With temperatures soaring across the region, those seeking an escape don’t need to jet all the way to Europe this Summer. Despite its Mars like terrain, Alula in Saudi Arabia is the neighbor we’ve always needed. Less humidity, cooler temperatures, the shade from cascading rock formations and hidden green oases. Low cost airlines including Flynas and Fly Dubai enable you to plan the perfect getaway straight from Dubai to the land of the giant stone.
Whilst Saudi and Alula are on the tips of everyone’s tongue, it’s the breathtaking, sustainable-led design hotel Habitas that we can’t stop talking about. In the heart of Alulas desert valley, set in an ancient oasis in the Ashar canyon, Habitas Alula might be one of the most picturesque destinations for a hotel. Sitting between the mountains and the ancient Nabaetean settlements, this site dates all the way back to the first century and upon arrival, you really do feel like you are walking on another planet all together. The ancient energy is powerful and all encompassing.
The Habitas founders have set out to create multi-functional spaces throughout their properties, and here at Ulala you get an immediate sense serenity, offering a unique retreat away from city life, everyday life, normal life. With sustainability and wellness at its core, the eco-retreat is the congregation point for antiquity and modernity, allowing guests to explore the natural marvel of AlUla with all the comforts of the new age. Co-founder Oliver Ripley says Habitas AlUla is a true embodiment of the brand’s six programming pillars: music, wellness, adventure, culture, learning and culinary. This is illustrated through programming that accommodates art and culture walks, canyon trekking, yoga, meditation and breathwork.
Habitas uses a modular build model, meaning rooms are designed, constructed, flat-packed and delivered to new locations worldwide. Through extensive research and site visits, the design of each project is harmonised with the location’s natural surroundings. Habitas Alula boasts 96 rooms including the premium Celestial Villas, Alcove Villas and Canyon Villas which are designed in traditional Middle Eastern style, each room is made from ethically sourced materials that blend seamlessly into their natural surroundings, with warm shades of red, white and brown dominating.
“Whilst the design of each home differs depending on the location, we always create an aesthetic that blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. We don’t build through nature but rather around it.
We design and build around nature, who we call our lead architect. Sustainability is at the core of our brand and thus paramount in how we design each of our homes. Whilst the design of each home differs depending on the location, we always create an aesthetic that blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. We don’t build through nature but rather around it. Everything we source and buy supports the local community and creates micro-economies. This is integral to our ethos, helping local farmers and artisans, and training and teaching the local workforce.”
The Habitas founders aim to create spaces that build a sense of community and facilitate people coming together. With no televisions in any of the rooms, the aim is to help people disconnect from screens and encourage them to soak up the surrounding nature, appreciate the stillness of the experience and most importantly connect with themselves and those around them. Spend your evening star gazing rather than screen scrolling.
“Habitas is all about creating a social architecture where people can talk and meet to become friends.”
It is time to explore, unwind, slow down and discover Alula.