Home Manama to Muscat 2012 Day 7: A hotel simply unlike any other
Day 7: A hotel simply unlike any other
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Sunday, 08 April 2012 17:11

Banyan Tree Resort 

There comes a point when you have travelled to enough places in far flung locations when the hotels begin to blur into one and the feeling of “been there, done that, seen that” takes over.  Thankfully this cannot be said of the destination we found ourselves at this evening.  

Nestled in undulating sand dunes only a few kilometers south of Al Hamra, we were guests of Zahed Dalati of Arabian Incentive, which has created an authentic Bedouin camp where we relaxed and enjoyed traditional Bedouin hospitality at its best.   Surrounded by tents made of camel hair and sitting on locally woven cushions, we sampled Arabic delicacies cooked on an open fire and underground. 

This eco-conscious camp – there is no electricity except for a small generator used for music, waste water is recycled and seats and tables are imaginatively constructed out of things that others might discard – is capable of accommodating over 75 guests for an evening to remember.  Guests can chose to arrive by camel, horse, foot or 4x4 and camp over night in either a regular or a Bedouin style tent.  

Falconry show at Banyan Tree Al Wadi 

For us it was the perfect end to a truly amazing day which started at the Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach Resort, an exclusive resort hotel only reachable by boat and ended at the Banyan Tree Al Wadi, a desert based location from where I type this blog.  In fact, I am writing this in an amazingly spacious villa complete with an infinity pool (as all villas here have), a gigantic bathroom and fully equipped bedroom and lounge.   If I didn’t want to, there really is no reason for me to leave my villa because everything is on hand and the discrete staff anticipate my every need (including a delicious cake which has just arrived and I have decided will be my “reward” for completing tonight’s submission!).  

But venture out we did today starting with archery, which none of us, except photographer Shafik and Rizwan our excellent instructor, were very proficient at (the rest of the team blamed the swirling wind and blowing sand on our inability to hit the target!).  We were then treated to the relaxing Rainforest Spa experience – think of the most delicious shower, sauna and hydrotherapy you’ve ever had, roll them into one and you’ll have some idea of what it was like.  This we followed with horseback riding (fortunately for me led by an experienced horse woman), a superb falconry show given by South African Mitch, and finally a camel ride as the sun set behind the sand dunes.   

Horse riding at Banyan Tree Al Wadi 

Unbelievably, there was much more we could have done had we had the time including a guided nature walk to see close up the oryx and gazelle that roam freely round the nature reserve that is part of the Banyan Tree complex, a cycle ride around the property, a tour of the stables and spa treatments galore.   And did I tell you that you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy all this or that if you stay at either Banyan Tree location you can use the facilities of the other?   So we could have gone to the beach to enjoy volleyball, football and cricket or just paddle in the Gulf had we had the time and energy!  

 For me the best thing about this “destination within a destination” is that all that is on offer is done as environmentally sustainably as possible.  So for example you won’t find any cars zipping round the complex, just battery powered buggies.  They’ve been so successful with the care of the oryx that a calf was born recently.  The gazelles are so comfortable that they happily come close to buildings to eat the fruit from the trees. 

As the stars twinkle over head and the pool looks very enticing through my patio doors, it is safe to say that I’m certain to remember this experience for a long time to come, not least because of the henna tattoo that now adorns my hand – heavens that’s another thing I enjoyed today!

Camel Ride at Banyan Tree Al Wadi

Driving in the desert of Ras Al Khaimah