Moustafa Sakr, Area General Manager of The St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Abu Dhabi and The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts, Abu Dhabi, speaks to Kasun Illankoon on the unique offerings provided by the resort and how the architecture and designs reflect the Al Wathba region.

Deep within the desert landscape lies Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi – an intimate retreat suffused with natural beauty and serene tranquility. With a distinct Spa as the hallmark of the hotel experience, guests can rebalance their equilibrium and embark on an individual wellness journey. Inspired by classical dwellings, the boutique resort’s 103 guest rooms and villas feature timeless local details, traditional artwork, and Arabesque accessories, alongside a range of dining destinations showcasing the dunes to panoramic perfection. Step away from it all into an exclusive natural environment, with the space to reconnect and the freedom to lose yourself.

Inspiration for the architectural and design features of the resort
The design of the resort is inspired by the look and feel of a traditional Arabian village. Structured to blend seamlessly into the surrounding rolling dunes, it honours the history of the region and the Bedouin tribes. An immensely private boutique resort, it offers an immersive journey through the essence of Middle Eastern luxury and the warm and welcoming nature of authentic Arabian hospitality. Artwork and ornaments created by local artists and starring the most beautiful patterns and shapes of Emirati culture, add a special and unique touch to every suite, villa, restaurant, and relaxing public area.

Moustafa Sakr, Area General Manager of The St. Regis Hotels Resorts, Abu Dhabi and The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts

Properties distinctive features
Our stunning new state-of-the-art suites are certainly one of the highlights. Available with one or two bedrooms, the private and elegant spaces are ideal for couples, families, and friends alike. Adorned with elegant, hand carved wooden furnishings, classical artwork, Arabesque lamps, delicate mesh windows and designs influenced by the treasured traditions of the UAE, each enchanting suite is guaranteed to instil an instant sense of calm and comfort. Providing every relaxing amenity imaginable, guests can unwind in their own exclusive jacuzzi or plunge pool and spend quality time together out on their own private balcony or terrace. Sheltered from the rest of the world with a bespoke decorative bamboo border and filled with luscious greenery, vibrant local flowers, sunbeds, comfortable seating and spaces for al fresco dining, the private and secluded ambiance ensures that everyone feels totally at ease and can switch off from reality. Plush king-sized beds, stylish stone bathrooms including double sinks, vast bathtubs and magnificent walk-in showers complete the exceptional facilities. While the intimate and exclusive experience can be further enhanced with a revitalising massage, or a sumptuous meal, ordered directly to the suite. Meanwhile, the 13 private villas are ideal for those who are looking for an exceptionally spacious setting for their private desert getaway, plus a more expansive selection of deluxe facilities. Available with one or two bedrooms, the grand villas are just as beautiful inside as they are on the outside. Emphasising the sensational views and stunning setting, each comes with its own private outdoor area that faces straight out onto the shimmering golden waves of the desert. Centred around a picturesque temperature-controlled plunge pool and surrounded by comfortable sun beds, cosy seating, and blissful spots from which to lap up the desert sun or curl up with a book in the cooling shade, the villas transport each guest to their own paradise. Surrounded by the awe-inspiring power of the desert dunes and infused with serenity, sophistication, and local artwork each villa contains a grand dining room complete with a large wooden dining table, a plush living room finished with Arabesque accessories and a widescreen TV, luxurious bathrooms and lavish bedrooms fitted with king sized and double beds. For those travelling as a large party, the three-bedroom Royal Villa ensures that everyone has their own space to unwind. Spanning over an enormous 360sqm/3874 ft , it includes a separate maid’s room, three bedrooms with private balconies, an exclusive gazebo, and a dining room suitable for up to 10 people. Finally, the Royal Compound contains everything required for a treasured, happy, heartfelt, and flawless family vacation.

Contained within its own private walled area and entered via a separate gate, the stately compound contains four decadent villas – the three-bedroom Royal Villa, the one-bedroom villa, two two-bedroom villas – and a traditional Majlis. Of course, the vast palm-fringed infinity pool is another stand out feature. Surrounded by the rolling golden dunes it’s a special oasis of calm that leaves every guest totally enthralled.

