Abu Dhabi
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara

On the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest sand desert, the Empty Quarter, beckons. Qasr Al Sarab rises up from flame-coloured dunes like a mirage, oozing luxury and inviting adventure.

Traverse the Rub’ al Khali by camel-back; dine under desert skies or unwind with hammam and desert rose rituals. The hotel’s name actually translates from Arabic as ‘the Mirage Palace’, with the design of the complex inspired by desert fortresses from the area.

Facilities & Activities

Facilities at the resort include a huge freeform infinity pool overlooking a valley and wadi complete with Arabian oryx as well as a state-of-the art gym, an impressive floodlit tennis court and a very well stocked library. Yoga enthusiasts will be in good hands with the hotel’s team of experienced yoga instructors, or how about a spot of archery or perhaps cooking classes? Last, but by no means least, the Anantara Spa is the ultimate oasis-within-an-oasis, providing its specialised signature treatments and therapies, sauna, massage and body scrubs.

However, the lure of this hotel is most definitely the spectacular setting, and this is where things get really exciting! It’s one of the only resorts in the UAE that offers horse-riding, dune-bashing, mountain-biking, desert walks sunset and sunrise camel rides all in one place. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to experience desert traditions and skills such as archery and falconry.

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Dining

The remote location belies the range of cosmopolitan dining options, all complimented by the extraordinary backdrop. With 5 restaurants there is plenty of choice even for longer-stay guests and when temperatures descend in autumn, themed dining events add culinary interest.

All day dining at Al Waha starts off with a buffet with live cooking stations preparing Middle Eastern and International cuisine; a live grill station at dinner serves delicious favourites such as lamb chops, steaks and seafood. In the evening, change things up by dining at Suhail, an upscale grill restaurant that is perfect for sunset cocktails and boasts an award-winning wine list.

The poolside bar Ghadeer offers refreshing drinks and snacks by day and at night transforms into a dining venue with shisha lounge and a menu consisting of local and regional signature dishes. Meanwhile, Al Liwan, located in the lobby, serves local food and drinks including strong Arabian coffee and mint teas as well as an array of other must-try delights.

For a Bedouin-style dining experience, Al Falaj offers traditional fare such as a cold mezze and Arabic BBQ in the Bedouin camp-style venue with uninterrupted views of the surrounding sand dunes (seasonal opening during the winter months October – April, subject to weather conditions)

For more intimate or special occasion dining, you might want to book Dining by Design – amidst golden sand dunes and with the backdrop of stunning desert sunsets, guests are waited on by a private butler. Or why not treat yourself to a Villa BBQ hosted by a private chef and butler and served within the comfort of your villa.

Rooms

Built on a crescent-shaped dune, each of Qasr Al Sarab’s 206 rooms and suites enjoy picturesque desert views from their private balcony, terrace or small garden. Rooms are not as ostentatiously furnished as many other Middle Eastern resorts and instead are styled in a soothing palette of chocolate and bronze.

The villas, once reserved solely for royal use, all benefit from an individual plunge pool and enjoy butler service.

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Family

Qasr al Sarab is a fabulous destination for children, who have their own dedicated splash pool, fabulous Kids and Teens Club, cooking classes and more! The surrounding dunes also make for the most incredible playground with a plethora of family-friendly activities to keep everyone occupied.

Rooms and suites can accommodate 1 child sharing but for larger families or groups of friends opt for a Two or Three Bedroom Family Villa which offers plenty of indoor and outdoor space.

Sustainability

Qasr Al Sarab is committed to sustainability and initiatives include replacing plastic water bottles with biodegradable bottles, implementing renewable energy in the form of solar heating and making strides towards zero waste. The hotel’s kitchens make their own compost for an onsite vegetable greenhouse and herb garden and 100% of the grey water is used to irrigate the resort gardens, while cardboard, oil, paper, and bars of soap are all recycled.

Location

Situated in Abu Dhabi’s Liwa desert in the Rhub Al Khali – also known as the Empty Quarter – Qasr Al Sarab is surrounded by the largest expanse of uninterrupted sand desert in the world. Star Wars Fans might recognise it from Star Wars: The Force Awakens blockbuster! Its location in the middle of the desert can mean extreme temperatures in summer and nights can be very cool in winter.

Arrive in style by helicopter or transfer by road from Abu Dhabi (approx. 2.5 hours) or Dubai (approx. 3.5 hours).

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