Al Maha – a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa – Dubai is one of the dream hotels in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
Thanks to points, I’ve already had the chance to stay there with Audrey in late 2018. We wrote a detailed report on our experience.
Back in the area in March 2022, this time for a mother-son trip, I decided – at the last minute – to spoil my mother by surprising her with a trip to this hotel.
Al Maha – a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa – Dubai is on the list of 200 Marriott Bonvoy hotels that are seeing price increases as of March 29, 2022. If you too want to have an extraordinary experience, don’t delay! Otherwise, it will cost you at least 20,000 extra points per night. Just like other hotels of this type.
I booked our two-night stay right after landing in Dubai, only about 10 hours before we arrived!
Checking availability, I was lucky to get a rate of 85,000 points for the first night and 100,000 points for the second. That is a total of 185,000 points.
You should know that this hotel costs between 70,000 points and 100,000 points depending on the off-season/standard/high-season pricing. During the high season – when temperatures are still reasonable (October-April) – it is rare to see this hotel below its maximum 100,000 points.
For example, here is the pricing for 2 nights in April:
During this particular stay, I was surprised to be upgraded to the best the Al Maha has to offer: the Emirates Suite. Retailing at nearly $7,000 per night:
So here is my experience of a dream two-night stay in the Emirates Suite at Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Duba.
Feel free to check out our first article which talks about the “classic” (but already great) experience of a Bedouin Suite stay. The one everyone can book with Marriott Bonvoy points.
Get Marriott Bonvoy points
The best way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points to stay for free at over 7,000 hotels worldwide is to be a Marriott Bonvoy American Express (and/or Marriott Bonvoy Business American ExpressMD Card) cardholder.
In addition to the great welcome bonus on both cards, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on all purchases and 5 points per dollar at Marriott locations.
And each year, you’ll earn a free hotel night certificate (35,000 point value) as well as 15 Elite nights towards your Marriott Bonvoy status.
Alternatively, you can earn Marriott Bonvoy points with American Express Membership Rewards credit cards. You can transfer Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy points at a rate of 5:6 (50,000 Membership Rewards points = 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points).
For example, with the American Express Cobalt Card, you earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for every $1 in purchases at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, convenience stores, and home delivery. It is one of the best credit cards in Canada for travellers. Find out why here.
Check out this page for all the welcome offers on cards that earn Marriott Bonvoy points.
Al Maha – a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa – Dubai is located just an hour’s drive from downtown Dubai. To get there, we chose to rent a car. Be aware that if you want to get there via a taxi or Uber, it will cost you around $100 per trip.
A few hundred meters after the highway exit, camels can already be spotted on the road. Something that immediately made my mother feel out of place.
Then we arrived at the Wildlife Reserve: Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. A guard makes sure we are on the list to stay there and advises us that it is forbidden to stop along the nine-kilometre path through the desert to reach the hotel.
When we arrived at the reception, a luggage handler took care of our belongings until we reached our room. And we were welcomed by Kero, who was our butler during our stay. And what an incredible employee!
Truth be told, when I made my last-minute reservation (at 1 am the same day…), I wrote in the Marriott Bonvoy mobile app chat that I was happy to return to the Al Maha after a successful first stay and to bring my mother. And as a Titanium member, I would hope to have a suite with a full view of the desert.
In this type of accommodation, you don’t necessarily need a status: the basic room (Bedouin Suite) is already extraordinary, and you get everything for free when you use points.
Kero immediately put me at ease by telling me that they had upgraded our reservation so that I could give my mom the best experience possible.
Always smiling and responding quickly to the smallest question via chat or phone, I raise my glass to Kero:
Upon check-in, we were told about the different activities we are entitled to during our stay. Two free activities per day to choose from:
- Camel ride at sunset
- Sunset ride on a 4×4
- Observe the falcons flying in the early morning
- Walk in the desert to observe the fauna and flora
- 4×4 ride in the desert to observe the fauna and flora
There are also 2 paid activities available (270 AED per person per activity):
- “Active” 4×4 ride in the desert
- Horseback riding in the desert (3 years experience minimum)
Kero also confirmed that by staying using points, everything is included:
- Room service
This is rather impressive as the food is extremely high quality (foie gras, lobsters, lamb from New Zealand, etc.).