Reflecting the spirit of Al Wathba Region
The bedouin tribes roamed the Al Wathba region for centuries, and the featured d cor and designs of the resort echo their traditions wonderfully. As mentioned above, the rooms and suites feature Arabesque ornaments, lamps and intricately carved wooden furnishings adorned traditional Middle Eastern Designs. The neutral colour scheme also reflects traditional Middle Eastern culture, and every element has been designed to create the feel of an authentic desert village, infused with the highest levels of luxury and welcoming charm. Meanwhile, the beautiful Saray Spa also provides another fascinating insight into UAE culture. Offering the highest levels of luxury and privacy, the welcoming centre of wellness is inspired by the idea of the traditional Middle Eastern Caravanserai, a place where travellers from all over the world gathered to rest, recover and rejuvenate. At Saray Spa, desert travellers are invited to pause for a while and renew their energy levels before embarking on the journey ahead. S

et within a magnificent and calming space, this enrapturing oasis of serenity contains a wonderful collection of pampering facilities including a sauna, steam room, whirlpool, salt room, ice bucket, hot and cold plunge pools and a snow cave. The boutique resort has the one and only snow cave room at the Saray Spa in Abu Dhabi – what makes this snow cave room unique or special compared to others in UAE? Our snow cave is exceptionally special as it features real snow. Spending time immersed in real snow is proven to help boost metabolism and improve overall body circulation. Fitted with relaxing lighting and designed to help guests switch off and unwind, the snow cave is an unmissable feature that should be combined with every visit to our spa. •The location of the resort is unique as well – set in the lovely in an intimate retreat suffused with natural beauty and serene tranquillity and away from the metropolitan city – why does this setting make the resort a unique to Abu Dhabi? Most of Abu Dhabi’s many luxury resorts offer a beach or city break, but our setting is totally unique. Set out in the endless expanse of the mesmerising desert, guests are free to relax in total privacy and peace and experience the ‘real’ essence of the UAE and explore its history. Whilst it makes guests feel like they have travelled a world away from the busy buzz of Downtown Abu Dhabi, Al Wathba Desert, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa is just less than an hour’s drive from the centre of the UAE capital. It combines intimacy, tranquillity, natural beauty, and a hint of adventure, all infused with elegant luxury and locally inspired details.

Ideally positioned for an unforgettable stay, guests are only a short drive away from Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, an area of natural beauty that welcomes flocks of colourful flamingos throughout the year, and the elusive Al Wathba Salt Lake and majestic Al Wathba Fossil Dunes. Or, for guests looking to emerge themselves a bit further in local culture, the fascinating Sheikh Zayed Heritage Village is also within easy reach. Plus, honouring the region’s strong links to the world of horse riding, the resort is proud to own its own collection of wild Arabian horses. Free to roam in the hotel’s enclosed paddock, guests are invited to admire the beauty of these animals whilst enjoying a sumptuous meal in the Terra Secca restaurant.

Cultural tourism in Abu Dhabi
Whilst Dubai has countless amazing events, beaches, hotels and malls, tourists and residents can experience more culture in Abu Dhabi. Located within its own beautiful expanse of Arabian landscape, Al Wathba Desert Resort and Spa encourages hotel guests and outside visitors to learn about the heritage of the land by taking part in a curated choice of sports and pastimes. Providing the perfect opportunity to learn about the history of the local area and experience what it was like to roam with the indigenous Bedouin tribes, the boutique activities range from camel and horse riding through the dunes to tension- relieving massages infused with ingredients sourced from the Dead Sea. Or, if guests are craving something a bit more fast paced, adrenaline seekers can taste the exhilarating thrill of careering over the golden banks in a dune buggy or speeding down the slopes on a bike under the care of the resort’s knowledgeable guides. The archery classes encourage participants to switch off from their day-to-day concerns and work on their aim, and the FlowRider allows guests to have a go at learning to surf in the middle of the desert. Finally, the desert bonfire offers the opportunity to head out into the wilderness after sunset for a campfire under the stars accompanied by authentic Emirati refreshments and plenty of enrapturing local stories. Future vision of the resort As mentioned above, we very recently launched our brand-new suites, and we want to keep on building our customer experience over the coming years.

We also opened our magical Al Mabeet desert camp for New Year’s Eve to great success, and we hope to host more events in the spacious venue in the future. Overall, we want to help as many guests as possible experience the essence of the Luxury Collection and all that it represents. We created Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa as a place where global explorers can relax and experience the beauty of a unique boutique resort, while at the same time also learning about the local culture of the UAE through different dining experiences and activities. All of our hosts see themselves as guides who take guests on transformational journeys, showcase the UAE’s rich culture and encourage guests to connect to the region in a meaningful way. By providing a peaceful sanctuary and a total sense of privacy, we continue to help all of our guests discover new places and gather more unforgettable experiences.