My husband and I decided to escape the hustle and bustle of Dubai and booked the desert resort of Bab Al Shams for a weekend break. We took advantage of a special rate for GCC Residents (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar), Middle East (including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iran), North Africa (Egypt ONLY) & Indian Sub-Continent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka) of AED743 plus 20% tax per room, per night and for this price we had a buffet breakfast or Iftar and 50 min spa treatment per person included (massage, facial or exfoliation). The spa treatment is only mentioned on the website under 'terms and conditions', but was mentioned when I called to make the reservation by telephone and the website had more expensive room rates listed than the one I quoted - so best to call! The offer is available until the end of Ramadan 2010. Other offers for non GCC residents, such as summer rates (from 15 May - 8th October) are featured on the website -
Guests also have free access to the Wild Wadi waterpark in Dubai and kids have access to Sindbads Kids Club.
We had our massage booked for 12 noon, so arrived at the hotel at around 11.40am and were checked in by a helpful staff member. Check-in is usually at 3pm, but our room was ready early, so as we went to the Satori Spa, the luggage was sent to our room.
The Spa was very modern with friendly staff offering a varied range of treatments from AED200 - AED1400. On our visit we were served a glass of iced water and asked which treatment we would like, before filling out a health questionnaire.
We were then taken to one of the couples' treatment rooms (requested in advance) and left to undress in private and dress in disposable underwear.
Our chosen Balinese Massage then began, which was very nice and relaxing. Afterwards we were served ginger tea.
A staff member showed us to our rooms from the reception area and we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the room - we had been upgraded from a Superior King Room to a Deluxe King Room. The room was very Arabic in style and had a huge bed, desk, small seating area and TV with over 50 channels. The bathroom had a sunken bath with a shower over it and had a good selection of toiletries. There was complimentary water in the room and a small fruit selection with apples and dates. The room was on the ground floor and opened up on to a small terrace with a table and two chairs and overlooked the desert.
After changing, we decided to sit around the pool for a few hours. There were many available sunloungers and parasols and staff constantly checked if you needed any drinks or food. The pool area is enormous and has a jacuzzi too. Complimentary ice lollies were also offered to us by staff.
At 5.30pm there were free camel rides in the desert area by the pool. Falcon displays are usually held too, but not during Ramadan. Also available is archery, boules and table tennis in the area behind the pool.
We then decided to watch the sunset in Al Sarab, the rooftop bar area of the hotel, before getting ready for the Arabic buffet dinner at Al Hadheerah Restaurant. This restaurant is a 300m short walk from the hotel through the desert and I believe you can take a golf cart ride from the hotel reception if you prefer, although we didn't take this option. During Ramadan, food is served at sunset (around 7pm this year) until 11.30pm (outside of Ramadan 7.30-11.30pm). The desert setting of the restaurant is quite spectacular and the walled restaurant is lit up with little lights at night. The capacity is for 500 diners and the restaurant is outdoor, so it can be hot during summer months, although fans are all around.
The selection of Arabic food is very varied with a selection of live cooking stations. We were first served a selection of mezze, juices and water (all included in the price) by our waiter before heading to the buffet. Amongst the selection were: roast chicken, kebabs, duck, salads, mezze, seafood, vegetables, steak, lamb and a wide range of hot/cold desserts and dried fruits. During Ramadan there is also a musical duo playing Arabic music, a whirling dervish, a horse and camel short show on the dunes overlooking the restaurant and camel and donkey rides outside the back of the restaurant. There is also a Heritage Village at the back of the restaurant. Outside of Ramadan there is also henna painting, a falcon display and belly dancing too. Price of the buffet per adult is AED195 with 50% discount for kids aged 6-12 years. Under 5's are free. The dress code is casual too. N.B. - It is also worth arriving early to dine, so that you can be seated at a table close to the stage in order to watch the entertainment. Seating is offered on a first come - first served basis.
After the meal we called in at the rooftop restaurant, Al Sarab where there was an oud player playing Arabic style music. Prices for drinks are reasonable for Dubai and shisha is available too. Timings: Sunday to Thursday - 4.00pm to 1.00am, Friday & Saturday - 12.00pm to 1.00am.
Other places to dine at the hotel are: Masala - serving Indian food and very good by the reviews I've read. Timings: Lunch: Friday from 12.30pm to 3.30pm, Dinner: 7.00pm to 11.30pm. Closed on Sundays. Smart Casual Dress.
Forsan - International Buffet - Timings: Breakfast: 6.30am to 10.30am, Lunch: 12.30pm to 3.30pm
Dinner: 7.00pm to 11.30pm. Casual dress. The complimentary breakfast here was great with a huge selection of hot and cold food items, juices and pastries.
Dune Pizzeria - Italian Cuisine - Timings: Lunch: Friday 12.30pm to 4.00pm, Dinner: Tuesday to Sunday 6.00pm to 11.30pm. Closed on Monday. Casual Dress.
Al Shorouq Rooftop Terrace - light bites, bar food, pizza and schwarma on Fridays - Timings: Sunday to Thursday - 4.00pm to 1.00am, Friday & Saturday - 12.00pm to 1.00am. Casual Dress.
Pool Bar - swim up pool bar - serving drinks from 9am - 7pm.
Ya Hala Bar - serves light snacks and drinks with background music - Timings: Sunday till Thursday : 11.00am to 1.00am, Friday & Saturday: 9.00am to 1.00am. Casual Dress.
There are also extra activities that can be undertaken at the hotel for an extra fee, such as Horse Riding, Desert Exploration by jeep and longer Camel Rides.
A small Fitness Centre is available too for guests at no extra charge. Check-out is at 12 noon.
Unique Quality: Desert location, rooms, friendly staff, great summer offers.
Directions: Here is a link for the location map for Bab Al Shams from Dubai -