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

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

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Old Jan 26, 19, 8:16 am   -   Wikipost
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Old Feb 5, 19, 6:59 am
  #511  
 
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Originally Posted by Traveler56789 View Post
I need to travel to the property from Abu Dhabi, and after my stay, travel to Dubai.

Any advice on how to do this in a cost effective manner? I assume Iíll have to hire a car for the trip to Dubai (I assume there wonít be taxis at the Al Maha)? But perhaps I can take a taxi from Abu Dhabi?
We did this in December and just used the Al Maha approved car service (I think they just contract with a company). We did this going from Abu Dhabi to the Al Maha and then Al Maha to Dubai. My recollection was that the longer of 2 rides (Abu Dhabi to Al Maha) was just north of $100, but need to check. We initially thought we would take Uber, but they only have Uber in Dubai - not Abu Dhabi. No idea if a cab would take you from Abu Dhabi, but I can't imagine you'll be saving a ton of money...also it was nice to have a driver who knew where he was going.
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Old Feb 5, 19, 1:59 pm
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Originally Posted by bailey911 View Post
In my case on night 2 I asked downstairs when we seated for dinner about the happy hour before 8PM they said you have to order upstairs and then they will send it down. When I was walking up the steps to the bar I noticed a waiter was carrying drinks down. When I got back I saw a few tables around me had done the happy hour in the restaurant thing. They brought my 2nd wine right after the changing light palate cleanser course. I did beer on night 3 and I think the large peroni was 71 AED but its like a pint so 2 pints for 71 AED. One other thing I noticed is when you order drinks they give you free water from a pitcher instead of charging you for the still or sparking.

We were told by our guide that about 80% of the guests there have been chinese for some time now. They get large groups of them.

We did all the activities except the archery

We had a amazing time too and will be back some day.
Can you recall the prices for the still water? My wife and I don't really drink a lot and would likely just get water at dinner... but if it's $10 for a water then I might as well get a beer.
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Old Feb 5, 19, 2:57 pm
  #513  
 
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Hi all. I've booked for two nights in September with my partner...same sex. We are both VERY respectful of local customs where ever we travel and have obviously booked twin beds. Anyone in a similar situation been, and were you treated as a normal guest and made to feel comfortable, or was it an experience to be forgotten? I transited Dubai with a friend last year and we had a twin room in the Sheraton Grand Dubai. It was the most uncomfortable hotel experience either of us had endured. The hotel apologised and placed a few Starpoints in my account, but it was not an experience I would wish to repeat. However, the Al Maha looks unique enough to peak my partner's and my interest in visiting Dubai as a couple (albeit we will just be 'good friends' on this trip)! Any experiences that you can share would be very welcome. Thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 5, 19, 4:35 pm
  #514  
 
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Originally Posted by Only1BD View Post
Hi all. I've booked for two nights in September with my partner...same sex. We are both VERY respectful of local customs where ever we travel and have obviously booked twin beds. Anyone in a similar situation been, and were you treated as a normal guest and made to feel comfortable, or was it an experience to be forgotten? I transited Dubai with a friend last year and we had a twin room in the Sheraton Grand Dubai. It was the most uncomfortable hotel experience either of us had endured. The hotel apologised and placed a few Starpoints in my account, but it was not an experience I would wish to repeat. However, the Al Maha looks unique enough to peak my partner's and my interest in visiting Dubai as a couple (albeit we will just be 'good friends' on this trip)! Any experiences that you can share would be very welcome. Thanks in advance.
Have visited the property before with my wife and daughter and have met and noticed many in your situation. You have nothing at all to worry about once respecting local customs. Its a fantastic property with some truly wonderful staff. Enjoy your trip.

