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Hotel Review: The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert in the United Arab Emirates

Just north of Dubai, The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert invites guests to connect with nature and culture amid the beauty of a 1,235-acre protected reserve.

By Georgie Bentley-Buckle  |  April 25, 2022

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The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert
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Travel writer Georgie Bentley-Buckle recently escaped the modern metropolis of Dubai, navigating her way into the desert. Here she reviews one of the Al Khiamah Private Pool Villas at The Ritz-Carlton Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert.

Hotel

Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert hotel
A stay at Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert hotel offers the opportunity to discover the natural, arid environment that surrounds Dubai and its futuristic metropolis

A stay at Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert hotel offers the opportunity to discover the natural, arid environment that surrounds Dubai and its futuristic metropolis. A world away from the glitz and glamour of the city, get up close to the landscape, the wildlife and the Bedouin culture; tucked away in the Arabian desert and just ninety minutes north of the city.

Aside from the company of the reserve’s local camels, their entourage of goats, long-horned antelope, and many birds; Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert is a private place, ideal for couples and family groups looking to keep a low profile. The widespread resort stretches generously across the private estate; inviting guests to cycle or buggy to the restaurants, pool, spa or ornate lobby that is centred around an ancient olive tree to a bougainvillaea backdrop.

Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert hotel swimming pool
Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert is a private place, ideal for couples and family groups looking to keep a low profile

Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert lets its guests do as much (or little) as they like. For those who like to pick up the pace and discover all the desert has to offer, enjoy activities such as archery, fishing, desert biking, horse riding, stargazing and camel rides at sunset, or lit up under the full moon. This also includes falconry (as I learned is the Middle East’s most popular sport) with interactive shows led by the desert eagle owl, barn owl and Harris hawk that highlight the importance of the sport in Bedouin culture.

For those who prefer to keep cool, spend the day enjoying the privacy of your pool overlooking the desert, or choose to visit the hotel’s Oasis Pool and Bar. On the perimeter of the interlaced resort, this real-life mirage replicates a beach club hidden unknowingly in the desert – ideal for those looking to spend time outside their villa and in the alfresco lounge areas, swim-up pool bar and Jacuzzi.

Room

Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert hotel bedroom
Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert is set within a 500-hectare private nature reserve and includes 100 luxury tented villas, each that reflect an ornate Bedouin design

A sanctuary among the dunes, Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert is set within a 500-hectare private nature reserve and includes 100 luxury tented villas, each that reflect an ornate Bedouin design. We stayed in one of the 16 generously laid out 2,725 square feet Al Khiamah Private Pool Villas. I highly recommend these capacious tented villas which take the concept of ‘glamping’ to an entirely new level across three living spaces. Almost a suite itself, a sumptuous white bed overlooks the pool beyond and is accompanied alongside a TV and sofa, bar and teak wooden desk area for those productive types who like to work on the go.

On the flip side of the tented villa, the other indoor living space leads onto a luxurious ‘his and hers’ open plan dressing room and bathroom. Of a similar size to the bedroom and with large mirrors that reflect the sparkling water from the private blue private pool, it is set around a large, deep bathtub and sandstone coloured marble rain shower. The central point whereby you can lap up the sunshine in idyllic isolation is the outdoor terrace and private pool. Accessed via sliding doors each draped with thick, heavy curtains, the outdoor space is raised above the desert landscape, and offers how I would describe a ‘comfortable connection’ with the natural landscape, maintaining the level of luxury expected.

Woven among the dunes with uncompromising privacy and elegant interiors, each villa offers its guest opulent Arabian interiors, plush furnishings and neutral, earthy tones, blended thoughtfully with the arid landscape. The majority of the hotel is made up of 57 Al Rimal Pool Villas which are slightly smaller at 1,700 square feet. With a traditional feel, these brick villas may be slightly more affordable but also include private pools with views of the surrounding desert.

Food and drink

Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert hotel restaurant
Eat like an Arabian at Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert, with many of the dishes reflecting a traditional Bedouin way of life

Eat like an Arabian at Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert, with many of the dishes reflecting a traditional Bedouin way of life: from destination dining in the desert that allows you to truly immerse yourself within the dunes, to exploring one of the hotel’s onsite restaurants.

Start each day at Kaheela with a breakfast buffet that includes the local’s fragrant favourites and where Indian and Middle Eastern dishes can be sampled each evening. Whilst for a taste of the Moroccan coast and its Mediterranean ties is Moorish, a restaurant dressed in lanterns and the glittering sequins of belly dancers with a menu of tagine, koftas and tabbouleh.

For a familiar touch of European style dining with homegrown vegetables and wild meats is Farmhouse, one of the hotel’s most popular restaurants. A widespread dining space split across two floors, including a whisky and cigar lounge, meat and fish dishes can be selected from the smokehouse or Josper grill.

For a pre-dinner aperitif, as the cooler evening draws in, you can also step up to Moon Bar on the rooftop. With views over the treetops, the picturesque bar serves a selection from tapas to shisha to be enjoyed after a day in the desert.

Spa and wellness

Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert spa
Relax and rejuvenate with a bespoke experience that works positively on your mind, body and soul

Found within the walls of the spa, Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert also has a rainforest. With local herbs and healing traditions, European hydro thermals are blended with Middle Eastern bathing rituals. A refreshing change, this leads spa-goers along a mapped route of 16 stations, one being an ice igloo to cool the body, and ultimately relax the mind. Treatments that take place in one of the spa’s ‘pavilions’ include signature rituals, facials, massages and body therapies.

Open daily from 10am through to 7pm with ladies only sessions throughout the day for those who seek a private spa experience, hydrothermal stations include affusion showers – which replicates natural weather conditions such as a summer storm, arctic mist or tropical rainbow to increase or decrease body temperature. Meanwhile the herbal sauna fuses an aromatic mix of dried herbs and flowers in a warm, comforting chamber with soothing lights for a multi-sensory experience. 

In a nutshell

Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert lobby
The luxury resort brings together pampering services with opportunities to discover the land and the people, creating an unforgettable experience for the entire family

The antithesis of the nearby city of Dubai, Al Khaimah Al Wadi Desert strips back the contemporary cityscape. Offering laid back luxury, discover an authentic taste of the Middle Eastern culture that dates back centuries comparatively to Dubai’s novel infancy.

Factbox

Address: Al Mazraa, Wadi Khadija, Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 7 206 7777
Website: ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/uae/al-wadi-desert

Follow Georgie’s travels on her Instagram @georgielilybb

Check Availability

And Book Online

Hotel
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert
LLM may receive some revenue if you click BOOK NOW & book a stay via Booking.com. See terms of use.

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