Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 2 July 2020

Executive Travel: Ras Al Khaimah’s two Ritz-Carltons offer privacy and isolation in Covid-19 era

Al Wadi desert and Al Hamrah beach resorts have different backdrops but both offer seclusion in luxury surroundings

The hotel reception area at the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi desert resort in Ras Al Khaimah. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Al Wadi
The hotel reception area at the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi desert resort in Ras Al Khaimah. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Al Wadi

Until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus companies searching for locations for internal meetings and small conferences are likely to focus on hotels offering isolation from the rest of the world as well as privacy and high-end hospitality.

The two Ritz-Carltons of Ras Al Khaimah offer a blend of all three, particularly if both properties are used to hold an event. Formerly run by the Banyan Tree group, the two hotels have been under the management of the Ritz-Carlton for three years.

The Al Wadi hotel is an oasis of calm with 100 large villas and modern architecture that beautifully melds into a spectacular, tranquil desert location. Scattered over a 1,235-acre protected reserve, guests are transported around in golf buggies.

You are greeted by a 300-year old olive tree in the centre of a light and airy lobby, and a long water feature with fountains runs in the courtyard. It’s a visual treat, a desert paradise of colourful bougainvilleas and acacia trees.

A substantial conference centre from a separate entrance offers an internal courtyard, room to hold a reception for 300 people, and four meeting rooms seating from 30 to 140 in different combinations, plus a boardroom.

The centre is a favourite with UAE government departments from Sharjah and Dubai and top regional distributorships like BMW.

Complete privacy is possible within the villas that cost from Dh2,072 per night, with room service particularly popular with GCC visitors. Hot mezzeh are Dh32 each and a club sandwich Dh80; Acqua Panna Dh20 and Pepsi Dh16.

Al Wadi has three restaurants: Moorish and an all-day dining buffet; and the Farmhouse that boasts a huge terrace overlooking a watering hole, a nice spot for sundowners, or a steak with all the trimmings, even if spotting the odd heron is about the only wildlife you will encounter here.

The Farmhouse restaurant offering views of the surrounding desert at Ritz Carlton Al Wadi. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Al Wadi
The Farmhouse restaurant offering views of the surrounding desert at Ritz Carlton Al Wadi. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton Al Wadi

There is another barbecue area away from the main hotel complex by the falcon show area that is very suitable for private corporate entertaining. Other guests would not know you were there, and you might spy the once rare, white Arabian oryx grazing in the distance.

The 70 Al Wadi villas are luxuriously appointed and very spacious in modern Arabic style with private plunge pools, a separate seating area and massive bathroom; 31 even larger, 250 square metre, tented villas are available for senior executives or family groups.

Naturally there is a long menu of desert experiences available for corporate bonding and team building. The hotel has 11 horses, six camels and two goats as well as an amazing collection of birds of prey.

These experiences are charged separately from Dh150 for a 60-minute guided desert trail to Dh290 for a hour’s horse riding, or Dh175 for archery lessons. Personally, I enjoyed the falcon show.

Another option is The Rainforest, an indoor hydrothermal complex of saunas, steam rooms, hammam and water jets in a big pool, for Dh150. Next door is a TechnoGym with a full suit of cardio and weight machines.

The Al Hamrah beach hotel is about 15 minutes drive away via a free shuttle bus. It features 32 lavish tent-shaped individual villas currently priced from Dh2,765 on weekdays that are situated on a private peninsula with its own beach. Each villa has a lush private garden complete with swimming pool, outsized bathtub, pergola and sunbathing area.

There is a single all-day dining restaurant specializing in local seafood and bar area suitable for a sunset reception at the beach property.

Otherwise the Al Hamrah Ritz-Carlton is ideal for visiting VIPs who want to spend time on the beach; or team building activities such as beach volleyball or tennis; kayaks and stand-up paddling are also available from Dh75.

The seaview spa at the end of the hotel’s peninsula has a wide range of massages to ease stress and enforce relaxation on busy executives.

Broadband was 54 Mbps in the Al Wadi and 72 Mbps in the Al Hamrah beach property.

Service levels are high as you would expect in the Ritz-Carlton. My only niggle was loud clubbing music in the gym at 8am in the morning at the beach hotel that required a technician to turn it off because the remote had been removed.

Generally, the staff attitude is exemplary and nothing is too much trouble. You are a name and not a room number, and a friendly smile greets every request.

Recent improvements to local roads in Ras Al Khaimah have smoothed the arrival for guests landing at Dubai International Airport to under 60 minutes and 75 minutes from Dubai Marina. Business is still getting done in Ras Al Khaimah's Ritz-Carltons even in these challenging times.

The writer was a guest of the hotel

Updated: June 30, 2020 11:12 PM

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