16 November 2005

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa

With the recent spate of visitors flowing through our place, we’ve been exploring places far and wide in our efforts to be entertaining hosts, and to allow our guests to see more than the metropolis of Dubai.

Although it’s a recent and modern facsimile of a fortified desert dwelling, the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa gets our vote as a place to take people to get a 'refined' feeling for the desert.

If timed for 30mins before sunset, the 45min drive from the SZR Interchange #4, past the Autodrome and heading for the Endurance Village through the desert, is a goody. Watching the sands turn golden red as the sun sinks is a major hit. We're puzzled by the speed limit on this road - 80kph – what’s with that? Plus, as you reach the T-junction and turn right, the plethora of speed cameras is enough to give the brakes a good workout, as yet another and another of the dang things come into view. On the last visit during Eid Al Fitr, with Aussie friend Terri, we were cruising along at 100kph and were passed by the Bab Al Shams courtesy coach doing 125kph, so we happily followed it to the hotel. Obviously none of the cameras were activated, and the driver knew it!

The hotel is very attractive – and it’s fun to wander through looking at all the interesting features that have been artfully designed to appeal to avid photographers.

The biggest attraction is th
e Al Hadheera Desert Restaurant which is a meandering 5 minute walk from the hotel along a winding paved pathway. Nestled behind sand dunes, it resembles a fortified town, and upon entering the gate you can’t help but smile and be in a good mood. The dining area is a mix of tables, benches and sunken dug-out seating areas, and the whole area is carpeted in rugs laid over the sand.My first impulse is to kick off my shoes and wander barefoot. The food serving area is set up like a food souk, and the chefs are keen for you to try their specialties. There’s a market-like feeling as they call out to you, enticing you with their culinary offerings. Although pricey, it’s a great experience to sit out in the open air under glittering stars, listening to music played by a live band, and eating delicious food. If you’re not careful, you’re full after the entrée, and there is deep compulsion to sink back into the huge cushions for a quick nap between courses.

On our visits, there has been a very entertaining dancer who is incredibly energetic. On one occasion, he was the front half of a dancing horse that made its way from table to table greeting the guests. On another, he resembled a whirling Dervish as he twirled around and around on stage for at least 2 full songs. I don’t know how he did it, and why he didn’t fall over after he finished. His pièce de résistance is to come into the diners to get the women on the tables to try on the skirt and – literally – give it a whirl. J was chosen, and managed a very credible 3 spins in the heavy garment, until gravity made her stop before it all came to a sticky end!

Out the back of the restaurant is an area where there are animals for the children to pat, and you can even go for a horse or camel ride.

The drive home in the darkness is always very quiet, as the passengers either nod off to sleep, or sit in quiet contemplation. It’s one of our fa
vourite ‘touristy’ Arabian experiences – a great night out.


moryarti said...

love the post ... excellent photos ...

nzm said...

Thank you, moryarti!

I loved your elevator etiquette! I could relate to every rule, as I work in a 24 storey building with 4 VERY slow elevators that sometimes feel more like sardine tins than people carriers!


moryarti said...

I am glad you liked it nzm - Everyone was ranting about bad driving - i thought of tackling something different for a change ;)

And thank you for linking my blog to yours - very thoughtful of you



MamaDuck said...

Now this I like. We had guests in their 70s last year, and didn't think that artificial hips and dune bashing were a good mix. Mental note for an M&J Adventure this November!

nzm said...

MD - My parents are in their 70s and they loved going to Bab Al Shams.

If you have elderly people who have difficulty walking, you can park closer to the restaurant - just drive past the left turn up to the hotel entrance and continue to the end of the driveway.