Sharjah has been quietly building up its inventory of “relaxing” eco- and adventure-travel experiences. By “relaxing,” think luxury lodges and tents with all the mod cons.
A trio of such properties are opening under The Sharjah Collection banner. Among these, Kingfisher Lodge has in fact already soft-launched, while the other two resorts are set to open later this year.
Kingfisher Lodge is located in the Kalba mangrove area, on the coast near the Omani border.
The lodge offers 25 tents that stretches the conventional meaning of camping. Banish any thought of leaking canvas or flysheets over pup tents. Then again, admittedly, this is the UAE, so rain is not so much a concern. Nevertheless, we’re talking here about Luxe with a capital L. Each “tent” at the lodge comes with its own pool, with views toward the Indian Ocean as you peer over the edge. And should you feel the desire to wander from your private abode – for a bit more of nature, shall we say – you will find that the neighboring mangroves are home to a sea turtle breeding area and several rare bird species, including the White Collared Kingfisher and Sykes’s Warbler. Just be careful to heed all environmental advice and avoid getting in the way of the animals.
For something a bit more strenuous, you can head into the nearby mountains or go deep into the marshes. And if it is more structured activity you crave, there is archery and high ropes at the Kalba Absolute Adventure Camp. Fat bike riding, fishing, diving and paragliding are all also available distractions.
Conversely, for those who prefer a distinct lack of distraction, an onsite spa is of course available. Also to be found in a tent. (Remember the theme.)
As for the other two properties opening soon, Fossil Rock lodge is nestled in the dunes of Mleiha – an archaeological site dating back 1,800 years. The resort is built on the bones of a 1960s era lodge that has been converted into a luxury space that will host just 10 very lucky guests. The spa at this property will feature a Himalayan sea salt room. (Yes, we realize that some of you are of the quibbling type. The reference is correct. The “sea” is the ocean from hundreds of millions of years ago, before the Himalayas was pushed up above sea level and scrunched into a magnificent mountain range.)
Lastly, the largest of the three properties is Al Badayer Oasis, which aims to offer an authentic Bedouin experience with urban amenities, including an open-air theatre.
Ann Marie McQueen
Ann Marie McQueen is the founding editor-in-chief of Livehealthy and host of The Livehealthy Podcast. She is a veteran Canadian digital journalist who has worked in North America and the Middle East. Her past roles include features editor for The National, trends writer and columnist for the Canadian newspaper chain Sun Media, and correspondent for CBC Radio.