Incredible villas, private pools and a relaxed pace make this luxury resort on Al Hamra Beach the place to stay if you want a quick getaway from the bright lights of Dubai.
While we love to visit some of the world's most popular destinations, like Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, we get most excited discovering the more obscure corners of the globe. So when we go to some of the bigger cities -- like Dubai -- we try and make it a point to seek out the lesser known destinations nearby as well. As we started planning a trip the United Arab Emirates (UAE), we knew our first stops were Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but we wanted to see what else the country had to offer. There are seven emirates that make up the UAE, but I doubt many people could name the other five. Truth be told, we wouldn’t have been able to name them either, but that’s what excited us, and drew us to want to visit Ras Al Khaimah.
The emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is only an hour’s drive from Dubai, but it feels like its a world away. Lacking the oil which has turned its sister emirates into busy metropolises, Ras Al Khaimah is refreshingly relaxed and has retained much of its sleepy desert atmosphere. It is a much smaller place with a much lower skyline, and because of this it feels much more peaceful and authentic. It is also home to not one, but two Ritz-Carlton resorts -- one in the Al Wadi Desert, and the other situated on Al Hamra beach, which is where we were headed for a few days of blissful relaxation.
We set off from Dubai, and watched as the skyline receded in the distance behind us. As we ventured further the landscape became more and more desolate, giving some sense of what Dubai was like just 20 years ago before it's massive building boom. After a short one hour drive through the desert, we arrived at The Ritz-Carlton, Al Hamra Beach.
After a brief check in, we were led to a waiting speedboat which whisked us across the bay to a strip of land where the hotel’s villas are built. Here, the team was waiting to welcome us with refreshing towels and a cold drink. Then, it was into a golf cart which took us to our own beachfront villa.
When it comes to accommodation options at this this Ritz-Carlton, private beachfront villas are the only thing on offer. The villas are located along a strip of reclaimed land giving each villa their own oceanfront views. This means that privacy is guaranteed, and if our fellow guests hadn’t all shown up to the restaurant for dinner, we would have sworn that we were the only ones in the hotel. Perhaps it’s this privacy which makes this the favored property of the royal family and various celebrities.
A beachfront villa is rarely unpleasant, but these were especially grand. Our self-contained space had its own private plunge pool, and this – combined with how comfortable and complete our villa was – meant that we never actually wandered out onto the main public stretch of sand or pool. Inspired by the tents which the local Bedouin Arabs have lived in for centuries, our room at the Ritz-Carlton, Al Hamra Beach was all white sheet curtains and exotic patterned fabrics. There was plenty of space to relax, with the king size bed and the divan sofa giving cozy places to relax on. Alongside the pool, outdoor was a terrace with sun loungers, a huge bath (yes outdoor bath!) and a calming garden of palm trees and other tropical plant life.
The villas are also set up in such a way that you never really have to leave. There is plenty of space, so you can have your meals in privacy in your PJs if you want, or even in the pool! One morning we decided to “stay in” and the team brough breakfast to us in the pool! Yup that’s right. We had it delivered in a floating tray, complete with champagne right in the pool with us. Slightly messy, yet totally indulgent, this is definitely worth a try, if not for the fun pics alone :) The team is super helpful so definitely take advantage. Now you can understand why we never left :)
There is one restaurant on the property, although the other Ritz-Carlton hotel is just a short golf cart ride away, and has several more options, which guests are welcome to try. Our restaurant, the Shorehouse, was excellent. It’s menu includes local Middle Eastern dishes, familiar Western options and a few bits and pieces from other parts of the world – Japanese, Peruvian, and Italian. The design is light, open and welcoming and you can chose to eat on the outside terrace (complete with pool) which overlooks the beach.
The bartender at Shorehouse is wonderful, and can pretty much create any tropical drink you want...so just let him do his thing and sit back and relax. PS: If you’re looking for something refreshing and non-alcoholic, have him serve you a frozen mint drink… you can thank me later!
So yes, the service was perfect, food was on excellent and the room was incredible...but we were also impressed by how much effort was made to accommodate Axel. He was not old enough for the hotel’s kids program (they cater for children aged four and older), but they really went out of their way to make him feel comfortable. We had a crib in the room, and every time someone saw us outside our villa they would come over, make sure Axel was comfortable and play with him.
Although you can easily spend all your time, sipping cocktails on your private beach and feel utterly relaxed, make sure to stop by the spa for that bit of extra relaxation. Spanning several buildings, it looks out over the beach giving you peaceful views of Persian Gulf as you enjoy your massage. They offer all sorts of treatments but do yourself a favor and book one of their shell massages. It’s similar to a hot stone massage, but utilizes hot lava shells instead. This gives the added benefit of transferring calcium ions into your skin, in addition to making you feel serene and relaxed. Attached to the spa is a 24-hour fitness center, complete with treadmill, weights and exercise balls...but really in the desert heat, who goes to the gym?
This main reason for staying at this Ritz-Carlton is to get away from the bright lights of Dubai and relax. If you do want to get out however, there are plenty of things to do. Dubai is only an hour away so it is easy to visit for a day trip, and Abu Dhabi is not much further. There is also an abundance of historic buildings and a trip into town will give you a more authentic glimpse of Arab life than you would get elsewhere. It is also possible to get out into the desert with a guide and a 4x4. Here you will find oasis’s, beautiful mountainous landscapes and lots and lots of sand dunes.
We chose to stay put and enjoy the luxurious surroundings of the hotel. Anyone looking for a place to do the same will be happy staying here. It’s beautiful, exotic and - in our opinion - a must visit during your trip to the UAE. Kids are welcome too, although it is perhaps best suited to couples hoping for a romantic getaway.
For more information about this hotel please follow the link below: