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Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai [Master Thread]

Old Dec 12, 2018, 7:51 am
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Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai [Master Thread]

Old Mar 2, 2023, 5:48 am
  #1711  
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Location: YYZ
Programs: AP 50k, UA Silver, MB Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 239
Originally Posted by ElevatorEnthusiast
That tiramisu looks delicious - I really need to schedule a trip here.
it’s the best dessert there. Going for my third one tonight.

the food here is great in general. The review above wasn’t wrong with respect to breakfast being somewhat the weakest link but I did not mind it. Gave me time to just eat for sustenance while leaving room for the lunch and dinner. But “weak” is a relative term compared to the other courses.

fantastic resort overall.
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mynameisdmoon is offline  
Old Mar 2, 2023, 8:51 am
  #1712  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 563
Originally Posted by ElevatorEnthusiast
That tiramisu looks delicious - I really need to schedule a trip here.
We have few extra orders of this tiramisu, to our room
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HHQX888 is offline  
Old Mar 2, 2023, 9:10 pm
  #1713  
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Preferably waiting for takeoff
Programs: AA EXP, MVPG, DL Silver, United Silver, Accor Platinum, Marriott Ambassador
Posts: 458
Originally Posted by kumarshah
Just completed our stay yesterday and have published a review with photos. If anybody was questions, please let me know.
Great review, really enjoyed your pictures.
jimmygottfredson is offline  
Old Mar 3, 2023, 2:23 am
  #1714  
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: New York
Programs: Bonvoy LifetimeTitanium, UA Plat 2MM, LHW LeadersClub, IHGPlat, HiltonDiamnd, ASMVPG100K, WyndDiamnd
Posts: 1,223
Originally Posted by kumarshah
The field guide made it sound like you need to know how to handle your horse pretty well to do it, handling horse in the desert sand must be more difficult than normal land I assume. He said due to the requirement hardly anybody is able to do it....
I did not ride there, but enquired about it. First, and foremost, as I remember, it is English saddle. I think it was also necessary to have ridden in the past six months or so. I believe the horses are very good and probably fast. You really want to be a good rider. I did not qualify as have not ridden in some time. Also, did not have my equipment, especially my boots.
Nevsky is offline  
Old Mar 3, 2023, 8:19 pm
  #1715  
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: SAN
Posts: 1,301
Originally Posted by Nevsky
I did not ride there, but enquired about it. First, and foremost, as I remember, it is English saddle. I think it was also necessary to have ridden in the past six months or so. I believe the horses are very good and probably fast. You really want to be a good rider. I did not qualify as have not ridden in some time. Also, did not have my equipment, especially my boots.
Heard from the resort. This is what they emailed me…Further to Horse Riding Activity please be informed that it require 3 years continues riding.

· Horse riding is offered to guests throughout the year depending on the climatic conditions. This is done in the early morning hours. We have Arabian horses and crossbred polo ponies. All our horses are trained in the English riding style. I.e. two hand reining and not Western neck reining.

· A minimum of 2- 3 years good riding experience is required to ride the horses at Al Maha. There is also a weight limit of 85 kilograms (185 pounds).
Traveler Dave is offline  
Old Mar 9, 2023, 5:05 am
  #1716  
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Location: YYZ
Programs: AP 50k, UA Silver, MB Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 239
Al Maha = Heavenly Oasis in the Dubai Desert

Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa

1 Review | 100% Recommended

Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa

,

Al Maha = Heavenly Oasis in the Dubai Desert (16 Photos)

Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa

My partner and I stayed here for an early anniversary 5 night stay from Feb 26 to Mar 3, that I hastily booked on points back in March 2022 before the Marriott Bonvoy Devaluation. It was booked for 400k points. While a lot of my friends and people here have stated that 5 nights was way too long, I respectfully disagree. While I think 3 nights would be a sufficient stay, as a points traveller for an aspirational property like Al Maha that's leaving money on the table with Marriott's 5th night free perk, and 2 nights would be way too short. On a repeat visit I may opt for a 2 night stay during a stay over in Dubai but I wouldn't say no to another 5 night stay.

Check In

I arranged transportation with the property to be picked up from Grosvenor House Dubai. I paid 380 AED for this and was picked up on a Lexus 350. The driver was a great addition to the drive to the resort as this seemed like a regular route for him and we made few stops on the way within the conservatory to look at the gazelles and oryx. 

We were greeted right upon arrival with our luggage taken care of without second thought by one of the Guest Relations staff Kero who led us to the library in the reception to run down the formalities. We noted it was our for our anniversary celebration (It was later in March but the devaluation and scheduling issues with life forced us to book it earlier). We were served with welcome drinks (some mango date smoothie iirc) and hot towels, and then were transported away to our room.

Room

We were assigned to room #12. It was the closest room in the east wing of the resort, very close walk to the restaurant. This worried me at first as I was concerned about noise and privacy from diners but this was a foolish concern as the resort was absolutely peaceful quiet all week and the vegetations surrounding the room did great job in providing privacy. With that being said, I really appreciated the convenience.

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We had booked a 1 king bedouin suite and I'm not sure when the last time the rooms went through renovation but everything looked exactly the same as the older reviews I've obsessively read leading up to my stay. While not everything looked brand new but it aged well and had a nice rustic look which I thought fit well with the theme of the room and resort. 

The bed here has to be my all time favourite bed. It was superbly wide (I felt like my partner was on a different postal code, so far!), and with a plush soft mattress topper but the mattress itself provided the firmness. Perfect balance. The Linens were soft enough for my needs. One special note about the bed and housekeeping: I almost always only use a single pillow and toss the undesired one somewhere in the room, but housekeeping would always put things back to the default settings - Not in Al Maha! Housekeeping noted this and kept the secondary pillow in the corner with other extra cushions and blankets while leaving my choice of pillow for the bed each service. I thought this was super neat.

The washroom was satisfactory but I did find the water setting in the shower to be somewhat difficult to get the right temperature. The pressure also dropped fast after the first few minutes but that may have to do with the water availability and pumping in the resort. The only issue I had with water was that on once occasion the water completely ran dry on all facets when I was trying to wash my hands. It did fix itself within the hour but it was something to note.

The outdoor pool and deck was definitely the highlight of the room, and where we spent most of our time when not eating and doing activities. I specifically requested for a room with no obstructed views and they delivered. It had a great view of the man made watering hole as well. Having said that as long as I did not get the rooms that were behind other rooms, I would've been happy with the view. Be sure to request this during initial correspondence if this matters to you.

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We'd have frequent wild life guest ranging from the wasps (they aren't dangerous, and will leave you alone), all sorts of birds, and the curious gazelles. I was warned about the bugs but no one warned me about the birds! They are LOUD! I got used to this very fast but be warned you'll be hearing a lot of bird chirping in the day time. Fortunately the room does a great job in blocking the noise.

Due to the mentioned wildlife, the pool does get dirty rather often with bugs and bird feather. I would've preferred to have cleaned it myself as it wasn't that big of a deal just certain parts of the pool being littered with it but housekeeping insisted they send someone over. I resorted to doing this twice and the later times I just jumped in and pushed the polluted water out myself before enjoying the pool. On related note, if you want the pool set at a specific temperature be sure to let the staff know.

Dining

This was a big highlight for my partner and I as we are both huge fatties when it comes to food. My friends described the dining experience as a steak tasting (there is a steak dish in every service) and they weren't wrong. I found myself having some sort of steak daily.

To put it briefly:

  • Breakfast: Starter + Main & Side(s) + buffet area for fruits/cereals/salad/cold starters. Not the most exciting, especially the fillet mignon. Use this to eat for sustenance and leave stomach space for other meals
  • Lunch: Starter + Main & Side(s) + Dessert. The highlight for me here was the Australian Beef Fillet, and the Wagyu Beef Sandwich (actually a burger) + Sweet potato fries. 
  • Dinner: Starter + Main + Dessert. The Beef Fillet is phenomenal. Tiramisu is an absolute must.

We befriended Mr Prakash who I believe was the front house manager for the restaurant and he suggested a surf and turf for the main which consisted of the australian beef filet, lobster tail, garden salad, and truffle mashed potatoes. Highly recommended. On the final night we couldn't choose between the bedouin platter or a repeat of the beef filet so he suggested we get both so.. we did. There is also the Sri Lankan Set Menu which I only learned about at the final night.

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Activities

We were allowed 2 complimentary activities per night stayed, for a total of 10. The paid activities do not count towards it. With there being only so many variety of activities to do, we did all, and a few multiple times.

In between the meal times and the activities, you'll be kept somewhat busy during your stay (which is also why I wondered when people said 5 nights were too long...)

  1. Falconry was fun, especially if you're into birds. They go through a rotation of bird roster depending on their feeding schedule so it will vary day to day. I will recommend you ask the concierge to see the bird schedule and go by that. Oscar (owl) is the crowd favourite and should try to see Oscar at least once. Sebaud (Hawk) is also a fun bird with lots of personality. Hannibal (eagle) seems to be the problematic one with potential to fly away but that only means entertainment for us.
  2. Nature Walk (morning)/Nature Drive (aftenroon) is a big hit or miss depending on the day and more importantly who you have as your assigned field attenandant. We had Ryno for majority of our stay and he was spectacular for both activities. Learned a lot, saw some notable things. We had another field attendant for second Nature Drive and it wasn't very entertaining. Big YMMV. Feel out your attendant! If you're lucky, they may go off road slightly and give you a mild preview of the dune bashing.
  3. Camel Ride is worth doing at least once if you haven't rode one before. If you have then can probably pass on it unless you enjoy it, and opt for the Sundowner drive instead. The camel ride also isn't the most comfortable for your bum if you're sitting in the back. The sundowner drive is the same thing except it just drives you to the meeting point. At the end there's free pour of champagne and other soft drinks until sunset. 
  4. Archery is archery. Nice filler activity. Nothing too wild but it was a fun hour.
  5. Dune Bashing is admittedly overpriced: the activity suggested in Marriott's own app around Al Maha has a set of activity that includes Dune Bashing for a cheaper price. Having said that, it was my first time in the desert and being driven to the remote area of the desert was a real cool sight.

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Service

I'll divide this section in two: The Hotel/Restaurant staff vs Field Attendants.

Hotel/Restaurant Staff

With St Regis Maldives and Ritz Carlton Maldives as my only other luxury resort to compare against, I found the service at Al Maha to be impeccable and up there with the top Marriott Maldives properties, if not better.

Because it is an all inclusive stay, there is no sense of nickel & diming from the staff and they're very willing to suggest alternatives and hidden items and customizations to you during your stay. And because they're not upselling you on anything, there was a sense of ease and trust in accepting their alternatives, and most of the time it was for the better. 

For example, you want to skip your starter and older multiple mains? No problem. You don't want a specific main on the list but want a customized dish using ingredients offered on various mains? No problem. You want 15 scoops of ice cream? No problem. Anything you want, they'll deliver (within reason of course!).

Having mentioned it was our anniversary, they also brought out a delicious chocolate cake after our first dinner as well.

There was some miscommunication with restaurant staff during service (more so them not know if our orders were already taken) but it was nothing major.

On side note, if you're given pineapples in your room, bring it to the restaurant and ask the kitchen staff to cut it up for you. 

Field Attendants

During your stay you're assigned a Field Attendant to take care of you during your activities. Depending on who you get this can make or break your experience. Some are more outgoing and personable and willing to go outside the book to deliver on your experience, while some are more strict and by the book.

On majority of our stay we were with Ryno as our field attendant. He was an entertaining yet pleasant man that delivered on every activity we went with him on. He showed great passion in his work and for the wildlife in the conservatory which had us increasingly engaged during the nature activities.

