Tracking the Palatial Offerings of the Middle East’s Newest Hotels
There's nowhere else that does sumptuousness quite like the high-brow lodgings of the Middle East, a fact exemplified by the region's latest luxury retreat: Rosewood Resorts' Al Faisaliah at Durrat Arriyadh in Saudi Arabia, which opened this month. To fête the resort's opening (and provide an excuse to talk about its 100 acres of gardens and "model sailboating lagoon") here's a quick-hit list of the Middle East's latest luxury options, all of which opened in the last year.
Incredible gorge overlooks? Check. A 330-foot lagoon? Oh yeah. Personal guides that escort guests via camel? But of course. Have a look, below:
Ajman Saray, Ajman, U.A.E.
The Vibe: Palm-shaded beach retreat on the Arabian Gulf with a strong sense of place: grand arches, mashrabiya windows, intricately carved woodwork.
Who Goes: Families looking for a seaside escape with Emirati flair.
Sheikh-worthy extras: Speedboat transports from Dubai; private tours of the Crown Prince of Ajman's stud farm, personal submarines for a new way to get up-close with marine life.
Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman
The Vibe: Local stones and woods lend a rugged effect to 78 flat-roofed suites outfitted with regional crafts (Bahla pottery, copper teapots) as does the otherworldly setting: overlooking a wadi gorge 6,500 feet above sea level in the Al Hajar Mountains.
Who Goes: Adventure travelers craving off-the-grid treks to abandoned villages and crumbling 17th-century forts.
Sheikh-worthy extras: Picnics incorporating local berries, walnuts, and olive oils are set up on remote valleys and mountaintops where you can truly appreciate the sheer silence; private villas have en-suite steam rooms and plunge pools.
Royal Pavilion Villas by Qasr Al Sarab, Abu Dhabi
The Vibe: Sandstone-colored desert oasis in the Liwa Desert with contemporary takes on old-world aesthetics (latticed lanterns; geometric patterns), Bedouin-inspired seating, and private cabanas.
Who Goes: People eager to unplug and escape Dubai’s skyscrapers and bright lights — but not its luxuries.
Sheikh-worthy extras: Personal guides escort guests by camel from the main Qasr Al Sarab resort; extreme sports like dune-bashing and desert-land sailing.
Anantara Banana Island, Qatar
The Vibe: Maldives meets the Middle East on a private island seven miles from Doha, highlighted by 11 overwater bungalows, a 330-foot lagoon, and the floating Q Lounge restaurant.
Who goes: It’s got all the trappings of spring break — beach volleyball, a surf pool, and a 2,600-foot stretch of sand — minus the booze, so it’s a hit with area fun-seekers looking for an easy beach break.
Sheikh-worthy extras: Two ways to arrive in style: catch a helicopter from the airport or charter a yacht to the resort’s private marina.
Al Faisaliah at Durrat Arriyadh, a Rosewood Resort, Saudi Arabia
The Vibe: A 162-room sandy fortress set in 100 acres of gardens with a rooftop shisha bar and 50,000-square-foot Sense spa, minutes from Riyadh.
Who goes there: Royals and other well-to-do Saudi families.
Sheikh-worthy extras: Desert bonfire dinners in a Bedouin-style tent; a model sailboating lagoon, where guests race remote-controlled boats.