Was the gal in the Maldives or what? No, the view above shows the surrounds of one of 31 luxury tented villas on a narrow L-shaped man-made promontory off Ras al-Khaimah, the UAE Emirate that is soaring ahead in vacation popularity. As of only two months ago the resort is Ritz-Carlton Ras al-Khaimah Al Hamra, and already it is understandably popular as a weekend retreat for people in Dubai, just under an hour’s drive away. Expats and locals, adult couples and family groups alike flock here to get away from reality.
Once you arrive at the resort’s air-conditioned welcome post, you are given the option of continuing to your tent by buggy, to save time, or, more romantically, by boat.Amit Arora, GM of both Ritz-Carltons in this Emirate, told me how, during over a year of closure, the brand’s stamp was put on the place. All the tents were upgraded, and right at the far end of the L-shaped land six more villas, not tented, were added. Four are spa rooms – I had a really soothing, and muscle-relaxing, Thai massage in Sky – and the other two are cardio and fitness, Technogym and open 24/7. Next visit I will also fit in a workout with Miss Ukraine, the fitness instructor.
Yes, this resort has everything, including a full-scale Ritz Kids facility and, for all ages, the beautiful beach. The main eating and drinking venue is the indoor-out Shore House. I lunched out on the deck, enjoying not only a local salad, with spinach leaves and dates, but also the service. All the 100-strong team wear the same gear, white shirts and royal blue trousers, with nifty white sun-beating hats, so they can ‘do’ anything, as required. There is a lot of flexibility in this entire operation.
I wanted, for instance, to dine in my tent. The stylish marquetry table was covered, shower-cap style, with a fitted linen cloth, and my burrata, and penne pesto, would do credit to any establishment in Italy. In the morning I really admired the buffet’s healthy stuff, with lots of yoghurts, cereals and really great breads, and then, before leaving, I had a first. It was cactus planting time. The cactus had been in my tent all night and somehow it and I had not been in too close contact. Now, with a pair of really thick gloves on, and watched by some of the crew, representing team members from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Philippines, Sweden and Ukraine, I had the honour of launching what will be this luxury hotel’s cactus garden. You can, by the way, stay here on an à la carte, half-board or full-board basis. The cactus is extra. AND NOW SEE VIDEOS OF MY TENT, THE SPA VILLA AND, TWO, OF CACTUS PLANTING