Discover the striking desert dunes of Abu Dhabi’s Rub’al Khali Desert before flying on to the incredible clear waters and soft white sands of the Maldives.
3 nights Rub’al Khali Desert, including breakfast; 7 nights Niyama, including breakfast. Includes flights and transfers.
11 days from £5,650pp
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On the beach - 8 days
Niyama Private Islands Maldives
Unashamed extravagance awaits at Niyama Private Islands Maldives, an exclusive resort set in a remote part of the Maldives. Superb design, a wealth of activity and dining options, and a relaxed atmosphere make it difficult to leave.
This outstanding resort manages to provide ideal surroundings for both couples and families by dividing facilities across two islands aptly named Chill and Play. Villas are secluded in lush jungle and the beaches are deserted on tranquil Chill, while Play is designed to let guests mingle and have plenty of fun. It's a very sophisticated place where modern, minimalist design contrasts with the tropical island setting, guests meandering between different parts of the islands along sandy jungle paths. The dining and drinking options here are particularly memorable from African inspired Tribal with its safari-style canopies and flaming torches to fine dining at Edge, a floating restaurant only accessible by boat. You can lounge with a cocktail in effortlessly cool rooftop bar Fahrenheit or party at themed evenings and club nights at underwater bar Subsix. On top of all this there's an exceptional children's club, a range of water sports and a sublime spa.
Niyama has a great variety of rooms from sleek studios to three-bedroom villas. All feature high-tech gadgets, massive minibars, open-air bathrooms, and personal butler service, while many have private pools.
Before the beach - 4 days
Rub’al Khali Desert, Abu Dhabi
Rub’al Khali, or the ‘Empty Quarter’ is one of the largest sand deserts in the world and its endless vistas of striking red sand dunes are a great complement to a beach holiday enjoying the dazzling blues of the Indian Ocean. There are many ways to discover and explore the nature, culture and history of this fascinating region from serene night walks under the stars and visits to a historic oasis to exhilarating dune bashing excursions.
Anantara Qasr al Sarab offers comfortable luxury in a beautifully secluded desert location. Set in among the sand dunes, the resort offers a wide range of the typical facilities and amenities you would expect of a resort at this level as well as many optional excursions and activities to help you discover more of the desert setting. Accommodation options range from desert view rooms to suites and pool villas.
Niyama Private Islands Maldives
134 rooms, 7 restaurants, 2 pools
Niyama offers luxury with a cool, modern design and is the perfect hotel for those that love a contemporary vibe with all the mod cons and gadgets. There is a great choice of dining with some incredible settings including an underwater bar and restaurant.
The two islands of the resort are linked by a bridge and between them they offer something that suits everyone. As the name suggests ‘Play’ is for those who prefer activities and is more family-focussed whereas ‘Chill’ is for those who prefer a more tranquil spot with perhaps the odd spa treatment to break up the day.
There are plenty of activities to choose from, both on land and on water from guided snorkelling with a marine biologist to cookery classes or coral preservation.
The Explorers club on ‘Play’ is one of the best kids’ clubs in the Maldives and the Niyama is the only resort to offer a club for children under three years old. It’s open from 9am-6pm and is complimentary for children from three years.
There are indoor and outdoor play areas, a trampoline, splash park and a stage. The activities are tailored to four different age groups — Globetrotters (12 months - 2 years), Adventurers (3 - 4 years), Voyagers (5 - 7 years) and Pioneers (8 - 12 years) and are designed to get the children immersed in nature and creative play.
There are also games like beach cricket, tennis and snorkelling safaris for older children.
Niyama is set in the south-western atoll of Dhaalu, a 45-minute seaplane flight from Malé.
A lagoon borders the resort and the twin islands of Niyama both have gorgeous stretches of beach with the soft, white sand the Maldives is rightly famous for.
This trendy and chic property is a fabulous duo of islands that means everyone will be kept happy. It is ideal for those that are looking for more out of the Maldives than just turquoise water and a white sand retreat.
