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Just a couple of hours away from Abu Dhabi, but a million miles away in pace, Banyan Tree Al Wadi is a gorgeous sanctuary hidden away in the vast, dusty Al Wadi Nature Reserve – Ras Al Khaimah’s first managed protected area.

imageArabian Oryx

Camel trekking

Spanning 100 desert hectares across a wooded valley within Wadi Khadeeja, the reserve is home to a herd of endangered Arabian Oryx  often found wandering around the resort, or drinking at the Saffron Watering Hole.

After a magical few days of horse riding, stargazing and a camel caravan across the sandscape exploring the rust coloured sand dunes which seem to drift for miles, my sister and I retreated to the rainforest.  A rainforest in the desert? I hear you ask….


Developed by Banyan Tree Spa, The Rainforest is a refreshing and invigorating hydrothermal trail with 16 therapies and facilities, each designed to soothe and revitalise the body, in a tropical rainforest setting.

We loved the Tropical Rain Shower which combines scent, lighting and varying water temperatures for a gorgeous sensation similar to dancing in the rain.  Next, we headed to the Affusion Shower for a summer storm, then an invigorating Arctic mist followed by a tropical rainbow. But the truly icy part was yet to come.

With slight trepidation we headed towards the ice area to continue our water therapy which included The Bucket Drench Shower (a new take on the ice-bucket challenge!) which involved pouring what felt like an endless cascade of icy water over ourselves, whilst more punishment continued in the Ice Igloo (throwing ice at your sister is not recommended –  even if it does help to improve circulation!). We ended with the Vitality Pool with its cascading waterfalls to soothe necks and shoulders.

After all this revitalization, it was time to head to the Moon Bar to sip on coconut and cucumber concoctions and gaze at the stars. We concluded that Banyan Tree Al Wadi is indeed the perfect desert escape.