Ignite your curiosity and mylifestylenews discovers the world from a new perspective with an enchanting experience and more in Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in the middle of the Liwa desert.
From Dubai head west to Abu Dhabi and turn off onE65 until you see E90 and once you reach Hameem, a further 12 kilometers drive from the fortress gates will take you to the enchanting Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. An easy 2.5 hours road trip makes your realize that you are out in a foreign land of desert that seemingly has no inhabitants.
If you keep on driving past the resort you will end up in Saudi Arabia border in less than 30 minutes. Geographically, this resort is in a very unique location, occupying the largest uninterrupted sand dessert in the world located in the legendary Empty Quarter.
The resort is positioned to offer enriching experiences for you to discover a wide range of unforgettable excursions which enable the guests to learn more about the history, culture and traditions of the United Arab Emirates.
And of course, it is also perfect for a great weekend getaway staycation from the bustling city life especially for many expatriates who are stationed in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
When you eventually arrive at the resort’s gateway entrance there is a high degree of anticipation, but you are not there yet. It is another 12 kilometres up hills and winding roads surrounded by hills of golden sand dunes after passing through the security gates.
This is where the real desert adventure begins by seeing the desert in many incarnations before the “mirage” of Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara appears upon you as it has become a landmark in Abu Dhabi where Emirati traditions, heritage, origins, hospitality and luxury blend into its pristine surrounding environment.
Qasr Al Sarab means “the Mirage Palace” in Arabic and was inspired by desert fortresses from the area. On arrival at the ‘dessert fort’ you are mesmerized by the architecture and one cannot wait to experience all that will unfold.
The magnificent resort's fortress tower entrance
Spread out over 206 rooms, suites and villas, the resort is built on a crescent shaped dune in 25 months and you can tell that the inspiration is the simple grandeur of the old dessert fortresses.
The lobby is tinged with muted light, as it is so bright outside and the toned down filter provides a welcome respite from the glare of the dessert sun. Every aspect of the public areas and guest rooms are positioned to face out to the dessert to maximize the sunset, as it can be spectacular.
We were pleasantly greeted and taken into the Al Liwan lobby lounge for the location and traditional refreshments – Arabian coffee and locally grown dates are the usual welcome gesture in this region. There did seem to be a delay before the actual check-in process began, but one learns to take things slower out in the dessert.
Arabian coffee and locally grown dates are served as welcome drinks.
The outdoor courtyard comes along with Arabic motif settings.
More alfresco dining in the courtyard overlooking the hilly desert.
Once the formalities were done, we hopped in a buggy and were swiftly taken to our Deluxe Garden room which had a picturesque desert view and designed like old sand huts. Each room and villa is featured and decorated with rich textures and earthy color palettes signifying the rustic Arabian charm.
Our room is with no exception, boasting rich carpets, embroidered fabrics, bronze lanterns and original Arabic artwork to evoke the ambient warmth of the Arabian heritage and to compliment the cool dessert nights.
The bedroom is rather cozy and the bathroom has ample space, including a huge round bathtub that is the focal point of the bathroom. There is plenty of cupboard space to hang your belongings, but a distinct lack of drawers which we found surprising.
A secluded haven right outside of the room
The towering garden right outside our room
The connection hallways to the reception are quite picturesque.
We nosied around the property which have been done up in rich earth sand tone blending into the starlit sand dune from the desert. It is the juxtaposition of hard nature and soft comforts that best sums up this appealing architecture design - either way, the place has a powerful magic that creates a thousand timeless moments in a luxury desert oasis.
The stairways leading to the restaurant with ceiling hanging lights.
The library and lounge area are decorated with plentiful Arabic home decor features.
The window looking out from the Library and lounge is popular to watch the sunset.
The resort main recreation swimming pool is another main attraction with a swim up bar and a playground for you to indulge in an exhilarating experience of a breathtaking desert that feels a world away. Do secure your lounge seats with the help by the pool attendants despite lacking of energy and smile (perhaps due to long hours of exposure to the sun), as it gets busy at all times in order to pick your own preferred shaded spots.
The outline of the architecture of the entire crescent buildings creates a land of cinematic desert landscapes. No matter which direction you look at, there is nature in abundance in dramatic contrast to the mysterious desert, thus supposed to exemplify the character of its surroundings.
Calming water features are found everywhere in the resort.
Looking at the sand dunes formation is somehow addictive. Relax and unwind as you breathe the mystical charm of the resort and discover unparalleled desert luxury and cultural passion. Whether it’s a private view of the deserted infinity desert view from you room or a sunset Camel ride on the endless shifting sands.
When staying at a desert resort, one must partake in the ubiquitous Camel Trek. We got up early to beat the heat of the sun for our ride and on arrival at the ‘camp’, there was excitement in the air. Climbing on and having the handler get the camel onto their feet is the defining moment and these “ships of the desert” have a certain elegance to them.
It was a round circuit over undisturbed morning dunes, but you could spy tracks of other desert inhabitants and to watch the parade unfold was majestic to capture the splendor of Arabia – three caravans all told. To watch these animals at close quarters while transporting us over the dunes with early morning shadows and wind patterns that created subtle designs on the surface is a must do! For a brief moment, you are transported to another world that will not easily be forgotten. If such family oriented activity doesn’t favor you, feel the exhilaration of Dune Bashing, it will add more excitement or fat biking and archery would be an alternative. Even guided Night Walks or Full Moon Walks with different trails to get a picture perfect sky to enjoy a scenic adventure and garner insights into Arabic tradition.
When you have enough glaring sun during the day, spend an evening at Al Falaj for an opulent Bedouin outdoor dining punctuated by starlight look up at the ink black sky with astronomy becoming the next big thing, stargazing while discovering the authentic taste of Arabic barbeque and mixed grill featuring also cold mezza and homemade sweets over flickering candle light is another highlight and a luxury while being in the middle of the romantic twilight desert.
For Mediterranean delights, Ghadeer restaurant by the pool serves light meals during the day and traditional inspired signature dishes.
Breakfast is served in Al Waha restaurant with Middle Eastern and International selections with a touch of Emirati flair as well as an Asian corner where noodles station and congee are served at the buffet.
For there are some moments that pass in a second, but last for a lifetime, sometimes the shortest break for a wise chosen staycation can leave the longest memories. Service is a little off the usual Anantara standard with staff lacking of smile and warm greetings from the restaurants and front liners especially that certainly need to be improved. But, a unique experience in a vast outback of desert with the journey into the spirit of Arabia, this would make your stay a truly timeless adventure. At least, a good self indulgence getaway is planned.
P.O. Box 131277
1 Qasr Al Sarab Road
Tel: +971 2886 2088
Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.