I guess after a few activities he took liking to us as well and he took us on a bonus activity to give us a tour of the resort animals behind the scenes. He took us to see the horses at the stable as well as all the birds on their off hours. It was cool seeing all the falcons lined up and chilling in their homes. We got to hold more of them for photos too. We were supposed to go to the camel stable as well however as there was a new camel born that was going through some complications we were not allowed onto the site. In addition after the nature drive he offered to give us a preview of what dune bashing was like and took us off road. I guess it worked because we ended up signing up for it later in the stay.

On our final stay we were assigned with another field attendant that I will not name as I do not wish to bring slander on him as he was a nice guy but I definitely felt the void of Ryno's presence during the afternoon Nature Drive as the replacement person wasn't the most charismatic person in his deliveries and narration so it almost felt like an uneventful episode of some nature show on Discovery Channel. 

Overall

Overall this was a fantastic stay and we were rather sad to leave, despite heading towards the second destination of our anniversary trip. 

The staff interactions were pleasant, the activities were fun, the food was fantastic, and the room was a comforting home. 

This property deserves every bit of praise it gets from guests and I firmly believe that as a points traveller, this property deserves more attention than the St Regis/Ritz Carlton Maldives, and is a better value redemption.

Al Maha = Heavenly Oasis in the Dubai Desert

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mynameisdmoon is offline  
Old Mar 14, 2023, 7:23 pm
  #1717  
 
Join Date: Feb 2023
Posts: 32
Mid January 2023 stay

We stayed for two nights both booked with points. We spent a few days before in Abu Dhabi and we're heading back there afterwards. The transportation options the resort provided were very expensive and a taxi seemed like a lot of work so we ended up renting a car which was definitely worth it. The drive alone was so fun as we cruised through the desert with the tunes blasted. We took the back way on the way there for a bit more of a scenic drive and that was worth it.

The rooms are amazing and the desert is beautiful. The food was mediocre imo considering the price point of the resort, however we booked with points so it didn't cost us much.

We will likely be going back, and when we do I am going to try and secure a private nature drive as one of our complimentary activities. The guide we had was amazing and after driving for awhile we parked and ran in the sand bare feet. Sun downers was also great however it was quite busy and some individuals did not respect boundaries with regards to others enjoying the view
DudeImGolden is offline  
Old Mar 24, 2023, 4:41 am
  #1718  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 44
Great stay

Wrapping up a 3 night stay here and loved it. For us was the perfect amount of time, allowed us to do all the activities. I can see why this place may bore some, it’s a slow paced & relaxing vibe. Lot of older European guests here with us. For us it was a lovely break of hanging in our pool most of the day and excellent meals. Liam & Lorraine we’re great to work with but really all the staff are excellent.
mipo777 is offline  
Old Apr 2, 2023, 5:33 am
  #1719  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Programs: Virtuoso Luxury Travel Agent; Bonvoy Titanium Elite; Hilton Diamond
Posts: 658
Back again today for a couple nights. This time unfortunately no points availability so went cash as this would be our “last chance” to do Al Maha before our first child comes and we become officially banned for 10 years 😂.
brokenwindow is offline  
Old Apr 7, 2023, 6:08 am
  #1720  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Programs: Virtuoso Luxury Travel Agent; Bonvoy Titanium Elite; Hilton Diamond
Posts: 658
Originally Posted by brokenwindow
Back again today for a couple nights. This time unfortunately no points availability so went cash as this would be our “last chance” to do Al Maha before our first child comes and we become officially banned for 10 years 😂.
Wrapped another amazing stay. The entire experience here is just 10/10. Kudos to the entire management. Staff genuinely care and go the extra mile to make special requests happen. Things “just work” really well here. Excited to hopefully come back again next year - provided we can find someone to watch our kid
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Old Apr 13, 2023, 12:01 am
  #1721  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Programs: HHonors Diamond; Royal Ambassor
Posts: 461
Review of the horse riding activity

My wife did it and here is her opinion:

They have about 14 retired race horses, no polo ponies as it is was mentioned in another post. They are owned by the Sheikh, who pays for their well-being.

