The first-of-its-kind Khaybar Volcano Camp, built on one of the largest volcanic fields in Saudi Arabia, has been launched.
The site lies in Khaybar, an ancient oasis newly opened to tourists only three hours from AlUla.
The natural terrain of Khaybar, one of the oldest inhabited archaeological areas in the Arabian Peninsula, was formed from extinct volcanoes, which over time turned into a geological marvel. Now, people can camp, indulge in wellness experiences and explore the lands of ancient civilisation, at leisure.
Khaybar Volcano Camp, which is about 150km north of Madinah, opened last week, set in an unmatched location with experiences for tourists to explore one of the most remarkable, natural destinations in the region.
One of the most important aspects for travellers, according to Saad Tazi, the camp's general manager, is finding new, "undiscovered natural marvels" of the world.
The luxury camping experience is seated in the heart of Khaybar, among black volcanic rocks, overlooking the white volcano.
"Hospitality in Saudi Arabia is the future," says Tazi, who spoke about the challenge of installing camps amid volcanoes. "We are lucky to be the first country around the world to have a luxury camp in front of a volcano. Only in Saudi Arabia can you do this."
Tazi brings the vast experience of working in luxury hotel brands, including at The Ritz-Carlton, Rosewood, Four Seasons and Marriott, to Saudi Arabia. "I always wanted to experience the Saudi culture, since I was young, since I am from Morocco, and we are very close," he says.
"Saudi people have strong hospitality, it's embedded in our religion, education and hospitality."
He says what sets Saudi Arabia apart from other destinations is that it's "unreal, never seen before, and, of course, the Saudi culture".
Guests are welcomed at the camp by a friendly team of staff, who check them in within five minutes and escort them to camps. As part of the welcoming ceremony, guests partake in a wellness session, including sound therapy, and can participate in silent meditation at sunrise and sunset.
Ten black, metallic-looking camps are spread sparsely over the volcanic grounds, adding a new dimension to the outlandish setting, making it look like a site from Mars.
The interiors reflect the outdoors, with black, white and shades of charcoal and rock grey. Plush bedding and decor are complemented by works by Saudi artist Sara Ibrahim, all designed to offer a mix of modern, local and out-of-this-world perspectives.
Tazi says the hotel also hosts customised events for special occasions, from birthdays to anniversaries, including fine-dining experiences and even meditation sessions.
"At this property, we have to be different, provide luxury and quality, to provide a different experience than a five-star hotel," he says.
The team offers a stargazing experience with state-of-the-art telescopes, a heritage tour of Khaybar, folklore sessions featuring local guides and storytellers, and musical performances.
The team also provide an amenities kit or gift box for travellers including warm gloves, pyjamas, torches, pens, diaries and woollen caps and scarves in every room.
A Lebanese Reiki master, who introduces himself as the Chamuel of Light, also offers customised wellness experiences within the camp. "My grandmother was a light worker and, being her first grandchild, she planted those seeds in me. And here I am in Khaybar, which I absolutely love."
He focuses on ideas of mindfulness and living in "the power of now".
"I help beautiful people raise their vibrational frequencies, so that their energy reaches a beautiful level of self-love, self-validation, with so many energy modalities in abundance like sound healing, guided meditation, yoga, motivational speaking."
For example, he says, his guided sound meditation sessions help people to "wake up as a completely different, happy person".
Soon, the Royal Commission of AlUla will also offer hot-air balloon rides for guests to enjoy unparalleled views of Khaybar, and sights of ancient civilisation from the skies.