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We found paradise at our doorstep
Next time you want to treat your loved one to a memorable stay in celebration of a special occasion – weekend anniversary, honeymoon, wedding anniversary, engagement – we have found and experienced a truly magical verdant palm oasis nestled in the desert dunes of the UAE: Al Maha Resort.
Acknowledged as one of the best hotels in the worlds, this unique resort will celebrate its twentieth anniversary in 2019 and doesn’t look a day older. Located 45 minutes away from Dubai on the way to Al Ain, this property is tucked away within the desert dunes surrounded by the Dubai desert conservation reserve with the Hajar mountains at the back (between Oman and the UAE).
Accepting kids only over 10 years old, you can be assured this stay will be unique, memorable and will reset your mind given the majesty and pureness of the place.
The Luxury Collection spirit
If you are not yet familiar with The Luxury Collection brand, you can check their website to see the hotels part of this very niche collection. These hotels offer exclusive journeys throughout the world, whether you are looking for a romantic, beach, adult-only, gastronomic or epicurean retreat. The UAE houses three properties with the Luxury Collection label and it includes Al Maha Resort. The other two are Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina and Ajman Saray in Ajman.
Our Memorable and Blissful stay at Al Maha Resort
Invited for an Epicurean Journey across the UAE in January 2019 by The Luxury Collection and Foodiva, we were lucky enough to visit Al Maha Resort and experience it for a night.
Expect to be amazed from the moment you arrive close to the property as just a few kilometers away from the main road you will be surrounded by desert dunes and oryx and gazelles nearby.
The 5-star hotel feels like a secluded lush oasis comprising of one main building – reception and restaurant – looking like a fortress and a total of 42 suites that blend into the background with their luxury bedouin tent style.
We were booked into a Bedouin suite with its own private pool facing the desert dunes and the Hajar mountains. The lush green resort, canopy-styled villas, bushes, shrubs and wildlife surrounding us gave the feeling we were at a safari somewhere in Africa.
The car-free resort also offers something which is invaluable: total privacy with no vis-vis, total freedom feel and a connection to nature with gazelles wandering around the villas and the dunes.
A taste of the Bedouin lifestyle with a refined touch
The Bedouin suite decor is very appealing mixing Arabian antique furniture and Oriental carpets, traditional trinklets such as coffee pots and oversized ceramic pots with the comfort of a 5-star establishment (wifi, LCD screens… ). You can also feel the Bedouin hospitality culture as Medjool dates, typical Arabic sweets and nuts await guests in their rooms. The Baldaquin bed is also king size and very comfortable.
We were actually not that surprised that each villa was equipped with easels, painting and art boards. Why? The landscape, the silence (chanting birds was the only disturbing noise around, could be worse! ), the charm of the villas and the contrast with the buzzing and cosmopolitan Abu Dhabi or Dubai cities we live in caught us by surprise and you just feel like capturing this precious moment that will stay forever in your mind as a lifetime memory.
All guests with us on the journey admitted the views from the private pool facing the dunes was just fascinating and had us all feel totally serene.
The pool is temperature controlled and can be used all year round.
The activities at Al Maha Resort
The resort offers plenty of options for guests to discover and learn more about the Desert reserve with camel treks, horse riding, archery, guided nature walks or wildlife drive within the DDCR to discover the fauna and flora of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR).
We were booked in two different activities that we highly recommend.
The sunrise falconry experience
We woke up early to be in the lobby by 7 am and enjoy the sunrise behind the dunes and attend the sunrise falconry experience. Within an hour, we learnt so much about the way falcons are a legend in the country, the way they are fed, grow and exercise. Definitely worth waking up for as falcons and even an owl called Diva do their show. Quite impressive, especially when the falcons almost touch your shoulders while making round trips in the air to capture their daily raw meal.
The driving tour around the desert reserve
We also joined a one-hour driving trip taking us around the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) to get a closer look and deeper understanding on how this reserve was created, which flora and fauna species it carries, how the reserve manages to preserve and help them multiply.
We were impressed by how knowledgeable and respectful of nature our drivers were, and only allowed to drive along special paths in order to preserve herbs, shrubs and trees that are so precious to maintain this specific desert ecosystem. During our tour, we managed to see Arabic Oryx and gazelles and discovered a large variety of trees from the emblematic Ghaf tree to Christ Thorns and much more.
Al Maha resort proposes these driving tours throughout the day – early morning, afternoon or sunset.
A sophisticated dining experience with a Middle Eastern feel
Al Diwaan is the main restaurant at Al Maha Resort, where you can enjoy the buffet breakfast and have lunch or dinner. With its wooden deck terrace, large canopy, we were blown away by the spectacular scenery it offers over the desert dunes facing the resort.
Dining in the dunes
The hotel also proposes guests to experience exquisite dune dining that is an absolute must-do. Soon after sunset, we left the hotel lobby and after a 10 minutes drive in the dunes, we arrived at our dining spot. The Bedouin-style setting was magical with oversized Persian carpets, candles and lanterns and our camp surrounded by torches.
After experiencing Arabic mezze the sharing style way, we tasted a tender and melt in the mouth roasted lamb that had been grilling on the fire for hours. We also enjoyed stargazing before heading back to our villa for a late evening plunge in the pool.
Lunch at Diwaan
The day after, for our farewell lunch, the hotel team had built an epic menu for us to taste some of their signature creations. The Foie gras caviar made quite a statement when arriving at the table, displayed as a jewel in a golden box containing the precious starter in a caviar tin. Served with date jelly, fruit bread, pecan nuts and fresh berries, we would definitely order it again.
Before the mains, we got a refreshing orange and star anise sorbet to cleanse our palate. Very creatively displayed as the sorbet came on a thick rounded shaped ice cube block.
We picked the scallops Biryani as a main that was the best we have had for a while in the UAE. The pairing between the flavoured rice and the grilled scallops was perfect. The portion was very generous and it came with a refreshing mint raita on the side and poppadoms. This is one speciality of their menu we will associate to this memorable weekend escape in the UAE as it reflects the roots, generosity, hospitality and refinement this country has to offer.
For dessert, we opted for the Arabic Coffee Panna Cotta that was also a huge hit on our table.
A breathtaking overall stay
To conclude, we can only say we now understand why this magical resort has been so coveted these last 20 years. It is a pure haven to stay for a short UAE getaway that will totally unwind your mind and let you discover another face of the UAE less than an hour away from Dubai city center. Respectful of the environment, this eco-friendly resort offers a a tranquil and serene staycation like one we have never experienced before.
Read all about our three days Epicurean Journey around the UAE:
AL MAHA RESORT | Website
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