Hilton Salwa: The gigantic luxury hotel in the middle of nowhere


Nothing a lot lies on Qatar’s border with Saudi Arabia. Just a few sunbaked outposts and miles and miles of huge, empty desert in all instructions.

Then, earlier this yr, one thing very totally different appeared in the course of this nowhere: An enormous, gleaming luxurious lodge complicated, full with its personal theme park.

The Hilton Salwa Seashore Resort & Villas is clearly no peculiar lodge.

Seen from the air it resembles a complete coastal city. Pristine twin seashores peel away from a central harbor. Above the sands, vivid white villas and buildings cluster round blue swimming swimming pools. Behind them, oasis greenery. It’s one of many Center East’s largest resorts.

So what occurs, when a huge upscale lodge seems miles from wherever simply as a pandemic freezes world journey?

It will get actually busy, in keeping with Etienne-Charles Gailliez, the resort’s basic supervisor. On opening its doorways in February it turned a staycation hit with locals, he says. Extra just lately it’s been a well-liked vacation spot for guests and enterprise vacationers from the broader area.

There’s loads of room. Hilton Salwa Seashore has 84 villas, starting from two to 4 bedrooms, with non-public swimming pools and direct entry to the white-sand seaside (costs from US$1,500-a-night). There are 31 Arabian village-style flats and villas, whereas the principle lodge has 246 rooms and suites.

The large grounds additionally comprise greater than 20 food and drinks shops, together with seven connoisseur eating choices, a high-end spa with VIP suites, sport courts, swimming swimming pools surrounded by landscaped gardens, company amenities and a marina.

On high of that, there’s Qatar’s largest theme park, that includes dozens of points of interest, together with “King Cobra,” an exhilarating twin tube experience that sends riders into the mouth of an enormous snake-like construction.

The resort has its own water fun park.

The luxurious complicated has been constructed on 320 hectares of sandy land some 100 kilometers southwest of Doha, strategically located to welcome guests each from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Development started in 2015 and the ultimate stage earlier than opening was targeted on adapting it for the improved well being and security measures consistent with Qatar’s mobility guidelines and hygiene protocols.

“As a result of affect of Covid-19, we needed to speed up the necessities for the opening of the resort and determine new distinctive promoting factors, which targeted on staycations,” Gailliez advised CNN.

That was excellent news for Sama Jamali, a 21-year-old Doha resident, and her mates. “Because it was unsafe and troublesome to journey, we determined to have a staycation on the resort,” she advised CNN. “The room was pretty and really spacious and comfy – with superior know-how and really Covid-19 protected and clear.”

Villas and rooms are just steps from the beach.

Gailliez mentioned the introduction of journey tips and restrictions led to the adoption of a phased opening strategy, with a lot of shops and amenities resembling a diving heart and a state-of-the-art sports activities academy anticipated to be purposeful within the coming months.

“We’re a brand new resort and are extra than simply rooms. We have now villas and a water park which makes our construction fairly distinctive,” mentioned Gailliez.

Alongside efforts to combine new contactless know-how, Gailliez recognized logistics and staffing as key issues. “On peak days, throughout the resort we welcome as much as 2,500 visitors, with a workforce of round 1,200 group members,” he mentioned.

Interiors are influenced by traditional Arabesque designs.

These visitors, after they’re not lounging or strolling on the cotton-soft sands alongside the resort’s 3.5-kilometer shoreline, can hold busy by selecting from an extended listing of fun-filled actions.

On the coronary heart of all of it is the Desert Falls Water and Journey Park.

The adrenaline-packed attraction options a number of kids’s swimming pools and water playgrounds, in addition to practically 30 rides and slides, together with a spinning rapids experience that at its start line – on the peak of the park’s 32-meter mountain – presents panoramic views of the complete resort.

Right here, mat-racing visitors also can zoom down tubes – face to face and aspect by aspect – right into a fast splashdown, or check out a surf simulator.

Guests can race each other on the water slides.

The park can be dwelling to what’s billed as the primary man-made canyoning construction within the Center East. There’s an outside go-kart race monitor – totally outfitted with stands for spectators – and an indoor laser tag course.

Inevitably, given its measurement, the lodge has a spread of eating choices, together with Center Japanese, Italian and Chinese language cuisines.

Levantine serves signature Arabic dishes with a twist, together with The Qattinah, a scrumptious mocktail that consists of crafted botanical spice syrup, citrus kaleidoscope and flakes of pure gold. Important course and dessert highlights embody scorching kebabs with Mdakhan (smoked hummus, roasted garlic puree) adopted by Knafeh nabulsiyeh (pistachio cream).

The resort's Miss Wong restaurant serves up an Orange Sunset mocktail.

At Miss Wong, the sound of a gong ushers visitors into a personal Chinese language eating expertise that kicks off with an elaborate tea ceremony. Suggestions embody the hen and vegetable soup (Enoki mushroom, dried shiitake mushrooms, greens, hen & turmeric wonton), numerous dumpling choices and crispy Peking duck. A refreshing Orange Sundown mocktail (contemporary orange/contemporary watermelon/contemporary lemon/grenadine syrup/oolong tea/egg-white) stands out on the drinks menu.

The resort’s Dante Cucina Italiana restaurant serves Tuscan wines and pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. One other, The League, is a sports activities and leisure bar the place visitors can watch soccer matches and play video games of pool and foosball. Cocktail pitches and beer buckets can be found right here, together with a gastropub menu that includes a number of burgers, steaks and smoked ribs.

In fact, there isn’t a scarcity of luxurious resort choices in Qatar, particularly because the nation gears as much as welcome guests for soccer’s World Cup Finals on the finish of 2022.

The already busy line up contains the W Doha, the Mandarin Doha, Ritz-Carlton’s Sharq Village and Spa, plus Antara’s offshore Banana Island Resort, all of that are extra handy for downtown and airport.

So is the journey out to the desert value it?

“We loved the number of eating places, particularly the continental buffet. Prime-notch meals with wonderful presentation,” mentioned Jamali, who’s already wanting ahead to a different keep.

“It was a beautiful expertise and there was no uninteresting second because of the enjoyable and totally different actions obtainable