Al Maha is a private sanctuary some 65-kilometre drive from Dubai, set amid seemingly endless dunes and palms and designed to blend in with its surroundings (although the spa's Jacuzzi doesn't really manage this). As such, it’s not ideal for shopping and quite some distance from a beach. But you’ll not have come here for that. Al Maha is all about experiencing the desert and staying a world away from the bustle of the city.
Even the standard Bedouin Suites are something of a masterpiece, set beneath a striking tent-style canvas and each coming with an enticing temperature-controlled private pool looking out into the neverending desert. The interior is furnished with wooden antiques and artefacts, along with a super king-size bed. There’s even some binoculars and an easel, should you feel a creative twitch. If this is how the Bedouins lived, you’ll wonder why they ever moved to the city.
In the centre of the resort, the cool reception mixes light, modern design with traditional charm, kitted out with rustic chairs and sofas, and featuring a well-stocked library, bar and Arabian Majlis meeting areas. Outside, there’s the Al Maha Reserve to explore, where conservation efforts have kept the area alive with indigenous plant and wildlife, including Arabian oryx and sand gazelles. Animals roam freely through the resort. The setting is, quite simply, astounding.
Eating and drinking
The excellent Al Diwaan restaurant offers views into the vast expanse of deserty nothingness. Alternatively, you can eat amid that nothingness via Dune Dinners. You will be taken from your suite to a secluded spot in the reserve, arranged with rugs, cushions and traditional candles. Your pre-selected food will be served and you’ll be left alone to soak up the wilderness in quite possibly the most idyllic and peaceful settings on the planet. Should you ever want to return to your suite, there's a pre-programmed phone so you can call to be collected.
Being a reserve, it's all about being at one with Mother Nature at Al Maha. Horse riding, camel treks, nature walks and falconry shows are all available, as well as archery, desert 4x4 safaris and more gentle wildlife drives. Guests can select two complimentary activities each day as part of their stay. And after a hard day's frolicking amid the sand dunes, the Timeless Spa, complete with its own sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, has over 50 rejuvenating treatments to choose from.
Absolutely impeccable. There when you need them, and not when you don't.
Who stays there
The gorgeous, secluded setting (plus two guests per suite rule) makes Al Maha a firm favourite with couples, particularly honeymooners.
The price for a standard Bedouin suite includes all meals, as well as water, tea and coffee (no booze, basically). It gets popular at the weekends, so book early. It is important to note that children under 12 are not permitted to stay.
Pros & Cons
- Incredible setting
- Absolutely idyllic
- Not cheap
- Absolutely miles from anywhere, but that's the point