PS: Two days will have you wanting for far more....
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Old Feb 5, 19, 7:45 pm
  #515  
 
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Originally Posted by dcht View Post
Can you recall the prices for the still water? My wife and I don't really drink a lot and would likely just get water at dinner... but if it's $10 for a water then I might as well get a beer.
If I can remember it right it was still 18 AED, sparkling was 31 AED for a large bottle, soft drinks were 27 AED. The cheapest beer was Stella, I believe at 49 AED.
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Old Feb 7, 19, 4:40 am
  #516  
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Near perfect stay - truly subtly luxurious

Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa

118887 United Arab Emirates Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve Al ain Road, Dubai AE

Near perfect stay - truly subtly luxurious (18 Photos)

Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa

Location

This property is situated in the Dubai Desert Conservation reserve area.  It is about an hour+ drive from Dubai (depending on traffic).  To access the resort, you will need to first pass through the reserve entrance which is a guarded area and not open to public unless you have a booking at the resort or travel with one of the affiliated travel companies which organizes the different desert activities from Dubai.  There is no other facilities within walking distance and it takes about 20-30 mins just to get from the gate of the reserve to the lobby of the hotel.  There are ample parking facilities at the resort.  There are no public transportation that reaches the resort.

1_AL_entrance.jpg

Check In

After the checkpoint to enter the reserve, my arrival must have been passed on to the hotel as on approach to the front entrance of the main Lobby building, there was already an associate waiting for me and pointed me to where I should park.  Bags were taken from the car and keys handed in (I guess this is for security and safety reasons - I did not ask since I was not going to use it anyway until departure).

We were brought into the building and to a separate sitting area where welcome drinks and hot towels were brought.  The check-in procedure and run down of the facilities and dining options was done during this whole process.  At this point I was also asked about my welcome gift which I opted for the local gift (a box of dates from Bateel).

After this, we were given a quick tour of the main building - which is where the bar, access to the main (and only) restaurant Al Diwaan, tea time area, library, onsite shop and business centre was located.   This was also the main area where guests are expected to be (~10 mins) before the start of their chosen activities.  

The next stop was the suite - you are brought to your suite by a buggy (which you can request too from your suite back to the main building).  

AL_mainLobby2.jpgAl_mainLobby.jpgAL_welcomedrink.jpg

Room

I was assigned to a suite about 5-10 mins walk away from the main building.  The suite is designed in the Bedouin-camp style.  I believe that I've read in some reviews of guests complaining that it's outdated, which to me is certainly not outdated (yes maybe if you are expecting some modern design) but it is designed to be rustic and reflection of the culture.

The entrance hallway is quite long with tea/coffee making facilities, a (complimentary) sherry, glasses, a powder table and the minibar.  There is also the doorway to the bathroom.  At the end of the entrance is a pair of doors for main part of the suite.

The room had no physical divides, but it was clearly separated into different sections, the bed, working area, sitting area, TV area with a nice touch of a drawing stand (and pads).  The wardrobe is integrated into same cupboard where the TV is located.

The seating area is two love seat/chair.  On the table, there were some welcome gifts - consisting of nuts/dates and fruits.  I guess all guests receive this upon arrival.

Surrounding nearly 1/2 circumference of the room are glass doors which gives you a 180 deg view of the dessert and the private deck/pool.  On the deck, you have 2 pool chairs and a small table for 2 for dining.  

Each suite is separated from your neighbouring suite by palm woven walls.  

The bed was nice and big (I believe you can fit up to 3 average sized person).  Though the only small improvement is that maybe it's time to have a new top mattrass.  There are 2 chestboxes at the foot of the bed.

Internet was good and fast - basically this was accessible throughout the property.  Temperature control in the room was good - airconditioning was not really needed during the day time and mainly only during the night when all doors are closed.  They do have ample plugs around the room and 2 USB charges next to each side of the bed.  The plugs are the usual British/UAE type of plugs.  Did not find any other type.  

Bathroom was as expected really big, with both bath tub and walk in shower.  Toiletries were from Buvgari and they came in big bottles.  [for those that have stayed before at the Ritz Carlton in Seoul - this are the exact same range].  There is ample towels available with 2 pool towels provided.  There's 2 wash basins.

Guests will never be dehydrated here as there are more than sufficient water bottles available including 2 1.5 liter ones.  Coffee is from Nespresso - with one of the largest variety that I've ever seen.  As mentioned earlier, they do have quite a nice sherry complimentary in the room - which is very welcome as a night cap.

