Family Luxury or Romantic Retreat?
One of the significant perks of living in the Middle East are the opportunities we get every now and then to be treated to something special. Thanks to a generous client of my husband’s work, we have just been treated to two nights at the amazing Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort in the Liwa Desert, about 2 hours from Abu Dhabi city, 3 hours from Dubai and not far from the Saudi border – basically the middle of nowhere.
Getting to Qasr Al Sarab
Despite not being at the original location in Zighy Bay, Oman (apparently storms and crappy weather – yes it does rain in the Middle East – have made this resort inaccessible, I guess that’s what happens when you can only access the place by 4×4, speed boat or parasail into arrival). So a quick change of plans and a few hours’ drive in the complete opposite direction sees us swap mountains, the seaside and passport control for the sweeping sandy desert of our home emirate.
The rain (or “horrific storms”) have made the ride out somewhat more treacherous than usual, mostly due to the inability of most drivers to adapt correctly to the conditions, so instead of dealing with the usual sand drifts we have washouts and flash flooding to contend with, along with a small overnight power outage.
The Luxury Resort
This did not distract from the breathtaking arrival to the resort, grand fort like towers greet you ahead of the beautiful Arabic designed reception. It is clear that every intricate detail has actually been thought about and it truly is a luxurious retreat. We have breathtaking views from our room and even catch a glimpse of the sunset through the storm clouds on our arrival, truly magnificent.
Is Qasr Al Sarab Kid friendly?
Of course, it would have been lovely to have enjoyed the 5-star resort as a romantic retreat for two, but reality land here, we have the two little kiddies to consider and they enjoyed the experience as much as we did. Although not purposefully designed for the younger crowd, they were well catered for. We had a lovely shallow kiddie’s pool basically to ourselves at an ambient 29 degrees, and the pool bar included a shallow area where they could join us for a drink.
On the colder morning, a well equipped and very friendly kids room was available (and as the kids get older there is a free kids and teens club for the over 3’s). Our room also came with a lovely deep balcony area for the kids to play in safely, unfortunately, the rain had soaked the cushions through but it gave us some stunning views over the desert landscape, so many amazing colours that change throughout the day. Pre-booked baby sitting for the evenings was readily available.
We, unfortunately, could not partake in any of the evening activities like dune bashing and camel rides due to the children’s size, but I am sure there will be plenty more time for these activities in years to come (as mum breathes a sigh of relief, for now).
One downside to looking out for in an isolated resort is they are just that! Make sure you have adequate ‘snacking provisions’ on you as the children’s menu is limited, after ordering the same meal five times over due to our fussy young sir, the reprieve was certainly the breakfast buffet where you do get an amazing choice to stock up little stomachs (and proved fruitful for stocking up the hand bag).
My only other ‘complaint’ from a parent’s perspective would be accessibility. There was step free access to most areas of the resort if you didn’t mind taking a very long walk around or taking the courtesy buggies, but I found it quicker to simply lug myself, and beach bag and children up and down the stairs.
Speaking of lugging stuff around, I had to look on with comical laughter at the amount of crap we managed to bring with us for one weekend – more than we took to Vietnam for a week! The shifting weather created a first for us in the UAE that I didn’t know what we should all wear, so everything from raincoats to bathers were packed; 2 suitcases, one beach bag, 2 backpacks, a stack of raincoats, a pram and a Trunki later we did look a little overdone for the occasion but that’s what the porters are for right?
We did look on somewhat with jealousy as the suave young couples turn up with their matching Gucci overnight bags slung over their shoulders, but I bet when they were trying to make their way back to their room dodging puddles in the pitch black after the power outage they wish their mum had packed their flashing Peppa Pig boots.
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So what are you waiting for, romantic retreat, family break – or both?
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