How Dubai became the ‘Benidorm of the Middle East’ for ex-Love Islanders, with flashy resorts, edible gold & freebies


ENDLESS bikini poses – tick, glam nights out in swanky restaurants – tick, desert safaris and an obligatory skyline photo – tick.

It seems a host of former Love Island stars have been following this luxury checklist on their recent trips to Dubai, as they soak up the lavish sights mid-pandemic.

Amber Davies has been soaking up the sun throughout November
Ellie Brown has joined a stream of stars in Dubai during the pandemic

Everyone from Kaz Crossley and Ellie Brown, to Amber Davies and Wes Nelson have been escaping the UK throughout the past few months for some R&R at the new ‘reality star playground’.

And a former Dubai luxury hotel PR says countless stars are offered free activities, resort stays and meals out in exchange for a few flashy social media posts.

“The appeal is quite obvious – lashings of sunshine, ultra-glamorous hotels, bars and restaurants and an endless supply of eye-catching backdrops for Instagram,” our source explains.

“If you’re a celebrity with a good following online, you won’t have to put your hand in your pocket in Dubai, you can blag as many freebies as you want.

“Ten years ago, Dubai was seen as a really exclusive holiday destination where you needed lots of money to live the life of luxury.

“But recently, reality television stars have turned it into the Benidorm of the Middle East.”

Amber Davies sent pulses racing on her recent holiday in Dubai

The new holiday trend has led to hilarious memes and tweets from fellow Brits, as they respond to the flood of envy-inducing social media posts. Geordie Shore’s Sophie Kasaei even joked: “Everyone going over to Dubai for work. F*** me a lot of work going on over there isn’t they (sic).”

Here we look at how stars have been following a very lavish checklist on their pandemic breaks…

The stream of celeb posts has led to some funny reactions

The meme reactions have been incredible

Luxury stays in celeb-favourite hotel

While the likes of the Kardashians are often seen at top hotels like Atlantis, The Palm and the Burj Al Arab, reality stars have a slice of the high life too as many are offered stays in the stunning Five Palm Jumeirah hotel close by – where prices would normally be upwards of £230 a night.

Love Island beauty Kaz Crossley, 23, recently stayed in the resort and shared several sun-soaked photos with pal Ellie Brown, 22, as they sipped on bubbly and stripped down to bikinis.

Kaz Crossley promoted the hotel in one of her first posts from Dubai

Wes Nelson has been showing off the luxury Five Palm Jumeirah hotel on Instagram

Wes gave fans a glimpse at the incredible pool

Meanwhile, Wes Nelson, 22, tagged himself at Five Jumeirah Village last week, as he posed in front of the lit-up skyline. He later stripped off for a dip in the pool at the same incredible hotel as Kaz and Ellie.

While it no doubt varies from celeb to celeb, and some do pay full price, our source says some are offered free nights or activities there in exchange for social media posts.

“It’s common for celebs or their agents to approach hotels offering social media posts in exchange for free stays,” the source explains.

“Many hotels, such as the Five Palm Jumeirah, are happy to oblige as it’s a cost effective way to tap into the young, glamorous market and make it somewhere you want to be seen in.”

Amber joined the VIP guests at Five Palm Jumeirah recently

Eve Gale posed in front of the hotel on holiday with her twin sister Jess

With huge pools, sea and marina views and spacious, luxury rooms, the hotel promises to be “the hottest on Palm Jumeirah” – while capturing “the glamour and vibe of Dubai”.

Amber Davies, 28, also shared snaps from her stay there at the end of October, writing on Instagram: “Thank you @fivepalmjumeirah for the warmest welcome!”

The luxury Five Palm Jumeirah attracts celebs every year
The celeb hotspot hotel boasts stunning pools and spacious rooms

And following their lead were Love Island twins Jess and Eve Gale, 20, who have spent the last week sunning it up at the luxury spot as well.

Getting their adrenaline fix

While many stars are treated to stays in the luxury hotels, they also have a series of adrenaline-fuelled activities on offer too.

