It’s one of the four nominated in the World Travel Awards as Middle East’s Leading Luxury Desert Resort for 2020. But the ultimate honour cementing its place as best in the world would come from the World Luxury Hotel Awards when it was named Best Luxury Desert Resort in the world for this year.
There are many reasons why the Desert Nights Camp deserves the accolade. Located at the heart of Rimal al Sharqiyah in an area often referred to as Wahaiba in Al Wasil, in a desert valley surrounded by towering dunes, this camp has become front and centre of different activities not only the best that one can do while in Oman’s fascinating desert landscape but also in showcasing some of the most treasured traditions of Oman.
“What makes this property unique and captured the hearts of our guests is that it is more glamping than camping and is packed with different activities that give them a different perspective and access to traditional Omani life,” shared Anurin Jansen, the camp’s General Manager.
“Oman has so much to offer. Time and time again, guests are always amazed by the heritage of the Sultanate. We keep many of those desert traditions. And mixed well with other beautiful Omani heritage, the traditional meets modern concept is at the heart of our operations,” he said.
Their camel ride, one of the most popular attractions, not only for Europeans and foreign guests but even among expats in Oman, tapped into the vast knowledge of the Bedouins about the desert.
The luxury tent rooms of the camp combined the functional design of Bedouin tents with the established decors and rustic, homey feel of Omani homes usually found in harats all over the country.
“The camp, to clarify this for many, is taking camping to a higher level. In the travel industry, it is known as glamping where people get to experience the outdoors but with the luxury of modern amenities and facilities with access to friendlier service and memorable tour experiences,” Jansen said.
The camp started operating in 2007, then with 32 rooms. By 2016, it has expanded into 53 rooms divided into three categories.
“We have six (6) two-bedroom suites or Family Rooms. It is a villa that can accommodate five to six people and have a sitting room and bathrooms. We also have Deluxe and Standard Rooms which have modern toilets and sitting areas and all of them also have outdoor sitting areas,” he explained.
“But we are going into a new concept. In January 2021, we will be introducing a one-bedroom villa with infinity pool. We will have six of those rooms. We are also opening up more Deluxe rooms with bigger room areas and 19 standard rooms that will collectively put the total number of rooms to 88,” he shared.
There’s more to Oman’s glamping scene by 2021. Other than its room expansion, the camp is bringing in Mandara Spa which will diversify what Oman desert camp offers. With a recreation centre that allows guests to play foosball, pool, darts and other board games and with the introduction of a full-blown in-house laundry, the camp will transform into a home away from home. The bonfire and movie watching under the stars are a staple that guests regularly enjoy.
“The best time to visit is winter which is from October to April. But even during the summer, we are open. The opening of the pool villas is to target summer visits since it will give our guests something to do even in the hot months. In summer, while the day is hot, the nights are very nice. Early mornings are also very soothing. We are open 365 days,” he said.
COVID-19 safety measures
Just like the rest of the country, even the camp strictly adheres to the Covid19 safety measures put in place by the government.
“With the Covid challenge, we adhere to the standards imposed by the government of Oman. From the time you check-in, we have temperatures check and the facilities are sanitized. We have sanitizing dispensers in key parts of the camp. Luggage is sanitized upon arrival. We have a fogging system for sanitization which we do before and after guests check-in. Every area is sanitized by our staff,” Jansen said.
“Common areas also require guests to wear masks. They are not allowed to enter, for example, the restaurant without a mask. With the buffet service, everything is served by the staff. We also have barriers to make sure that guests have no direct access and contact to the food,” he added.
Jansen said that while the camp faced the same challenge as the rest of the tourism industry, they are hopeful that it will make a comeback soon.
“We are living with Covid19 and our guests’ safety is also our utmost concern. Until it’s mitigated, we do all of our activities guided with the established rules. We want our guests to enjoy responsibly,” he said.
Centre of desert activities
“We are looking forward to boosting Oman’s glamping and desert camp experience. Winning the luxury desert resort hotel award is just the beginning. We are working towards winning some other awards which will cement Desert Nights Camp and Oman’s reputation as one of the best places for glamping and the desert experience,” Jansen said.
“We are targeting not only the GCC best desert camp category but also eyes the whole Middle East luxury award. We are hoping to achieve more,” he added.
Jansen said that there are plenty of activities for their guests to do. As of today, the camp offers camel riding, desert drives, sand bashing, sandboarding, and quad biking.
“From the hotel, we also organize tours to the nearby Wadi Bani Khalid. We have tours going across to the desert and even turtle watching tours to the nearby seas. We also have Bedouin house tours and for those who want to truly experience the desert, we have trekking activities for them,” he said.
“The tranquillity of the camp, the peaceful environment and its beauty and setting are the main attractions of the camp. Guests who are looking for proper relaxation and tranquillity amid a beautiful landscape, this is the best spot for them to leave behind the busy, challenging often stressful environment of the city,” Jansen said.
“Desert Nights Camp is located in one of the most scenic places in the country, especially of the Wahaiba sands. We hope to capitalize on this beauty and make it known all over the world that Oman has, in fact, the best desert glamping experience,” he said.