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Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi, stands out among Marriott’s 1,000-plus operational properties in the EMEA region as a tranquil oasis perfect for a break from urban stress.
Cut off from the bustle of Abu Dhabi city and at the same time, easily accessible via the arterial Al Ain Road, Al Wathba is a luxurious hideout ideal for families, couples, friends or wedding parties.
For those in the know, Al Wathba is home to the annual camel racing festival, inaugurated in 1980, and patronised by royalty. Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival, inspired by the Founder and Father of the UAE, offers fireworks, Ferris wheels and family retail outlets minutes away from the resort. Closer to the capital, flamingo sightings in the Wathba Wetland Reserve offer a somewhat contrasting experience to the desert.
Situated in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s Al Wathba desert, Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa makes for the perfect weekend staycation or a longer, more relaxed four-night experience for visitors from outside the UAE. Surrounded by an endless sea of rolling dunes, Al Wathba mirrors classic Bedouin villages of yore, with 99 guest rooms and villas decorated with traditional artwork and fine Arabesque details.
Though boutique in size and spirit, it comes with a sprawling spa, a pool overlooking the desert panorama, six globally inspired restaurants and activities that make for a most memorable stay.
Arabesque elegance is steeped into every nook and corner at Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa – right from the lobby area and common areas to the accommodations. Their two-bedroom villa comes with a private pool, sheltered day beds and comfortable outdoor seating. Two ensuite balconies overlook the endless dunes, and separate living, dining rooms and a fully equipped kitchen ensure big groups and families can enjoy an assortment of settings together. Arabian rugs and ornate wood and metal work, lit by lanterns, conjure Arabian hospitality. Toiletries from the house of Amouage add an authentic regional accent to the opulence.
The resort’s rooms and villas offer choice views, including sunset and sunrise vistas of the rolling dunes. Some keys come with their own exclusive jacuzzi or plunge pool and own private balcony or terrace. Sheltered from the rest of the world with a bespoke decorative bamboo border and filled with luscious greenery, vibrant local flowers, sunbeds, comfortable seating and spaces for al fresco dining, the private and secluded ambiance ensures that everyone feels totally at ease.
Plush king-sized beds, stylish stone bathrooms including double sinks, vast bathtubs and magnificent walk-in showers complete the exceptional facilities, while the intimate and exclusive experience can be further enhanced with a revitalising massage, or a sumptuous meal, ordered directly to the suite.
For those travelling as a larger party, the three-bedroom Royal Villa ensures that everyone has his/her own space to unwind. Spanning 360 sq m, it includes a separate maid’s room, three bedrooms with private balconies, an exclusive gazebo and a dining room suitable for up to 10 people.
The Royal Compound contains everything required for a treasured, happy, heartfelt and flawless family vacation. Contained within its own private walled area and entered via a separate gate, the stately compound contains four decadent villas – the three-bedroom Royal Villa, one one-bedroom villa, two two-bedroom villas – and a traditional Majlis.
Al Wathba is ideal for horseback- and camel-riding afficionados. Its well-maintained stable also keeps ponies to charm young guests. A guided one-hour ride in the open desert landscape is a gift of lasting memories and is highly recommended.
A plethora of outdoor activities includes guided archery and desert walks and falconry show. Thrill seekers will enjoy desert buggy and fat bike rides into the dunes, or even go surfboarding at the pool. Yoga sessions at the fitness centre (at an extra charge) and a dip in the palm-lined infinity pool provide contrasting options to unwind. There’s even mixology lessons for beverage enthusiasts: Bedouin’s Date is the property’s aptly named signature offering, which comes with date, saffron and a burst of local flavour.
The property exclusively offers the Desert Waves experience, the only desert resort in the UAE to offer visitors the chance to learn how to surf amongst rolling desert dunes. Guests are invited to ride the waves on the state-of-the-art Flow Rider machine. Supervised by expert instructors, the exciting one-hour experience is fun for everyone.
The resort also has opened its iconic Al Mabeet Desert Camp, a stone’s throw away from the property, for the recently ended Ramadan season.
Al Wathba’s dining options match up to its generous Arabian hospitality fame, starting with a delicious breakfast at Bait Al Hanine. Chefs are happy to customise orders; we were charmed by the on-demand bakery items available, a class apart compared to other breakfast spreads in the UAE. The Italian restaurant Terra Secca features all-time Italian favourites, including black truffle. For a truly unique and exhilarating dining experience (and to keep the kids in the group happily occupied), choose the al fresco dining option, which is set against a verdant paddock with freely roaming, well-groomed horses. The infinity poolside food and beverage offering, Panache, deserves special mention for bringing ingenuity and joy with an exciting line-up of beverages and quick bites from around the world, served in bento-style boxes.
Saray Spa is an oasis within the oasis that is Al Wathba and offers luxury of space like few others do. With separate lounges for men and women, the facility spreads over 2,200 sq m, features 11 treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor relaxation areas, saunas, steam rooms, plunge pools, salt rooms, snow caves, ice cold bucket room, a traditional Turkish hammam and whirlpool. Therapists have top-notch skills in delivering a well-rounded rejuvenating experience no matter what the treatment, a wellness journey, massages, hammam or any selection from the body and face collection. Scrubs and soaps made from camel milk add a brilliant local touch to every experience at Saray Spa. Each therapeutic process harnesses the powers of natural essential oils, along with high quality products from Jordan-founded vegan and organic company C-Products, and local brand Hammamii.
Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi has recently reflagged from Jumeirah and is reinforcing its position as one of the top desert resorts in the country. As travel opens up and more and more travellers seek a luxurious, comfortable and serene holiday over a bustling city break, Al Wathba’s popularity will only rise.
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