Connecting Travel's editorial director reveals the UAE resort most conducive to romance
When Connecting Travel editorial director Sarah Hedley Hymers was asked by travel blog The Sun Lounger to share her thoughts on the UAE's most romantic hotel, she didn't hesitate to name Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai. Other seasoned traveller's also shared their romance-drenched recommendations – see them here and read on for an extract pledging Sarah's love of the hidden gem in the desert that is Al Maha.
When I first pulled up at Al Maha, I was possessed by the spirit of Meryl Streep’s Dutch baroness in the romantic epic Out of Africa. There are key differences between the film and the resort, of course. Al Maha is less than an hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of Dubai in one of the Middle East’s best-kept conservation reserves, so the sweeping landscape is a bit sandier than the film location, with a sea of undulating dunes extending to the horizon.
In place of Africa’s lions, here the king of the wild is the majestic white Arabian Oryx crowned with metre-long black horns. Also, instead of co-star Robert Redford’s brooding game-hunter, the resort has young and enthusiastic field guides, but the outfits are pretty similar and the setting is just as stirring.
Adding to the romance, the resort’s luxury tent-top villas echo the region’s nomadic Bedouin past. The vintage-style interiors recall the early 20th century in which the film is set, but they’re blessed with the addition of private infinity pools that spill into sunset views, best enjoyed with a soundtrack of chinking champagne glasses. Less reserved than the oryx, curious little gazelles that look like they’ve wandered in from a Disney animation will typically enter the scene, nibbling the leaves of the surrounding trees. If all this setting doesn’t ramp up your dopamine levels, nothing will.