Narrowing down the location of our last big vacation was tough. My husband wanted to go to France while I wanted to go to UAE for two reasons. First, I wanted to fly Etihad First Class Apartments. Second, I wanted to stay at Al Maha Desert Resort in Dubai before Marriott increased the points value. Somehow the planning of this trip turned out perfectly and we were able to visit both countries! Our time in Dubai started off with two unforgettable nights at Al Maha. Here’s my full review of Al Maha Desert Resort Bedouin Suite.
Booking Al Maha Desert Resort with Points
Al Maha can be booked with Marriott Bonvoy points. When we visited, we got each night for 60,000 points. As a Category 8 property, Al Maha now costs 85,000 points per night for standard nights, 70,000 for off-peak, and 100,000 for peak. This may sound high, but your stay includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as two desert activities per day. The only thing you really have to pay for is alcohol and surcharges on some of the desert activities like dune bashing.
Location and Getting to Al Maha Desert Resort
Al Maha is located in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. It’s about a 40-minute drive from the Dubai airport and almost two hours from the Abu Dhabi airport. Taxis in Dubai are not very expensive so this might be the easiest option. The hotel quotes taxi fare at about $40 each way. You can also arrange a pick up through the hotel, but this is much pricier. You can read more about it here.
We flew into Abu Dhabi on Etihad First Class Apartments and rented a car for our entire time in the UAE. Renting a car ended up being a great option. Not only was it extremely affordable at about $200 for five days, but it made it easy to travel between Abu Dhabi, Al Maha, Dubai, and back to Abu Dhabi. Parking at Al Maha is complimentary.
Al Maha Desert Resort Arrival and Check-In
Upon arrival,we were stopped at the main gate and asked for the name on our reservation before being prompted to drive up to the main building.
We were immediately greeted by one of the staff members. During the check-in process, we were introduced to our Field Guide who would escort us on our desert activities (more on that later).
Off the lobby was a small gift shop and several smaller spaces like this library.
There was also an outdoor seating area overlooking the back of the property and the restaurant, Al Diwaan.
This is the back of the main building where you can see the deck of the Al Diwaan restaurant and the Hajar Terrace Bar
Al Maha Desert Resort Bedouin Suite
Luckily, our room was ready early. While the room was easily walkable to the main building, we were driven there on a golf cart. All rooms at Al Maha are standalone suites. The suite bookable with points is called a Bedouin Suite.
Right inside the entryway of the suite was a Nespresso machine with a huge selection of pods. Normally hotels only leave two or three! The room was also well stocked with bottles of water.
While alcohol is not included with meals, you can enjoy port wine in your room free of charge. I’ll admit, we drank it all!
Next to the port was more complimentary water, an electric kettle, and a minibar.
The last thing in the entryway was a writing desk. Across from the desk was an entrance to the bathroom.
The main room of the suite was beautifully decorated with windows on all sides.
The massive bed was the centerpiece of the room.
This picture doesn’t do it justice, but the bed was huge. It was also one of the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in.
One of the coolest features of the room is that it’s designed to look like a Bedouin tent. Here’s a close up of the tented ceiling.
At the foot of the bed was a coffee table and two chaise lounges. This is where we at our lunch both days.
On the coffee table was a basket of fresh fruit, dates, nuts, and pastries.
The room also had an easel with pencils and pastels for the artists out there. Yes, this was drawn by an adult.
The room overlooks a private deck with a full-size swimming pool.
On the right side of the room was another desk with two chairs, a speaker, and binoculars for wildlife spotting.
Next to the desk was the other entrance to the bathroom.
The bathroom was huge and featured a large soaking tub.
There was also a good sized shower stall.
Toiletries were provided by Byredo.
Here’s a full shot of the bathroom. You can see the other entrance by the main entryway.
The toilet was in its own private room. There was also a bidet.
The vanity featured two sinks which I always appreciate.
The highlight of the suite is the large swimming pool overlooking the desert.
There were two lounge chairs by the pool.
There was also a table with chairs which is a good option for in-room dining. It was too hot during the day to eat lunch outside but could be nice for breakfast or dinner.
Here’s a shot of the exterior of the Bedouin Suite.
Here’s the desert view from the pool. In the evening, you can see the group doing the camel riding ride by in the distance.
Finally, here’s the welcome letter with details on dining and other amenities.
Desert Activities at Al Maha Desert Resort
For each night of your stay, you are entitled to two desert activities. We chose camel riding, falconry, archery, and the desert drive (aka dune bashing). We did camel riding the day we arrived, falconry and archery the next day, and dune bashing in the morning before we departed.
The first night we did the sunset camel trek.
I had never been on a camel before so this was my shot!
We rode about 25 minutes into the desert. The hotel had a nice setup when we arrived. We were each given a glass of prosecco to sip while watching the sunset.
Riding the camel was a little bit scary since they’re so high off the ground, but I highly recommend this activity.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early for falconry at 6:00 am.
They showed us two different birds, a falcon and an eagle.
Despite the early wake-up, this was a worthwhile activity. You’ll even get to hold the falcon at the end.
Later that day, we spent an hour doing archery. This was fun, but I think my husband enjoyed it more than I did.
Finally, on our last morning, we went dune bashing. This activity has a ~$75 upcharge per person. I think dune bashing is worth trying at least once, but both my husband and I got extremely nauseous. There’s a reason they say don’t eat breakfast before!
Dining at Al Maha Desert Resort
The food at Al Maha was superb. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included as part of your room rate. The hotel has a restaurant called Al Diwaan and a bar called Hajar Terrace Bar. You also have the option of in-room dining for all three meals. You would think that with one restaurant, you’d get sick of the menu, but Al Maha has such a vast menu, more than one restaurant would have been overwhelming!
We ate breakfast at Al Diwaan both days. For breakfast, we sat inside the restaurant since it was a bit hot to dine outside on the deck.
For lunch, we ordered in. You can order an appetizer, entree, and dessert, but we restrained ourselves and skipped dessert at lunch. The pumpkin soup with crème fraîche was so delicious as was the burrata.
Another shot of our food spread on the first day.
We couldn’t help but order the burrata again the next day.
For dinner both nights we dined outside on the deck at Al Diwaan.
It was quite dark when we ate so I didn’t get good pictures of the food, but here’s one of the things my husband ordered. One of the nights, I recommend ordering off the special Sri Lankan dinner menu.
After our first dessert, we were presented with a “Happy Anniversary” cake!
Amenities at Al Maha Desert Resort
While the suites at Al Maha have all you need already, there are some other amenities on the property to be aware of. There’s a large infinity pool outside of the main building. We didn’t use it since we loved the privacy of our own pool. There is also a spa and fitness center that has its own swimming pool.
One of the other amenities was light bites in the lobby between 5:00-8:30 am and 4:00-5:30 pm. There was also a coffee machine available all day.
While not an amenity per se, staying at Al Maha is fun for wildlife spotting. These gazelles are everywhere!
If you’re lucky, you’ll see an oryx which is the hotel’s namesake. Al Maha is the Arabic word for the Arabian oryx.
Al Maha is possibly the best resort I’ve ever stayed at. My husband initally didn’t see the appeal of flying to Dubai to stay in the desert. After our stay, he’s already talking about going back and for longer! Al Maha is the perfect place to relax, get some sun, and indulge in delicious food. Better yet, you can book this amazing resort with Marriott points. If you find yourself in Dubai, be sure to set aside two or three nights for Al Maha.