Wadi Al Abiyad, Oman

Photo: Dunes by Al Nahda

You’re up to your neck in sand. Quite literally. The mineral-rich sand was heating in a sunken bathtub before you arrived. After you climbed in, your spa therapist smoothed the sand over you, adjusted a pillow under your head, and applied a cool face mask. You hear her moving quietly around the open-air villa. Quad bikes rev their engines in the distance. While you settle into the blanket-like warmth. It’s time to bake.

The Egyptian Sand Spa is one of the most unique spa treatments you’ve ever received. That’s a big statement for a spa lover like yourself. The ancient treatment is a healing therapy. It uses heat to relieve pain and muscle tightness. A cool yogurt-based massage, a quick shower, and a long-stroke aromatherapy massage will follow at URU Spa. Eventually. Now that you’ve settled into the tub, you’re in no rush.

People travel to Dunes by Al Nahda just to be covered by sand in the middle of the desert. The remote resort sits in Wadi Al Abiyad, tall dunes between the Al Hajar Mountains and the Gulf of Oman in Northern Oman. The White Sands extend as far as the eye can see. You were welcomed to the resort and the dunes with an arrival ceremony, in which you donned a local dress and banged on an Omani drum. From the hilltop reception area, you looked down upon Bedouin-style tents, an open-air restaurant, an infinity pool, and the spa. Dunes by Al Nahda is a surreal destination.

Photo: Dunes by Al Nahda

Your tent looks pretty traditional from the outside. It’s an octagonal tent made of beige canvas. The interior is pure luxury, though. Ornately carved doors lead into the plush tent. Drapery extends from the center of the ceiling down the walls. Most of the furniture, except for a mahogany writing desk, is made of teak. Traditional woven fabrics cover the headboard and the sitting area. An embroidered spread is on the bed. A sunken tub—this one isn’t full of sand—is in the bathroom. The entire room smells of Bakhoor (Arabian incense).

When you aren’t in your tent or at the spa, you’ll probably be by the pool. The infinity pool, lined with white-cushioned sun loungers, looks like it’s spilling down the dunes. There’s a pool bar at one end. Cool towels and even colder water are delivered to you throughout the day. You’ll move to rattan chairs on the sand for sundowners. The sand starts to change colors as the sun dips toward the horizon. Then it’s on to Fleur for shuwa (meated marinated in oils and spices before it’s wrapped in palm leaves and cooked in a fire pit). If this is a desert dream, you never want to wake up.

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