The Middle East is a region that has always held immense cultural, spiritual, and intellectual importance, an intercontinental trade hub for thousands of years. Today’s world owes much to the people and practices that have come from this slice of the globe – and yet, it may be the future that the Middle East exerts even greater influence upon. Traveling here is an exercise in both experiences: partaking in rich, ancient cultures that have their thumb firmly on the pulse of the modern era. The Middle East has a great deal to explore, and The Luxury Travel Agency is here to show you some of its best!
While first-time tourists to the Middle East might entertain visions of endless sand, the real luxury living is found along the coasts of the region, which boast palatial properties that rival anywhere in the world. The bulk of these are located on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, where cities like Dubai, Kuwait City, and Doha overlook the shimmering waters. The Abu Dhabi area in particular is a hotbed of luxurious coastal properties, the city’s many islands providing plenty of opportunities for resorts that combine idyllic seaside locations with proximity to the downtown core. One of these is among The Luxury Travel Agency’s very favorites: The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort.
A mere half-hour drive from the airport, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort is a beacon of the elevated coastal lifestyle. The property is fronted by an expansive private beach of pristine white sand, and you’d be forgiven for doing nothing other than lying on your beach chair all day, waited on by the unflaggingly attentive staff. If you do manage to peel yourself away from the gentle waves, there’s plenty more to enjoy. The resort boasts no less than six restaurants and lounges, highlighted by Sontaya, which offers refined Southeast Asian cuisine served in pavilions that seem to float over a series of interconnected pools. Buddha-Bar Beach is a sizzling hotspot for socialites, where mouthwatering fusion plates, eye-catching cocktails, and expertly curated tunes all come together in the world’s very first permanent destination under the brand. Simply put, if you’re in Abu Dhabi, there’s no better choice than this Saadiyat Island address.
While less heralded than its UAE neighbour, the country of Oman is rapidly growing in stature as a top-tier destination, particularly for those travelers on the hunt for new and unique experiences. The capital city of Muscat is a mere hour’s flight from Dubai, and just twenty minutes from the airport lies what we consider one of the best resorts in the entire region: The Chedi Muscat.
This elegant property unfurls along nearly half a kilometre of totally private beachfront, behind which a five-star oasis blooms. Twenty-one acres offer guests all the privacy they’ll need to enjoy their stay, with three swimming pools (including the stunning 103-metre Long Pool) providing contrast to the lush gardens that wind throughout the resort. Rooms and suites are similarly spaced out, to give each guest a sense of freedom as if the resort is entirely theirs to enjoy. The Luxury Advisors on our team particularly recommend the Chedi Club Suites – built more like villas – which boast panoramic views nearly impossible to tear away from. Don’t leave without a trip to the 13-suite Spa, which utilizes time-honoured eastern holistic practices to revitalize one’s mind, body, and soul. The Chedi Muscat is an exercise in Omani luxury that should not be missed.
Many of Dubai’s visitors opt for beachfront accommodations – there certainly isn’t a shortage of options here. But if you’re a traveler that likes to zig where others zag, exploring the enchanting beauty of the surrounding deserts can be an even more rewarding experience. After all, so much of the Arabian mythos is born from the sand, out of which stories, legends, and even fundamental beliefs all rise. For an ultra-luxurious property within an hour’s drive of the city, there’s no better pick than the Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert.
As with all Ritz-Carlton properties, an exceptional standard of service is expected – and delivered. What makes this resort unique is its location. Nestled within a 1,235-acre protected nature reserve, the Ras Al Khaimah property will change the way you think about the desert, with activity options both expected and surprising! Guests can saddle up camels or horses for exploratory rides, feed the resident oryx, or try their hand at archery and falconry, both essential Bedouin pursuits. The villas are nothing short of sprawling – the smallest category checking in at 158 square meters – with private pools essential for beating the heat. The larger villas combine a traditional tented shape with swanky modern design; you’ll truly feel like desert royalty! Staying at this property is a great way to balance out a few days of busy shopping & dining in Dubai – and an excellent choice all on its own.
