Friday February 23rd, 2024
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First Look at NEOM’s New State-of-the-Art Habitas Hotels

These properties, slated for an unveiling in 2028, are thoughtfully positioned within a natural wadi, seamlessly harmonising with the surrounding mountainous landscape.

Farida El Shafie

Every pseudo-intellectual knows the importance, nay need, to procure a hideout of sorts - preferably suspended atop mountains - whereby all that is required of them is to ponder the harsh realities of everyday life from whichever theoretical lens they deem fit. Carving out reading nooks in familial living rooms would always prove pointless, for the probing questions one finds themselves squandered beneath never wither so long as all four aunties - from both maternal and paternal sides - are armed and ready. The next best option (cafes notwithstanding) have always been one way plane tickets to a secluded (some might even say manmade) sustainable city on the shores of the red sea. Saudi Arabia’s NEOM? Anyone?

In a landscape marked by ambitious ventures, Saudi Arabia's tourism sector takes a prominent position. One of the most striking initiatives is Neom, a massive $500-billion flagship tourism and business development project that sprawls across a staggering 26,500 square kilometres. Situated between the Red Sea to the south and the Gulf of Aqaba to the west, Neom encompasses ten distinctive sub-projects, with the most recent addition being Leyja, where luxury lifestyle brand, Habitas, is preparing to introduce three distinctive hotels.

These properties, slated for an unveiling in 2028, are thoughtfully positioned within a natural wadi, seamlessly harmonising with the surrounding mountainous landscape. Each hotel has its unique focus. 'Home of Adventure' mirrors the wadi's topography with a remarkable staircase layout and offers an array of activities, from rock climbing and mountain biking to horseback riding. 'Oasis' emerges from the mountainside, designed to honour the wonders of nature with stargazing rituals and a rotating chef-in-residence program. 'Home of Wellness' consists of two reflective structures dedicated to well-being, providing an assortment of treatments that draw inspiration from ancient rituals.

The intention is for guests to experience all three properties collectively, transitioning between them during their stay. The journey commences at the welcome centre on the Gulf of Aqaba coast, where visitors engage in a brief, five-minute welcome ritual before embarking on a picturesque 2.8-kilometer walk to the first property. The wadi will serve as a backdrop for an array of pop-up events and exhibitions, encompassing intimate concerts, immersive art walks, and culinary experiences presented in collaboration with Habitas.

Leyja joins other Neom endeavours, including Sindalah Island, which incorporates a nine-hole golf course and plans for 469 hotel rooms, as well as a yacht club. A standout among them is 'The Line,' a linear eco-city envisioned for nine million residents. It is designed with two towering linear skyscrapers, and it relies solely on renewable energy and artificial intelligence.


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