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“Desert Oasis”

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Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Hamim
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 27, 2011

Just returned from the Qasr Al Sarab and very impressed. We were told it’s only been open about 18 months but it’s well established, and probably best describe this as an oasis in the desert. So great place to chill out, and great having meals looking out over the dunes, and the sunset. Very nice accommodation and good food, service is very good as well. Pool ideal for families with children, but plenty of areas around the pool for people who want some peace and quiet. Definitely go again, and thanks to Opus One Luxury Holidays for recommending this one.

Stayed: April 2011, traveled as a couple
2  Thank dmoxon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,188 - 2,194 of 3,369 reviews

Reviewed April 14, 2011

We stayed for 1 night, 8 of us in a 2-bed appartment (2 families). We had foldaway beds for the kids. The bathrooms were enormous! Huge round baths big enough for all 8 of us! (we didn't). This hotel really is in the middle of the desert, we were taken there by our friends who are working in Abu Dhabi. The service is amazing. You will be treated like royalty. They bring you cool towels and drinks on arrival. They give you towels and find you sunbeds, proper loungers not cheap plastic ones. The evening buffet is fantastic - everything you could wish for - salads, canapes, meat, fish, hot or cold, desserts, breads, cheese, fruit, yogurt . Breakfast buffet is the same - there is everything, a mixture of Arabian and european food. There is a supervised children's room, with PS3 Wii etc, paddling pool - great for when it's too hot. We went on a 15 minute camel ride, long enough to enjoy the experience. The jeep safari was exhiliarating! This hotel really is in the middle of the desert, miles from anywhere, so take all you need (except food). There is only one souvenir shop on site, it doesn't sell very much. Do take books. There is a swim up bar, selling alcoholic cocktails. Wine in the restaurant is expensive, this is the same in Abu Dhabi not just this hotel. Take lots of sun cream and drink lots of water.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled with family
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2  Thank LancashireCheesecake
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 11, 2011

Truly in the middle of nowhere and a good 20 minutes drive from the main road the hotel is an oasis of calm and relaxation. We really liked the spacious rooms, the fabulous bath and shower, the Elemis toiletries, the Nespresso machine and the wooden box of complimentary pastries - wonderful to have with a coffee looking out across the desert from the patio area. Service was excellent and the pool deserted when we were there in January. However you are confined to the hotel for everything and apart from complimentary water in your room all food and drink is top London prices. A mediocre bottle of wine is £40 and a gin and tonic around £8. The food was good with breakfast being excellent and we were not so keen on the buffet preferring the pool side restaurant which served an excellent mezze and fish dishes with very friendly staff. A great place for a few days in the sun but too isolated to get anywhere else of interest

Room Tip: Take your own alcohol to enjoy in your room
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  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank DJ62
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 10, 2011

I went there 3 week ago and i have been so desapointed that i have to advise trip advisor readers. yes the location ,the rooms,and the hotel itself is fantastic ,but what a managment? what food ? what service? .breakfast was 3 star level at the best, dinner in suhail restaurant was terrible , cheep product but huge bill.... service at the pool does not exist, no cold towel , not water are offer......
restaurant by the pool is a pur desapointment, chicken was dry , terrible bread.....
what upset us is that we use to hear a lot in Abu Dhabi thatthis hotel as one of the best food in UAE if not the best....
please if you go there , bring your food and your drinks and enoy them in your villa.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank belon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2011

Reading the reviews I think it has all been stated. This is a totally unique hotel in a fabulous setting. The ambience is quiet and relaxing, although we were surprised at the number of small babies, toddlers and older children there. I would have thought it was an hotel which suited adults more. This did affect the blissful peace at the pool and in the dining rooms at times. A word of warning the hotel is at its busiest at the weekends!
There is so much to praise. As the latest long and detailed review stated the hotel itself is so beautifully designed; it stretches for seemingly miles; a fort on the outside,a tasteful palace on the inside, all blending into the wonderfully coloured desert. At night you look across to the lights ot the private Royal Pavillion, which guarantees total privacy for its special guests.
All is authentic and understated and you feel cossetted from the first moment you arrive, and your cases are taken from you, and you are seated comfortably eating dates and sipping Arabic coffee, until the moment you leave reluctantly, to return to the hustle and bustle of the world.
We had half board and although we do not particularly like buffetst Al Wahal is a buffet which gives you a remarkable choice of freshly prepared food, from starters to desserts at dinner. At breakfast the choice is amzing; do try the camel milk, it's so good for you and delicious! Nicholas, the pastry chef bakes the croissants daily and they are mouth-watering. The staff in this restaurant are superb; we have rarely been looked after with such care, everyone just wants you to have a wonderful time and they go out of their way to help you do just that. We have to mention Umesh, Herman and Gladson; thank you so much. If you can, do try the a la carte restaurant, Suhail. The food and service are first class. Ghadeer, the restaurant by the pool, is a pleasant place to have lunch/dinner but here the service slipped a little and the food seemed over-priced.
One other reviewer mentioned top management and criticised their lack of visibility and initially we had to agree. It would have been good to have a presence around reception at times but we did not realise that the whole management structure was in a state of flux and new managers were getting to grips with the hotel and their positions. We mentioned this point and within hours we had met two charming members of the new management team who explained and discussed all our points with us; nothing was too much trouble.
As a result we left Qasr Al Sarab with very warm feelings about the whole experience.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank BethanyHall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 27, 2011

