Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
The resort was designed to resemble a Bedouin encampment, and overlooks open plains and dune belts, with the Hajar Mountains in the distance.
The suites each have a private veranda, a swimming pool surrounded by a wooden deck, and unhindered views of the desert.
The restaurant serves delicious Mediterranean, Arabic and Asian-influenced cuisine, and has an alfresco terrace overlooking the dunes. Alternatively, guests can dine on the private decks of their suites. The spa offers a variety of massage and beauty treatments, as well as a sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and ice-cold plunge pool.
There is also a library and a fully equipped gym. On-site activities include traditional desert pursuits such as falconry, camel trekking, horse riding and archery. There are also guided nature walks to discover desert flora and fauna, such as the Arabian oryx. Off-site activities include visits to the wadis and mountains, sand-skiing, 4x4 dune safaris and a range of other excursions.
Why We Love It
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa is a luxurious oasis set within an 86 square mild desert conservation reserve that represents almost 5% of Dubai's total land area.
Bab al Shams
The resort is styled as a traditional Arabian fortress, with the rooms located in clusters of two-storey buildings around the atmospheric complex.
The 115 bedrooms are clustered around the atmospheric courtyard. The resort has a plethora of facilities, which include a large infinity pool with stunning desert and sunset views and a swim-up pool bar, a refreshing 'rain room', a well-equipped gym and a spa offering a variety of massages and treatments.
For those who want to get out and explore the local area there is a wide range of activities on offer such as guided horse riding on genuine Arabian horses, camel rides, archery and falconry displays. Four-wheel drive excursions over the undulating desert sands are also available, with sundowner drinks on the dunes. Bab Al Shams has several restaurants, including an Indian, a pizzeria and an open-air Arabic serving traditional food in a desert encampment atmosphere. There is also a rooftop cocktail bar with shisha (water pipes). Bab Al Shams has a great shaded children's pool, and the Sinbad's Kids Club provides a programme of activities for children.
Why We Love It
Bab Al Shams - meaning 'Gateway to the Sun' - is a five-star desert resort & spa, great in combination with one of the beach resorts on Dubai's gulf coast.
Jumeirah Beach Club
The luxurious suites, each with its own Jacuzzi and private balcony or garden, are housed in Polynesian-style low rise buildings, set amidst the landscaped gardens.
The bedrooms are cool, light and airy, and all the rooms are just a few steps away from the sea. Guests can enjoy superb cuisine at the resort's restaurant or you can dine privately in the comfort of your suite. There is also a beach bar offering lighter meals and cocktails.
Jumeirah Beach Club has an excellent range of facilities including a Balinese/Japanese-influenced spa staffed by highly skilled therapists and masseurs; two swimming pools; three squash courts; seven floodlit tennis courts; a state-of-the-art gym; a sauna and steam room, and a water sports centre with a team of instructors. International golf courses and Dubai's world renowned shopping are all in close proximity. For children, the nearby Wild Wadi Water Park is guaranteed to please.
Why We Love It
This five-star, all-suite resort is situated on a picturesque, tranquil white beach amid lush tropical gardens.
Ritz Carlton Al Wadi
We know, we know - the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi is not technically in Dubai but actually neighbouring Emirate Ras Al-Khaimah, but it's a mere 28 miles from Dubai Airport so we're going with it!
Geographical anomalies aside, this is, in our humble opinion, one of the best places to stay in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and particularly perfect for families.
There are 101 individual villas - all with their own pools - dotted around a beautiful 250-acre nature reserve where gazelles, oryx and camels roam. The villas have arabesque décor and furnishings with the top of the range Al Khaimah and Al Sahari styles also featuring Bedouin style tented canopy roofs.
There are several dining options, including Al Waha, serving international dishes and local Arabian specialities; Safran for excellent quality Thai fare; or private barbeque dinners arranged to order. Watering holes include the Samar Lounge for cocktails and above it the roof terrace Moon Bar where guests can stargaze, drink mint tea (or more cocktails) and smoke a shisha pipe.
Activities on offer at the hotel include 4x4 desert safaris, camel rides and falconry, and there is also a fantastic spa with a great range of treatments on offer.
Why We Love It
The spa is particularly luxurious and the Balinese trained staff really know how to pamper.