The UAE is known for its striking desert that offers the opportunity for stargazing, relaxation, encounters with local wildlife and a host of activities. From the luxurious to the family-friendly, Top Spots Dubai has rounded up the top five desert resorts in the region.
1. Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
The luxurious Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa is located just 50-minutes outside the centre of Dubai. Its unique positioning, in the heart of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, offers spectacular desert views, seclusion and the chance to encounter a host of wildlife.
Expect Bedouin-style decor – rooms are furnished with unexpected additions such as regional antiques. Suites overlook the desert and have their own private swimming pool. There’s a host of exciting desert activities to do here from sunset horse riding sessions to desert safaris and camel trekking. The resort’s in-house restaurant Al Diwaan offers a calm dining experience from a veranda with spectacular views of the nature reserve. The resort also offers special experiences including the al fresco Dune Dining Experience where you can dine under the stars surrounded by burning tiki torches.
2. Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, near Abu Dhabi’s Liwa Oasis
The Anantara Qasr Al Sarab is around 3.15 hours drive from Dubai. The resort offers a unique chance to encounter the Rub Al Khali desert (also known as the Empty Quarter), the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world. Deluxe garden rooms have a private outdoor terrace and overlook the sand dunes while the one-bedroom Anantara Pool Villa has a private plunge pool, sun deck and personal butler. Desert activities include guided night walks and falcon shows while the spa reveals striking views of the surrounding desert.
3. Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert Resort, Ras Al Khaimah
Located one hour’s drive from the centre of Dubai, the Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert Resort is the perfect getaway for those who are craving peace and seclusion. Villas feature private pools and resemble Bedouin tents with a luxurious twist. The resort offers special activities in the desert including vintage desert drives, stargazing, campfires by night, picnics on the sand dunes and archery. The resort’s Moon Bar is the ideal spot for an evening beverage under the stars.
4. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa, Al Qudra, Dubai
Just 50 minutes drive from the centre of Dubai, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa is an ideal spot for couples or families. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa takes the shape of an Arabian fort complete with Arabesque decor from palm-lined courtyards to fire pits. There are several swimming pools to pick from – an infinity pool, an adult pool and a central pool suitable for everyone. Sundowners and sunset views can be enjoyed from the Al Sarab rooftop lounge while Al Hadheerah restaurant features a Middle Eastern buffet and live music. Guests can enjoy activities including desert safari, horse riding, camel rides and archery.
*This resort is currently under renovation and will reopen in April 2023 with new operators behind One&Only, Kerzner International.
5. Al Wathba Luxury Resort, Abu Dhabi
An 85-minute drive from Dubai Marina, Al Wathba Luxury Resort is a boutique-style resort that carries an Arabesque theme. Pick between bedrooms and villas. Guests can dine on Middle Eastern cuisine at Bait Al Hanine or Italian cuisine at Terra Secca. Be sure to make your way to Al Mesayan for sunset. Spend your days at the infinity pool or chill out at the Saray Spa which features snow caves! Activities include sunset desert horse riding sessions on Arabian horses.