This is, no doubt about it, one amazing place. Here's why:
- the location: the hotel is right inside one of the world's largest sandy deserts. To build it they had to first build the road into the desert; then they built a cement production factory; and only then could they start the process of building the hotel itself. Since it is, literally, miles from anywhere, that also meant building all the utilities, power generators, accommodation and recreation facilities for the staff, and so on. Basically, they built a village in two parts - one for the guests and one for the staff (about 500 people, at present). And there you are - in the middle of a vast sandy desert surrounded by dunes, having a fully 5 star experience. The hotel itself is in a slight valley between two vast sand dune systems, spread out in a long crescent shape. To get around you either walk (remember walking?) or else get whizzed around by golf cart buggy things.
- the design: one of the gorgeous things about this hotel is the design. Firstly, what it's not. Its not achingly hip with staff too cool for school. Nor is it in any way, shape or form, Dubai Bling. No crystal, gold, chrome or anything else which you'd associate with mega rich Middle East is here. In fact, the only thing shining anywhere is the mosaic districtly gilded on the inside of the quitely trickling fountain in the reception area. OK, so what is the design? Well, it's as if a friend has invited you to stay at the old, country house he has just inherited from his rich Syrian great uncle who retired to the desert and spent the last 20 years writing. Your friend has had enough time to ensure the plumbing is fully 21st century, to put in wifi (free, of course) throughout the place, ensure that each room has all essential mod cons such as a media centre (DVD/CD/PC/MP3/4 access), a nespresso machine, a choice of lighting and aircon designs to meet your needs at different times of the day, and so on. But your friend hasn't otherwise altered the place. There are both orginal art works and salvaged vintage items in all the public rooms. Antique rugs are everywhere. There are quirky souvenirs from times past (that's that rich Syrian great uncle, again). The colour palette is dark wood, creams, taupe, chestnut brown, caramel with touchs of russet, old gold, bronze; the textures are natural - wood, silk, linen, terracotta tiling, antiqued leather, wooden floors. The building itself is plaster (ie adobe) around a wooden framework - with rushes, straw and plant materials used decoratively throughout. Lighting is from endless numbers of metal lanterns (OK, electric light bulb lit, not candles - but it is done so well you have to work hard to spot the difference). The effect is like Ralph Lauren in the Middle East - only much more authentically recreating a historical mood than Mr Lauren achieves, or than I've come across in other Middle East hotels (yes Kempinski Istar Dead Sea, I'm particularly thinking of you...). It's fabulous, and with enormous attention to detail. As you can tell, I loved it.
- the ambience: very relaxed, very calm. No need or requirement for any conspicuous displays of wealth, even if you arrived (as some guests did during my stay) by helicopter or stay in the separate Presidential villa area. During the day, the only sound you will hear is bird song and the discrete trickle of fountains. No disco, no "scene", no hassle.
- the service: just outstanding...even when stuff went wrong (that's what life is - stuff going wrong unexpectedly), the staff were faultlessly helpful and committed to finding a solution. Nothing was ever too much trouble. On the basis of this aspect alone, I would definitely think about visiting other Anantara resorts.
- the excursions: this is run by a sister company to the hotel - within the Anantara group but not the same management as the hotel. I had to work quite hard to get the excursions I had already requested by email some weeks before actioned - definitely room for improvement there. But the excursions themselves (desert dawn walk; desert dusk camel ride) were well done, with knowledgeable guides ready to share their insights and ensure all enjoyed the experience, and with appropriate attention to safety. There's scope for doing more here - for example, although there's a decent telescope provided for star watching, there are no books (or electronic guides). However apparently an astronomer has just been hired from Australia, so there are plans to develop this aspect further.
- the food: I didn't sample the lunch/dinner menus, so I can only report on the breakfast and the bar snacks. But both were very good. Breakfast is buffet style, with a very wide range of choice (including, if you're feeling adventurous, camel milk with dates milk shakes...). No pork products, of course. Another example of attention to design detail? The napkins are linen - not table linen, I mean real flax linen. The bar snacks were very strong too - imaginative variations on the "mezze" (hors d'oeuvres) theme. Just right, with a cocktail, as you gaze at the stars overhead in the evening from the telescope thoughtfully provided on the main balcony.
- the spa: I didn't use it so can't comment
- the swimming pool: it's there, it's large, circular and has both a swim up bar area at one end and a casual restaurant area under thatched shaded area at the other. Plenty of loungers, plenty of towels, and enough life guards/attendants to ensure you can order a snack / drink / another towel without effort
- the rooms; I had a king superior (or some such) with balcony. There is a smaller option, which comes not with a balcony but with a small garden/ lawn area. These are however on the ground floor - so I'm not sure that you would get much a view of the desert dunes undulating into the distance if you had one of those. The balcony rooms with or without your own personal pool) are on the first or second floors, so a great view, as well as a great place to lounge in privacy watching the view, is assured. Super soft pillows (goose down, I assume). Not really necessary to use the aircon while I was there, but I guess later in the year you would definitely want it. As mentioned before, nespresso machine, TV / full media centre, huge round tub as well as separate shower area - and all the usual other things you would expect to find in a 5 star resort fully on top of its game. Not much of a DVD/CD libarary, though, so bring your own.
- business centre: if you don't want to lug your netbook along for the ride (well, I'm lazy), no need - just use the well equiped business centre with super fast internet access (no charge).
Great stuff to do: (a) gaze at the stars. You can do this from the main hotel balconies, but obviously the further you are from light pollution the better. My room (285) was almost at the very end of the south wing of the hotel, and so easily far enough away from the main hotel light source to allow for enough darkness to star gaze from the comfort of my own balcony. (b) climb the dunes to watch the sun set. It will take you about 20 minutes, so start out at least 35 minutes before the time of sun set to get full advantage of the lengthening shadows and the burnt orange glow fading in the dusk. (c) day dream in the sun (or if you're like me, in the shade), sipping cardoman-flavoured coffee and savouring the absence of the sound of any machinery or cars (d) spot the tracks of desert animals in the sand - mainly lizards, gerbils but also gazelles and foxes - which appear overnight but which are far too shy to be easily spotted by day.
Stuff that they could do even better: (a) no sign, strangely, of any environmental awareness apart from the obligatory "help the environment by using your towels again" notice. I asked a couple of staff members about this; they said that a "green team" amongst the staff has just been launched. Seems strange to have been functioning for over a year already (and in the sort of environment which would obviously make sense to recycle everything you can) and not to have done this. Still, better late than never. (b) the booking system for excursions. My advice is email before you arrive with your request and be meticulous in following up with further emails until they confirm that your excursions are indeed booked...
Would I visit again? Yes, I definitely will - and I very rarely visit the same place again.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled solo
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3  Thank Carolyn2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 24, 2011

