Dubai instantly calls to mind Las Vegas-style glitz, but Al Maha couldn't be further from that image.

Set in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a private wildlife sanctuary on the outskirts of the city, it's an exclusive escape wrapped in a tranquil desert landscape, with gazelles and endangered Arabian onyx (a rare breed of antelope) roaming freely.

Check into one of 40 colonial-chic villas with a private pool overlooking sand dunes. They are set far enough apart to ensure an impressively private stay (it's the go-to spot for Dubai's sheikhs at the weekend).

There's a great restaurant on site, but you must experience dune dining - a magical night-time picnic by candlelight in the sand.

Wow factor: Ride a camel into the desert to watch the sun set over the dunes with a glass of bubbly in hand.

Flight time: Six hours 50 minutes.

Go: Book with Turquoise Holidays; call 01494 678 400 or visit for more details or email <a href=""></a>