Banyan Tree Desert Spa and Resort, Bahrain

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 August, 2007, 12:00am

Where is it? Set in the Al Areem development area of Bahrain, the Desert Spa and Resort borders a wildlife park 35 minutes' drive from the kingdom's main airport.

What's so different about it? Luxury and privacy are the order of the day in the property's 78 villas, all with a temperature-controlled swimming pool and Jacuzzi.

The resort's spa is the largest in the Middle East.

Luxurious or basic? Luxury and more luxury. The 56 one-bedroom Desert Pool villas measure 400 square metres. If guests want to live like kings, they can stay in one of the 22 Royal Pool villas, at 740 square metres, which come with two bedrooms, a personal chef and butler.

What's the ambience like? Villas feature plush furnishings and Arabian opulence, and have all mod cons such as coffee machines, Wi-fi broadband connections and plasma TVs. And, in keeping with the five-star rating, the vibe is relaxed. The privacy provided by the self-contained villas also means you can skinny dip day or night.

What else is there to do? There are numerous attractions within a five-minute drive. The Bahrain Formula One racing circuit has a hair-raising Hummer section on which you can ride in the American mega-rigs with professional drivers, or have lessons; then there are drag-racing nights. Children love the enormous Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park, a welcome relief from the heat with its 14 water slides, the gulf's largest wave pool and a beach. If you want to venture farther afield, the hotel can organise pearl diving, dolphin watching, fishing and cultural tours.

What's on the menu? There are four main restaurants to choose from. Vertigo, Rimal and Tamarind dish up international and local a la carte favourites while Saffron serves modern Thai cuisine. Barbecues, with chef provided, can be organised for entertaining in your villa. Fresh local and imported seafood, meats, salads and desserts make a memorable feast. The property will also cater to diners on special diets and those on detox programmes.

Anything else we should know? This is a 'dry' resort. No alcohol is sold on site, but you can drink your own in your villa, so don't forget to pick up your duty-free.

What's the bottom line? The minimum stay at the resort is three nights. A Desert Pool villa costs BH$580 (HK$12,000) a night and a Royal Pool villa BH$830.

The Banyan Tree Desert Spa and Resort is at Al Areen Sakhir, Bahrain, tel: 973 17 84 5000;