Luxury Hotels

UAE-7

Tracey Oliver loves her three off-roads – she’s driving one, above. This would-be Queensland accountant diverted to become GM of the two Ritz-Carltons in Ras al Khaimah, RITZ-CARLTON RAS AL KHAIMAH AT HAMRA BEACH and, 15 minutes inland and where she lives, RITZ-CARLTON RAS AL KHAIMAH AL WADI. At the latter, she rushed in on a Saturday morning to show off the eight new two-bedroom villas that she will be adding to her inventory February 2024.

Al Wadi is amazing. Think African safari plonked in Arabia. 500 hectares of gently-rolling desert with a pink hue, dotted clumps of Tamarix dioica trees, here called ghaz, and, after rain, a notable amount of fledgling grass. Near the resort is the five-metre high Al Wadi Tower, used as look-out in times of yore. And there are animals, indigenous gazelle and oryz, both remarkably used to humans.

You think there’s no-one here, actually, and yet the 100-villa resort is well into the ’90s (the only time you are aware of homo sapiens is at breakfast). The villas are, in fact, tents on stilts. They are figures-of-8, with short connectors, the whole set on a wooden board, on stilts, and normal-height walls and full-height windows (31 in total) rising to a series of cathedral ceilings formed of the tent that covers the whole. Yes, it’s confusing. Check the Youtube video for clarity. In Villa/Tent 408, the rear view was to a small deck with a superb 12-metre pool heated to 30°, and desert beyond. One end of the 8 was bedroom, sitting room. The other end was ablutions etc, with a freestanding tub. WiFi is amazing, as it is throughout the resort, including over the dunes and far away.

This is experience heaven, says Tracey Oliver. She cites sunrise yoga, sunset camel rides, dune bashing.  No-one, any age, should miss the rainforest experience. All inside, in interconnecting sky-high chambers, wend your way at your own pace through 16 different water stations, from near-cryo-cold to 80° saunas. One of the most exhilarating was an ankle-high walkway, alternately very hot and very cold. Very good for those ankles, apparently. For yet more exercise, it’s only 15 minutes to the beach at the ‘other’ Ritz-Carlton.

Other unmissables? Dinner at Farmhouse, a plausible modern-Napa seafood-steak restaurant miles from anywhere – in honour, perhaps, of her Brisbane heritage, the GM has Queensland ribeyes on the A3-sized menu, and wines by the glass include a characterful Plantaganet Normand Pinot Noir WA 2020. The breakfast buffet was indeed superb – but before that, oh the memory of waking up, looking out as the sun also arose, and swimming in your pool, watched only by nature.