The deck area was really nice to spend the whole day having a down time.  Pool was very well kept with the water temperature perfect.  Around the area, the animals (mainly the Arabian Gazelle - which you see roaming every where on the property).  These gazelle's I am told are used to human but still, I would advise to not feed them as this really disturbs their natural food chain and it is not good for them.  Although I have seen lots of other guests feeding it just for their photo op.  [On my last day, the area was hit with a mild sandstorm and later the unique rainstorm - so the whole deck area and pool was literally covered in sand and leaves.]

Every evening, there's a nightly turndown service.

AL_bathroom (2).jpgAl_bathroom.jpgAl_pool.jpgAl_room.jpgAL_room_sherry.jpgAL_room_welcomegift.jpgAL_room1.jpgAl_room2.jpg

Dining

As it was full board, 3 meals per day was included.  Guests have the option to have all 3 meals in their suite or at the main restaurant.  I opted mainly for the restaurant except once where I had lunch on the deck.

Breakfast:  There is a nice spread on offer, but most of the items are a la carte, with only specific items needing additional payment (for example caviar).  Other than that, it was a good variety of options and quality was good.

Lunch: This is a 3-coarse meal.  Options are again a mix of Western and Arabic options.  Quality was way above what I expected - I would say it was up to bib-gourmand level.  For me, both the steak and lamb - one of the best I've eaten (outside of my onboard meal in First on JAL/Etihad).  For full board, only the still water from the jug is free, other than that, bottled water and other beverages are chargable.  [I am however told that water at the resort is underground water - so it's really fresh and safe - and I can vow for that]

Dinner:  Dinner is a 5 course affair - amuse, starter, amuse, main, dessert.  For dinner, guests can also opt for a Sri Lankan rice table for an additional cost.  I did not try this option as I've had such a meal before and I guess nothing will beat those in Sri Lanka.  

All in all - the options and variety for all 3 meals were more than sufficient and really of top quality (and quantity).  After the 2 nights, I was totally stuffed.  Coffee and tea service is also included in the full board.

One only small improvement would be I would have liked to see some more exotic local meat such as camel included.  This would have added to the exoticness of the menu.

Outside of this, they too have a tea time session - with small assortiment of cakes, small bites and sweets available close to the bar area.

Prices for the soft drinks and alcoholic drinks were on par/expected at such a property.  However, they do have an interesting happy hour where it makes the prices not too absurd - so a big thumbs up to the management on this for not only thinking of squeezing every thing out of the guest.

An interesting observation was that I found quite a number of the Asian guests did go for the caviar.  It was presented in a nice box and the complements with it.  Also on my 2nd night, I noticed that 2 groups of guests were there to celebrate their birthday - seems this is quite frequent also reading from the guest book found at the main lobby.

To sum it all you will never feel hungry at this place.  

AL_breakfast.jpg

AL_restaurant.jpg

1_Al_lamb.jpg

Service

As expected service here was very good.  All staff were friendly and helpful.  Of course as usual there were some that were better than others, but in general very good service.  The same goes for the field guides/rangers that handled the different activities - they were knowledgable and informative.

Activities

The resort for every night that you spend at the hotel 2 complimentary activities that you can choose from.  If I remember correctly only 2 activities requires additional payment - horse riding and dune bashing.  Since I've done both before, I just went for the complimentary ones.  Since I had 2 nights, I did the 

- Camel Sunset ride - which brings you about 20 mins to the dunes to watch the sunset with the resort as the background.  They had some sparking wine, soft drinks and some tidbits at the end.  [another option was to go there via 4x4]

- Wildlife drive - this was towards the evening to watch the Arabian Orxy, Gazelles, other desert animals and some of the desert trees.  Some time was given at the dunes to take picture where there was a view of the mountains separating UAE and Oman. [there is also an option of wildlife walk - but this is early in the AM]

- Falconary - an educational activity showing of the resort in house falcons and eagle.  

- Archery - a simple activity just for the fun of it.  Although equipment here was a bit used, so would be nice if they replaced them with newer ones. 

AL_activity.jpgAL_activityDessert.jpg

Pool

I did not use it, but did pass the main pool area on the way down for the Camel riding activity.  I am not sure how often guests will come here since they have their own plunge pool, but the pool was well kept and next to the resort Spa facility.  

