Apt for: Honeymooners/Couples looking for privacy at a Ras Al Khaimah hotel
You may have heard of Banyan Tree Al Wadi, if you’ve been in the UAE for a while. That was taken over and revamped to form this stunning Ras Al Khaimah hotel, Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert resort, nestled amongst dunes in Ras Al Khaimah. We were lucky enough to head there with Rolls-Royce and got to experience the Dawn – in rose gold (we have to add in the gorgeous colour) – for a weekend. First off, we’ve never driven a Rolls-Royce before. So, the excitement of having this twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 powertrain car parked in our driveway was exciting enough.
To describe this luxury on wheels, it’s pure sophistication, smooth on the road – you won’t notice you’ve crossed the 120, 140 – maybe 160!? – km/hour, mark until your eyes meet the projected speed. Indoors, the leather smells divine, the entertainment system is user-friendly, and features like the memory driver and passenger seat settings, driver footrest, and real-time traffic display, made us want to hang on to it for as long as we could. TheRolls-Royce Dawn’s power output of 563bhp or 420kW @ 5,250rpm and a torque rating of 780Nm or 575 lb ft @ 1,500rpm, makes it an incredibly smooth and swift ride. Features most used in the car, such as the Rotary controller touch-pad are a breeze to use, with pull and pinch features replication just about any smartphone.
It took merely an hour to reach the palatial desert resort. As we pulled up, we slowed down at the gates to click a few shots of the Arabian Onyx – they’re harmless if you keep your distance. An arabesque vibe is prevalent throughout, and all we knew about it so far, was that it holds one of the best spa experience in the region – more on the Rainforest later. Quick ride to the villa and we were ready to enjoy the comforts of the room. The outdoor pool beckons and you have to do a lap or two before indulging in cocktails on your own private terrace, followed by a hot soak with Asprey bath salts
TIME TO EAT!
Considering the hotel is tucked away, there are plenty of culinary options to choose from. If you are staying the night, we suggest visiting the Indian eatery, Samra Lounge, for mouthwatering coconut curry with prawns, butter chicken and steamed rice or naans on the side.
Next morning, grab the push-bike kept outside your villa and head to Al Waha for a buffet breakfast. The live cooking station offers eggs, alongside waffle, pancakes, Asian spring rolls, noodles and a wide assortment of the usual Arabic suspects – hummous, pickles, fatayer.
Archery, a nature trail to explore birds, falcon watching, you name it and it’s available here. We opted for the falcon watching show, a must-see if you haven’t experienced the birds in their natural habitat. Once the show is over, click a picture with gorgeous owl and falcon.
For years, Banyan Tree Al Wadi has been known for its Rainforest, a spa experience comparable to none other. Embark on a journey through a Crystal Maze set-up, where you follow the path through 12 stops to experience the various climates of a rainforest. It begins with a pebble walk under water after which you enter an herb and flower infusion steam room, fresh showers, a brine salt cave, bucket shower, sauna, ice igloo and a tension release thunder storm shower. Each station is a mix of hot and cold temperatures to stimulate blood circulation, clear the nasal passage, detoxify the body, improve skin tone and clarity, target cellulite-prone areas and leave your body and skin cleansed, brighter and refreshed instantly. End the 60-minute experience at the vitality pool, complete with hydra jets, at various stations, to soothe upper and lower body pain. We loved the waterfall that gushes out of a large faucet right onto your shoulder and neck, to instantly rid pain and signs of fatigue caused from sitting at a desk.
For her: A pair of flip flops, swimsuit, cocktail dress for dinner, and a kaftan in our handy Tumi Voyager Super Leger International Carry-On
For him: Shorts, flip flops, short-sleeved shirt and one formal ensemble.
Need to know: The villas are available from Dhs1,700 +10% service charge per night, while The Rainforest is Dhs200+ per person. Visit ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/uae/al-wadi-desert.
Here’s a link to several other destinations, for those with wanderlust