As I alight from my camel to the waiting feast of Shwarmas and Shishas I am grateful for my oversized sunglasses muting the glare of the sunlight glistening off the sand dunes. The idyllic setting conjures a vision of an Arabian King dressed in his crisp white robe and flowing headscarf. I could feel the excitement build, generic as I allow my mind to imagine that this could be where I finally meet my Prince.
Reality check. I am in the desert. In the middle of a desert, surrounded by sand. For as far as the eye can see there is, well, sand. It’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds, I am staying at one of the finest resorts you will find in the desert, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa. The English translation for Bah Al Shams is Gateway to the Sun, and it certainly is that. Check-in is not until three pm, yet arriving early allows you to make full use of the facilities. The opulent infinity swimming pool overlooks the sand dunes and resembles one an Arabian princess would feel spoilt bathing in. I took advantage of the fabulous banana lounge service—I could think of nowhere more indulgent that I would rather be.
My only decision for the next few hours was what to have for lunch. I pondered my lunch selection and after selecting the club sandwich—eaten poolside—I congratulated myself on the convenient table-stabilisation function of my newly-protruding (hard-earned) belly.
Upon check-in I am not disappointed. If my princess-like bathing wasn’t enough, I am delighted to find soft lighting illuminating the Gulf décor, natural stone and Arabian glasswork, and a luxurious king size bed. This place is designed with romance and children in mind. What?!! Surely the two don’t go together? But, evidently, it works.
Sunset is the ideal time to hit the rooftop bar for the spectacular view of the sun setting over the sand dunes—it’s like no other sunset you’ve ever seen. Sip traditional cocktails as the sun sinks and the sky is illuminated by stars. The rooftop crowd is international and friendly and one where you can easily make friends.
For dinner I opted for the main tourist attraction, the Al Hadherrah Desert Restaurant. Priced at $150 Aussie dollars per head, I was expecting great things. I was whisked by golf cart to the open-air restaurant and stage show where I found a buffet style dinner— shawarmas made to order, lamb, chicken, salads and desserts that are on every sweet tooth’s wish list. Disappointingly, the entertainment was nothing short of annoying! With music that was loud enough for the deaf to hear and customary camel and Arabian dancers that just didn’t know when to quit, it was your typical tourist trap.
The desert days can be filled with action-packed adventure.
Jeep Desert Drive – Heart pumping adrenaline rushes can be found inside these jeeps. Fly over the sand dunes and experience the desert in a unique, less traditional way.
Camel Rides – Though a little slower than the jeeps, the sedate camels are well worth a ride. If you are staying at Bab Al Shams you are offered a five minute complimentary camel ride at sunset. Alternatively, if camels are your thing, there are camel safaris also available.
On offer is a range of other activities that include meeting the resident falcon which makes for the perfect Instagram shot, horse riding, archery and a host of games from mini golf to croquet.
The Dubai Desert is a fun and worthwhile experience for any traveller, those who want to simply take in the rays and those who want action-packed adventure.
Next week: Cruise Ship for Singles – Is it The Love Boat?