Home > Blogs > Maiden Voyage Travel Blog > Resort review of Banyan Tree Al Wadi, By Liz Granirer

Resort review of Banyan Tree Al Wadi, By Liz Granirer

Wow, 9,004 of you have read this.
Exterior of villaI admit, it was the birds that did it for me. Sitting in the gloaming of an east London office, with the inevitability of damp, chilly days to come with the English winter on the horizon, I opened an emailed press release from Banyan Tree Al Wadi, presenting the first and only official falconry course to be offered in a United Arab Emirates resort.

As well as the enticing pictures of Peregrine falcons, there was also mention of a nature sanctuary. As a lifetime animal lover, the whole shebang spoke to me. Plus, I’d never been further east than the Turkish coast.

Banyan Tree is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and, in case you haven’t heard of this brand, it’s one of the world’s leading resort and spa operators, with more than 30 luxurious, high-end resorts spread over 28 countries. Further, the company prides itself on its corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the sustainability of its resorts.

In case you’re starting to think it’s all about good works and being noble, picture this… The spa at Al Wadi has been garlanded with five recent awards, including Global Winner in the World Luxury Spa Awards 2014 for Best Luxury Destination Spa. As well as its range of signature massages and treatments, all at the hands of highly skilled practitioners, there’s the Rainforest, a 16-step trail through state-of-the-art hydrotherapy experiences which target every area of your body.

Watchtower at sunset in resortAll the accommodation options, from family-friendly to couple specific, are indulgently spacious and comfortable. I thought my tented pool villa was a slice of heaven, but you can ramp up the spoiling factor even further by booking one of the 15 villas that come with their own dedicated butler.

The vibe of these villas is very much Lawrence of Arabia, with billowing curtains and tent-like, cloth-covered ceilings. Each one is set behind its own gated wall and designed so that no one overlooks you, meaning there’s total privacy. The layout has the bedroom with giant TV, sofa, desk, mini-bar, vast bed and enough room to have a serious party leading off in one direction, and the equally enormous bathroom/dressing room, with his and her sinks and wardrobes, a giant bathtub, separate shower and private toilet leading off in the other. Floor to ceiling windows look out on your own private infinity pool set in a decked terrace with sun loungers, curtained sunbed, and table and chairs, all with a view of the extraordinary ochre-coloured desert beyond. The villas are, of course, air conditioned, the pools heated to whatever temperature you desire.

interior of villaIt’s easy to be idle, but you don’t have to be. While there, I went for a half-day visit to the sister resort, Banyan Tree Beach – a complimentary 20-minute shuttle takes you there and back – for a refreshing bash through the waves and a laze on the white-sand beach; or there are camel rides, nature walks, bird of prey displays, archery, cycling, star-gazing nights, gym, two bars, children’s club and playground – and then there is the staff, who are a category in themselves. They all treat you like a favourite relative and want to know if there’s anything you need, “any time at all”. And I haven’t mentioned the food yet – there’s Safran, a Thai restaurant where I ate homemade sweet chilli sauce that puts all store-bought versions to shame, and giant, crispy-coated prawns so large they could have passed for chicken drumsticks; and there’s Al Waha, where I had possibly the best dish of my life: a local vegetable curry whose flavours were sublime…

All the accommodation options, from family-friendly to couple specific, are indulgently spacious and comfortable. I thought my tented pool villa was a slice of heaven, but you can ramp up the spoiling factor even further by booking one of the 15 villas that come with their own dedicated butler.

But back to the birds… It turns out the two-day falconry course is really for those serious enough about it that they’re about to get their own bird of prey, rather than just plain old animal lovers like me. That’s why, in the end, a fascinating demonstration, including some hands-on time with three kinds of birds of prey, ended up being absolutely perfect. And? I got to enjoy a bit of heaven before my time.

For more information, see Ras Al Khaimah

 About Liz

Liz GranirerI’m a transplanted New Yorker who has lived in London for a couple few years… OK, a couple few decades –and make my living as a freelance journalist, writing on travel, entertainment and family life; as well as editing two contract magazines and copy-editing for Europe’s largest budget airline’s inflight magazine (the nice one, not the one everyone hates!). I’m available for commissioning, so feel free to get in touch –or, to follow my journeys, visit: lizgranirershelloworld.blogspot.co.uk; twitter: @lizgranirer; email [email protected]

You may also like
Heading to the Hague… | Liz Granirer
Our Favourite Summer Luxury Getaways
Heels and Deals

Comment on this