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Ashar Valley – the world’s new bucket-list desert retreat

Located in a stunning natural landscape of the ancient desert city of AlUla, in Northwestern Saudi Arabia, Banyan Tree AlUla opened to guests on October 21, announcing the completion of the resort offer in the majestic Ashar Valley hub.

The five star all-villa resort is Banyan Tree’s debut property in the region and is designed to blend seamlessly into its environment. Infused with elements from the nomadic nature of Nabataean design and heritage, the resort epitomises the Banyan Tree commitment to local influence, drawing on both the breathtaking natural landscapes and the Bedouin culture, which has inhabited the area for centuries. The 79-villa resort offers an immersive, multi-sensory experience inspired by the tranquil and magnificent surroundings.

Banyan Tree AlUla joins the adjacent luxury property, Habitas Resort AlUla, which opened late 2021 and offers sustainable, experience-led hospitality. Habitas continues to fortify its status as an industry disruptor with its focus on community, music, wellness, arts and creativity – pillars that perfectly embody a destination that has been the crossroad of civilisations and meeting point for cultures for millennia.

As well as the 96-villa resort, Habitas AlUla offers Caravan by Habitas, providing an accommodation offer with a difference. In the valley overlooking the oasis, these luxury retro RVs are perfect for intrepid travellers looking for an even more outdoor glamping experience, with the unique hospitality and F&B delivered by Habitas.

Both resorts are designed with respect to the nature with the minimum footprint into their desert canyon surrounds with sand coloured canopies and landscaping accentuating the natural desert environment.

The completion of the accommodation at Ashar Valley, AlUla will put the destination on the radar of international travellers seeking an unparalleled, authentic and private experience. Access to the area is for event or resort guests only.

The beauty of the Ashar Valley is millions of years in the making, with epic canyons and stunning rock formations offering unique panoramas, changing through the day with the shifting light from sunrise to sunset.

Maraya events and entertainment

The resorts and RVs are perfectly positioned for guests attending an event at Maraya, also situated in the Ashar Valley precinct. The world’s largest mirrored building and a multi-purpose concert and entertainment venue, Maraya acts like a mirage in the desert with its mirror-clad exterior reflecting the beauty of the surrounding mountains and sand dunes.

Currently hosting the AlUla Moments winter concert series, Maraya can accommodate a diversity of events from the up and coming OneRepublic and John Legend concerts this November to business events such as the prestigious Hegra Conference of Nobel Laureates and Friends.

Spa and wellbeing at Ashar

The peaceful and vast setting in the Ashar Valley is perfect for wellness experiences and is set to becoming one of the world’s sought after spa and wellness destinations.

Banyan Tree AlUla will offer a spa experience in line with its globally renowned spa offer. Bringing guests into the healing elements of nature, the spa is all around. Local and Eastern rituals are seamlessly fused and guests can unwind at the tranquil rock pool with the valley on the horizon after a session at the gym or a signature treatment.

Thuraya Wellness at Habitas AlUla is named after a star constellation widely used by Bedouins to navigate. Thuraya Wellness offers a peaceful lounge space with an alchemy bar, spa treatment rooms, a fitness center, an outdoor wellness agora, and a yoga studio. Yoga sessions for guests are offered on a regular basis and the Thuraya Wellness massages have become known throughout AlUla and the region.

Dining at Ashar Valley

With the addition of Banyan Tree AlUla’s two new restaurants, Ashar Valley now offers an exciting mix of dining options from regional to the first Thai restaurant in AlUla - all in stunning settings.

Saffron is Banyan Tree’s signature Thai restaurant and offers guests the quintessential taste of contemporary Thai Cuisine prepared by Thai chefs, the first of its kind in Saudi AlUla. The scent of lemongrass, the unmistakable flavours of coconut milk and spices, give guests the true taste of Thailand in the heart of Arabia.

Bringing a taste of all things local, from cuisine to arts and crafts, Harrat is Banyan Tree AlUla’s ode to North West Arabia and a true multi-sensory experience offering a range of dishes from seafood to Middle Eastern mezze, pasta, and fresh grilled meats. This vibrant fine-dining restaurant takes its name from Harrat Rahat, Saudi Arabia’s largest volcanic lava field located in the Hejazi region.

At Habitas Resort AlUla, Tama restaurant - meaning ‘here and now’ in Aramaic - offers carefully crafted dishes and delicious drinks using some of the same spices traded on the incense route, bringing the unique flavours of the Arabian Peninsula to life. Located in the gorgeous restaurant overlooking the infinity pool, Tama is popular for resort residents and visitors for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Maraya Social is the rooftop restaurant of the iconic-mirrored entertainment and concert venue. The restaurant is open for dinner Wednesday to Saturday and offers a quality selection of fish, meat and vegetable dishes and signature mocktails with produce sourced locally.

Ashar explorations

Art is on display in the Ashar Valley in the form of the rock formations, valleys and canyons shaped over millions of years by Mother Nature. It’s also on display through the canyon that Habitas AlUla calls home with artworks from Desert X AlUla 2020 edition still on display including the interactive trampolines “Now You SEE ME, Now You Don’t” by Manal Al Dowayan, and Lita Albuquerque's electric blue sculpture of a woman “NAJMA”, seated in a meditative lotus pose overseeing the activities at Habitas.

There can be no more scenic landscape in which to get on the saddle of a thoroughbred Arabian horse than the canyons and valleys of Ashar. At sunrise and sunset the silence and majesty of the landscape on the back of a four-legged friend is an experience not to be forgotten.

Trails and hike around the valley will uncover ancient petroglyphs and inscriptions and stunning desert flora. Signs around the sites will direct you to some of the more famous rock art, or visitors can pack a picnic and set off for some self-guided exploration.

The resorts will also be offering a range of exciting experiences from stargazing to Bedouin camp dinners, music and yoga among the canyons and more.

In the coming months, some new exciting retail pop-ups will provide the therapy that can only be satisfied by acquiring that shiny new souvenir.

Visit Ashar Valley

A visit to AlUla is easier than ever with international direct flights from Dubai and Cairo and daily flights from Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah or connect through Medina or Tabuk. – TradeArabia News Service

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