By the time you read this I will be on a 15 hour flight from Abu Dhabi direct to Dallas, Texas. I’ll be attending the annual RewardStyle conference! I’ve never been to Texas, so I’m so excited to experience Dallas with the RewardStyle team along some several other bloggers. As part of my new series (previously mentioned on this post) “Life in the Unites Arab Emirates” I want to share one of my all time favorite things to do in Abu Dhabi, visit the Qasr Al Sarab Hotel in the Liwa Abu Dhabi desert. Let me explain…
Last week I had two of my best friends visit from the US and without a doubt they both mentioned their favorite experience in Abu Dhabi was visiting the desert. With all of its beautiful architecture, modern buildings and high end hotels, it’s easy to forget that before all of that the Unites Arab Emirates was, and still is, a desert. I’ve had the opportunity of staying at the Qasr Al Sarab hotel a few times before with Tom and while shooting a campaign for Swarovski, and every time I visit this property I feel I discover something new. If you’re planning to visit Abu Dhabi then I will highly recommend making time for Qasr Al Sarab. You will not regret this unique experience.
This time around my friends and I drove, and proceeded to get lost on our way there. If you are planning to visit I would recommend using Waze instead of Google Maps. What usually is a two hour drive from Abu Dhabi ended up being a three hour and half drive, but nonetheless it was a fun experience. Because you are in the middle of the desert, reception is terrible so we proceeded to stop in the highway and ask for directions…old school.
As we passed the security check and approached the hotel we drove through perhaps a 10 minute driveway to the main entrance of the hotel. As we drove it was clear to us we were in the middle of nowhere. The views of the sand dunes were breathtaking; you will notice the different colors of the sand dunes: red, brown, white and even blues which we later learned are all minerals in the sand. We were welcomed with dates, cold towels (needed!!!) and a delicious cold yogurt and date-based juice. My friends and I stayed the night in a suite with an outside terrace and unobstructed views to the Abu Dhabi Desert.
I personally enjoyed seeing how much my friends loved this experienced. Maria came from San Francisco (who I’ve known since 2nd grade) and Bisera (my best friend from college) came from Grand Rapids, so experiencing the beauty of desert and its relaxing ambience was a nice break from the city life that we are all used too.
Qasr Al Sarab offers a long list of activities. Everything from a sunrise camel ride (book ahead) to a falcon show, archery and dune bashing. Make sure you visit the concierge desk to book your activities early in advance. My friends and I wanted to do the 5:30 am sunrise camel ride, but it was fully booked. We opted for the 8:30am short camel ride. Not sure what is it about these funny looking animals, but its always the highlight of the trip.
Clime the highest dune: As you look to the endless desert you will spot the highest dune of them all…you can actually walk and climb the dune and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Quick recommendation, it’s easier to climb the desert without shoes. Your shoes will also get ruined as it will be nearly impossible to take out all the sand.
Dinner at Al Falaj: The hotels offers several dinner locations, but after trying them all out by far Al Falaj is the best and most authentic experience. Hot and cold mezza is served first followed by grilled buffet. Make sure you ask for the fresh arabic bread…
Dune bashing: Qasr Al Sarab offers different levels of dune bashing. I will go ahead and say any level is too much for me. Even though it is extremely fun I felt I was in a rollercoaster and well..let’s say it did not end up well for me.
Don’t forget to treat yourself to some dates, Arabic coffee and enjoy the pool. When visiting Qasr Al Sarab my recommendation is to book in advance as this hotel has become more and more popular with top influencers visiting and even being the location for the Star Wars episode VII shooting. Also don’t forget to talk to the friendly staff. They live out in the desert with housing provided by the hotel. Thank you for reading and if you ever have any questions about traveling to the UAE or even doing a layover don’t hesitate to ask. I look forward to hearing your comments below.
Location: Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Sarab