Accommodation is a collection of 134 studios, suites and pavilions dotted around both islands and extending over the lagoon. Each is spacious with a modern decor and comes with its own Thakuru (butler) and complimentary bicycles.
Rooms come with luxury amenities and accessories like state-of-the-art entertainment systems and Nespresso machines while bathrooms are fitted not only with waterfall showers, but huge bathtubs too.
Beach Pool Villa
These villas are 190m2 with views over the lagoon. As with the Beach Villas they offer direct beach access and sunrise views but also have their own pool.
The 36 Beach Villas are 135m2 with direct beach access and sunrise views. The sundeck overlooks the lagoon and is furnished with loungers and a Dhoni-shaped swing. Bathrooms are open-air with a choice of covered and open-air rain showers.
Deluxe Water Pool Villa
These over water villas are similar to the Water Villa offering direct lagoon access and a pool but are larger and have the addition of a Jacuzzi.
One Bedroom Beach Pool Pavilion
The three Beach Pavilions are set on the stunning white sands are 400m2 with a large pool.
One Bedroom Water Pool Pavilion
The two Water Pavilions are an extremely spacious 340m2 with enhanced privacy as well as living and dining areas, private sundeck, infinity pool and outdoor Jacuzzi.
Two Bedroom Beach Pool Pavilion
This expansive pavilion is 635m2 with two bedrooms, a sunken living area, dining area with cocktail bar and gorgeous secluded outdoor spaces including a pool and Jacuzzi.
Two Bedroom Ocean Pool Pavilion
Ideal for families or two couples travelling together, these 515m2 pavilions have two bedrooms set either side of a contemporary living room, spacious sundecks and a fabulous infinity pool.
Water Pool Villa
Set over the water these 175m2 villas offer direct lagoon access from the sundeck and also have a pool. Bathrooms are enclosed with a partially open-air shower.
Pictures of the rooms
Activities, diving & excursions
There is plenty to do on Niyama to keep everyone as busy or relaxed as they choose.
You can snorkel from the beach but the main reef is a short boat ride away (payable locally) with stunning snorkelling opportunities. The hotel’s marine biologist takes guided snorkelling excursions by day or night as well as discovery tours at Subsix, the underwater restaurant. There is also a fantastic coral adoption programme guests can get involved in. Niyama also offers sailing, paddle boats, kayaks and fishing. The more adventurous can try surfing, jet skiing, jet pack, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kitesurfing or tubing.
On land there are two infinity pools and a children’s pool, a 24-hour gym, library, games zone with Wii, Xbox, table tennis and pool table. You can take part in yoga classes or cookery classes learning African, Chinese, Latin American and Japanese cuisine. There is even a professional photo studio with make-up artists and video editing.
There is a full PADI dive centre on Niyama with daily boat trips to the spectacular dive sites outside of the lagoon. You can take a Discover scuba lesson if you are new to the sport and there are open-water and advanced diving courses provided as well as speciality courses, such as nitrox and under-water photography. There are junior courses too for eight years and above.
Food & drink
One of the highlights of Niyama, and something that sets it apart from many Maldives resorts, is its wide range of dining with seven restaurants and three bars, many with incredible settings.Set on ‘Play’ island, BLU is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner offering family style dining where, in their words, ‘Miami meets the Mediterranean’. It also offers a poolside ice cream parlour. Meanwhile on ‘Chill’ island, Epicure is also open for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving international cuisine in a casual setting by the infinity pool. The Deli café serves coffee, pastries, sandwiches and snacks.
Niyama also offers a host of restaurants with amazing settings that offer unforgettable experiences. Edge restaurant, set half-a-kilometre out in the ocean, is accessible only by boat and has a stunning sunset bar. The cuisine here is modern fine dining focusing mainly on seafood.
Subsix is also accessed by boat but here you descend six feet underwater with views of tropical fish swimming by. This restaurant is open for lunch daily and also hosts DJ nights twice a week as well as wine tastings. Private champagne breakfasts and dinners can also be arranged on request.
