An emirate for all ages.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler
What was your first impression of the hotel when you arrived?
A secluded oasis in the desert, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara is magical—you're surrounded by dunes as far as the eye can see. Reminiscent of a traditional Bedouin village, the resort sits among the incredible rolling red and orange dunes of Rub Al Khali, the world's largest uninterrupted sand desert. Although it's about 75 miles from Abu Dhabi Airport, this property is worth the trip. The lantern-lined approach into the valet parking bay sets the scene for the enchantment to come, which continues in the stunning lobby and pervades every inch of the public spaces and guest rooms.
Tell us all about the rooms.
Accommodations (140 rooms, 14 suites, and 52 pool villas) are spacious, with gardens, balconies, or terraces; suites are larger; and villas have private pools. Decor throughout features subtle earth tones and contemporary Islamic-inspired furnishings. Bathrooms are elaborate and impressive, with dual vanities and luxurious oversized soaking tubs.
How about the little things, like mini bar, or shower goodies. Any of that worth a mention? The complimentary fruit platter on arrival was a nice touch, as was the novel soap menu. Also worth mentioning since you're so far out in the desert: Wi-Fi is free and fast, no matter where you're standing on the 190,000-acre resort.
Drinking and dining—what are we looking at?
At Al Falaj, a Bedouin-style desert camp, you can enjoy an enchanting dinner under the stars—a restaurant experience you likely won't find duplicated elsewhere. Suhail, the rooftop restaurant, specializes in international fare; Ghadeer is a casual poolside option that's great for sundowners. Breakfast, served at Al Waha, is an expansive offering with eggs, noodles, Arabic specialties, cold cuts and cheeses, pastries, breads, fresh fruits and juices, and more.
And the service? Did anyone stand out We participated in the Falcon and Saluki (a desert dog) experience and our guide was extremely friendly and engaging. He also remained calm and considered when our four-wheeler became bogged in the dunes on the way back to the resort.
What type of travelers will you find here?
Nature lovers enamored with the vast desert landscape, couples, solo travelers, and families with young children.
Any other hotel features worth noting?
The outdoor pool, surrounded by palm trees, is a welcome place to cool off in the middle of the desert. There's a shaded kids' pool too as well as a kids' club. The Anantara Spa is worth checking out; the menu is extensive and the setting is beautiful, with massage beds with views of dunes. And finally, no visit would be complex without immersing yourself in a desert experience, from guided night walks to falcon shows.
Bottom line: Worth it?
This is one of the most incredible resorts in the world, with landscape, luxury, and culture all in the one location.