Our transportation from Dubai airport to the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, 2.5 hours in a long-wheel-base S-class, was arranged by the excellent Premier Limousine Services (Jumeirah Group). The drive was rather uneventful and tiresome, although very comfortable.

Our first impression of the resort was great. The location and the grounds of the QAS are stunning. We stayed in villa no. 25 for four nights. The setting, the layout, the quality of the rooms and the materials are excellent. In particular, we liked the bathrooms and the outside area including the small plunge pool. The indoor shower and the sleeping quality was great too. The view from our villa was awesome. Also the staff was good and always with a smile. The buffet during the weekend was great, although the variety was slightly limited after the weekend.

Our only negative was in relation to a large group from a pharmaceutical company that needed to be seating inside the buffet restaurant due to a sudden sand storm. During our dinner, the staff around us constantly moved tables and chairs and were starring at us and our table to be taken for the group such that we left with a very bad feeling. It was like we should hurry with our dinner only to have another table and some chairs available for a (s...y) group that is staying for probably one night or two. This should have been arranged without disturbing the other guests. After that, we talked to one of the managers and he tried to fix the problem but it wasn't something to be fixed.

We have been travelling to the UAE for more than 9 years now but without a doubt this was one of the best hotels in the UAE.

We will most likely return.

  • Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Roo08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara

Address: 1 Qasr Al Sarab Road, Hamim 131277, United Arab Emirates
Location: United Arab Emirates > Emirate of Abu Dhabi > Liwa Oasis > Hamim
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Hamim
Price Range: $324 - $753 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara 5*
Number of rooms: 206
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Where mystic charm, cultural passion and unparalleled luxury evoke distinctive memories. Set in the middle of the Rub' al Khali or Empty Quarter, the largest uninterrupted body of sand in the world, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resorts by Anantara is isolated from the world, yet is less than 200km away from Abu Dhabi. The resort brings the mysticism of this eminent location to life, inviting you to discover the unique appeal of its surroundings. Enjoy an array of facilities and immerse yourself in the wonderful splendour of an eternally changing landscape. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort By Anantara Hotel Abu Dhabi

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