Summer escape

Ras Al Khaimah is busy attempting to turn itself into a tourist hub. Laurel Munshower visits the emirate’s signature hotel, Banyan Tree RAK, to find out whether the resort lives up to the hype.
By Staff writer
Thu 19 Sep 2013 02:21 PM

Whether you reside in Dubai, or simply find yourself here often on business, everyone can agree that the hard work, long hours, and fast pace of life can be as draining as it is rewarding. Luckily, the UAE is littered with easy getaway options for a rejuvenating weekend away from the office. Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach is one of these.

Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach is located a little over an hour’s drive outside of Dubai, in Al Jazirah Al Hamra in Ras Al Khaimah. The intimate property is located on a small peninsula jutting into the Gulf and is only accessible via a quick boat ride that takes you from the harbour within Al Hamra to Banyan Tree’s reception.  Once you step off the boat and onto the resort’s relaxing grounds, it’s easy to forget the meetings and emails you left behind in Dubai.

After checking in with Banyan Tree’s impeccable staff — and they would prove to be polite and pleasing through our stay — we hopped into a buggy for a quick drive to our room. Although with this being part of the Banyan Tree brand, of course you’ll be checking into more than just a room. The resort exclusively offers one-bedroom private villas, each situated on the beachfront with individual plunge pools and a spacious cabana. The villa’s deck is roomy, with a small dining table, two comfy poolside loungers, a rain shower, and soaking tub.

The outdoor space has taken a bit of a beating from the region’s hard elements, but it was purely aesthetic and did not detract from the overall experience and enjoyment of our stay.

Inside the Bedouin-style tented villa, we found ourselves ensconced in creamy desert colours with Arabic décor, muted lighting, and curtains bordering the entire space, adding to the illusion that we were staying in an indulgently luxurious tent. The villa features a canopied king size bed, spacious seating area, work desk, and as ample a bath space as one would expect in a spa resort.

And how to while the days away in your beachy enclave? Make no mistake; if you’re looking for an eventful time that leaves you falling into bed at night, exhausted from the day’s activities, this is not the place for you. Banyan Tree will, however, serve up lazy poolside days and sumptuous evenings with gorgeous sunsets on a silver platter. It is relaxing in the extreme, with a spa on site for any extra pampering you may require.

While staying at Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach, you also have access their sister property set in the desert, Banyan Tree Al Wadi. There is a complimentary shuttle service to and from Beach and Al Wadi (about 30 minutes). At Al Wadi you can indulge in the award-winning spa offering a wide menu of treatments, such as the unique Rainforest hydrotherapy,or dine at Banyan Tree’s signature restaurant, Safran.

Banyan Tree’s beachfront property has less dining options than its desert property, with the sole restaurant being Sands. Open all day, Sands offers up international cuisine as well as a fresh spread of items for breakfast each morning, including fruits, cheeses, eggs to your liking, pancakes, and exceptionally good coffee. Preferring to make the most of our time in the tranquil private villa, we opted for room service from the in-room dining menu, which, while not expansive, has enough variety to get you through a weekend. Throughout, we found the quality of food to be above average, although not quite as impressive as the surroundings we were in. Steak (with a side of truffled mashed potatoes, which were forgotten) and lamb chops were tender and juicy, but not particularly exciting. The meat was grilled very simply, which in and of itself is not a crime, yet we were left expecting something more. We felt the same could be said for everything eaten here — the food was all good, but not quite what you may be imagining from somewhere of Banyan Tree’s reputation.

It is worth noting that while all villas on Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach are the same, the location of your villa may play a part in your particular experience. If you’re looking for more privacy, request a villa at the far end of the resort, away from reception and near the spa. Note that these villas do not have direct access to the sea as stone breakers prevent you from having access to the water. Villas closer to reception have direct access to the water, however this leads to limited privacy with the resort’s guests walking the beach and enjoying dips in the sea just outside of your dwelling.

AED2,600 per night (rate includes wi-fi, breakfast, free shuttle transfer to and from Banyan Tree Al Wadi).

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