I was informed about the availability of the sauna and jacuzzi pool within the Spa complex, but I am not sure if this is complimentary or paid.  However I do remember that the sauna/jacuzzi is an unisex area (if this matters) 

AL_MainPool.jpg

Overall

All in all, one of top 3 stays which left me wanting to stay longer.  I would even put this stay above my previous experience in the Maldives - but of course that is a whole different environment and activities.  However I would say if anyone is looking for a true down time, this is a very good option - what I like best is the subtle luxury that does not come with other places where you had to show your blings.

In general, what I noticed was that most guests were there for 2 nights.  A minority was there for 1 night with quite a number of (I assumed) day trippers - as I noticed them during breakfast but never saw them again for the rest of the days (and did find out that there are such day packages from Dubai).

One small improvement would be if the resort will have just something to differenciate or add that special touch for showing appreciation to the Marriott Elite status guests.  [Room upgrade will most probably not be the one - as I would not know what to do with a 2nd room, but maybe something like a special gift or a bottle of wine or something]

For those interested and have their own car - on my way back to Dubai, I did stop by Camelious, the only camel milk factory in the world if I understood correctly.  It was quite pricy, about 175 AED pp for the tour (which you had to book beforehand - and although I did drop them an email, and no response, when I turned up, I was still accepted for the tour).  It was an ok tour around the factory - which was quite simple.  However what was interesting was the facts about the camels.  You also had an opportunity to feed the camels (included in the price) and you do get a cup of camel milk to try.  Other than that the products from this factory is quite pricy (Al Maha do serve some of the flavoured milk at breakfast).  

Near perfect stay - truly subtly luxurious

Would you like to write a review on the Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa?

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Old Feb 7, 19, 5:58 am
  #517  
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Fantastic review. Thanks!

I’ll be there in a month. Can’t wait.
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Old Feb 7, 19, 8:49 am
  #518  
 
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Great review, Thanks.

Really looking forward to my stay here this December.
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Old Feb 8, 19, 1:10 pm
  #519  
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top quality FT review, thank you @nldogbert
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Old Feb 8, 19, 7:52 pm
  #520  
 
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I am thinking of booking a reward stay at the Al maha for October of this year using the 60k per night. What is the ideal number of nights to stay here? Itíll be our anniversary trip, flying from Toronto, so thinking 3-5 nights in Dubai then 2-3 nights in Istanbul.

If we are using 180k nights for 3 nights, 240k gets us 5 nights. Seems like a Ďbetterí deal, is there enough to do at Al
Maha for 5 nights or would we be bored with so many nights? That itís better to stay there for 3 nights then go visit other parts of Dubai or more nights in Istanbul? Itíll be our first time in that area of the world.
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Old Feb 8, 19, 8:04 pm
  #521  
 
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Originally Posted by Commie View Post
I am thinking of booking a reward stay at the Al maha for October of this year using the 60k per night. What is the ideal number of nights to stay here? Itíll be our anniversary trip, flying from Toronto, so thinking 3-5 nights in Dubai then 2-3 nights in Istanbul.

If we are using 180k nights for 3 nights, 240k gets us 5 nights. Seems like a Ďbetterí deal, is there enough to do at Al
Maha for 5 nights or would we be bored with so many nights? That itís better to stay there for 3 nights then go visit other parts of Dubai or more nights in Istanbul? Itíll be our first time in that area of the world.
Most people stay just 2 nights
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Old Feb 8, 19, 9:59 pm
  #522  
 
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Im staying 5 nights.. if we get bored after two nights dubai only 45 mins away
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Old Feb 9, 19, 2:33 am
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Originally Posted by mikewhyatt View Post
Im staying 5 nights.. if we get bored after two nights dubai only 45 mins away
Just to be clear, you do not want to be commuting up and down to Dubai city when staying here.

If you're the type that gets bored quickly on a beach holiday, book two nights.
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Old Feb 9, 19, 11:46 pm
  #524  
 
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Originally Posted by stargold View Post
Just to be clear, you do not want to be commuting up and down to Dubai city when staying here.

If you're the type that gets bored quickly on a beach holiday, book two nights.
Curious why not?
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Old Feb 10, 19, 1:34 am
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Originally Posted by westsai View Post
Curious why not?
Itís actually quite far. Itís probably 10-15min of cruising through dunes before you even get to the highway.
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