Review: Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai

By Devon Holly •  Updated: 07/14/23 •  7 min read
Al Maha Pool View
Room Type
Bedouin Suite 1 Bedroom King, Private Pool
Date
July 2022
Elite Status
Marriott Gold

The Al Maha Luxury Resort has been one of the most sought out redemptions in the Marriott Bonvoy program. it’s unassuming location in the desert of Dubai leads to a plethora of surprises to those who venture out to this property.


In this post:


Booking- Al Maha Resort

My main goal for visiting Dubai was to visit this amazing resort. I flew in on a great flight with Emirates on their Game Changer First Class Suites. At the time I stayed, Marriott still had award charts. Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa is a category 8 hotel. A category 8 hotel would run you 70K, 85K, or 100K Marriott Bonvoy points per night for off-peak, Standard, or Peak pricing. During my stay in July I paid 85,000 points per night, for two nights. Using points is a great option as rates run from $1,000 per night without taxes even in the low season. The rates were around $1,500 per night during the nights I stayed. Unfortunately, Marriott has now moved to dynamic pricing, meaning the number of points needed will raise or lower based on the demand & pricing for the Resort. A quick check of the resort in 2023 shows that it would now cost 188,000 points for two nights during July.

Marriott Award Chart
Al Maha Rate

Location

Al Maha is located about an hour’s drive from Dubai. There are many way’s to reach the resort, you can either drive yourself, hire a private car, or use Careem/uber/ Either way the drive is very straightforward. There is a small checkpoint maybe 5-10 mins before the resort where they will verify your reservation before allowing you to proceed.

Check-In & Lobby

Upon driving up to the main building, I was greeted my multiple staff members and immediately helped with my luggage. Once inside I was directed to a private check-in area and greeted with a delicious “welcome drink”. This welcome drink was a delicious smoothie and I had it at just about every meal, dinner included. I wish I could remember what exactly was in it, but I know it was certainly my favorite. During check-in I was told how the resort “works” and about the daily activities. All points bookings, and cash bookings for that matter come as “all-inclusive” and include two free activities per day. All food & drinks are free except alcohol and there are about seven daily activities to choose from, with only a few requiring a small up-charge. You can either reserve them at check-in or simply call later to secure your spot. After that I was ushered into a buggy and driven to my Bedouin suite.

Room

Every room at Al Maha is a Suite. The standard room is a 1 King bed Bedouin suite and it very spacious. The room hosts a large king bed, dining area with table, a desk to get some work done, a large bathroom with separate shower and soaking tub, and the best part of all, your own private pool. The pool is about 4-5 feet deep and is flanked by a wrap around deck, two lounge chairs and a small dining table. Outside of dining in the main restaurant and enjoying my two free daily activities, I spent a lot of time in the pool and gazing out into the desert. You’ll also see some visitors at your pool and around the property in the form of Arabian gazelles. There are also Arabian Oryx’s, but they didn’t come that close to the pools, however you can see them one of the tours which is a Desert drive around the vast conservation. In addition to being a resort, the Al Maha property is also a conservation for the Gazelle’s & Oryx’s.

Dining

Lunch & Dinner are served in the one restaurant on property. Don’t let this deter you, as the food is excellent. Lunch is a 3-course menu and dinner a five-course menu. for each meal the service starts as soon as you enter the restaurant. The door is opened for you, you’re escorted to a table and greeted with a fresh cold towel. After you are asked for your choice of sparkling or still water. There is a QR code available to scan and view the menu, but there is also full, leather-bound menu’s as well. after your order is taken you will start with an amuse bouche, then your appetizers etc. etc. There really are no bad options. Although I preferred some food options more than others, I cannot say that any of them were bad. all the options were pretty good to exceptional, and a few really surprised me. Service flowed smoothly and at the end you can request a buggy ride back to your suite. Depending on when you check in, you can opt to have lunch on the day of check in or check out, i choose the latter. There is also options for in-room dining and i ate one breakfast on the patio overlooking the private pool. The in-room dining uses the same extensive menu and is of the same great quality, you really cannot go wrong with either option.

Activities

There are eight total activities you can choose from at Al Maha: Falconry, Nature Walk, Wildlife Drive, Camel Trek, Sundowners, & Archery. The final two have a surcharge of AED 270 or ~$73 per person Horse Riding & Desert Drive. Being that you are in a desert, the activities are timed for either the early morning or evening to combat the heat. for my first night i chose the camel Trek which stated at 6:15pm. For all the activities you meet in the main lobby. The camel ride was exciting, the camels are very tall and we are given a quick lesson on how to ride them. Make sure you always lean back when the camel gets up or sits down or you will fall off. Camels get up from their back legs first and then their front legs, and do the inverse when sitting down. It quite unique. We were guided through the desert to a location where we could go to the top of a sand dune and have some champagne or beer and enjoy the sunset for a bit, before heading back to the resort. The following morning i went for the Falconry tour. This started at 5:30 am and is very close to the resort. Falconry is a serious art & past time in the UAE. We were educated on the type of falcons and got to see them up close. Then we were treated to a show where the let the flacons fly away, then were called back to attack a prey. It was certainly a unique experience. We could even hold them after the demonstration. Later that evening i went for the wild life drive where I toured the conservation & shown the different animals, You are driven around in the 4×4 Toyota vans and can probably get a vehicle to yourself or for your own group depending on how many people show up.

Conclusion

Al Maha is a property I had my eye on for a long time and it met and exceeding all my expectations. It is certainly my favorite Marriott redemption to date. I will certainly be back even with the increase in award pricing. Two -three nights is the sweet spot in my opinion as it gives you enough time to try out many menu items and do most of the activities.

Devon Holly

A Points & Miles enthusiast searching for my next destination!