The Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort and the Desert Islands Resort and Spa in Abu Dhabi aren't exactly new, but they are Antara establishments and therefore it's probably wise to know about them. The 206-room Qasr Al Sarab was opened in November of last year in the Liwa desert, said to be "designed to leave visitors with a sense of the romance of Arabia." Think, Lawrence of Arabia – the compound is a 90-minute drive from Abu Dhabi proper in an area called the Liwa Empty Quarter, and the Liwa is already a desert to begin with.
The last of that drive is 7 miles of unpaved road, but the reward is a completely self-contained retreat worthy of Zenobia, with poolside villas, three restaurants including a rooftop bar and grill, museum installations of desert and Bedouin artifacts, Desert Excursion Centre to set up camel trekking, desert hiking, and archery, and even a pillow menu with your choice of fluffy things to sleep on. Your failsafe when you need to turn away from the desert is the heated-marble-hammam-equipped Anantara Spa.
The Desert Islands Resort & Spa (pictured) is at the other pole of terrain, built atop one of Abu Dhabi's complex of islands just off the coast. Sir Bani Yas Island is a reserve for endangered Arabian animals, and that was taken as inspiration for Desert Island Resort's safari decor. Outside you'll find hubara birds, oryx and sand gazelles, including the "Dhabi" variety of gazelle that gave the city its name. And again, when the game drives, kayaking among mangrove fields, mountain biking and falconry have got the best of you, there's that rather famous spa with its signature Thai treatments to replenish you.