Over in neighboring Oman, a special property awaits those in the know, at a place where the striking desert mountains descend into the sea. This is the Six Senses Zighy Bay, one of the country’s most remarkable resorts and one with the ability to surprise and delight even the most seasoned travelers.
They say first impressions count, and at the Six Senses Zighy Bay, that sentiment is taken to heart. Arriving guests have the option to stop at the edge of the mountain pass, harness up with a pilot, and paraglide into the resort! The Al Hajar mountains and the Gulf of Oman unfold before you as you float down from nearly a thousand feet up. Once you’re there, your options are endless: land-goers can hike through endless trails and explore the villages of Dibba, while seafarers can kayak, sail, or even snorkel through the shimmering waters of the Gulf. Accommodation leaves nothing to be desired; villas are constructed with natural stone that seem to emerge from the very mountains, with private pools accompanying everyone. No matter what kind of holiday you’re after, the Six Senses Zighy Bay can provide it in spades.
Although it might be a tiny peninsular country, Qatar has an outsized reputation on the global stage – its national airline is widely recognized as one of the world’s best, and the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup is sure to attract billions of eyeballs to the nation. The capital city of Doha, long a glorified fishing village, has been transformed into one of the world’s most exciting metropolises, with state-of-the-art developments popping up faster than one might believe possible. It’s a city with increasing amounts of clout, leading the way into a vision of the future – and its best new address, the Park Hyatt Doha, is a perfect emblem of this mentality.
To start, the hotel is located within the Msheireb Downtown Doha, which claims to be, “the world’s first downtown regeneration project”. The entire 31-hectare district aims to nail the twin achievements of modern style and “green” living – something the Park Hyatt embraces in full. Everything at the hotel is dressed to impress: the room décor is crisp, the dining is first-class (check out the 21st-floor views from the Japanese venue Sora), and the spa is truly something to behold, occupying a full two floors (one for men, another for women). Doha is a city unlike any other, and the Park Hyatt is your home from which to take it all in.
We couldn’t finish this piece without highlighting the actual city of Dubai, which has emerged as a truly global metropolis. There’s a hotel for every traveler here, no matter your style or sensibilities, and new options seem to pop up all the time. We at The Luxury Travel Agency tend to favour those properties that make you forget about the urban sprawl, oases among the concrete streets – and one of this city’s very best is the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai.
Here is a property that gives you the best of everything: a beachfront location in the heart of the city, a new build that dazzles at every turn. The décor marries Arabian opulence with subtle eastern touches that result in an eye-catching style. Rooms and suites offer either striking skyline views or unblemished panoramas of the Gulf, with private balconies and an abundance of space to relax in comfort. Fancy a meal from one of Europe’s most exciting chefs? Stop in at Tasca, the first international opening from José Avillez, whose restaurant Belcanto was Lisbon’s first to earn two Michelin stars. Perhaps something closer to the beach? The Bay is a brasserie so close to the sands that you could nearly have your feet buried in them. There’s even Beluga, a restaurant dedicated exclusively to caviar – the only one in Dubai! In a city stuffed to the gills with luxury, the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira manages to stand out as a cut above the rest.
The very best of the Middle East is represented in The Luxury Travel Agency’s peerless Partner Hotel network. At all of our Partner Hotels & Resorts, we’ll provide you with the very lowest rates you’ll ever find, along with complimentary benefits such as room upgrades, daily breakfast, spa credits, gourmet dining experiences, late check-outs, and so much more! All for simply booking with The Luxury Travel Agency.
We can help with everything from a simple hotel or resort booking to complete travel planning, including yacht and private jet charters, villas, and more! Contact us today via Whatsapp or telephone at +1-647-551-4560 and let’s start planning your next trip.
Looking for some more ideas to kickstart your next travel plans? Check out our pieces on some of our favourite Asian properties, Las Vegas’ best hotels, or some amazing ways to explore the American Southeast by car!