Travellers planning to visit Saudi Arabia’s AlUla have plenty to look forward to, with a host of new development on the cards.
A lodge-style village offering more affordable accommodation, a hotel at Hegra and a glamping experience are all in the pipeline, confirmed Philip Jones, chief destination marketing officer for Royal Commission for AlUla, on the sidelines of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Summit in Riyadh.
“We have nine new hotels still to be announced and several other projects coming up as well,” said Jones.
One of the first new additions to open in the north-western region will be Cloud7 AlUla. Set to open on in the first week of December, this 150-bungalow property is the first purpose-built, mid-market resort in the living museum.
With a strong focus on art and the local community, it will welcome short-stay leisure visitors and long-stay guests. Operated by Kerten Hospitality, Cloud7 consists of self-contained units and a sprawling central swimming pool. It will have a strong focus on art and community and all guests checking in will have access to specially curated experiences around AlUla.
Rates at Cloud7 are expected to start at around 900 Saudi riyals ($240) per night, well below the average rates in AlUla's existing hotels.
From December 15, visitors to AlUla will also be able to spend the night in the ancient volcanic landscape at Khaybar.
About two hours from AlUlaOld Town, the region is one of the oldest areas of human settlement in the Arabian Peninsula. It is set to welcome the Khaybar Volcano Camp, an eco-glamping experience where guests will be able to stay in tents built to blend into the surrounding landscape.
With only 10 rooms, the exclusive experience offers an immersion in nature. Each accommodation comes with a private outdoor deck, all-inclusive meals and optional activities such as sunset meditation, stargazing and nightly folktales by local storytellers. Stays at the camp start from 1,200 Saudi riyals ($320) per night.
As “the luxury premium destination in Saudi Arabia”, AlUla will welcome eight more upscale hotel brands in the coming years. Among these will be a boutique-style hotel at Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage Site.
A boutique hotel at Hegra
“We're building a boutique hotel at Hegra,” said Jones. While details on which brand will operate the hotel and when it will launch are still under wraps, it will be to the rear of the listed landmark, close to where the Hijaz Railway buildings exist.
Travellers hoping to get a taste of what it will be like to stay so close to the ancient archaeological wonder will soon be able to dine among its carvings.
“If you want to go into Hegra and have an amazing meal, Awna restaurant will officially re-open to the public on December 1,” said Jones. “It's just stunning, you can sit there and eat all while you are surrounded by 111 monuments — it's pretty cool.”
The concept first opened as a temporary pop-up for Winter at Tantora in 2019, but the candlelit dining experience is returning next month as a permanent fixture.
There are also new cultural additions bound for AlUla, including three museums dedicated to the different civilisations and a more sustainable way for visitors to get around.
“We're also working on
building a trolley system that will take you from the airport to the Old Town and from there to Hegra, so visitors will be able to hop on and hop off at the other heritage sites,” said Jones.