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Open for tourism: Inside the mega hotels opening in Saudi Arabia

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Travelers planning a visit to Saudi Arabia are soon to be spoilt for choice when it comes to where to stay with a raft of new mega hotels slated to open over the next 12 months.

In August, Saudi Arabia announced the resumption of international tourism e-visas and with quarantine-free travel for vaccinated visitors and direct flights from multiple locations across the GCC to Riyadh, Jeddah and now AlUla.

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Saudi Arabia’s low-cost airline, flynas, also announced it is launching direct international flights to AlUla International Airport from the UAE and Kuwait starting November 19.

Here are some of Saudi’s hottest luxury hotels – including slated openings to meet the growing demand of international visitors.

Nofa Riyadh – The Safari Hotel

Just an hour drive from Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport, or 45 minutes from downtown Riyadh, Nofa Riyadh is an African-style resort with 57 luxurious bungalows and villas overlooking Nofa Wildlife Park and features an equestrian estate as well as a world-class golf course surrounded by sand dunes and mountains.

Nofa Riyadh is an African-style resort with 57 luxurious bungalows and villas overlooking Nofa Wildlife Park. (Supplied)
Nofa Riyadh is an African-style resort with 57 luxurious bungalows and villas overlooking Nofa Wildlife Park. (Supplied)

The resort overlooks Nofa Wildlife Park, where guests can experience a unique African safari that’s home to more than 700 animals – including zebras, sables, giraffes, cheetahs and many other wild animals. Other leisure activities include an equestrian resort that features a show jumping arena, a specialized race track, a polo field complete with an extensive stable complex, a luxury health club and spa and a challenging 18-hole golf course – reportedly one of the very best in Saudi Arabia.

Ritz Carlton Jeddah

The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah maintains elements of its palatial roots, welcoming hotel guests with a fountain, majestic arches and traditional Saudi Arabian hospitality. (Supplied)
The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah maintains elements of its palatial roots, welcoming hotel guests with a fountain, majestic arches and traditional Saudi Arabian hospitality. (Supplied)

The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah maintains elements of its palatial roots, welcoming hotel guests with a fountain, majestic arches and traditional Saudi Arabian hospitality. Set along al-Hamra corniche and overlooking the Red Sea, the five-star hotel is a destination for international business travelers, newlyweds, pilgrims journeying to Mecca and families seeking a weekend escape.

Downtown in Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city, guests can explore commercial and diplomatic areas along Tahlia and Palestine Streets, the historical al-Balad and the Floating Mosque.

Sunset Beach Resort, Eastern Provence

Located in the Eastern Provence, Sunset Beach is a five-star private resort which covers more than 550,000 square meters of landscaped gardens and beaches. (Supplied)
Located in the Eastern Provence, Sunset Beach is a five-star private resort which covers more than 550,000 square meters of landscaped gardens and beaches. (Supplied)

Located in the Eastern Provence, Sunset Beach is a five-star private resort which covers more than 550,000 square meters of landscaped gardens and beaches, situated along a 1.5-kilometer-long peninsula with one beachfront facing Aziziyah Bay and another along the Arabian Gulf coastline.

The hotel is home to 251 accommodation units, varying between villas, chalets and beachfront cabanas. Activities are abundant, including tennis and squash courts, a paintball field, bowling alley and a family water park. The resort is home to the calmest and clearest waters of the Arabian Gulf, with an incredible variety of leisurely and exciting beach activities.

New hotels coming soon

There are also a raft of new hotels coming soon.

Banyan Tree, AlUla. Opening Q4, 2021

The Banyan Tree AlUla is nestled against sky-high rock formations in a valley, the resort blends into the sands that surround it with views from each of its one, two and three-bedroom pool villas. (Supplied)
The Banyan Tree AlUla is nestled against sky-high rock formations in a valley, the resort blends into the sands that surround it with views from each of its one, two and three-bedroom pool villas. (Supplied)

The Banyan Tree is nestled against sky-high rock formations in a valley, the resort blends into the sands that surround it with views from each of its one, two and three-bedroom pool villas.

