Saturday, Jan 16, 2021
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Mountain Retreat

If sitting on the beach doesn’t float your boat, there’s now a seriously cool option in the UAE’s mountains. Virtuozity explores the Hatta Wadi Hub

To many people, Dubai is just a big city on the coast surrounded by desert. People are always amazed when you point out that it also has mountains, albeit fairly small ones. Nestled up in those dry, rocky mountains is the village of Hatta, boasting lower temperatures and less humidity than the rest of the Emirate during the hotter months.

For decades the only place to stay in Hatta for the well-known Hatta Fort Hotel, a little oasis of luxury amongst the stark, dry rocks. It was a cool place to escape the summer heat and get a bit of mountain air.

But that was it, nothing else. There was nowhere else to stay. But at last things seem to have changed for this sleepy outpost close the UAE’s hilly Oman border. Dubai-based developer Meeras has finally given Hatta a wider range of accommodation and, in the process, given tourists and residents alike more reasons to make the hour and a half long drive through the mountains.

One of the properties added by Meeras is Damani Lodges, a group of stilted chalets carefully tiptoeing across the moonscape that dominates the Hatta area. Based around the Hatta Wadi Hub’s central activity hub, the lodges look back across to the main Hatta/Oman road, but up on the hillside, rather than down in the main valley where the activity centre is located.

To get to each lodge the friendly employees from the hub drive you up the steep gravel roads in one of their little buggies. It’s a bit of a hairy ride for anyone of a delicate disposition, but adds a bit of fun to the whole adventure. Each chalet is located far enough away from each other to avoid any noise disturbances, but guests can easily walk back to the hub area, although sturdy shoes are strongly recommended.

Inside the chalet it’s compact, but practical. The single L-shaped room is neatly furnished with modern, comfortable softwood fixtures. You get a bed, some shelves, somewhere to put your case, a TV, a small fridge and some subtle lighting. It’s basic, but more than enough for two people to enjoy a bit of RnR, which is the whole point of the resort. The bathrooms are also chalet style, with a good, strong shower after a day out walking in the mountains. There’s no bath, but it’s all very neat and practical.

Outside the large patio doors each chalet features a large, wooden veranda with two chairs, a table and a bean bag-style lounger. It’s a great spot to sit and watch what’s going on back down in the hub area or to just take in the great views of the Hajar Mountains.

For food the staff at the hub can order in a few different options, or there’s a food truck, serving hot snacks. Whichever way you look at it the food options are limited, so this is not a resort for foodies. Hopefully they’ll be adding some more options soon.

If the nights are set aside for relaxing, the days are certainly set up for some adventurous activities. There’s a huge jumping net for kids, as well as other playground activities. More organised sports include archery, axe throwing, a bone shaking downhill karting ride and much more.

But the best activity has to be the mountain biking. The hub have cut a number of different routes through the mountains, ranging from an easy loop to some serious off-road challenges. Some rides can be done in just twenty minutes, whilst others will see you riding amongst the rocks for hours. Bikes can be hired on-site, but visitors can also bring their own if they want.

Damani Lodges is just what Hatta needed. Not everyone wants to stay in a five-star hotel all the time. There’s also those that want something a little different, or fancy an adventurous weekend away from the manic pace of Dubai.

Either way, the lodges and the hub more than deliver. It’s just up to you to choose how much, or how little you want to do.

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