Many people have an Arabian dream of the perfect desert oasis replete with fountains, palm trees, grass and singing birds set amongst endless miles of dramatic red sand dunes… but they’re not quite sure where in the world they can find such a place. Now the fantasy can be found at the Anantara resort, Qasr al Sarab, or castle of the mirage. The resort, located two hours outside Abu Dhabi and tens of miles away from the nearest… anything, sprang up out of the sand in 2011.
The approach is dramatic. A winding many mile road appears seemingly out of nowhere, taking new arrivals up a hill, over the hill and through the Moorish gate that hints of exotic delicacies to come.
After the winding journey, the resort appears as if a mirage of lush, green landscaping, fountains, and a grand courtyard that takes guests into the lobby where they are greeted with rolled hand towels, mint tea and dates. The design of the lobby is the Arabian version of a refined western hunting lodge. Rough-hewn Moorish details combine well with furniture and artefacts that evoke the history of the U.A.E. with antique rifles, paintings of falcons, textiles and more.
This lobby serves as the rendezvous point for all of the hotel’s activities, which are a must for any visitor who hasn’t gone camel-riding at sunrise, seen a falcon show, seen saluki dogs race, taken 4x4s dune bashing, or sledded down a 100’ hill of powdery sand.
Of course, there will be lots of rest too. Just taking in the bluest of skies, the freshest air while lounging in your personal garden will be the tonic city folks need to unwind. A trip to the spa or luxuriously large pool provides not just a refreshing dip, but also striking views of the dunes, contrasting against the greenery and water of the sprawling resort.
Meals range from lavish buffets covering cuisines from all corners of the world and dinners under the stars featuring local cuisine.. and for good measure, camels. When it comes time to leave, you’ll be planning your return to the enchantress that is Qasr al Sarabl