Spread across the desert valley of Al Ula, this urban sanctuary promises a sustainable getaway for all those who visit.

This all-villa resort is a one-of-a-kind desert retreat with its natural surroundings and multi-sensory experience. With the stunning rock formations, guests can unwind at these authentic Arabian-inspired villas that showcase expansive views of nature. Located at Wadi Ashar, this property is set in the area known as the world’s largest living museum.

We discuss the art of balancing history and wellness to perfection with Banyan Tree AlUla’s General Manager Antony Treston.

Can you define the inspiration behind the design of the resort?

When it comes to the design of our resort, the main inspiration was the breathtaking surroundings and the rich heritage of the destination. The goal was to seamlessly integrate the resort into its unique setting among the stunning rock formations of the Ashar Valley. Sand-coloured canvas and terracotta for the tented villas were carefully selected, allowing them to blend in with the natural surroundings. The choice of materials was essential in preserving the natural beauty of the area. The design also pays homage to the nomadic culture of the region. The bespoke furniture in our villas expresses a sense of wanderlust and adventure, with patterns inspired by the Nabataean people. This adds a touch of authenticity and cultural significance to then overall design. The overall design embraces the natural beauty of the destination while honouring the heritage and nomadic traditions of the region. This creates a truly immersive and enriching experience for our guests, showing them all that AlUla has to offer.

Banyan Tree Al Ula

This desert retreat is situated in the magical surrounding of AlUla’s Ashar Valley. How can guests embark on a multi-sensory experience?

The philosophy of the resort embraces three concepts; ‘in-villa, ‘in-valley’ and ‘envoyage’ to immerse guests in the property and magnificent surroundings. From the moment our guests step foot into the valley, they are instantly captivated by the tranquil stillness, the otherworldly rock formations, and the raw power of nature. It’s a profound experience. With ‘In-villa’, we provide guests with bespoke dining, wellbeing and entertainment experiences brought to life by our extremely talented team of Banyan Tree hosts. ‘In-valley’ takes our guests into nature, through exclusive outdoor treatments, nomadic chef’s tables, active adventures, and private events staged in unique settings. Lastly, ‘En-voyage’ takes our guests on a immersive journey, curated in collaboration with local talents, unveiling the many facets of AlUla’s rich heritage.

The carbon footprint of the resort is reduced to a minimum and the site’s natural habitat is persevered. Was this the plan from the outset?

It definitely was. Sustainability and social responsibility are at the heart of the Banyan Tree brand and AlUla creates the perfect home for us, as it is a protected eco-tourism destination. With Banyan Tree, we strive to create a positive impact wherever we are, by acting as committed stewards to the environment, local communities, and regional cultures. We source the majority of our ingredients locally and implemented a zero single use plastic policy throughout the resort. Our villas are also designed to preserve the natural landscape and blend in with our surroundings.

“When it comes to the design of our resort, the main inspiration was the breathtaking surroundings and the rich heritage of the destination.”

The culinary journey experienced here is exceptional – can you expand on how you’ve achieved this in such a location?

For a taste of local culture, Harrat, named after Saudi Arabia’s largest volcanic lava field, offers a range of dishes, from fresh seafood to Middle Eastern mezze and grilled meats, ensuring there’s something to suit every palate. We go above and beyond to create unforgettable dining experiences in the magical world of AlUla. With our destination dining, guests are welcomed to a unique location for the opportunity to dine under the starlit sky in the Ashar Valley. To make the experience even more enchanting, an astronomer will guide our guests in discovering the constellations and their captivating stories with state-of-the-art telescopes. Our guests can enjoy traditional fare and refreshing beverages. It is truly an immersive experience.

This premium resort prioritises the customer’s wellbeing. What are some of the wellness activities available onboard?

Wellbeing is a key focus at Banyan Tree AlUla, and we believe that our guests should leave our resort feeling reconnected and inspired. Our wellbeing offerings are designed to provide a holistic and immersive experience that helps our guests connect with nature and themselves. Our expert instructors offer a range of yoga and meditation classes, that are tailored to suit the needs and preferences of our guests. Our classes are held in tranquil outdoor settings allowing guests to connect with the natural beauty of the Ashar Valley while practising mindfulness and relaxation techniques. All the spa treatments are inspired by local traditions and ingredients and are designed to provide a deeply relaxing and rejuvenating experience. We offer a range of therapies, including massages, body scrubs and wraps, all using natural and organic ingredients. Our outdoor activities such as hiking, stargazing and horseback riding are able to provide guests with an immersive and authentic experience of the AlUla region. These activities allow guests to disconnect from the stress of daily life and reconnect with themselves and nature. Our wellbeing offerings are curated to help our guests connect with the healing properties of nature and the rich cultural heritage of the region, providing a truly transformative experience that goes beyond mere relaxation.

Antony Treston

One of the key attractions is the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. What are the other sites close by?

Banyan Tree AlUla is located in one of the world’s most breathtaking and historic destinations, and there are so many activities and experiences that guests can enjoy during their stay. AlUla Old Town, a historic and cultural hub that showcases the rich heritage and architecture of the region, is just a short distance from the hotel. Guests can explore the ancient mud-brick buildings and narrow alleys, visit the local souk, and learn about the history and traditions of the local people. Elephant Rock is only 15 minutes away from the resort by car and is one of the more famous destinations in AlUla. As its name suggests, it bears a striking resemblance to an enormous elephant gracefully standing in the desert. This iconic rock formation has been sculpted over centuries by nature and is an emblem of AlUla’s unique beauty. Guests can also stay within the resort for an experience unlike any other, and a welcome sight for those living in big cities. Our guests will be taken to a unique location in the Ashar Valley, while a local Rawi guides them in discovering the constellations and their stories. We provide our guests with state-of-the-art telescopes and stargazing applications, and they can warm by the fire with refreshments.

Banyan Tree Villas

Saudi Arabia is growing in popularity as a must-visit destination to visit. What is driving this?

In recent years, tourism in Saudi Arabia has experienced remarkable growth, fuelled by the country’s efforts to promote tourism as part of its Vision 2030 initiative. With investments in infrastructure, the introduction of electronic visas, and the hosting of international events, Saudi Arabia has attracted visitors from around the world. We are lucky to be situated in one of the most sought-after destinations, with AlUla’s historical sites and its stunning landscapes.

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