ACTIVITIES

Scenic escapes

There’s no need to hop on a plane bound for a tropical paradise this summer. If you’re looking to beat the heat with a getaway in the heart of nature, the region is home to some of the most exotic resorts, sure to satiate your wanderlust this season

 Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort, Oman

A hidden gem on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort stands out for its dramatic setting between the craggy Hajar Mountains and the tranquil Gulf of Oman. Drive down to the retreat from Dubai for spectacular views along the journey; the descent into the hotel from the hilltop during the last few minutes especially makes for an unforgettable sight. But if you’re feeling adventurous, swap the last leg of the drive for a unique entrance that sees you paragliding into the resort from the mountaintop and landing on the beach.

Set among date palms, a series of indigenous stone villas outline the coast, offering you direct access to the beach. Go barefoot and feel the sand beneath your toes and don’t be surprised if you come across the odd wandering mountain goat. While there’s plenty to keep you busy, including the private pool in your villa, for a complete sense of serenity, we’d recommend a spa treatment or a dip in the region’s only saltwater pool, known to draw out toxins from the body for true relaxation.

And when you’re feeling peckish, Sense on the Edge, the resort’s signature restaurant perched on the mountaintop, offers the perfect setting for a memorable meal. 

Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island 

Al Sahel Villa Resort, Abu Dhabi African safaris and wildlife expeditions among the grasslands are now found closer to home, thanks to the stunning setting on Abu Dhabi’s Sir Bani Yas Island. Make Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Sahel Villa Resort your base from which to explore the private wildlife reserve and discover nature at its best at this charming destination. Retreat in the comfort of your luxury pool villa, soaking up the summer sun, and admire indigenous and exotic wildlife from up close as you recline on your lounger. With villas spread throughout the lush grasslands, the resort invites you to lose yourself in nature.

Wake up to the sight of gazelles, embark on desert drives in the wildlife sanctuary and explore the flavours of Africa through themed dining experiences, inspired by the unique surrounds of this protected reserve. Home to free-roaming wildlife, the island offers a distinct escape from the world. Guests of Al Sahel Villa Resort also enjoy access to the facilities of Anantara’s sister resorts on Sir Bani Yas Island, Desert Islands Resort and Al Yamm Resort. 

The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach

When you’re stationed on an isolated stretch of beach along the glistening Arabian Gulf waters, relaxation comes naturally. Poolside lounging, downtime in a cabana with a good book, cocktails in hand, toes in the sand and dips in the ocean become an integral part of your stay. But with the soaring mercury levels during summer, you won’t be judged for choosing to enjoy the serenity of this rustic landscape from the comfort of your luxury abode.

Lining the beachfront are 32 lavish villas, designed with traditional touches in the décor and modern amenities to make your stay comfortable. There’s also a private swimming pool adjoining the villa and you can enjoy direct access to the beach. If you would like to spend a few hours exploring the natural surrounds, the Al Wadi Nature Reserve offers plenty of opportunities to spot local wildlife including camels, oryxes and gazelles while on an early morning hike. 

Kalba Kingfisher Lodge, Sharjah

Set amongst the lush mangroves with a mountainous backdrop to keep temperatures cooler in the summer heat, Kalba Kingfisher Lodge in Sharjah offers secluded luxury in the heart of nature. The eco-lodge is nestled between the mangroves of Kalba with views of the Indian Ocean and features a mix of luxury lodges and tents equipped with private swimming pools and modern amenities. While there are plenty of wellness experiences to choose from if you’re looking to unwind, the stunning natural surrounds will surely be the highlight of your stay.

Nature lovers must head to Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Center, where the rich biodiversity of the region’s mountain habitats is protected. There are more than 30 different species that roam the rugged terrain and visitors can learn all about the flora and fauna unique to this part of the region. For adventure lovers, there are a host of activities on offer from diving to fishing. 

Zaya Nurai Island, Abu Dhabi

Imagine blue waters so clear, you see fish swimming alongside while taking a leisurely dip. But that’s not all there is to the “Maldives of the Middle East”. Your journey begins with a speedboat ride out to this tropical escape from Saadiyat Island and the landscape instantly transforms when you get there, think hammocks and swings in the middle of the sea, lush greens with swaying palm trees, gleaming white sands and the ocean for a backyard. When on Zaya Nurai Island, you’d be easily forgiven for thinking you’ve reached a remote retreat in the Pacific.

Glass-walled villas on the shores offer views over the water from a private sundeck and pool. At this spot, you can spend hours admiring the ocean – keep an eye out for dolphins in the bay while enjoying a round of refreshing cocktails. With a live DJ, the resort’s beach club offers something a little more upbeat as you dance the sunset away, while when in need of a little more relaxation, book a massage at Nurai Spa. 

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