Saudi Arabia’s AlUla is primed to top travel bucket lists as one of the region’s must-visit hubs for cultural, natural, and heritage wonders. With plans to begin re-welcoming foreign tourists in October, the Unesco-listed site is operating on overdrive to accommodate the expected two million visitors each year by 2035 with a series of soon-to-open luxury hotels, including the Kingdom’s first Banyan Tree resort.
Expanding upon AlUla’s pre-existing Ashar Resort, the upcoming Accor-managed property will eventually cater to almost double the capacity with 82 high-end villas dotted throughout the ancient valley. Designed with the natural scenery in mind, each of the private one, two, and three-bedroom villas are set to be a perfect mirror of the desert surroundings, featuring sandstone-colored hues and tented coverings to enhance the mirage-like enchantment of AlUla’s mountainous landscape. Adhering to the ethos of the Banyan Tree properties’ desire to create exclusive escapes, each villa will be a peaceful stand-alone haven blending both indoor and outdoor spaces but follow the winding paths and guests will stumble upon the spa and a variety of in-house restaurants. A scattering of cozy outdoor fire pits also offers stargazers the perfect place to watch the night sky at one of the very few places in the region with zero light pollution.
As a brand focused on championing sustainable practices both environmentally and socially, Banyan Tree’s AlUla location will implement the luxury chain’s plastic-free pledge and commitment to supporting the local community in a myriad of ways. The eco-friendly sanctuary will be optimally located a mere 15km from the archaeological city of Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage site, as well as the infamous Maraya performance venue where world-renowned artists such as Lionel Richie and Yanni recently took the stage, giving guests a five-star stay a few minutes from the heart of the desert oasis.
“This new partnership demonstrates how Al Ula’s unique appeal as a cultural, heritage and nature destination fits with Accor’s Banyan Tree brand, which is synonymous with authentically unique experiences,” said chief executive of the Royal Commission for Al Ula Amr Al Madani. “We’re working with the world’s best developers and hotel operators to deliver projects that complement our cultural oasis, as well as benefiting our local community.”
While the official opening date of the Banyan Tree resort is yet to be decided, the Royal Commission for AlUla has revealed there are 15 other hospitality projects in the pipeline over the coming months, including three highly-anticipated Aman properties. With so many developments in the works, the Kingdom is well on its way to achieving its goal of creating a fully immersive desert destination with unique year-round experiences for all types of curious explorers, such as the Winter at Tantora Festival that first put AlUla on our radar along with the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup at which the Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed himself competed.