AW2 Studio | Banyan Tree Alula Resort

Banyan Tree Alula Resort is located 15 km from the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Saudi Arabia: Hegra.

Guided by the strategic planning guidelines for Alula and Saudi Vision 2030, the design by Architectural Firm AW² prioritized the preservation of the site’s natural beauty and rich heritage, while supporting long-term tourism, cultural and economic objectives of the nation for the region.

The resort has 47 tented suites ranging in size from one to three bedrooms. The public areas include two gourmet restaurants and a luxury spa equipped with Lemi beds. The feature pool is set in a natural crevice in the rock, reminiscent of the Wadis that appear at the foot of the cliffs during times of rain.

AW² has taken a sustainable approach, with a project that aims to seamlessly blend the resort with the natural scenery of the Ashar valley. Each suite consists of a simple platform topped by a solid structure evoking nearby rocks. Various sand-colored canvases were used to create natural ventilation between the roof and the tent, as well as provide sun protection. This three-level design creates smooth lines that blend the resort’s architecture into the surrounding landscape

The interior design is a modern interpretation of the Bedouin way of life. Throughout the resort, spaces are designed with motifs inspired by nomadic Arab Nabataean tribes and traditional motifs, evoking Ashar’s rich cultural heritage. The colors of the desert are reflected in the color palette used throughout the design.

Local plants have been implemented into the landscape of the resort, a sustainable design choice centered around endemic species native to the desert climate. The architects used water harvesting techniques to guide rainwater to the micro-gardens created for the resort. These gardens in turn provide good flood protection during the months of heavy rain.


AW² is an international architecture and design firm based in Paris. Founded in 1997 by Réda Amalou, a graduate of the University of East London, the firm welcomed Stéphanie Ledoux, a graduate of the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, in 2000, becoming an associate in 2003.

In addition to the Paris studio, AW² now has offices in Geneva, Montpellier, and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. With projects in 40 different countries, the firm has gained extensive experience, recognized internationally, in designing high-value works.

Luxury hospitality is an important part of the firm’s activity, but it also operates in other sectors such as schools, offices, residences, etc.

AW²’s projects have received numerous awards and recognitions, such as the MIPIM Best Hotel Award for the Six Senses Condao, a Build Architecture Award for “Best International Architecture & Design Studio – Paris,” and four nominations for the Grand Prix AFEX de l’Architecture Française à L’Export with the Six Senses Condao in Vietnam, the Lycée Français d’Amman in Jordan, Àni Private Resort & Art Academy in Sri Lanka, and Kasiiya Papagayo eco-lodge in Costa Rica.