Located in the Ashar Valley near the city of AlUla, Banyan Tree AlUla is inspired by more than 200,000 years of human heritage and unique landscapes that have created the world’s largest living museum. This luxury tented resort is situated in an eco-tourism region just a short flight from either Jeddah or Riyadh.

Habitas AlUla Resort, AlUla Opening Q4, 2021

Habitas AlUla Resort. (Supplied)
Habitas AlUla Resort. (Supplied)

This eco-friendly resort blends in seamlessly with AlUla’s landscape, bringing guests closer to the culture, heritage and environment around them.
In the heart of the ancient Nabatean region, guests can lose themselves in the ancient civilization and local culture – from Hegra to AlUla’s Old Town and more.

The hotel also offers the opportunity for guests to enjoy unique spa treatments and wellness experiences that are locally-inspired, with a Habitas twist.

Intercontinental Durrat Al Riyadh Resort and Spa

Characterized by the architectural grandeur, and the only resort in Riyadh City, InterContinental Durrat al-Riyadh Resort & Spa is located within the neighborhood of Banban, Riyadh. (Supplied)
Characterized by the architectural grandeur, and the only resort in Riyadh City, InterContinental Durrat al-Riyadh Resort & Spa is located within the neighborhood of Banban, Riyadh. (Supplied)

Characterized by the architectural grandeur, and the only resort in Riyadh City, InterContinental Durrat al-Riyadh Resort & Spa is located within the neighborhood of Banban, Riyadh. This unique property resides on 154,000 sqm of a green oasis.

Voco Jeddah North: Opening Q3 2022

Voco Jeddah North will feature 145 rooms. (Supplied)
Voco Jeddah North will feature 145 rooms. (Supplied)

The Voco Jeddah North will feature 145 rooms. Being one of the closest hotels to the new Jeddah airport, the hotel offers 1,710sqm of meeting and banqueting space (including two ballrooms of 500 square meters and 400 square meters).

With its prime location, voco Jeddah North is in close proximity to Jeddah Seasons square, Obhur Corniche and the Alexandria beach, and only 3 kilometers from Kingdom City, the new anticipated center of Jeddah. The hotel is also close to Obhur Bay, near the east coast of the Red Sea and provides guests with easy access to some of the best beaches in the northern corniche of the city.

Red Sea Project: Q4 2022/ 2023

Shurayrah is the hub island of The Red Sea Project on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. (TRSDC)
Shurayrah is the hub island of The Red Sea Project on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. (TRSDC)

The much-anticipated Red Sea Project will open its first hotels by end of 2022, welcoming guests to the incredible destination. Extending over 28,000 square kilometers on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, the destination will offer a uniquely diverse range of experiences, from island getaways to resort holidays, mountain retreats and desert adventures.

The Red Sea Development Company, developer of the mega-tourism project, announced nine new luxury hotels that are set to open during the first phase of the project – making up more than half of the 16 hotels under development in the first phase of the project.

These include SLS Red Sea (slated to open in the first quarter of 2023), the St. Regis Red Sea Resort (a Maldivian-style resort to open in 2023) and the Red Sea Edition (2023).

Other hotels include the Grand Hyatt Red Sea (date to be confirmed), Six Senses Southern Dunes (end of 2023), Raffles Red Sea, the Intercontinental Red Sea, Jumeriah Hotels and Resorts, and Fairmont Red Sea.

Other notable openings include three hotels to open in the summer of 2022 - the Holiday Inn Riyadh - The Business District, the Crowne Plaza Makkah Beban – and the Holiday Inn Jeddah Corniche, the Hilton Riyadh Olaya (Q2 2022) and the DoubleTree by Hilton Riyadh Financial District Hotel & Suites (Q4 2022).

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