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“Superb oasis of tranquility”

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Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Murqquab
Certificate of Excellence
london
Level Contributor
145 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 245 helpful votes
“Superb oasis of tranquility”
Reviewed September 6, 2007

We stayed in Al Maha for 4 nights in September 2006. We had the standard room which comprises a completely segregated individual building with bedroom and lounge area overlooking a private pool through patio doors, with a bathroom behind it the bedroom, which has a separate side patio door onto the terrace as well. There is a useful small desk area with WiFi as you come through the front door. The pictures on their website are accurate as to the room etc, that’s exactly what you get in a standard room - there are 2 bigger suites with multiple bedrooms etc - not needed for your average person staying there.

This was unquestionably the best hotel we have ever stayed in. It is interesting to read some of the negative reviews below. The issue here is that Al Maha is a specific type of ambience and clientele, that if you don’t fit in you won't like. I found it absolutely perfect. Yes it is absolutely dead quiet, no you never bump into other guests, yes dinner is a quiet affair in the evening. Brilliant! I am happy to pay for that to avoid children (prohibited at Al Maha), general unruliness or anything that disturbs my relaxation time. I have limited amounts of it, and I want it to be unspoiled, which is exactly what Al Maha delivers. If you are looking for an energetic venue, don’t book the Al Maha - its entirely designed to be a total relaxation experience - there is not much "to do", that's the whole idea....

The resort is an "all inclusive" basis, save that alcoholic beverages are extra, but not extortionate (though not cheap!) . It was still very hot when we went (and also Ramadan) so we weren't particularly in the mood for heavy drinking - a couple of G&Ts on the balcony pre dinner from Upul the excellent barman were great, and a bottle of red with dinner. Any other beverages are complimentary and you can order them from room service at any time, or if you walk to the Spa they will also make all sorts of smoothies fruit juices etc for you there.

We were there during Ramadan, and there was no issue with alcohol at all, other than, please don’t walk around during the day with it - broadly this translated as they couldn’t serve alcohol at the Main Pool, other than that do whatever you like - again order form room service if needed.

The arrival process as others have commented involves being sat in a little staging area with some drinks and dates whilst they explain how the resort works and introduce your personal resort guide and activities guide. I guess the idea here is to generate integration and personalisation which does work well. We didn’t particularly see either of those again, not for any positive or negative reason, but we didn’t their services.

People complaining about a lack of golf karts below. Not an issue for us, we chose to walk. It was pleasant to walk to dinner in the evening and breakfast in the morning, I don’t particularly feel the need to summon a driver for a 100m walk. Frankly I would have been embarrassed to call room service to send someone to pick me up for such a short distance. Admittedly some of the outer rooms are a little further but not a long distance at all.

The central pool and spa area was generally deserted for most of the day! Brilliant - we found the whole place to be so quiet and peaceful it was truly a supremely relaxing time. We tended to slip over in the afternoon for some smoothies and a swim in the bigger pool, pending the arrival of the daily camel trek.

The comments about the game drive etc being a little faux, or missing something, I can understand. It is a little bit touristy (think Big cameras, bigger voices and even bigger spare tyres depending on your fellow guests...). However, that is entirely surpassed by the seclusion you have at all other times. Certainly if you are looking for a safari, don’t go to Al Maha, do it properly in SA. It is not intended to be a full on safari experience. The camel trek out at sunset is great fun. We skipped the game spotting, walking stuff, and did the Dune Drive and the Falconry. We only ever had 3 guests plus a guide in the 4WDs which was fine for us. 4 guests would be unacceptable and I would refuse that for the dune drive as it is a little violent at times, and you need to be strapped in and have something to hold on to. We had both pre-departure drinks and snacks available in the ante room behind the bar, so not sure if other reviewers didn’t find this or there was some problem - we didn’t struggle to get a refreshment at any time.

The food was fantastic at breakfast , we were generally so full we generally skipped lunch and afternoon tea, and just took dinner. The lunch and afternoon tea looked great from when we walked by, but we didn’t indulge. The evening food is not 3 Michelin *, but its worthy of 1. It's perfectly pleasant, very tasty, carefully thought out menus, well executed, with pleasant service - absolutely fine. You can have better dining experiences of course, but not in the middle of the dessert, under flame cauldrons providing the light, with just the silence of the dessert to hear and a water hole to look at.

We didn’t order room service so cant comment on wait times, but we did have dinner one night on our own terrace, like a fellow reviewer the Sri Lankan curry recommended by Upul. I love curry, and this was fantastic - one of the top 5 curry experiences of all time. Certainly better than Benares, Cinnamon Club etc in London.

The local Oryx were certainly very inquisitive and plentiful when we were there - always in the morning one could be found sitting just beyond the end of our pool and you could see them on the plains during the day sitting under the trees. They do wander round the resort, and we had a slightly unnerving experience where one seemed to take a dislike to us, dropped down a little and had a mini charge at us, but then broke off and went back to nibbling the grass - one of those wild animal things.

