Heading off the main route from Abu Dhabi and winding our way along the 12km track to the Qasr Al Sarab Resort, I know we are on our way to something unique.
Traversing through the Liwa Desert’s uninterrupted sand dunes which stretch as far as the eye can see, I wonder how it is possible for a hotel to be built in this landscape.
And then seemingly out of nowhere a gate appears and rising like a phoenix from the ashes the luxury oasis of Anantara Qasr al Sarab Resort is in front of us.
The spacious courtyard leads to a staggering desert fort with huge turrets and I feel as if I have somehow stumbled upon a film set starring Lawrence of Arabia.
Friendly professional staff are immediately on hand to facilitate your arrival from the sun baked heat into a cool, calm Middle Eastern inspired oasis.
We are swept effortlessly into the library where we are soon nibbling pastries and sipping refreshing mint tea.
If this style of welcome is meant to encourage all your worries to slip away, then it succeeds hands down.
The resort sits in one of the world’s largest sand dunes, known locally as Rub al Khali or the Empty Quarter and is remote, romantic and opulent.
In fact, Abu Dhabi’s Royal Family have their own personal pavilion to the edge of the resort and a helipad at their disposal 24hrs a day.
The landscape is nothing short of spectacular and it is the meticulous detail of the resorts planning and design which leaves you feeling that you alone in sampling this epic adventure.
The cool interior spaces are dressed in Middle eastern fabrics, local artefacts and exotic Arabic lanterns managing to strike the perfect balance between historic and stylish.
Our spacious 48 sq metre Deluxe Balcony Room located on the first floor, was bathed in muted earthy tones and decorated with beautiful dark wood furniture, white bed linen and marble floors.
A flat screen TV, CD/DVD player, air-conditioning, tea making facilities, Nespresso Machine, free bottled water, free wifi, pillow menu and fluffy bathrobes come as standard.
The bathroom had an over sized deep soaking bath, double stone sinks and a walk in rain shower. Special touches included delicate shaped glass bottles with cork stoppers containing shampoo and bath salts.
Ultimately, the main attraction was the sliding glass door leading you out to a private terrace with comfortable seating for you to admire the breathtaking panoramic desert valley views.
After dinner, to sit and watch the sand dunes become a wonderful orange hue is nothing short of mesmerizing.
There has been no expense spared in any area of the hotel which has a choice of amenities to suit every discerning guest.
There are a number of restaurants offering various cuisines from cocktails on the rooftop, afternoon tea in the lobby, refreshing snacks at the poolside bar to fine dining and an Arabian experience in the desert. You are treated to local delicacies, international favorites and an extensive range of vintage wines.
As our room rate included breakfast, we sampled the outstanding buffet breakfast and particularly enjoyed the made to order crumpet stand.
We also enjoyed romantic fine dining with exceptional service on the rooftop terrace, although had to move indoors for our sweet and coffee as it was so warm.
A large infinity-edge free form pool shaded by desert palms provides a refreshing swim and area to recline on one of numerous loungers, stopping now and then to order a cooling drink from the pool bar.
Guests can relax and indulge in treatments at the Spa, keep up with exercise in the fitness center, play tennis, take a cooking class or sit quietly in the book laden library and use the free wifi.
Experiences outside of the resort must be pre booked by staff, after all this desert is unforgiving and vast.
Depending on the season these can include :
- Desert yoga at dawn
- 4×4 DuneBashing
- Mountain Biking
- Camel Trekking
- Horse Riding
- Tours of the Liwa Desert.
We opted for a sunrise camel trek which was truly magnificent and totally unforgettable. I will outline in a separate post.
Make no mistake, this is a truly luxurious Resort, with every available space making use of the stunning scenery. However, you certainly pay for this privilege.
Do I think it is a cost worth baring? A resounding YES!!
Watching the sunrise and sunset across the vast landscape is mind blowing and this resort is up there with my all-time favorites.
Would I upgrade to another room? No, due to cost and to be honest I don’t think I would gain enough to make the extra cost worthwhile.
- It gets extremely hot here so be extra vigilent with sunhats and a higher factor sun lotion.
- The dress code is casual but covered up whilst dining, although a cardigan would be advisable in the evening due to the air conditioning and the fact that the desert gets cold at night.
- For women who book a Liwa Tour, you will be required to cover your shoulders and knees to conform with tradition.
- Check hotel booking sites such as Destinology, Mr & Mrs Smith and Booking.com for rates although the cheapest rate is frequently found direct with the Resort. Be sure to check the price includes all relevant fees/taxes.
- This would make a fantastic honeymoon stay incorporated with Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
- Room rates normally include buffet breakfast.
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Have you stayed at this resort or is it a place you would consider trying?