A few weekends ago I headed out to Dubai where, as a post exam treat, we had booked to stay a night at the Al Maha Desert Spa & Resort, a luxury resort about a forty minute drive from Dubai city nestled among the desert dunes. We had the most amazing stay…
The Al Maha Resort is set in the Dubai Desert Conservation Area which covers almost 5% of Dubai. It was so interesting to learn about the other side of Dubai; the field guides are all so passionate about the area and the habitat rehabilitation programme that is being run (reintroducing various indigenous flora and fauna). The hotel itself is beautifully laid out – guests are greeted in a lovely lobby area decorated in the traditional Bedouin style (think lots of intricately carved wood, drapes and patterned carpets). Just off the lobby are a couple of terraces offering expansive views over the desert all the way to the mountains of Oman.
Just below the lobby is the main hotel restaurant, Al Diwaan, the terrace of which also overlooks the desert.
The adult only Al Maha Resort has 42 rooms but you wouldn’t know it as they are all so subtly placed and blend in so well to the desert landscape. Wild animals roam the resort area as they please and so you often come across elegant gazelle happily munching as you head to and from the room. Luckily the Arabian Oryx seemed to keep their distance a little more…as majestic as they are, those horns look more than a little menacing!
All the rooms are suites complete with their own plunge pool, but we were beyond lucky and were upgraded to one of the Emirates Suites. The suite was without a doubt the most amazing hotel ‘room’ I have ever stayed in, boasting a private courtyard (complete with feature fountain),
a kitchen, staff quarters(!), two bedrooms,
and a huge living room and dining area.
I loved the tasteful and traditional Arabian style in which the rooms were decorated and in particular the handcrafted king size bed.
And I haven’t even got to the piece de resistance…an infinity pool overlooking the desert.
The pool was actually big enough to swim in, but given my overnight flight I wasn’t feeling that energetic so instead we relaxed in the sunshine with a little treat…
The Emirates Suite was so secluded and quiet it really felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.
Once you’re in the resort everything (except booze) is covered, including two desert activities of your choice. We opted for a sunset camel trek as our first activity.
The group heading out on the trek meets in the hotel lobby where you are given a selection of seriously scrummy cakes and snacks before the rocky mount onto the camels. The late afternoon light over the desert was so beautiful….
dismounting when we reached the dunes, where we were met with glasses of champagne.
We climbed up the dunes to watch the sun go down.
And the moon come up.
Once back at the hotel, we decided (given the size and luxury of our villa) that it would be a waste to tear ourselves away and so opted for a room service dinner – a serious feast of Sri Lankan food, steak and a sinfully chocolatey pudding.
After dinner we spent a little time back out by the pool looking at the stars…I can’t even begin to describe how amazing they are out in the desert. It makes you realise quite how much light pollution there is back in Dubai city.
The next morning I got up early to go for a horse ride before the heat hit. It was a bit of a wrench getting up but I was met by this amazing sunrise
The Al Maha has some incredible horses – a mixture of ex racehorses and Arabian stallions which used to form part of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s private stables. We rode out into the dunes for about 40 minutes…the perfect wake up call.
The boy went off in a jeep to dune bash and then we reconvened for the hotel’s buffet breakfast served on the terrace – an amazing feast of continental pastries and breads, traditional middle eastern breakfast foods, eggs (multiple different ways), pancakes, french toast and filet mignon were on offer. I didn’t exactly hold back so I was pretty glad that we had a private pool to relax by afterwards and that my bikini/food baby combination wasn’t exposed to the world!
Although we had to check out of our room by lunchtime we weren’t quite ready to leave the luxury and peace of the resort. Luckily, as was indicative of the amazing hospitality offered by the staff throughout our stay, Al Maha were more than happy for us to relax on the terrace and by the main pool.
We even managed to fit in one last meal…the largest and juciest jumbo king prawns I have ever seen…
Wishing we had booked another night, we returned to the bright lights, big buildings and bustle of Dubai city. If anyone is looking for a truly luxurious and peaceful escape I could not recommend the Al Maha more.