Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa rests at the centre of the 225km² Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve in the Arabian Desert, UAE. This tranquil sanctuary resort is 45 minutes away from the city of Dubai and features old-style Arabian architecture, resembling a luxurious, traditional Arab home.
Conservation of wildlife and the desert's ecosystem was also a part of the development project. Due to the extinction of some of the region's indigenous species, a wildlife sanctuary with habitat rehabilitation programmes was developed to restore the desert's ecosystem balance.
The reserve has 33 indigenous mammal and reptile species, 100 resident and migratory bird species, and nearly 300 Arabian oryx. The reserve was divided into several zones to prevent human interference with the wildlife.
The Al Maha Desert Resort houses almost 2,000 original artefacts collected from the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain, making it the largest private art collection in the Middle East.
The Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa has won 11 international awards, including the National Geographic and Conservation International's World Legacy Award for 2004, Best New Hotel and Best Environmentally friendly Hotel for 2001, and Architecture magazine and Cityscapes Award Designs for a New World for 2003.
It has also won Leaders Club Guest Recognition Award for 2003, The Arab Cities Award for 2005, the Conde Nast Traveller Readers' Award for 2003, 2007 and 2008, National Geographic Adventurer Award for 2008, the Middle East's Responsible Tourism Award 2010 and World Travel & Tourism Council Award for 2010.
Al Maha resort suites
Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa has 42 suites decorated with hand-crafted furnishings, regional antiques and artefacts.
The 37 Bedouin suites each measure 75m² and contain a custom-made king-size bed, minibar, bathroom with a king-size bath, a walk-in-shower and vanity areas, and a temperature-controlled swimming pool.
The two Royal suites are more than twice the size of the Bedouin suites at 175m². The Royal suite features two luxurious bedrooms, a large lounge, a spacious terrace and a private swimming pool. The 375m² Emirates suites each have two bedrooms, a lounge and dining area, and a spacious bathroom. A courtyard and deck around the pool allows guests to enjoy alfresco dining.
The 530m² Presidential suite is the largest accommodation unit available at the Al Maha Resort. This three-bedroom suite comes with a kitchen and barbecue, two minibars, a lounge with a dining area, a courtyard, a temperature-controlled private pool and a parking area. The Emirates and Presidential suites also have residential quarters to accommodate guests' private staff.
Dining at Al Maha
Al Maha has a number of dining solutions. Al Diwan restaurant is cool and airy, and serves international cuisines. It has a shaded terrace with views of the reserve and mountains. The resort also offers a personal dining facility in a secluded spot amid sand dunes within the reserve. Guests can also dine on the deck beside the swimming pool in the privacy of their suite. In-suite dining is also offered.
The resort's Terrace Bar features ancient Omani woodwork and opens out to a high sandstone verandah overlooking the desert. The bar serves cocktails, wines, juices, afternoon teas and coffee. The lounge is furnished with antiques, rustic furniture and woven traditional rugs.
Spa and fitness
The Al Maha Resort's spa and fitness facility, Timeless Spa, is located in a secluded location overlooking the mountains, and includes a suite of single or double treatment rooms, a sauna, a steam room and a Jacuzzi.
The spa offers 50 therapies selected from Middle Eastern and South Asian therapy traditions, including a hydrating body treatment, desert hot stone massage, hydrating massage therapy and jet lag recovery treatment.
The facility has a state-of-the-art gymnasium and includes the services of a personal trainer. The resort's main pool is located at the Timeless Spa. Refreshments are available at the lounge by the pool.
Al Maha facilities
The grand 278m² Al Majlis Boardroom is ideal for large seminars or conferences. This hall can be divided into three event rooms that can hold moderately large or small corporate meetings and other events. The boardroom and halls offer a variety of seating arrangements to suit different needs. The boardroom can accommodate 180 people for a reception.
Al Maha has a library featuring original artworks and paintings, and is furnished with woodwork and wing-backed chairs. Guests can rest in Majlis, a traditional Arabic seating area.
The resort also houses a souvenir shop selling a range of antiques and artefacts.
Care for the environment
The Al Maha Desert Resort protects one of the largest and last existing underground water reservoirs of the UAE. The resort site was used as farming land before it was turned into a hotel resort, and the water from the three borewells in the reserve was used for irrigation.
Since the opening of the hotel in 1999, the ancient aquifers of the borewell have been checked and sustainably used showing no reduction in the quality and level of the water. The hotel's laundry is located outside the reserve to save water.
All glass, plastic, cans and paper used in the hotel are recycled. All kinds of mechanical and kitchen oils and organic wastes are gathered and disposed of.