-primary school teachers, all with a minimum two years' experience. The lounge is also stocked with plenty of toys, funky furniture and snacks. You can leave your offspring eating and playing merrily while you have a massage, indulge in duty-free shopping or just enjoy a few child-free moments before the flight/battle commences.
5. Wear comfortable clothing. Negotiating a bathroom cubicle with belts and buttons while holding a small baby is a fine test of motor skills that surpasses all others. Be sure to pack a change of clothes for you and bub (there will be spillage). 6. Keep them distracted. Pack a bottle, a favourite toy, Post-it notes (to stick to and peel off surfaces), crayons, a puzzle and treats. 7. Ease their pain. Don't forget medicine such as Calpol or Ibuprofen (contained in 100ml bottles or smaller). You need an arsenal for fevers, toothaches and headaches: shame it's for the kids and not for you.
8. Give them something to suck. On take-off and landing, little ears struggle to adjust to pressure and it can be painful. A drink or a sweet helps. 9. Try creating a reward chart to promote good behaviour and have some small new toys and colouring books as prizes. The chart can be marked off every half-hour or hour depending on your child's age and concentration powers. It breaks up the flights into blocks, too, helping the time pass quicker.
10. Remember: be confident. By the following day, it will just be a memory. Elizabeth Pearson
Where to find the items featured in M this week. M IS ALL ABOUT Andrew Martin: DIFC, Dubai 04 323 1388 Boom and Mellow: Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, 04 341 3993 S*uce: Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi, 02 681 8650; Village Mall, Dubai, 04 344 7270; Dubai Mall, 04 344 7270 Stella McCartney: Dubai Mall, 04 339 9179 Yves Saint Laurent: Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, 04 341 0113 BEAUTY Harvey Nichols: Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, 04 409 8888 TREND ALERT Gucci: Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi, 02 681 6844; Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, 04 341 0669 Harvey Nichols: Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, 04 409 8888 S*uce: Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi, 02 681 8650; Village Mall, Dubai, 04 344 7270; Dubai Mall, 04 344 7270 Sia: Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, 04 341 3733 Villa Moda: DIFC Gate Village, Dubai, 04 382 5150 FASHION SHOOT Alexander McQueen: Dubai Mall, 04 339 8760 Amato Couture by Furne One: 04 398 8596 Boutique 1: The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai, 04 425 7888 Saks Fifth Avenue: Dubai, 04 400 7257 Sartori Sartori: check www.sartorisartori.com for availability Stella McCartney: Dubai Mall, 04 339 9179