On land, Nest offers fabulous Asian cuisine with a twist in a surreal and very atmospheric tree top setting. Dine at a table set on a wooden walkway among the trees or tucked between the vines of the forest floor.
Tribal offers fine dining inspired by African, Central and South American tribal fine dining cuisine and is set in the forest amidst blazing torchlight fires.
There are also options to dine in your own villa or choose from a wide range of stunning ‘destination dining’ choices, such as a deserted sandbank or on board a dhoni (traditional Maldivian sailboat).
Dune bar is Niyama’s alfresco lounge bar and beach club while Fahrenheit is a rooftop bar with views right over the Indian Ocean and live music and DJs.
The extensive Lime spa has six over-water treatment rooms all with a lagoon view and two treatment sanctuaries with private gardens, outdoor bath, rain-showers and daybeds. Treatments are provided for both adults and the spa also has a sauna, steam baths, plunge pools, Jacuzzis and a vitality juice bar.
Rub’al Khali Desert, Abu Dhabi
Location: Rub’al Khali Desert
Rub’al Khali, or the ‘Empty Quarter’ is the largest uninterrupted sand mass in the world covering an area roughly equivalent to France, Germany and Spain combined. The area is renowned for its dramatic scenery of sand dunes, some rising over 250 m (820 ft) in height. The stunning landscape of this fascinating area is constantly changing with sand dunes moving at an incredible rate, blown by the wind.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
Accommodation: Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
The Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort is located around a 1 hour 30 minute drive from Abu Dhabi, right in the heart of the Liwa Desert, which is one of the largest stretches of sand deserts in the world. The hotel really does offer something completely different; as you drive along the desert, it looms up out of the sand like an Arabian mirage. The property is aesthetically pleasing and built to admire the views of the sand dunes stretching across the miles of desert.
There are over 200 king or twin rooms and private villas, all decorated in an Arabian style with earthy tones, chandeliers and Middle Eastern fabrics. They offer either a terrace or balcony, as well as en suite bathrooms with bathtubs and rain showers. Further amenities include coffee machines and complimentary Wi-Fi access.
In terms of communal facilities, there's a Middle Eastern inspired spa and a free-form swimming pool, a fitness centre, three tennis courts and a kids' club. Guests can choose to dine in the Middle Eastern restaurant on site, or in the property's steak house.
A variety of desert activities can be experienced from here, such as sand dune walking, dune bashing, desert sailing and archery.
Day by day
Board your overnight flight to Abu Dhabi.
On arrival you will be met by our representative and escorted to your driver, who will transfer you by private vehicle to the stunning Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. The journey into the desert should take around one and a half to two hours.
Today you are at leisure to explore as you wish. The resort offers a range of optional excursions and activities, which you may choose to book depending on your interests. Those looking for a bit of exhilaration and excitement might like a dune bashing excursion or if you would prefer to learn more about the area's nature and culture, why not book a guided desert walk. Night walks under the stars are also available.
Another full day at leisure. Discover the ancient traditions of falconry or archery or stay with more contemporary activities such as sand boarding. The resort also offers a range of complimentary facilities and amenities for relaxation between activities, including a large pool and a beautiful spa.
Today you are transferred back to the airport for your four and a half hour flight to the Maldives.
On arrival into Malé you will be met by a resort representative who will show you to your seaplane transfer across to Niyama.
Today is your first full day at Niyama and there are plenty of different options for how you can spend your day. The resort is split across two islands, 'Play' and 'Chill', allowing for either peaceful relaxation or a little more activity.
If you'd like to get out on the water, take one of the kayaks or sailing boats or the more adventurous can try kitesurfing, waterskiing or surfing. There is a small reef off the beach or you can take a boat out to the main reef and there are guided snorkelling excursions with the resident marine biologist.
Why not book a table at Subsix tonight? Six feet underwater, this is sure to be an amazing dining experience!
Days 8 - 9
Today you will have a seaplane transfer back to Malé in time for your flight home via Abu Dhabi.
Land back in the UK.
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Tailoring your trip
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