QASR AL SARAB
By Rhiannon Taylor, January 2017
There's an allure of luxury and mystery about Abu Dhabi. This modern city is now more accessible than ever, with it's national airline Etihad Airways flying direct from every major city around the globe. So, if one embarks on a journey of luxury, in a first class apartment perhaps, where does one go when they land?
Two hours drive from Abu Dhabi airport, deep in to the Liwa Desert, an oasis appears in the sand dunes. Anantara Resort's Qasr Al Sarab sits like a mirage; an estate of Middle-Eastern styled villas surrounded by undulating hills of sand. Hopping on a golf buggy, the resort sprawls through a dune flat and entering your villa you're welcomed to uninterrupted views of the Abu Dhabi landscape.
Mornings begin with an excursion, most popularly a camel ride. Guided gently through the Liwa Desert to a rising sun, it's a peaceful journey interacting with the camels followed by the traditional serving of Arabic tea. There are many activities on offer at Qasr Al Sarab from dune bashing and 4 x 4 drives to Arabic cooking classes and Falcon shows, which the concierge can book in on arrival.
There are several dining options around the resort, from the grand buffet for breakfast to the romantic poolside restaurant. But the stand-out is the outdoor open-air traditional Arabic feast, complete with live music, flickering flames and a sizzling grill. Food is brought out by polite servers, starting with mezze. Dips and bread accompany grilled meats throughout the night and the meal is finished with sweets and dates.
Arabian influences are present throughout the resort's design with latticed windows and lamps that warmly light the spaces. Ogee arches frame the long passageways and the rooms are accented with modern comforts such as deep tubs and rain showers. When it becomes too hot to relax on your balcony the glimmering pool beckons an afternoon of floating away with a swim up bar and lightning-quick poolside food service.
THE TURN DOWN
ACCOMODATION CATEGORY: Luxury resort.
ROOMS: Go for a Deluxe Balcony Room - it gives sweeping views of the dunes and an oversized patio. All rooms come with a plush bed and light linens for hot nights. There's a writing desk and lounge chair and international power outlets.
MINI BAR: Complimentary water at turn down, fruit platter and dates. The fridge is stocked with basic drinks at reasonable prices.
POOL/GYM/SPA: There is a full service spa, gym and pool. There's also an activity centre where you can hire equipment for sand boarding and other activities.
TURN DOWN SERVICE: Yes, water provided.
FEEL: Arabian Nights.
LOCATION: A 2 hour drive from the city of Abu Dhabi in Rub'Al Khali - the largest untouched sand desert in the world.
RESTAURANT/BAR: There are four restaurants throughout the resort, plus room service. There's a rooftop steakhouse, breakfast buffet, traditional Arabic restaurant and Al Falaj which is a traditional outdoor dining experience.
RATES: Starting at $400 USD per night, including breakfast.
GOOD TO KNOW: There are no local shops or sights so if you're needing anything from the outside world, pack it before hand.