Relaxing retreat in nature emirate
Ras Al Khaimah, which has been making headlines in recent years as a choice destination with its astounding nature, adventure offerings and luxurious beach resorts, had occupied a top spot on my bucket list.
Following a recent business visit to the emirate, we headed to Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah Resort and Spa for a two-day sojourn by the sea.
The Arabian palace-like structure of Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah stands majestically in Al Hamra Village and dominates the skyline. Nestled amid lush green surroundings on one side and the Arabian Gulf waters on the other, the luxurious gem is a destination within a destination, offering a plethora of facilities and activities.
At the imposing porch of the resort, we were greeted and ushered into the world of Waldorf Astoria. From the moment you step into its grand lobby with its marble floors, intricate Arabic details, exquisite artworks, and stunning views of the sea, you are transported to an oasis of opulence and indulgence.
Amidst the exalted atmosphere of a luxury resort, one thing you notice is the attention the staff give you
A warm personal welcome from the front desk executive made us feel comfortable instantly. Formalities over, we were off to our Junior Suite.
The spacious suite boasts a refined decor featuring subtle hues. It comprises a generously sized bedroom featuring a king-size bed, a separate extravagant lounge, a study corner, and a changing room equipped with abundant wardrobe space. Additionally, the gleaming marble bathroom includes a deep soaking tub and a separate rainfall shower with a convenient bench spanning its entire length, which is a considerate touch.
While the sumptuous balcony presents a picturesque view of the swimming pools, the date palm trees, and the coconut garden, the floor-to-ceiling windows in the lounge provide breathtaking views of the turquoise sea with its gentle waves lapping against the white sandy shores.
A bountiful basket filled with a diverse selection of fruits, boxes of chocolates, and dates, along with a heartfelt greeting note, contributed to the warm welcome. The junior suite seemed ‘senior’ in every respect; suddenly two days seemed too short.
A detailed tour of the resort unveiled the massive facility, replete with classical luxury and trendy offerings.
The resort has 346 deluxe rooms and suites, seven restaurants and bars, a spa, a gym, two outdoor temperature-controlled pools, a water playground for kids, and a private white sandy beach with plenty of sunbeds and cabanas. The complex also has a golf course next door that guests can take advantage of.
A grand clock, a Waldorf signature that displays the five daily prayer timings, takes pride of place in the lobby, while the discerning eye can spot some exquisite works of art provided by the Ras Al Khaimah Royal Family in various places. A walk through the famed Peacock Alley, another signature feature of Waldorf Astoria hotels, is sure to give one a sense of ‘distinguished’ demeanour. The alley, sporting a sophisticated ambiance, live piano music, a fountain, and the iconic stairs, is well-suited for some serious dialogue or corporate/state parleys.
At the other end of the lobby, the Camelia lounge has its high back chairs and relaxed setting, offering a range of teas and snacks and views of the blue yonder.
The restaurants at Waldorf Astoria offer a variety of cuisines, from the multi-cuisine Qasr Al Bahar to Arabic and Mediterranean fare at Azure, Japanese sushi and teppanyaki at UMI to steaks and grills at Lexington Grill & Bar. The Azure pool lounge is ready to serve sunseekers and water lovers with its substantial meal options.
Food is a big draw in tourism, but being a vegetarian, my choices are limited in most parts of the world, so are my expectations. However, Qasr Al Bahar’s dinner menu offered plenty of options for vegetarians, including some Arabic and Indian favourites. For breakfast too, there was a great variety from the West to East, with a glass of bubbly added to the morning fare. A pot of masala tea, made especially for us by the kind staff, added to the zing.
There are plenty of activities to do at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah and near the resort, depending on your preferences and interests. These include swimming, golf, footgolf, parasailing over the sea, flyboarding, diving, and sailing at nearby clubs, and, of course, the various adrenaline attractions of Ras Al Khaimah. You can also sway back to childhood at the swings placed on the beach … as we did!
The resort prides itself as a perfect holiday getaway for families. The Pearl Kids Club for children offers a range of activities such as arts and crafts, face painting, movie nights, and themed days. The temperature-controlled family lagoon pool has a water playground for kids.
One experience the young guests shouldn’t miss is the exclusive educational programme called Little Hotelier, which offers them hands-on learning experience by allowing them to be an ‘employee’ for a day. It helps them pick up valuable real-life skills while enjoying their holiday.
For wellness seekers, there is the Waldorf Astoria Spa and the well-equipped gym. The spa offers a range of signature treatments tailored to soothe your body and mind. With an undersea world theme, the spa boasts an impressive 12 treatment rooms. Couples can opt for the VIP spa, where they can luxuriate in a private therapy room complete with a Jacuzzi and sauna. We treated ourselves to the herbal sauna and a ‘Calm Waves’ journey – a sumptuous massage experience enhanced by aromatic oils and gentle waves of sound.
Amidst the exalted atmosphere of a luxury resort, one thing you notice is the attention the staff give you. They greet you by name, ask if they can assist you, and are open to chatting with you (time permitting, of course). The staff is diverse, coming from various countries across the world – from the Americas to Korea and many in between. The personalised service you receive at every interaction makes you feel special and creates a lasting impression.