The grand, luxurious mirage of the desert
There is nothing special on Qatar’s border with Saudi Arabia, just miles of desert. In early 2021, something very different appears in the middle of this nothing – a huge, glittering luxury hotel complex with its own theme park. Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas is clearly no ordinary hotel, writes CNN.
Seen from the air, it looks like an entire coastal city. Pristine beaches are separated by a central port. Sparkling white villas and buildings cluster around blue swimming pools. Behind them are green oases.
It is one of the largest resorts in the Middle East. Already opening its doors in February 2021, it has become a hit with locals, but is also quickly becoming a popular destination for visitors and business travelers from across the region. Hilton Salwa Beach has 84 villas, offering two to four bedrooms, with private pools and direct access to the white-sand beach (rates start at US$1,500 per night). There are 31 Arabian-style suites and villas, while the main hotel has 246 rooms and suites.
The sprawling grounds feature more than 20 food and beverage outlets, including seven gourmet restaurants, a high-end spa with VIP suites, sports courts, swimming pools surrounded by landscaped gardens, corporate facilities and a marina.
It also has Qatar’s largest theme park with dozens of rides, including King Cobra, a thrill ride that sends daredevils into the mouth of a massive snake-like structure.
The luxury complex is built on 320 hectares of sandy land about 100 km southwest of Doha, in a strategic location to welcome visitors from both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but also from all over the world, of course.
The resort can accommodate up to 2,500 guests and are looked after by a staff of 1,200. When not lounging or walking on the cotton-soft sands of the resort’s 3.5-kilometer coastline, guests can engage in a long list of fun activities. At the center of it all is Desert Falls Water and Adventure Park.
This adrenaline-fueled attraction features numerous children’s pools and water playgrounds, as well as nearly 30 rides and slides, including a spinning high-speed attraction that, at its starting point – atop the park’s 32-meter mountain – offers a panoramic view of the entire resort.
The park is also home to the first man-made canyoning structure in the Middle East. There is an outdoor go-kart track – fully equipped with grandstands for spectators, as well as an indoor laser arena. Understandably, given its size, the hotel has a range of dining options, including Middle Eastern, Italian and Chinese cuisine.
Levantine offers signature Arabic dishes, including The Qattinah, a delicious cocktail that consists of spice syrup, citrus juice and 24-carat gold flakes.
At Miss Wong, the sound of a gong ushers guests into a private Chinese dining room that begins with an elaborate tea ceremony. Among the customer favorites are chicken and vegetable soup (enoki mushrooms, dried shiitake mushrooms, vegetables, chicken and turmeric), and crispy Peking duck. A standout on the drinks menu is the refreshing Orange Sunset cocktail. The resort’s Dante Cucina Italiana restaurant offers Tuscan wines and wood-fired pizzas. The League, on the other hand, is a sports and entertainment bar where guests can watch football matches, play pool or have fun at a backgammon tournament. Here they can try a special selection of burgers, steaks and smoked ribs.
Of course, there is no shortage of luxury resorts in Qatar, especially after hosting the FIFA World Cup at the end of 2022. Among them are the Ritz-Carlton’s W Doha, Mandarin Doha, Sharq Village and Spa, as well as Antara’s Banana Island Resort. but one more pearl in the crown is never superfluous.