From desert safaris in high-speed dune buggies, to jet ski rides and even – in the Kardashians’ case in the past – camel rides, they’ve been making the rest of the world jealous throughout 2020 with some incredible photos.

Kaz let her hair down on a trip to the desert recently

Jess and Eve Gale jumped on the bandwagon with a quad bike ride through the sand

Kaz recently shared a snap as she posed on top of her buggy in tiny denim shorts, while covering her face with a head scarf.

And she’s not alone, as Jess and Eve hopped onto a quad bike in the desert on their own recent holiday there too.

Many of these trips are organised by celeb fixers, who are paid to organise their entire holiday – including some of the most exclusive parties – and Kaz tagged a “personal sourcing service” in her post too.

Jess was living the high life on a yacht trip on one day

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ellie Brown (@brown.elle)

Meanwhile, Ellie appeared to give the desert antics a miss and instead recently got wet and wild on a jet ski trip. Not a bad way to pass the time.

Glamorous parties, edible gold and skyline views

With stars usually choosing to stay near the Palm and the Marina, they have some of Dubai’s coolest and swankiest bars and restaurants on their doorstep.

And with celeb fixers on the other end of the phone, many of them are truly living the dream during the second UK lockdown.

Laura Anderson previously shared a glamorous snap in front of the impressive skyline

Nusr-Et offers edible gold meals to its diners

A top celebrity hotspot is Nusr-Et Steakhouse, which offers edible gold with meals. In fact, the eatery – owned by Turkish celebrity chef Salt Bae – reportedly offers gold steaks to diners for more than £250 each.

Ce La Vi is a favourite for reality stars too, with its spacious restaurant and sky bar – and Kaz recently posed for glamorous photos on a night out with Ellie there.

The bikini beauty also dined at celeb hotspot Nammos during her lockdown-getaway – which promises “glamour by the sea”.

Kaz looked in her element in Ce La Vi Dubai

Ellie ensured she got her fix of the view on Instagram too

Meanwhile, Laura Anderson, 29, dedicated a post to rooftop bar The Penthouse Dubai during her recent trip at the start of October, advertising its three course meals and “flowing drinks” as she posed in a tiny dress in front of an epic view.

Before all that, however, many of them are treated to a makeover at The Salon, which Kaz and Ellie have made sure to tag while posing for photos on nights out.

Our source says: “Dubai might have a reputation for being strict on partying and alcohol, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Kaz has been living the life of an A-lister recently

Jess and Eve weren’t about to miss out on the skyline action

“It’s home to lots of young expats who work hard during the week and go wild at the weekends, with an endless supply of cool bars and restaurants to choose from.

“This year, Dubai seems to be the go-to destination for the reality television crowd, partly because of the winter sun but also because Covid-19 restrictions aren’t too bad over there.

“Bars and restaurants have been open for a few months with the usual hygiene and distancing measures, but apart from that it’s life as normal.”

Amber enjoyed a very romantic meal with a view

Maura Higgins recently confirmed her romance with a snap in luxury Dubai

While the venues may differ, each star ensures they get a photo in front of the Marina and skyline during their time in Dubai. And Amber went one step further, as she enjoyed an impromptu photoshoot in front of the Burj Al Arab too.

Amber ensured she soaked up the sights as she escaped the UK

Eve Gale left little to the imagination as she enjoyed a sun-soaked boat trip

Even Maura Higgins got in on the action this week as she debuted her long-awaited relationship with Chris Taylor with a photo in front of the skyscrapers.

Sun, sea and shisha

Of course no Love Island Dubai retreat would be complete without a steady stream of bikini photos on the beach.

Laura Anderson was busy working on her tan last month

Amber posed up a storm in front of her hotel

Kaz and Ellie took a break from all that sunbathing to enjoy some shisha

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A post shared by Ellie Brown (@brown.elle)

While Kaz, Ellie, Laura, Amber and more have all been showing off some enviable bikini collections, they’ve also treated themselves to some incredible sunbathing spots and trips for shisha.

And the Love Island effect has truly spread in recent years, with a themed brunch now on offer in Dubai as well as events in the show’s honour.

Did you miss our previous article…