I am genuinely surprised at how anyone, who had the same experience we did, could rate this as anything other than perfect. Maybe their experiences, were not as good, mine however was perfect. I would unequivocally recommend this hotel. But if you're looking for activity, it will not be your thing.

  • Liked — Perfect Tranquility
  • Disliked — Having to leave
  • Stayed September 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
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13 Thank rjn21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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alicante
Level Contributor
29 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed September 2, 2007

Arrived early morning after the BA night flight, were greeted with drinks and cold towels and then after a very short time were shown to our fabulous "room" they explained everything even telling us that the laundry service was free of charge, I have to say that we made full use of this. After we had a sleep my husband decided that he did not like this room as it did not have a view of the watering hole, where most of the wildlife congregates, it was no problem we were moved the next morning and they even packed and unpacked for us.

You can do as much or as little as you want in this resort , I did nothing could not face the 5.00 am starts!! I literally spent the whole time reading and sitting in the pool which is heaven when it is 47 degrees.

The food is fantastic and the review that says you can only have 2 items of the room service menu must have had half her menu missing!! I have never had a lobster and prawn salad like it. We stayed here for 3 nights and then went to the Burj Al Arab for 3 nights but to be honest could have stayed here for the full 6 nights, absolutely wonderful and would not hesitate to go back. Staff are wonderful and cannot do enough for you, a real haven in a busy world !

  • Liked — Own private pool, and being able to have your dinner on your own deck next to pool
  • Disliked — journey
  • Stayed May 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank julie-torre
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
21 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed August 5, 2007

Stayed at the Al Maha on the 12th July in Suite 12. This suite is very close to the main hotel and consequently very conveneient but maybe a little noisier than others. The room was lovely as was were the staff and the food. A bottle of wine with the meal was a very reasonable 227 Dhs and good too. The evening sundowner trip was excellent and well worth attending however we did not sample any of the other activities.
My only gripe was that on booking they enquired if it was a special event. I let them know it was my wifes 40th birthday and was pleasantly surprised when they offered a complimentary birthday cake and event went as far to ask for any specific wording I wanted on the cake!. Well the cake didn't make an appearance at any point during the stay. Now some of you might think that a missing free cake is nothing to complain about however with a hotel of this level to raise a customers expectations and then fail to deliver is inexcusable. To make matters worse I e.mailed them after the event to ask what had happened but to add insult to injury they offered no explanation - just 20% off spa treatments on a next visit! I didn't want a voucher - just an explanation.

In short a nice place but they are sorely missing on the execution aspect. A similar visit to the Burj Al Arab was flawlessly executued and for the next special event we will be going back there not to the AL Maha to redeem a discount spa voucher!

They seem to have failed to credit my skywards air miles to despite the fact I gave them the number on 3 seperate occasions.

If perdection is your expectation then look elsewhere if I were you.............

  • Liked — Food
  • Disliked — Crap execution in setting then meeting client expectations
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
6 Thank chrisjones
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ayrshire, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
142 reviews
125 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 200 helpful votes
Reviewed July 25, 2007

Amazing. You can read all the other reviews for details, but my wife and I thought the place was magical, the service second to none, the food exqusite, the location idyllic, the room very special, and activities great. Would I come again - you bet!!
If you can, everybody should stay here at least once.

  • Liked — Everything
  • Disliked — Saying goodbye!
  • Stayed June 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank MagicianManchesterUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Galashiels, Scotland
Level Contributor
12 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed June 24, 2007

We have just returned from our first visit to Dubai spending our first 5 nights at the Al Maha. I have to disagree strongly with some of the other reviews criticising this place, as it truly was "heaven on earth"!
We were greeted on arrival after a long overnight flight, they quickly checked us in and took us down for some breakfast before we retired to our beautiful suite which looked directly over a watering hole, teeming with wildlife (which never needed to be herded by the field guides as was implied in another review!).
After a nap we phoned our field guide who came down to our suite to explain the various activities we could participate in. Thanks to Christelle and the other field guides who made it all so much fun! We did the dune drive, wildlife walk, falconry, archery, sunset drive and wildlife drive, all of which were fab. (Much enjoyed the Oryx Poo Spitting Competition, although you have to have a good sense of fun to be offered this little gem of an extra - stuffed shirts need not apply!!)
As it was around 50 degrees most days, it was too hot to eat outside, although some did! Other reviews have criticised the food for not being 5 star, I have to say we never had a bad meal and we are real foodies! It was all of the highest quality, if it was not on the menu, ask, and they will do their best to provide what you want, the waiter service was fantastic and the birthday cake produced for me was absolutely delicious.
You could eat until you burst - with big breakfasts, 3 course lunches, 5 course evening meals and room service all at no extra cost. Also the laundry service was free, and some of our clothes had never been so well ironed!
The only things needing to be paid for were drinks, mini bar, and spa treatments. There was water available free in suites and in the spa at all times of the day and sherry left in your suite along with tea and coffee making facilities.
If you are a person who needs to be entertained, likes noise or feels the need to mingle with other guests then this place is not for you! It's a real haven of peace where you can completely relax and enjoy your privacy.
Our nights consisted of: a cocktail at the bar chating with Upul, (the friendly barman, who organised my birthday treats and the wonderful Sri Lankan dinner) followed by a wonderful dinner, a nightcap and then bed.
So if you are looking for attention to detail, personal service of the highest standard, good food, interesting wildlife, and above all peace and quiet (apart from the noise of the laughing doves!) then this place is well worth the money.
We will be going back, all be it at a slightly less hot time of year!

