Al Wathba: luxury amid desert dunes

Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi, is a tranquil oasis in the heart of the UAE emirate, cut off from the bustle of the city and at the same time, easily accessible. On a weekend trip to the luxurious hideout, we find that the property is ideal for families, couples and wedding parties.



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, 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 99 guestrooms and villas offer choice views, including sunset and sunrise vistas of the rolling dunes.



Al Wathba is ideal for horseback- and camel-riding afficionados. The 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 include 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.



Al Wathba’s dining options match up to its generous Arabian hospitality fame, starting with a delicious breakfast at spread 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 lineup of beverages and quick bites from around the world, served in bento-style boxes. It is also quite busy with a constant bee line of servers leaving the kitchen, their hands full of mojitos, burgers, healthy poke bowls and the odd sorbet.



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 sqm, 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, hamman or any selection from the body and face collection. Scrubs and soaps are made from camel milk adds a brilliant local touch to every experience at Saray Spa.

All in all, Al Wathba has only benefited from its recent reflagging exercise, having been made available to Marriott’s 160 million Bonvoy members as the perfect opulent Arabian escape. As travel and hospitality evolve from staffing challenges post pandemic, and Abu Dhabi eases away all Covid-19 restrictions, Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa will steadily rise in popularity.