Weekend escapes are something that many UAE residents treat themselves to on a regular basis. But in our experience, few are as good for the soul as Alma Retreat.
Located in Ras Al Khaimah and as luxurious as desert camps come, this boutique weekend escape truly does embody everything you’d hope for in a wellness retreat. From walks at sunrise, to wellness shots and hearty vegan cuisine, it’s a weekend of goodness from start to finish.
Sunrise walks are the perfect way to start the day!
At the moment, the retreat is only open at the weekend, so we left Dubai Media City on a Thursday night, battling the rush-hour traffic, and made our way to Alma long after sunset, when many of the other Thursday night guests seemed to arrive.
While there were a few, ‘I should have just come tomorrow’ moments on the drive – the Sharjah traffic being a highlight – from the moment we stepped foot in the fire-lit camp, we were instantly relaxed and knew that waking up there on Friday morning would more than make the drive worth it!
We had missed dinner, but the beyond hospitable host Katrina had saved us some food, which we enjoyed while meeting a few fellow guests in the communal area. We were charmed from the moment we arrived.
Then, the Alma effect kicked in. With a bedtime cup of tea in hand, and aware of the sunrise wake-up call, we retreated to our tent for one of the best night’s sleep we have had in 2018.
The word tent doesn’t really do our chic turquoise and white home-for-the-night justice. With an inviting double bed and an outdoor ensuite which was well-stocked with fair trade toiletries, it’s a truly luxurious desert home.
Stay snug in a cosy little Alma cabin!
Rise And Shine
While our usual weekends have more of a lazy 10am rise and midday brunch routine, we were delighted to be woken up by the requested tap on the door as the sun was rising, so that we could embark on an early morning desert walk – an unbelievably rejuvenating way to start the day.
We then went straight into a morning yoga session. All of that before we’d even contemplated breakfast!
Almost all of the food is gluten- and dairy-free at Alma, but a couple of dishes have added meat, for any non-vegans. Breakfast on day one was delicious oats soaked overnight in almond milk, and on day two we tucked into coconut chia pudding with heaps of berries. All super healthy and super delicious!
Sweat It Out
A weekend at Alma is pretty much what you make of it. You could come and spend the entire weekend reading books from the retreat’s wellness library on the sofa outside your tent, or you could stay active with games and workouts aplenty.
We opted for the latter, seeing as it was just one weekend! So, once breakfast and yoga had wrapped, we went straight into a boxing and dune sprints session out in the desert.
Ahlan!'s Farah sweating it out with a desert boxing session
Dune sprints are an experience that we hope never to have to endure ever again, but Rhian – the personal trainer who was over from Wales to run two back-to-back bootcamps – kept us motivated with her fun and action-packed classes. Let’s just say, a plunge in the oh-so-chilly ice pool was certainly welcome after our sweaty session.
The afternoon was all about fun and games, too. Out on the sand in front of the tents, the entire camp came together for games including cricket, bucket ball and even stuck in the mud. Thanks to all the laughing, we probably got a better ab workout in that session than in our morning circuits.
Time To Reflect
It’s not all high-energy workouts, though. After the games, Sarah – the founder of the retreat – ran a painting session. An hour of relaxed painting and reflecting was more therapeutic than we could have imagined. Plus, we walked away with fabulous (even if we do say so ourselves!) new paintings to hang on our apartment walls.
Before bedtime, the camp gathers for some more downtime. This time around the campfire for a meditation session, which was also run by Sarah. Switching our brains off and star-gazing was the perfect way to wind down after a wonderful desert day.
INFO: Day passes from Dhs550, one-night stay from Dhs999, two night stay from Dhs1,998, inside the Bedouin Oasis Camp, Ras Al Khaimah, iamalma.com