If you like nightlife, this is not for you. If you like doing pretty much everything else, this is a perfect retreat! I had heard rave reviews about this luxury destination with its villas and vistas and was beyond excited. How can you go wrong when your room is a villa with personal pool and meals and desert activities included in the rate?
Even our arrival was perfectly timed, with the sun setting in the dunes behind us and the lights of resort starting to shine out from among the trees. We were greeted with towels and iced drinks and a level of service from staff that never faded throughout the stay!
There’s not a bad “room” on the entire property! Al Maha is an all-villa hotel with 42 rooms set among an oasis of trees. The Bedouin Suite is the entry level room, a spacious 75m. The interior is large and luxe, the ceiling mimicking a tented roof and living up to its name with authentic décor in the form of Bedouin water jugs.
The foyer doubles as the refreshment area – there is an extensive array of complimentary tea and coffee, even real cream in the minibar. Also a decanter of sherry refilled daily if you’re so inclined. The bathroom is enormous with an oversize soaking tub, walk in shower, Bvulgari amenities, and separate toilet room. The main space features plenty of comfortable seating, and doors to the patio on three sides. They even had an easel with pastels in case you were inspired by the scenery. Sadly my artwork was no more impressive there than at home.
The highlight to me was the enormous back patio and infinity pool looking out onto the desert plain. Though you might hear your neighbours, each villa offers substantial privacy with thick screening.
By far one of the most unique aspects of Al Maha is the variety of wildlife living on the hotel grounds and right outside your door. Tiny sand gazelles will beg for toast as you breakfast on your patio. Bright white Oryx canter on the plains beneath your horizon pool. And unusual birds flutter around the porch filling the air with their songs, which eventually my friend found annoying.
Included in each day of your stay is breakfast, a 3 course lunch, and a 5 course dinner. You can choose to have them delivered via room service or served at the Al Diwaan. As tempting as it was to just enjoy the suite, there was something special about dining under the full moon and trying the chef’s specials of the day. The food was fantastic, but take note at least half of the menu options are seafood based and dining at the restaurant is an all-evening event.
The Hajar Terrace Bar is one level up from the restaurant and shares the same beautiful view of a wildlife watering hole lit up at night. It’s small and cozy but has outdoor seating on the terrace. All alcohol in the UAE is expensive, so we found the prices fairly reasonable. I was particularly pleased by the extensive wine list!
2 activities per day per guest are included in the room rate and it was difficult to choose which was our favorite. The evening camel trek with a sunset champagne toast was pretty special. So was the display of falconry and the thrill of “dune bashing” – driving over and sideways across the dunes. If you’re an experienced rider, you also have the option to ride a swift Arabian over the sands.
Pool & Spa
In addition to the infinity pools at each villa, Al Maha also features a main horizon pool with a beautiful view and balmy ambiance. We had to check out before it was time to leave for our flight and we whiled away the time delightfully, making use of the showers before the car picked us up. The spa is an oasis in itself with treatments surprisingly affordable at ~405 UAE.
Do Everything or Nothing!
It’s like a safari, beach, and spa resort all rolled into one. I had an amazing stay and particularly liked the ability to go and do or just do nothing depending on what I felt like. It’s rare that you can find a place that can satisfy guests coming to relax or stay active.
Rooms start at around 680GBP during low season but can exceed 1300GBP at times, which makes this hotel a a great points redemption option. They’re part of the Starwood portfolio and can be booked for 60,000 points a night, though I got in on an end of year promotion that discounted the award to 39,000 points a night. I cashed in all of my Starpoints to book two of the nights and felt it was well worth it!
Review by my friend Keri from Heels First Travel.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.