Dinner in the dunes, alfresco spa experiences and swimming under the stars are all on the agenda at these luxe desert resorts…
Bab Al Shams
Keen to experience a desert resort in the UAE without the long drive? Just 45 minutes outside of Dubai is the beautiful Bab Al Shams. Nestled among the dunes on the outskirts of Dubai, Bab Al Shams is a rustic desert oasis that exudes tranquility. A split-level, super sized swimming pool sits at the centre of the resort, lined with colourful red loungers, a swim up bar and a huge rain shower to cool off at too. Enjoy breakfast and lunch at their all day dining restaurant, Al Forsan, and for dinner don’t miss a dining experience at Al Hadheerah, where authentic Arabic cuisine is served up with a side of belly dancing, horse and camel shows, live music and even fireworks on weekends. The resort is of course remote, but you won’t be bored thanks to an array of activities on offer from falconry, horse riding, archery and desert drives.
Bab Al Shams, Al Qudra Road, Dubai, from Dhs800 per night, room only. Tel: (04) 809 6100. babalshams.com
An hour out of Dubai you’ll find Al Maha Desert Resort. This stunning desert oasis is home to individual villas complete with private pools, a main resort area where you’ll find all-day dining restaurant, Al Diwaan and a relaxing spa featuring single and couple treatment rooms. Guests can wile away the day at their private pools, or head to the picturesque outdoor pool which faces out over the sprawling desert dunes. Check in for a luxury staycation here, and don’t be surprised to greet your neighbours – Arabian Oryx and gazelles – as you enjoy breakfast on your alfresco terrace.
Al Maha Desert Resort, Al Ain Road, Dubai, from Dhs2,542 per night. Tel: (04) 832 9900. Marriott.com
Anantara Qasr Al Sarab
Hidden amongst the sea of rolling, flame orange dunes of the Empty Quarter, Anantara Qasr Al Sarab is one of the UAE’s best-loved, traditional Arabian escapes. A secluded desert oasis, there are 140 rooms, 14 suites and 52 pool villas on offer, all decorated with traditional arabesque touches with endless vistas out across the desert dunes. For the most exclusive of stays, guests can even reserve a Royal Pavilion out in the desert. Separated from the main resort, the rooms are described as ‘secluded desert sanctuaries’, each come complete with private pool.
Anantara Qasr Al Sarab, Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs1287 per night. Tel: (02) 886 2088. anantara.com
Telal Resort Al Ain
This five-star holistic resort in Al Ain overlooks a natural conservation area, with uninterrupted views as far as the eye can see of the natural desert planes serving as a stunning backdrop. Decor is Emirati-inspired and guests can look forward to traditional artwork, Arabesque touches and timeless local details across each of the rooms, villas and suites. Accommodation ranges from deluxe rooms up to a three-bedroom villa that boasts its own private pool and jacuzzi. For a relaxing stay, book a treatment at the spa or wile away a day in the cosy library, while those with a passion for adventure can enjoy ATV drives, ziplines or a desert safari.
Telal Resort Al Ain, Al Ain, from Dhs363 per night. Tel: (03) 702 0000. telalresort.ae
Jumeirah Al Wathba
Drawing inspiration from a historic desert village, this quintessentially Arabian-style resort sprawls over 22,000 square metres of tranquil desert. Comprising of 13 villas each with a private pool, 90 traditional guest bedrooms and six restaurants and bars, guests of Jumeirah Al Wathba are invited to step away from the hustle and bustle of city life and retreat to a natural environment that encourages relaxation and reconnection. There’s a big focus on wellness here, with a 1000 square metre pool and luxury Talise Spa that offers treatments and facilities such as hammams, crystal salt saunas and a dedicated cryo treatment room.
Jumeirah Al Wathba, Al Wathba District, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs786. Tel: (02) 204 4444. jumeirah.com
Ras Al Khaimah
Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert is set among the beauty of a 1,235-acre protected preserve. Experience tranquility, picturesque scenery and rich culture in the bedouin-styled villas, which come with private pools and decks, lounge areas and breathtaking desert views. For the adventurous traveller, book a desert trek on a camel or horseback, or guests can opt for a privacy archery lesson, bird watching or just head out on a nature walk and soak in the surroundings. The desert resort boasts four dining venues including the farm-to-table Farmhouse, all-day dining at Kaheela, the open-sky Moon Bar and the relaxed Moorish lounge.
The Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert, Wadi Khadija, Ras Al Khaimah, from Dhs2883 per night, Tel: (07) 206 7777, ritzcarlton.com
Located in Kalba city, out on the UAE’s east coast, Kingfisher Lodge by the Sharjah Collection overlooks the Indian Ocean and features 20 luxury tents complete with private plunge pools. Decked out in natural, calming hues for maximum relaxation, the rooms come with modern amenities while still keeping a stripped-back look. And if it’s maximum relaxation you’re after, head to the main tent where you can chill by the fire pit, or make your way to the spa space, where a selection of treatments are available. The neighbouring mangroves are home to a turtle breeding area, as well as many rare species of bird for budding bird-watchers. For something a little more fast paced, you can kayak or paddleboard through the water, try your hand at archery at the nearby Kalba Absolute Adventure Camp, or take to the mountains for a hike.
Kingfisher Lodge, Kalba City, Sharjah, from Dhs1,700 per night. sharjahcollection.ae