By John O’Ceallaigh
If you want to feed the giraffes that greet guests during breakfast and in the afternoon at Nairobi’s Giraffe Manor, you’ll need to spend from about $800 a night to stay there. It’s not unfair to say that this is by far the main reason people choose to stay there and, in non-pandemic times, the hotel is booked solid, so the first rendering I saw of the forthcoming LUX* Al Bridi Resort in Sharjah (shown at the top of this page, and in full mobile-friendly format at the bottom) was pretty much all it took for me to recognise there’s going to be a lot of interest in this property when it opens in 2023.
Located within the Sharjah safari project by the city of Al Dhaid in the United Arab Emirates, the lodge will overlook 1,690-hectare conservation site Al Bridi Nature Reserve, which its custodians claim is the largest safari site in the world outside Africa. What actually officially constitutes a safari site and how they justify that claim I don’t know, but we can be confident that the setting is home to over 50,000 animals, including native mountain gazelles, crocodiles, African rock pythons and flamingos. It is the most important ecotourism destination in the region, and an important attraction for Sharjah, an alcohol-free emirate that falls far behind Dubai and Abu Dhabi in terms of recognition from international tourists.
I anticipate plenty of wannabe influencers will be among LUX* Al Bridi Resort’s first guests given the aforementioned rendering shows giraffes standing directly beside an elevated viewing platform at the property, face to face with guests (though who knows how, or if, the animals will actually be cajoled to the platform in real life – in Nairobi, the animals reside in an adjoining sanctuary and have become habituated to know they’ll be fed in this way at certain times). In any case, the picture I posted of my own giraffe-feeding experience in Nairobi remains the most ‘liked’ picture I’ve ever posted on Instagram, and during my own stay most of the other guests were avidly uploading every moment of their stay on social media. So much free publicity for the property…
Alongside potentially greeting giraffes and exploring the reserve, the lodge’s guests will be able to participate in conservation-focused initiatives in collaboration with the local Environment and Protected Areas Authority. Families will be able to visit a petting zoo to learn about domestic farm animals. More generally, the property will feature 35 standalone camps and a spa.
LUX* Al Bridi Resort will open in 2023, around the same time that LUX* Resorts & Hotels opens another property, LUX* Al Jabal Resort, in the same emirate. A more conventional resort set on a hillside between two beaches and facing towards the Gulf of Oman, it’ll be a base for watersports activities and laidback sun holidays. If guests want to dedicate some time to cultural pursuits, they’ll be able to visit the Sharjah Archaeological Museum, with its exhibitions detailing local history back to the second century BC. Back on site, the property contains 45 rooms and suites, alongside a private beach, various dining options, a spa and kids’ facilities.
The announcement of these openings comes at a busy time for The Lux Collective. This month saw the long-awaited opening of LUX* Grand Baie Resort & Residences in Mauritius. This year and next will see multiple properties open in China; next year, Vietnam will welcome LUX* Phu Quoc; LUX* La Baraquette Resort & Residences opens in France in 2023.
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