Feel the Royalty at Anantara Qasr Al Sarab
May 1, 2018
Nestled within the largest contagious sand desert in the world – Empty Quarter, we arrived at the Anantara Qasr Al Sarab. Opened in the year 2009, the entrance to this fortress-like palace enthralled us, giving us a very Royal feeling of what was to come during our stay over the weekend. Located just 90 minutes from Abu Dhabi, the hotel is enormous and magnificent with a combination of towers, turrets and serrated roofs, recreating the traditional Arabic journey in a place steeped in tradition and bursting with legacy.
Followed by a warm welcome from the hotel staff with a local welcome ritual including Arabian refreshments, we moved in to our Deluxe Room as we were eager to receive the personalized treatment that the hotel had to offer. Thoughtfully appointed, each of the 206 rooms have beautiful interiors inspired by the simple grandeur of an old desert fortress, full of locally hand-crafted furnishings. From the rich carpets to the embroidered fabrics evoking ambient warmth and an inescapable sense of romance, the architects and designers have ensured to provide one with countless hints of Bedouin tradition and exquisite reminders of timeless culture, giving you a feeling of living a million miles away from the fast pace of city life. Our room like all of rooms here, offer picturesque desert views and a luxurious accommodation, decorated to reflect the Arabian heritage of the resort’s location, with earthy hues, beautiful Middle Eastern fabrics and bronze chandeliers.
The resort gives one immense opportunities to expend calories. The Workout Room offers extensive fitness equipment (24 hours), personal coaching sessions with expert trainers, weight training, aerobics and step classes, desert or indoor yoga, outdoor tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts. If you’re travelling with your family, the Kid’s and Teen’s Clubs are here to keep the youngsters busy with an array of activities under the supervision of our dedicated club’s attendants.
The following morning, after a satisfying workout, we ate a scrumptious breakfast at Al Waha, featuring an exquisite buffet. Interactions with the friendly and accommodating chefs were inevitable, while delicious dishes were being prepared in the open live kitchen. Our breakfast mostly consisted of delicious Emirati pancakes, manish and shashouka leaving us wanting for more.
Given the magnitude of the hotel, the property has an excellent range of eateries serving an endless choice of the world’s best cuisines within exquisite surroundings of the hotel to appease one’s gastronomic cravings. The desert restaurants serve the finest Middle Eastern cuisine along with a host of world favorites. Traditional dishes meet with the finest imported cuts of meat and an extensive menu of beverages, in both fine dining venues and intimate cafés.
Located by the shimmering water of the swimming pool, Ghadeer resembles a desert oasis at the heart of the resort. One can take a break from the sun with a regional and Mediterranean-inspired menu, for a relaxed alfresco experience and discover delectable dishes, such as salad of confit duck leg, rocket leaves, green beans, artichokes button mushrooms and cranberries, or Lamb Harira, a traditional Moroccan soup served with dates and lemon. Our favorite dishes included the Spiny Lobster and the Mediterranean Sea Bream en Papilotte. For those with a sweet tooth, we recommend the Aish Al Saraya, a homemade caramelized bread with kishta, honey syrup and crushed pistachio, which rounds off an unforgettable lunch experience.
After a rather sumptuous lunch, we decided to rest for a bit and proceeded to do the Camel Trek during sunset. The hotel offers a guided sunrise or sunset camel trek, which leads through the mesmerizing scenery and offers spectacular views, including a short stop for refreshments in an Arabic setting.
After a day of enthralling activities, we decided to experience an Arabian night setting at Al Falaj, the hotel’s Bedouin-style restaurant showcasing a host of local delicacies prepared on a charcoal barbeque, for a traditional experience with the sand dunes and starry skies as backdrop. The food was lip-smackingly delicious and left us feeling completely satisfied, a perfect way to end a weekend full of gastronomical experiences!
The morning of our departure, we decided to wake up early and watch the sunrise we had heard so much about, it was a truly magical experience, sitting in the still of early morning in this vast never ending landscape and watching the sun creep over the horizon. Surrounded by sand in a multitude of colors, from pimento red to emerald green and cobalt blue, this was the icing on the cake on our exquisite royal trip to Anantara Qasr Al Sarab.