One of the downside of being a ‘poor’ expat (the ones that are not given a car as part of the package) in Singapore, is that we don’t get to drive a car at all. So I really haven’t had the chance to drive for over 8 months now, since I left Australia. When the opportunity came, it definitely lit up my eyes knowing that I will get to drive again, at least for the next 7 days! And there’s probably no better place to do it than in UAE, given there’s super wealthy rulers here that have a passion for cars, with well over 400+ cars in their private collection (i.e. Rainbow Sheikh). Not to mention Abu Dhabi is the home of ‘Ferrari World’ and Yas Marina Formula 1 as well. The roads have generous speed limits (i.e. Maximum of 140km/h), and there are highways that spans 6 lanes on each side of the road!! (i.e. Sheik Zayed Road). Why wouldn’t I want to drive here!??
Fortunately, it was relatively easy to rent a car here for foreigners, at least that was my experience from Hertz and if you carry a license from an English speaking country. It was standard affair, signing my life away on a car rental agreement, and after guaranteeing about 550AED (~SGD$200) for 7 days, off I went with a Toyota Corolla 1.8:
Coming from Australia, I did have to deal with driving on the wrong side of the road, and the much higher average speeds here. It certainly didn’t help that there are a ton of flyovers on the main highway, causing you to take an exit when you didn’t intend to. Fortunately, the signs were incredibly good and I was out of the main Dubai city in no time.
Keep in mind it was Ramadan still. We managed to stop by for a ‘takeaway’ Subway sandwich along the way when our stomach started to growl. Yes, it was a hush hush, take it away, quietly eat it when no one is looking affair. In just 3.5 hours, we were already there at our intended resort, Qasr Al Sarab. The drive towards the resort was very very scenic indeed:
The setting certainly gave me this feeling like I am on a deserted planet with barely any other life form in sight. The brochure of the resort certainly looked impressive when we first came across the Anantara Hotel website. I certainly never came across the concept of desert resorts prior to this. We couldn’t help but drop our jaws when the resort eventually appeared in front of our eyes.
Seeing a structure appear like this, definitely looked more like a scene out of a movie, than real life. I can’t imagine how much effort it would have been to build something like this in the middle of nowhere! In saying that, it wasn’t long before we were already at the front door…
Before you know it, signs of life form appeared, with a hotel attendant rushing out to whisk our car away to be parked somewhere, and our luggage wheeled off to our room. You really cannot help but feel like a spoilt bret here, being treated like royalty. If it wasn’t for Ramadan, we would have apparently received a welcome drink as well. It wasn’t too long before we were escorted to our room, which was definitely themed appropriately for the location..
It came with a full sized bath that I swear could accomodate up to four adults easily..
Perhaps the most impressive part of it all, was the view from the balcony. We were fortunate enough to have been upgraded to the upper floor allowing us a full view of the oasis swimming pool, with the sand dunes in the background.
It’s a view that will that will take a while to get tired of, I would think. Too bad it’s a bit too hot to use the swimming pool most of the day, unless you have no issues with 41 degrees heat. Having said that, the water is ‘cooled’ to around 29 degrees for those who want to use the pool. For us.. nah.. we’ll pass and leave that as an evening activity.
It’s rare that the real thing looks as good as the brochures. Qasr Al Sarab did not dissapoint so far. Being in the middle of nowhere, there certainly won’t be any shopping around here. We have activities scheduled to do camel rides, and dune walks. Apart from that, I can’t think of a better place to just relax, and not do much at all!