• Bruce

Day 14: Al Maha Part 2

The Al Maha bed was amazing and honestly the best one I’ve ever experienced. That made it tough getting up early for our second activity, Falconry. This activity started at 5am because the falcons needed the cooler temperature. Falconry is a major part of Arabic culture and was used as a way of hunting for the Bedouins. Because there are so few guests, we all get to go up close and personal for this show. There was a small seating area in the desert on the back of the lobby building. The trainer explained the history of Falconry and some facts about the falcons.

The trainers showed the falcons flying around, doing dives and then tearing apart their meal. What a beautiful, majestic, and powerful animal. There was also an owl, which was much calmer and friendlier.

We even got a chance to hold the falcons.

This was a very unique experience that I was very happy to have. Rarely do people get this level of interaction with exotic animals, which is another reason why Al Maha is so special. After the show, we went up to the restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast at Al Maha is pretty insane. Not only is there an extensive buffet of high quality western, Arabic, and Asian dishes, there is also an unlimited a la carte menu that you can order from. For this first breakfast, I had some amazing blueberry French toast, and this Arabic Poached Egg dish. I also tried out a seafood omelette and some congee, all of which were absolutely delicious.

After breakfast, we went back to the suite. Fortunately, the clouds started to clear so I could get some nice pictures of the villa.

Obviously, I also had to take a dip in the pool. Relaxing at the edge and looking out at the endless desert – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Another unique feature about this suite was that it came with an easel and pastels. I consider myself a bit of an artist, so I had to utilize it.

Although not my best work, it was fun to do. After a relaxing morning in our villa, it was time for lunch. While lunch service is more casual, it was also a three course affair. We both started with Foie Gras served with an apple date pâte. The serving was quite generous and delicious. The sweetness of the pâte cut nicely into the richness of the Foie Gras, and the contrast in texture with the crostini was perfect.

For the main course, I had a fantastic Argentinian Beef Filet. The bread that came with it was super soft yet had a nice chew - very memorable and tasty. The filet was a perfect medium rare and was absolutely delicious.

My mom went with the fish of the day, which was a luxurious sea bream. Since we can customize the sides and sauce, my mom got some chili sauce, spinach, and beef bacon. She really enjoyed that.

Both of us got the Yuzu creme brûlée for dessert, which is a combination of two of my favourite things. Needless to say, it was fantastic.

As we were having dessert, we saw the staff scrambling outside as diners on the patio came in. We realized that suddenly the rain had started and quickly began pouring heavily. This looked really strange since we were literally in the middle of the desert. The wait staff encouraged us to stay for coffee while they called a buggy for us.

Back in our suite, the morning sunshine was now gone, and we could see the rain pounding on the pool. We were glad we got a chance to use it while the weather was still nice.

Our third and fourth activities were planned for this afternoon, so we had our fingers crossed that the rain would let up. In the meantime, I took a nap. Once I woke up, the rain started to clear and eventually stop, just in time for our third activity: Nature Safari. Once again, there was a great afternoon tea spread waiting for us before the activity, but I was so full from lunch that I couldn’t have anything besides some juice. We had a private guide in our own 4×4 that drove us around the property and deep into the conservation reserve. The guide was very friendly and informative, telling us facts about the wildlife, their habitats, and behaviors. While we see gazelles everywhere on the property, I hadn’t seen a lot of Oryx before this. We found out that there are over 500 Oryx on the property but they typically stay in herds of 50. We saw several herds on the drive, which was really cool.

Getting this private safari was an amazing and unique experience. Right after we came back, it was time for our last activity, the Camel Trek. As we headed out, the rain started to drizzle again, so the guides gave us one last chance to back out. None of us budged so we went ahead. By the time we got to the camels, the rain stopped again, so there just might be enough time for us to do this. Getting on the camels was kind of scary since it leans sharply back then forward, but as long as you hold on tight, it was fine.

Once we got going, the ride was pretty relaxing and fun. All the camels were linked together so they wouldn’t run off, but our camel was pretty eager to talk to the camel in front of us. After about a 20 min trek into the dunes, we got off for the Champagne sunset. However, the clouds had rolled in so there wasn’t much of a sunset. It also looked like it would start raining soon, so a fleet of 4x4s had met us at the dunes to take us back if we wanted. A few guests decided to stay for the drinks, but we went back. This was a good call because just two minutes later, the torrential downpour started and we wondered how those guests that went for the drink were doing. Once we got back to our suite, we realized how fortunate we had been. We managed to try out all our activities and had the right pockets of time where it didn’t rain. We also caught the sunshine in the morning to use the pool and got to see the sunset yesterday. I took a nice hot bath in our suite before we went out for our last dinner.

Last time we noticed there was an extra area of the dining room that was more brightly lit, so we chose to sit there. This was like a small private extension from the main room, with just 3 tables.

I’m not a big fan of dimly lit restaurants, so I preferred this seating. Service started with an amuse bouche.

For appetizers, we couldn’t help ourselves so we ordered the same Wagyu Carpaccio and Poached Oysters again. They were just as good as yesterday.

We had a raspberry sorbet for the palate cleanser.

For the main, I went with a Miso Halibut, while my mom got the Arabic grill platter. The halibut was tasty, especially the broth, although the fish was just a touch overdone.

For dessert, I had the Arabic Coffee Panna Cotta while my mom went for a fruit platter. I really enjoyed the spices in the dessert, which took it to the next level.

Another magnificent meal comes to an end. It was bittersweet going back to our villa, knowing that this was our last night here, but alas all good things must come to an end.