Ras Al Khaimah: The noisy neighbours
The UAE's most northern emirate has several ideal hotels for an Eid staycation.July 12, 2015
As the UAE’s fastest growing city, Ras Al Khaimah is enjoying somewhat of a purple patch.
The seaside town’s surrounding red dunes and jagged mountains make it the perfect place to escape to for a weekend break from the metropolises of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
If one of our Gulf getaways for this Eid didn’t take your fancy, then why not try one of these fantastic hotels in the UAE’s most northern emirate. Starting with a taste of New York…
Even from a distance it is hard not to be impressed by the colossal Waldorf Astoria. The palatial-like hotel (main image) dominates the Ras Al Khaimah coastline making it not only the most recognizable landmark in the city, but one that would stand out in most cities, anywhere in the world.
Part of the famously luxurious Waldorf Astoria chain of hotels, there is not a lot of time for subtly with regards to this RAK property. Massive marble and stone pillars hold up the entrance’s vast portico, showing off all five of the hotel’s stars in the proudest way possible. Such is its grandeur that there is the sense that the hotel has been here since time immemorial, like the astonishing rock-cut city of Petra.
The interior of the 346-guest room hotel, however, could not be more different from Jordan’s historical masterpiece. The vast marble lobby area is reminiscent of a central train station, albeit a very fancy one, with people bustling to-and-fro, underneath the stunning mechanical clock tower centerpiece – which displays the day’s prayer times and resets itself in a whirr of activity at midnight every night. Especially useful during Ramadan, speaking of which, the Waldorf is serving Iftar and Suhoor at the Al Marjan Ramadan Tent throughout the Holy month.
Space is by no means at a premium in the hotel with some of the rooms being bigger than most people’s houses; the expansive pool and watersports centre; access to Al Hamra’s 18-hole golf course and boasting ten in-house restaurants and lounges – the pick of which being the superb Japanese restaurant Umi and the Champagne lounge 17Squared located at the top of the hotel to make the most of its vantage point, which is, as expected, impressive. Visit waldorfastoria3.hilton.com.
Banyan Tree Al Wadi
The choices you make at Banyan Tree Al Wadi are strictly of a first world nature.
Once inside the resort’s boundaries and under the charms of the Thai-styled décor and spa aromas, it’s a little shameful what your hardest decisions become. How long should you spend slumped on the sun lounger by your private pool, with no one in the world able to see you and judge your efforts at doing nothing?
Should you take dinner by way of a private BBQ on your villa’s terrace; atop a private tower for two overlooking the desert; or the normal way, you know, at an exquisite restaurant with perfect viewing of wild animals drinking at the water hole?
Do you opt for the unique hydrothermal Rainforest experience at the spa, or request one of the many massages, facials or treatments available?
Do you move to the rooftop of the Moon Bar to watch the sun set, or sit at the base of Safran Tower and pretend that everything the light touches is your Kingdom?
Should you cycle around the resort or request a chauffeured buggy? Go for a private falconry session with several birds of prey, or trek through the desert on single horseback. What about archery?
The reality is that while you try to decide what you should do, you’ve fallen into another sun-induced slumber on the lounger, feet dangling in the cool water, clothing askew and your general appearance one that screams ‘I’m on holiday and I just don’t care.’ Not that it matters of course; no one can see you, remember.
On paper, what you see is what you get at Banyan Tree Al Wadi: desert luxury; privacy; spa; fine dining. A predictable but no less than perfect resort. Yet there is a whole lot more to it than the photos show, and what most visitors will even see for themselves.
There is nothing wrong with being in the majority of course. It is normal to become protective of your 253 sq metres of living space, King size bed and standalone tub; feeling unsure about leaving your unique view not being looked at is perfectly natural. After all, how often do you become the master of your own luxury desert retreat? Visit banyantree.com
Rixos Bab Al Bahr
All across the ancient world – from Mayans to Egyptians – pyramids were built to be sources of wonder, and it is that source of wonder you experience when walking into the Rixos Bab Al Bahr in Ras Al Khaimah.
Housed within three pyramid-shaped buildings, the expansive resort sprawls across what seems like miles, incorporating some 650 rooms and suites, eight dining options, three swimming pools, separate male and female spas, a private beach area, five bars, a nightclub… we could go on.
In a befittingly regal premise, the resort offers its guests something they dub as ‘ultra-all-inclusive’ package, effectively meaning that everyone staying in the hotel is entitled – nay, encouraged – to eat and drink as much as they want, whenever they want it and wherever they happen to be in the resort.
With even the fully stocked mini-bar fair game, there is a serious temptation to live like the pharaohs of old and succumb to gluttony. However, giving in to the primal urge to stuff oneself would be a serious waste of the resort’s excellent facilities, with the cushioned poolside sun-loungers providing a prefect vantage point to observe the lively game of water-polo going on in the large central pool.
For something a little more serene – but just as regal – the Turkish hammam is as relaxing as a spa treatment can be, with options available for either single or couples’ treatments.
When it comes to dining, the all-inclusive options of the massive buffet restaurant Seven Heights and smaller seafood joint Fish Bone certainly do the job, but we’d recommend stumping up the extra AED 100 cover charge to dine at either the steak restaurant, Meat Point, or Middle Eastern option, Lalezar – both are a clear cut above the standard options.
For people who want relaxation and fun in equal measure, Rixos Bab Al Bahr strikes the perfect balance. Visit babalbahr.rixos.com