This is what a real-life desert oasis looks like

Carly Williams
Branded Content Editor
The latest inspiration for high-end resorts? The mythical oasis. Photo: Getty/Yahoo Lifestyle

What exactly are Oases? Exotic and fascinating places with a fictional influence on our imagination? Yes.

A fountain of lush greenery nurturing the harsh desert and its inhabitants? Also yes.

Oases have always had a fictional grip on my imagination. Photo: Getty

The mind jumps to memories of watching Aladdin as a child. Mythical dwellings in a far away land, Persian rugs, pottery, camels and perhaps Abu in his Pez hat hassling the locals.   OK, now I am overly stereotyping but there is something truly beautiful about oases about which I’ve always been obsessed. It’s no wonder the iconic desert fixture has become a major tourist attraction and inspiration for high-end resorts.

Enter hotel group Jumeirah, the authority on luxury.  The sophisticated brand has aggregated the aesthetic of an oasis for their new Abu Dhabi opening Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort and Spa.

The tranquil pool on the edge of the desert. Photo: Jumeriah Al Wathba Instagram

Deep within the dunes is a castle village of traditional Arabian architecture. Sandstone buildings reflect 50 shades of nude, camel and cream.  Terracotta pots dot the village paths between the suites, rooms and villas (hello, private pools!) Landscaped gardens and a mini lake-sized pool flanked with tall palm trees remind us that we are indeed in a desert utopia.  This could be the movie set of the upcoming live action Aladdin film and, yes, I do feel like Jasmine.

Strolling around the Al Wathba village is a true joy. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle/ Jumeirah Al Wathba Instagram

A 40-minute drive from Abu Dhabi’s city centre, the whimsical property offers guests fat biking, treks, majestic falcon shows, archery and soon-to-come horse and camel experiences.  

To experience Al Wathba is to be attuned with Emirati culture. Their signature dining offering Al Mabeet is a high-end desert camp that captures the spirit of the past.  Dine how the heads of Bedouin tribes of the United Arab Emirates would, in a nomadic setup of Arabic pillows, artwork and souks against the panoramic desert landscape at sunset.  

The traditional nomadic dining experience of Al Mabeet. Photo: Jumeirah Al Wathba Instagram

Feasting on Arabian food is a right of passage while visiting the UAE, but Al Wathba’s pool dining and Italian restaurant is also impressive, serving fresh seafood from the Arabian Gulf.  

The breakfast buffet is not for the faint hearted, get ready to chow down on every imported cheese on the planet.

The pastry spread at the breakfast buffet. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

If the reason to come to Al Wathba is to escape the rat race then it’s the wellness program that will keep you coming back.  Talise Spa has an international reputation of prestige. The Red Carpet Facial by Margy’s Monte Carlo guarantees an obvious transformation due to its ingredient of biologically active collagen.  

The rest of the spa choice is slightly overwhelming with a healing salt sauna, steam rooms, plunge pools, a snow cave, traditional Turkish hammam, cryotherapy and an ice bucket shower on the line up.

The traditional foot ritual before a 60-minute massage. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

It’s the only hotel where you’ll find cryo in Abu Dhabi, a schedule of freezing cold rooms, including the -110°C experience that burns calories and leaves you buzzing for hours.

Sleep enthusiast like me? There is a special massage for tackling insomnia and resetting sleep patterns.  The treatment uses acupressure to stimulate the pineal gland which will send you into a dreamlike bliss.

The villas with private pools have a panoramic view of the desert. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

Seeing my therapist Ritha was like an out-of-body experience. After healing my muscles through ritualistic massage for an hour, she knew exactly how many meals I’d skipped that week, the amount of time I spend at my desk each day, my highly strung inability to ‘not let things go’ and how I take my coffee. It was like magic. There may have been tears.  We hugged it out afterwards.

A tranquil retreat that caters for singles, couples and families, I have been telling anyone who will listen that two nights at the new Jumeriah Al Wathba will awaken their cultural awareness, return their energy and provide them with stunning instagram content for many weeks after their visit.  But that’s the magic of Abu Dhabi.

Breakfast of champions. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

Fact box:

Service? Faultless. Are these people even real?

Worth the cash? At around $600-700 AUD this is a luxury hotel that is affordable for what you get in return.

Dining? Traditional Italian woodfire pizza and fresh handmade pasta, authentic Middle Eastern Fare and plenty of date treats – you’ll be well fed.

Location? About half an hour from most of Abu Dhabi’s attractions, but still isolated enough to feel secluded.

Getting there?  Etihad flies to Abu Dhabi from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Carly was a guest of Visit Abu Dhabi.

Want a free stopover holiday in Abu Dhabi? Etihad Airways is offering two free nights of hotel accommodation in Abu Dhabi for all guests booking flights to and from all Etihad destinations via Abu Dhabi. You must fly from 21 April and 15 July 2019.

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