Once a stop along the Incense Route providing a corridor between the East and West, Saudi Arabia’s AlUla has now permanently opened to the public. Forecast as one of Saudi Arabia’s most exciting sites as the country continues to position itself as an exciting tourism destination, AlUla is once again set to be a culturally rich meeting point for people from around the globe.
For the moment, overnight accommodation options are limited to a handful of glamping sites and hotels, but that’s set to change in the coming years, with the arrival of some global big-hitting brands. By 2035 AlUla’s expected to have more than 9400 rooms, with each luxury resort providing its own unique take on desert luxury.
Opening October 2021
Millennial-focused Habitas, which began life as a brand that brought a like-minded community of travellers together around immersive events, will open an 100-room, luxury eco resort in the desert canyons of Ashar Valley next year. Self-described as a brand that prioritises “human connection and experiences over the traditional luxury experience of five-star hotels”, Habitas’ AlUla resort will consciously blend seamlessly into its desert surroundings, offering visitors historical and cultural experiences to immerse them into the authentic heritage and otherworldly environment of Ashar Valley and the wider AlUla region. The first phase of the resort will open in the first quarter of 2021, when 50 rooms will begin welcoming guests. Further phases are scheduled for completion later next year.
Banyan Tree AlUla
Opening: October 2021
Saudi Arabia’s first Banyan Tree resort will take shape at the Kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, AlUla, opening for visitors next year. Accor will rebrand and extend the existing Ashar Resort, transforming the property into a high-end desert resort of 82 luxury villas, a plush spa and a number of gourmet dining options. A homage to the heritage site, each of the villas will be ruled by a neutral, natural palette, ensuring it blends seamlessly into the Ashar valley.
Aman AlUla and Janu AlUla
True to the pioneering spirit of Aman, the luxury brand will bring three new resorts to AlUla, each offering a chance to discover the region’s magnificent unspoilt natural landscapes and archaeological sites, which have long remained undiscovered. As with their previous resorts, Aman will work diligently to preserve the archaeological sites in AlUla and ensure a seamless blending of their properties with the surrounding nature. Each of the three new properties has a different personality for different kinds of vacationers. One with a spectacular ranch-style desert resort to live out your Lone Ranger fantasies, another a luxurious tented camp to awaken the childlike adventurer within you, and a third that revels in simple beauty neighbouring AlUla’s heritage areas. In a bid to expand its global appeal and make the brand more accessible, Aman launched its more affordable sister brand Janu last year, and one of the brand’s three debut resorts will take shape in Saudi’s enigmatic AlUla.
Sharaan by Jean Nouvel
Acclaimed architect Jean Nouvel’s extraordinary Sharaan by Jean Nouvel resort, sustainably carved out of the multi-million year old rocks, is set to be unlike any other. Set to open in 2024, the resort will feature 40 guest suites and three resort villas, plus a retreat summit centre near the resort will be home to 14 private pavilions. Designs draw on the nearby Nabataean wonders of the ancient city of Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, and pay tribute to its 2,000-year-old architectural legacy. Though much of the resort will focus on AlUla’s natural landscape and ancient heritage, guests can also expect degrees of modernity laced throughout. Public spaces promise a focus on enjoying the natural environment from day to night, guest rooms embrace the natural colours and materials of AlUla, and a scenic express lift will bring guests to the heart of the resort, allowing them to travel through millions of years of geological stratas.
Spotted in Conde Naste: