Seeing the desert from the luxury of the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa has become a popular stop-over for the jet-set elite. It is also a great way for the stressed-out Dubai executive to relax. But if you get the chance try to linger for a couple of nights rather than trying to fit the entire desert experience into 24-hours.
Since opening in 1999 the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa has won countless accolades as a unique ecological desert park dedicated to the preservation of the rare Arabian oryx and the indulgence of five-star hotel guests.
Both species have thrived in this tranquil desert setting. Indeed, the oryx have tripled to over 300 in number and happily mingle with the guests while tackling the more luscious grass and vegetation around the hotel grounds. These twin-horned beasts are mild in temperament and now that hunters are banned live in harmony with mankind.
The Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa presents an extraordinary spectacle with its 40 suites styled like Bedouin tents set into the side of a natural sand dune. Viewed from the complimentary sunset camel ride this is a startlingly beautiful place.
Suites are also remarkable with an interior design derived from traditional Arabian architecture, albeit with modern comforts like a bathroom to the rear with a large corner bath and rain-head shower. The front section has panoramic windows, a huge double-bed and twin chaises longues together with Persian carpets and traditional touches such as Arabic chests.
Outside there is a spacious terrace suitable for personal dining and an individual plunge pool of generous dimensions albeit more for cocktails than swimming.
Move down to the main hotel complex where meals are taken as a part of the inclusive room rate. Here a large terrace affords views towards a pool where animals gather in the evening, and a five-course dinner under the stars is de rigueur.
Standards of cuisine, like everything else about Al Maha, are high, and the current trend towards healthy eating is reflected in the choice of lighter dishes without heavy sauces. Breakfast and lunch are taken at a buffet in the restaurant inside and follow a similar theme.
Desert rangers are on hand with an activities program to ensure that nobody lacks for things to do. You can choose from falconry, archery, horse-back riding as well as nature walks and the camel trek with a champagne cocktail sundowner.
Or chill out in the nicely appointed spa with a fully equipped gym and infinity swimming pool, also popular with the oryx which pass by to sip the water and surprise the guests. A complete menu of message and spa treatments is also available.
However, the real joy of Al Maha is relaxing in the peace and serenity of the desert itself. Even your laundry is included in the room-rate, and you do not really need to lift a finger during your entire stay.