KDHamptons Travel Diary: The Banyan Tree Al Wadi Desert Resort Will Take Your Breath Away

Morning camel ride with my sister Kim and my godson!
Morning camel ride with my sister Kim and my godson, Brady

KDHamptons is dashing around in the Arabian desert visiting with my sister and her family. We just spent a few nights at the incredible Banyan Tree Al Wadi Desert Resort and I must share my photo album with you because this place is like nothing I have ever seen before in my travels. Amid stretches of desert sand in tranquil Wadi Khadeja [which is about two hours from Abu Dhabi], Banyan Tree Al Wadi is a sanctuary surrounded by the evergreen ghaf tree and is the most luxurious desert resort in the United Arab Emirates. Aiming to provide an experience of “magical Arabian nights and the romance of living like the nomads of yore,” Banyan Tree offers a gasp-worthy setting complete with an Asian-inspired hydrotherapy spa facility, a dedicated nature reserve, and exciting activities that you typically only see in Aladdin!

The contemporary adaptation of traditional Arabic architecture is a tribute to the heritage of the region.
The contemporary adaptation of traditional Arabic architecture is a tribute to the heritage of the region.

The contemporary adaptation of traditional Arabic architecture set amidst miles of rolling sand dunes left me taking photos at every turn!  The design of the resort creates a tribute to the heritage of the region – from the tented design inspired by local tribes and their nomadic lifestyle, to traditional mud brick buildings. Each stunning villa features elaborate Arabic touches of lattice woodwork and intricate carvings in arabesque design.

The vast 100 hectares nature reserve which Banyan Tree sits on is home to Arabian wildlife and local desert fauna including: Arabian gazelles, camels and oryxes, offering guests a unique opportunity to interact with and observe these gentle creatures up close. It seemed wherever we walked around the property we see baby gazelles running around.


A tranquil reflecting pool fountain lines the entrance to the resort.

Dining At The Banyan Tree Al Wadi: The Asian and European cuisine served at Banyan Tree was as delicious as my favorite Manhattan restaurants. There are two fantastic restaurants on the property~ Al Waha [which means oasis] surprising has a chef from Mexico who offers international fare and local Arabic specialties. Saffron offers an authentic Thai menu and overlooks the reserve’s watering hole where animals stop by for their own refreshments!  Feeling the love? A personal chef and butler are also available at your villa pool preparing your preferred choice of Arabian Barbecue.

Delicious Dragon fruit is served as an afternoon snack in your villa.
Saffron restaurant offers authentic Thai cuisine.
The magical Samar Lounge is great for drinks after dinner.

The tented pool villas emulate the nomadic tent style of Bedouin tribes and traditional mud brick architecture of the Ras Al Khaimah region. Inside the villa feels like it was staged in an Arabian fantasy — each with a private infinity pool creating a “walking on water” illusion.

Our tented villa illuminated at night.

Caftans and chic sandals are all you need to packCaftans and chic sandals are all you need to pack.

The Bedouin-style desert villa bedroom
Poolside with Kim and her husband Steve.

Morning workouts include running the dunes and camel riding.

Our villa appears like a mirage against the vast desert backdrop.
Our villa appears like a mirage against the vast desert backdrop.

The Banyan Tree Al Wadi Spa takes a holistic approach to physical and spiritual well-being and draw on Asian traditions that date back centuries, offering health and beauty remedies using aromatic oils, herbs and spices with ancient healing powers. KDH slipped into my robe and off into a spa coma for a few hours of indulgent pampering, massage, steam, saunas, and vitality pool soaking…

My Thai therapist Benz gave me the best Lomi Lomi massage I have ever received. Shukran Benz!
The vitality pools in the gasp worthy spa.

Daring Desert Activities: Banyan Tree Al Wadi offers a variety of animal presentations and lessons. The resort is a sanctuary for several protected species of animals and wildlife as well. Housing the region’s most diverse and interactive display of Falcons, Hawks, Kestrels, Owls and Eagles, and full stable of pristinely groomed Arabian horses for guests to ride off into the desert sunset on. Of course, riding the sky high camels [the “ships of the desert”] is the most unforgettable experience.

Falconry is a coveted sport in the Middle East and the birds put on a spectacular display with their trainer for guests.
Off to do some dune bashing!
Brady suits-up and heads out on a gorgeous Arabian stallion into the tranquil nature reserve.

Kelli Delaney

** For more information please go to Banyan Tree Al Wadi