I had heard from several friends here in Dubai that Al Maha Resort and Spa was the ultimate in luxury and seclusion, so my husband and I just had to try it - if only for 1 night!
All accommodation is in the form of individual suites that range from the pricey to the extremely pricey. They all have their own individual temperature-controlled pool too, which is great if you are a couple or family that values it's privacy. There is a nice spa too and a small gym, but I did not have time to try them out.
Check-in is at 2pm, but we arrived around mid-day to take advantage of our stay and have some lunch, as we were only booked in for 1 night over the weekend. It is recommended that you call the resort when you pass Exit 37 on the road from Dubai to the resort, so that your Field Guide can be there waiting for you to take you to the resort in one of their 4x4 resort vehicles. The resort is located some 4.7 kms after Exit 37 - just after Exit 50 on the Dubai/Al Ain Rd (E66), where you will see the Al Maha sign board.
Once we arrived at the car-park, our Field Guide was indeed waiting for us and drove us the approx. 15 minutes into the desert to the resort.
Here you are escorted to the main building of the hotel and served a cold juice and cold towels. The Guest Relations person will then tell you about the resort and ask which activities you would like to do (there are 2 free activities included per person, per night's stay - options are: Wildlife Drive, Camel Trekking, Falconry, Nature Walk, Archery, Horse Riding (need to be an experienced rider for this) and a Desert Safari). We chose the Desert Safari and the Camel Trekking.
We were told that our suite was ready early, so we were taken to there by golf cart, although our room was quite close to the main part of the hotel.
Our tented- ceiling Bedouin Suite was lovely and faced out over a water hole in the desert where many Arabian Oryx were resting in the shade of palm trees. You entered the suite through a small hallway which had a desk with coffee machine complete with flavoured coffee pods of many different flavours. There were many bottles of complimentary still water and a few items were free in the mini-bar, such as M&M's and Chocolate covered dates. Prices for other items in the mini-bar were steep as they usually are (as I remember, miniatures were around AED40/50).
The bedroom was very elegant and decorated in Arabic style with hand carved Omani furniture and handicrafts - it opened out on to the pool and deck area too via double patio doors, which was nice. There was a pillow menu, where you order the type of pillow that you prefer and an artist's easel with pastel crayons, for if you should wish to make a drawing of the landscape. There is also free WIFI available and a good selection of TV channels.
The bathroom was again decorated in an Arabic style with a large tub and separate rainforest shower. Bath products were from the resort's Timeless Spa and had a lovely fragrance. My only complaint was that there was no shower gel, but the shampoo was very mild and could be used for this purpose. There were many towels in the bathroom of all sizes. A hairdryer was provided too (stored in the hallway desk) and a illuminated mirror for the ladies to apply their make-up.
The private pool was of an adequate size for a couple - but not really of a size to swim lengths as exercise. There is a resort pool however, which of course, is a lot bigger. The outdoor deck is spacious and comes complete with 2 sun loungers (for the Bedouin Suite). There are large towels for use outdoors and there is a small table and 2 chairs too.
Well, after inspecting the room, we decided to go for lunch (which is included as part of the Full Board basis of the resort - you can also choose to eat meals in the comfort of you suite or have a meal in the desert for an extra fee!). The restaurant overlooks the desert and has an outdoor dining terrace too (for evenings and the cooler months). The lunch selection was in the form of a buffet and also had a few a la carte options too. The buffet included items such as: various salads, cold meats, smoked salmon, soup and several hot dishes such as braised beef and fish, vegetables and mashed potatoes. The a la carte options had various pizzas, sandwiches, etc. There were also several desserts such as: chocolate mousse, fresh fruits, Bread and Butter Pudding, etc.
All in all the lunch was tasty, although I was not that hungry. Still water, coffee and tea are complimentary - other drinks are charged. The dress code is casual for lunch.
After lunch, we went into our pool for a while and relaxed on the deck, before going to reception to meet our Field Guide for the camel trek at 6pm - (you will be informed of the timings of your activities when you check in). We were then taken to the desert area by the spa where all the camels were waiting for us - there were maybe 20 people doing the activity. The sun was setting as we made our way to the distant dunes and when we arrived we were met by staff serving sparkling wine, fruit juices, a sparkling date drink and strawberries. We took many photos as we watched the sun go down and then headed back to the resort, the tour lasting around 1 hour.
After this, we headed to the bar for a few drinks and a couple we met had shisha on the outdoor terrace. Drinks were reasonably priced at the bar - as I remember, beers were around AED22, which is quite good for Dubai!
Dinner was served from 7-10pm and we decided to dine on the outdoor terrace of the restaurant by candlelight. The dress code is smart/casual for dinner, which means closed shoes for men, long trousers and a collared shirt or National Dress. The meal is a 5 course affair which started with Amuse-Bouches and Bread Bites, we then chose our starters of Pan Fried Scallops and Lobster and Prawn Bundles, followed by sorbet and then the mains of Fillet of Beef and Prawns - dessert was Chocolate Mousse and Vanilla Creme Brulee. Again, still water, tea and coffee are included, other drinks are charged. The meal was very nice indeed, especially the steak and shrimp. The menu can be viewed here:
After dinner, we walked back to the suite and went into the pool again and took a few more night shot photographs of the suite, etc.
The next morning we woke up early to take some photos of the sun-rise over the desert (must admit, we love to take photographs!!!). We then had to meet our Field Guide for our Desert Safari at 6.45am. This was great as we were taken over the dunes by 4x4 vehicle and arrived at some stunning dunes over a lovely landscape. We climbed the dunes, took lots of photos and spotted Gazelle, Arabian Oryx and a giant lizard on our way back to the resort for breakfast. We both had the Full English Breakfast which was very good from the a la carte menu and there was a selection of buffet items too on offer. The dress code for breakfast is casual.
After longing around for a few hours and taking a last dip in the pool, we checked out of the hotel and headed back to Dubai, after a lovely stay!!! I would highly recommend the hotel to couples, friends and adult family members. It is very pricey though and no children under 12 are allowed. It is great for peace and tranquility!!
Unique Quality: Exclusivity and the remote location in the desert. No children under 12 allowed too. Suites are lovely and you have your own pool. All meals are included and 2 activities pp per night's stay.
Directions: Just after Exit 50 (Murquab) on the Dubai/Al Ain Road (E66). Here is the link for driving directions from Dubai.