Marco Polo: Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa
For those among us who are daring enough to venture into the shapely dunes of the Dubai desert expanse, there is a surprising hideaway known as the Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, a Shangri-la for individuals needing respite from the consuming bustle of city living. Al Maha is a delightful oasis that offers, in abundant yet equal parts, tranquility and adventure in the magnificent setting of the Arabian desert.
Decorated in sandy shades and with rich textures, Al Maha’s Bedouin-style tent chalets are the quintessence of desert luxury, providing a grand display of traditional carpets, wooden chests, and quaint ornaments, which make for a truly warm and authentic reception. Each chalet — one can choose between the Bedouin, Royal, Emirates, and Presidential suites — has a private plunge pool and offers complete discretion without hindering views of the breathtaking desert scene, the highlight of anyone’s visit to Al Maha. The Arabian desert surrounding Al Maha falls within the jurisdiction of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, meaning the Arabian oryx, camels, and various gazelles will be your neighbors for the duration of your visit.
With three dining options, the crowning glory of every meal at Al Maha is indeed the opportunity to take in the sprawling surroundings. Al Diwaan is the main restaurant and offers fine dining on the hotel’s veranda, while Hajar Terrace Bar, situated a level above Al Diwaan, is the perfect spot for cocktails and canapés. For the more adventurous, there is the dune dining, picnic style, option under the Arabian sky complete with flame torches and Persian carpets.
If the urge to do some activity beckons, Al Maha has a pleasing range of leisure options from which to select. A firm favorite is falconry, which sees guests embarking on an early morning mission while it is still cool to handle these birds of prey under guided supervision. Falcons are the UAE’s national bird and the activity of falconry is steeped in history and culture. Other activities include Arabian horse riding, dune drives, archery — which also has a long heritage in Middle Eastern and Bedouin culture — camel trekking, and wildlife safaris. There is also the option to do some shopping at the hotel’s Gallery store, where one can find local, original artefacts as well as an array of antiques, rugs (Caucasian, Kashmiri, and Persian), jewelry, and rare antique weaponry such as traditional Khanjars (Omani knives).
With classic Arabian hospitality, the resort’s Timeless Spa offers treatments that fuse Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian aromatherapy principles to offer rejuvenation and restoration. There is also a hydrotherapy bath and a Rasul chamber for authentic Arabian body treatments.
Although less than an hour away from downtown Dubai, Al Maha leaves visitors feeling that they are worlds away, offering in royal fashion an opportunity to connect with nature and the classic heritage of the Arabian world.