Most of the time there is only 1-2 people and the guide on the rides. When you arrive at the stable, the horses are already prepared, the guide cannot choose them. The groomers decide, which horse needs to go out this day.

During the ride the horses are eager to go, there is a lot of galloping during the tour, so you ride quite a distance.

When the horses run, they run really fast and even want to race with each other. They are hard to stop, so this might be a bit scary ;-)

So if you are not a very experienced rider and only ride during the holidays, this is not for you!

You have to be really saddle-proof when the horses run.

I really enjoyed it, but sometimes I was a little scared, when my horse went too fast. Even I am riding horses since my childhood.

These Arab horses are completely different to our warmblood horses. They are eager to run and will be disappointed, if you don’t let them run.
mb123 is offline  
Old Apr 13, 2023, 3:40 am
  #1722  
formerly fdemoulin
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: UK
Programs: SPG Lifetime Platinum, BA Silver, Virgin Flying Club Red
Posts: 913
Originally Posted by DudeImGolden
We stayed for two nights both booked with points. We spent a few days before in Abu Dhabi and we're heading back there afterwards. The transportation options the resort provided were very expensive and a taxi seemed like a lot of work so we ended up renting a car which was definitely worth it. The drive alone was so fun as we cruised through the desert with the tunes blasted. We took the back way on the way there for a bit more of a scenic drive and that was worth it.

The rooms are amazing and the desert is beautiful. The food was mediocre imo considering the price point of the resort, however we booked with points so it didn't cost us much.

We will likely be going back, and when we do I am going to try and secure a private nature drive as one of our complimentary activities. The guide we had was amazing and after driving for awhile we parked and ran in the sand bare feet. Sun downers was also great however it was quite busy and some individuals did not respect boundaries with regards to others enjoying the view
does anyone with experience feel one night would be too short. We have a short break this coming November and just wanted to experience the hotel for one night. Not too bothered about all the activities as we have visited the Middle East numerous times and done the dune bashing, falconry etc which I find too touristy but to contradict myself, we are definitely tourists! Also can you check in early and checkout late ( within reason)
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Old Apr 13, 2023, 3:50 am
  #1723  
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: AUH
Posts: 8,238
One night is definitely too short to get a proper experience of the place, in my opinion. In between the activities and the meals, you won't get any time to relax on a 1-night stay.

That said, if you can only do one night, then I would still do the one night. Better than not experiencing it altogether.

My own experience with early check-in and late check-out has been marginal, but others have indicated a bit more flexibility (especially off-peak).
stargold is offline  
Old Apr 13, 2023, 8:08 am
  #1724  
formerly fdemoulin
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: UK
Programs: SPG Lifetime Platinum, BA Silver, Virgin Flying Club Red
Posts: 913
Originally Posted by stargold
One night is definitely too short to get a proper experience of the place, in my opinion. In between the activities and the meals, you won't get any time to relax on a 1-night stay.

That said, if you can only do one night, then I would still do the one night. Better than not experiencing it altogether.

My own experience with early check-in and late check-out has been marginal, but others have indicated a bit more flexibility (especially off-peak).
thanks for your quick reply. I think you are probably correct in that one night might be too short, ie too rushed, maybe we will look at returning when we have more time
fdem is offline  
Old Apr 13, 2023, 8:38 am
  #1725  
 
Join Date: Sep 2021
Location: YYZ
Programs: AP 50k, UA Silver, MB Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 239
Originally Posted by fdem
does anyone with experience feel one night would be too short. We have a short break this coming November and just wanted to experience the hotel for one night. Not too bothered about all the activities as we have visited the Middle East numerous times and done the dune bashing, falconry etc which I find too touristy but to contradict myself, we are definitely tourists! Also can you check in early and checkout late ( within reason)
two nights minimum. Can check in early/late but of course depends on occupancy. Most people opt to arrive after lunch for check-in, and leave after lunch.
mynameisdmoon is offline  

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