When I was told by my adventurous daughter who was living in Dubai, that our accommodation for the next few days would be in the desert, immediately I visualized that I’d be in a tent. Been there, done that, no t-shirt and not keen to repeat. 

Okay, I thought rationally, I could pretend for a few days that I was in a huge sand box with whatever ants and animals were around. Driving along the well paved four lane highway, we passed great sculpted sand dunes, golden and red sands with tuffs of wild grass here and there, which took my mind off what awaited me. 

We were 2 1/2 hours from Dubai, a beautiful scenic drive but the tent-thought still interrupted my pleasure of seeing the constantly shifting sand.

HEY, MOM, WE’RE HERE!

From a distance, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, look liked a beachside playground for kiddies who had skillfully built sand castles. But there was no sea to wash these fickle edifices away when the tide came in. However, the nearer we got, the more majestic and magical this property appeared.

The 206 room five star resort with luxury suites and villas was beyond anything I could have imagined. Here, on the Liwa Desert (also known as the Empty Quarter and is officially in Abu Dhabi), we passed over a bridge filled with sand, not even a drop of water.

The Moorish-styled lanterns hung from archways to the entrance. We were royally greeted and offered a refreshing, delicious fresh thick date, yogurt drink. Asked to wait in the all-white bar certainly was not an inconvenience as our check-in was civilized and fast. When we were shown to our room, the luggage awaited us. 

OKAY, WHAT NOW?

After bustling Dubai, I had longed for a spa. And sure enough and not surprisingly, a beautifully designed spa was available although that said, the prices were fairly hefty.

SOME TENT!!

Our spacious suite overlooked a garden and pool, and since there are no guest rooms in the main building, there are 25 buggies and with only a click of zero on the phone, these wondrous, small, open sided vehicles were outside awaiting to take us anywhere on this vast property. 

Beamed and tatami decorated ceiling, a Moorish-styled alcove for the head board, the wonderful Moroccan styled chandelier when turned on, created wild designs. This, a celebration of the tradition. Modernity came in the form of an espresso machine, excellent coffee, Wi Fi, a great oval tub, a wide counter with double sinks and enough room for my toiletries and cosmetics, a separate shower and gratefully a lime stone, not slippery marble flooring. (I’ve experienced a marble bathroom floor where there was a tiny drop of water. I slipped, banging my head into unconsciousness in a sleek, chic, newly renovated Italian hotel’s bathroom). And the beautifully rolled towels, seemed part of the decor. 

SO HOW SHOULD WE SPEND OUR DAYS IN THIS SAND BOX?

Archery, or one of the main sports in the Emirates (there are 7 in the UAE) is falconry. I could book appointments. I now regret not attempting one of these options. But it was the early morning desert walks I wanted to feel, touch, and sense the sand. It didn’t look over taxing, but there was a degree of difficulty navigating the fine grains which looks so deceptively easy. 

ME, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA?

Surprisingly, there was the great variety of flowers and the sounds of the birds, a cuckoo clock of sorts, had us on our feet by 6.30AM. I’m no Lawrence of Arabia, but I could see the attachment one could develop as I watched the colour of the sand with its shadows go from various golden hues to dark and then lighter shades, always aware of the constant movement of the dunes and their sculptural display.

AS FOR NOURISHMENT

From the enormous breakfast buffet to Arabic meals lunch and evening, we always ate el-fresco. One evening the chef, knowing our preferences, created a surprise and delicious Middle east meal. Nothing seemed too much at Qasr Al Sarab. 

QUICK, TAKE A PIX

As by some Hollywood magic, every evening the backdrop was the marvellous picture-perfect sunset. And I knew if I missed this snap, tomorrow night, I would have the opportunity again. And hoping that I, too, would also have the chance to revisit one day.

RENT ME A TENT!

Qasr Al Sarab, Abu Dhabi with 206 rooms, swimming pool, gym, tennis, spa, hammam and more.. 
Tel: 971 2886 2088  
Reservations 971 2 895 8700 
email  Crome@anantara.com

 
 

BARBARA KINGSTONE , AN AWARD WINNING TRAVEL/LIFESTYLE WRITER. MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITERS (SATW) AND CO- FOUNDER OF TRAVEL MEDIA ASSOCIATION OF CANADA (TMAC).

FOR MORE ABOUT MADRID, GOOGLE –WWW.INDULGEDTRAVELER.COM OR WWW.MENG08.COM(IN CHINESE FOR MAINLAND CHINA)

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