Above: Overlooking the Rub’ al-Khali from a poolside perch at the Qasr Al Sarab resort.
A trio of soon-to-open properties aims to up the luxury ante in the Persian Gulf. In October, look for the unveiling of Anantara’s second venture in Abu Dhabi, the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort (971-2/642-8412; qasralsarab.anantara.com; doubles from US$381). This 206-villa oasis makes the most of its location amid the towering dunes of the Rub’ al-Khali—one of the largest sand deserts in the world—offering diversions ranging from sand surfing to falconry and quad-bike tours.
Also in the UAE, the Banyan Tree Al Wadi (971-7/206-7777; banyantree.com; doubles from US$580) will open on the outskirts of Ras Al Khaimah before the end of the year. The resort’s 101 pool villas (some of them tented) will be spread across more than 100 hectares at Wadi Khadeja, a protected enclave of evergreen ghaf trees 45 minutes from Dubai. And in the Kuwaiti capital, Italian fashion house Missoni will launch its second property with the early-2010 debut of the 169-room Hotel Missoni Kuwait (965/9999-1357; hotelmissoni.com; doubles from US$379). Expect edgy decor with bold patterns and a palette of gold, turquoise, and beige; for an extra whiff of sophistication, toiletries will be scented with Missoni’s signature fragrance. –SARI WIJAYA
Originally appeared in the October/November 2009 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Hotels Arabian Nights”)