The desert lies just outside the city of Dubai. We got on the highway and less than an hour later we were driving on sand. We arrived at a gate where we gave our names and were allowed to pass. After another ten minutes we finally reached the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa.
The resort consists of a series of suites styled as Bedouin tents, each with a private plunge pool facing the desert. All the suites are large and luxurious. The stay is full-board and you can choose to have any of the three meals per day in your suite or at the restaurant. They also provide snacks in the morning before breakfast and afternoon tea by the reception.
Al Maha is situated in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and has private access to these pristine dunes. At times it felt like we had the whole desert to ourselves. Another benefit of staying in the reserve is the close proximity to wildlife. Two of the most common animals we saw roaming on the property were gazelles and the Arabian oryx. They would even go up to our plunge pool for water.
The stay includes two desert activities per day; usually done in the early morning and late afternoon. We enjoyed the camel trek into the desert for sundowners at sunset. Other activities include falconry, horse riding, dune-bashing, archery, and guided walks. But perhaps what we liked most was just wandering into the desert on our own and getting lost in the dunes.