Only drinks are not included.
I gave my Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card as collateral and to pay for my stay there. With the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card, you earn 5 points per dollar for all your spending at Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
This is the best credit card to have if you stay at Marriott Bonvoy hotels frequently.
We were taken to the Emirates Suite, which was located quite apart from all the other suites.
The Emirates Suite
When you open the double wooden door of the Emirates Suite, you arrive… on a patio with a fountain! This patio serves two waiting rooms: a kitchen on one side and two small rooms for employees/guests.
This patio is beautiful at night:
To enter the Emirates Suite, you open another wooden door. Directly on the left is a large dining table.
The Emirates Suite is in fact a combination of two Bedouin Suites, joined at their center by a large common lounge.
On the table in the living room, a carafe of alcohol is waiting for us (which can be refilled free of charge once a day).
A television is available in this room with DVD player and Bose system.
On the left side of the Emirates Suite is a room with a King bed and its bathroom (composed of a bathtub, a separate shower, and a toilet).
In front of the bed are two sofas facing each other. The whole area is in front of beautiful bay windows, which give access to the left side of the terrace.
On the right side of the Emirates Suite is a room with two single beds and a bathroom (composed of a bathtub, a separate shower, and a toilet).
In front of the bed are two sofas facing each other. The whole area is in front of beautiful bay windows, that give access to the right side of the terrace.
As mentioned above, these rooms are identical to the Bedouin Suites (bookable with points).
The terrace is of course the centrepiece of a stay at Maha – a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa – Dubai. You will spend most of your stay:
- In the heated pool
- On the sunbeds listening to the wind and the sounds of nature
- At the table to taste the dishes delivered in room
In the Emirates Suite, there is a terrace portion for each room and a central portion.
As mentioned above, these rooms are identical to the Bedouin Suites (bookable with points).
It’s hard not to savour the moment from this spot.
The advantage of the Emirates Suite (apart from its size)? Direct access to the desert and no noise from nearby accommodations.
The show is incredible, day and night.
The food at Al Maha – a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa – Dubai is incredible. Whether you choose to be served directly to your room (and free of charge) for breakfast:
Or go for a “snack” in the afternoon:
Or at the restaurant in the evening, with a five-course dinner:
Also note the “Welcome Back” cake, only offered to customers who have come at least once:
By the way, I met by surprise Jonathan, one of the members of the Milesopedia Community at the Al Maha – a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa – Dubai restaurant!
At Al Maha – a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa – Dubai, you can’t get bored.
Since I had done all the activities during my previous stay, I chose to do the ones I considered most beautiful with my mother.
On the first evening, we took a camel ride to watch the sunset from the desert.
This is a must. After 30 minutes of walking, we arrived in the middle of the dunes. A buffet with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and fruit awaits you.
The next day, we chose to opt for the same version of the ride… in 4×4. A little more comfortable!
And by the way, what a surprise it was to hear my name being called across these dunes. Anthony, another Milesopedia reader, was also visiting with his wife. The world of points is small!
On the last day, we witnessed the flight of the falcons at 6:30 am. A magnificent show that begins in the mist, corresponding with the time of the sunrise.
A show that lasts about 45 minutes. At the end of which, we were able to hold one of these falcons on our forearms.
Pool and Gym
Al Maha – a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa – Dubai has a full-service spa with a whirlpool, sauna, steam bath, and gym. Everything is free of charge (only the treatments are charged).
The whole area is completed by a very large swimming pool that gives way to the desert. You can do your laps there if your private pool is not enough!
Al Maha – a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa – Dubai is one of those hotels that we are happy to have reward points for.
With a per-night rate of over $2,500 ($7,000 for the Emirates Suite), this is a budget out of reach for most travellers.
Thanks to points, we can offer ourselves a unique moment in a relaxing atmosphere. I recommend you to stay there for at least two nights. Three nights is, in my eyes, the ideal duration.
But don’t forget that if you book four nights with your points, you might as well stay five nights as the fifth night is free.
If you have the opportunity, especially if you’re a carrier of the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card and the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express® Card, please feel free to reward YOURSELF with this type of experience. Just like Jonathan, Anthony, Tim, Jean-François, and many other members of the Milesopedia community did. You won’t regret it.