The United Arab Emirates is a country full of opulence and excess. Luxury oozes from it’s veins. Whether you find yourself in the sand dunes of the desert, or in one of the cities within the seven emirates, you will have no problem finding somewhere to stay that makes you feel like a king or queen, or in this case, a sheikh or sheikha.
One place I’ve recently stayed that wrapped me in elegance and luxury is Qasr Al Sarab, an Anatara resort located in the Liwa Desert of Abu Dhabi. Entering into the Liwa Desert, rolling sand dunes greeted me in a mixture of hues…orange, red, tan, and of course gold. I felt as if I was traveling to a whole other world, though I was only about three hours away from downtown Abu Dhabi. As I pulled up to the center courtyard to valet my Lexus for the stay, I was in awe of the grand Islamic architecture surrounding me…scalloped arches and walls, fountains, turrets, and palm trees.
I was ushered into the lobby’s sitting area and offered a small plate of dates (a traditional treat here) and date milk as we waited to be checked in. I’ve never been a fan of the texture of dates, but date milk is sweet and certainly welcomed, especially when served in colorful glasses with gold designs. Check in didn’t take too long and before we knew it, a cart was waiting to whisk me away to my Deluxe Garden Room.
As I walked down the steps of a short darkened stairway, my anticipation grew. The door opened to the room and I was not disappointed. The warm wood ceiling beams complemented the ecru-toned stucco walls, as the Arabian chandelier gave the room a soft glow. My room included a terrace with comfortable patio furniture and views of the dunes, perfect for watching the sunset from. But the piece de resistance was the bathroom. On the other side of the bathroom’s double wooden doors was a massive room with a large walk-in rain shower, double sinks, and the largest tub I’ve ever seen. I’m a sucker for tubs where you can toss in a Lush bathbomb and soak your entire body. This tub was large enough for more than one person to get a good soak in at the same time, or for any other particular activities that your imagination can conjur.
Qasr Al Sarab offers plenty of desert activities for guests to enjoy, but I’m a water person by nature, so I immediately headed off to the large pool to enjoy time amongst the palm trees and under the oasis’s sun. The lounge chairs and umbrellas offered a comfortable place to admire the pool from, but the water was too inviting, so I jumped in. In one of the shallow areas of the pool, curved lounges were ready to provide a place for me to relax in the sun while also remaining in the cool pool–the best of both worlds! Food and beverage services were offered at the pool area, so I ordered the pineapple and ginger mojito, a refreshing blend of mint, ginger, pineapple, sugar, and Captain Morgan.
For dinner, the food at the resort’s rooftop grill, Suhail, looked enticing. I asked to be seated on the terrace for my meal. The menu at Suhail offers a variety of dishes, from pasta to steak to seafood. I admit, I had a difficult time trying to choose the dishes I wanted to eat due to how wonderful it all sounded! But I finally decided on the lobster bisque for my appetizer, the butternut risotto for my main course, and followed it up with a creme brulee. The bisque was rich and creamy with chunks of lobster meat (my absolute favorite food), the risotto was warm and comforting, and the creme brulee was sweet and large enough for at least two people to enjoy.
Though the setting, accommodations, food and selection of activities of Qasr Al Sarab are all individually amazing, it is the whole experience that sets it apart from other luxury desert resorts. I truly wished I could have stayed longer. From the tiny details, such as the wooden camel door sign etched with “Do Not Disturb” to the friendly staff that went out of their way to make sure I was enjoying my stay, this resort is one that definitely stands out from the long list of hotels and places I’ve stayed during my time in the UAE. So, if you ever find yourself looking for a magical getaway in the desert, put Qasr Al Sarab at the top of your list.