Ecotourism in -- Dubai?? Play Lawrence of Arabia at Al Maha

(via Hg2) If the words “Dubai resort” make you think of gleaming highrises and artificial islands, then Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa will astound you. This ultra-chic eco-resort is tucked into the billowing dunes of Dubai’s largest nature preserve, and since it offers the only lodgings in that protected area, you get to enjoy 87 square miles (225 sq. km) of your own personal desert. Al Maha is an encampment supposedly built in Bedouin style — but let's face it, no real nomad sheiks ever had the benefit of stylish villas with tented roofs, private pools, and other deluxe amenities, from the Bulgari toiletries to the field binoculars provided so you can ogle the glorious desert wildlife outside your door. Nor a staff-to-guest ratio of 3:1 and gourmet feeds on the restaurant veranda, in the villas, or out on a dune. It's a brilliant mix of Arabian style with Euro-luxe — you can ride camels into the dunes, then be back in time for aromatherapy at the spa. Other activities include nature walks, traditional falconry and archery, desert excursions in 4x4's, and dawn rides on Arabian horses while nimble gazelles and Arabian oryx race past. The sunsets behind Champagne-colored dunes followed by night skies riotous with stars. The place is adults-only, which makes it all the more relaxing. And all this in Dubai — who knew? All-inclusive rates from 2,750 dirhams (US$749/£484; for more conversions, see Tripatini's Currency Desk).

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