  • Liked — Everything - tranquility and service!
  • Disliked — That I can't go back tomorrow!
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
8 Thank Galagirl1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nicosia, Cyprus
Level Contributor
344 reviews
120 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 355 helpful votes
Reviewed May 29, 2007

We had our honeymoon and I was like paradise. It's expensive but it worths every penny spent. It's a 7-star heaven in the desert. With your private swimming pool you are like a king.

Stayed May 2005
Helpful?
6 Thank Tomas M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
17 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
Reviewed May 27, 2007

This is without doubt an excellent place to go to truly get away from it all.

The arrival - after about 5km of unsealed roads we get to a beautiful, cool and imposing main lodge (it was 110F outside). We were given a very professional and easy going welcome. They knew who we were and cut short the check-in to take us to the restaurant before lunch closed at 230pm .

The room - After lunch, check-in was completed and we were taken to our room - actually a stand-alone octagonal building, very high quality fittings / bed / furniture / bathroom with an unhindered view of the desert over our own private pool, not huge but enough for a swim. We were not overlooked in any way. Jumped straight in! Complimentary high-speed internet is included.

The service - they must make an incredible effort to remember everyones names and dining preferences. Everyone, down to the gardeners knew our names and that we were vegetarian. We were greeted wherever we went. We have stayed at many top end hotels and this was the best of the best for service.

The food - there is a set menu, with a range of choices and a vegetarian option, but if you fancy something else, they wil rustle it up for you, no bother. For example on day one we didn't fancy the lunch menu option and asked for a penne arrabiata - 15 minutes later they arrived and very good they were too. The barman, Upul, suggested a Sri Lankan curry for an evening meal - it was easily aranged, we were shown a special menu they designed in detail in the afternoon and it was great. He even made special efforts to bring a wider range of vegetarian hor's de ourvres to the bar for us. Wine was not free, but was good quality and well priced for Dubai.

The gym - small, but new equipment and overlooking the shared, larger pool area. They even have one of the new powerplate machines.

The Spa - my wife had a few treatments, collected in one of the house buggy's - they'll pick you up and drop you off anywhere, anytime. She said it was great.

The activities - again very easy going and inclusive. There are a range of options such as a falconry display, sundowners in the desert via camel or 4x4 Landcruiser, visit to the larger dunes / desert drive via 4x4 Landcruiser and so on. Now I'm not normally one for boring staged events, but all were great. The best was the desert drive, with some serious dune driving at high speed, marvellous. Thanks to Dreis, the guide allocated to us at check-in who sorted all of our stuff out, all was done flexibly and knowledgeably. Most of the guides are South African or similiar and come from African lodges, they know their stuff about the local flora and forna, believe me. Al Maha is well respected where they come from.

The departure - again excellent, relaxed and professional. We paid about £500 a night all in, but spent nothing else. We got to see and hear the desert and we got true peace and quiet and total choice over what to do and when.

We stayed at the Burj Al Arab for a few nights after and booked a Rolls Royce Silver Seraph to take us there (about 90 minutes away). They sent a newish Rolls Royce Phantom instead; and much fun it was riding in a $500K Rolls down a dirt track for 5km. You don't get to do that every day.

Al Maha is very good and we will be going back.

  • Liked — Quality of service and location
  • Disliked — Nothing, honestly, although the reservation process could be slicker
  • Stayed May 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
4 Thank astonmartinv8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa

Property: Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa
Address: Dubai - Al Ain Rd | Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Murqquab, United Arab Emirates
Location: United Arab Emirates > Emirate of Dubai > Murqquab
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Murqquab
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 42
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Exclusive Hotel designed to resemble a traditional Bedouin encampment - Set within a 25-sq.-kilometer desert conservation reserve. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Al Maha Desert Hotel Dubai
Al Maha Desert Dubai
Al Maha Desert Resort
Al Maha Resort

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