By Thomas Shambler
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal does more than offer an indulgent weekend away
The term 'weekend away' in many other countries refers to a quick trip to the country or the seaside. Meant to entail a single weekend, it should be no more than a few hours' drive away from your home, involve a quaint little boutique hotel and most definitely have fine food and drink. But in Dubai, the term has been taken out of context a little.
A 'quick trip' is more likely to include a flight somewhere like the Maldives or Sri Lanka, and take a few days (at the very least, a long weekend). This is all well and good for some. However it doesn't quite do the term 'staycation' justice.
A proper weekend away should be just that – a weekend. It should provide you with a brief hiatus from your busy life, in a place that's different enough to be exciting, but familiar enough that you require no time to acclimatise.
But where to stay when a break from normality is necessary? The right contender can neither be too far away, lest you lose valuable beach time, or too close by – nothing interrupts an escape from life as significantly as being adjacent to where you live.
The UAE is no stranger to luxury hotels in every emirate, however not every one of them fits the 'staycation' bill. However, there is one hotel that sits above all others (if you reside anywhere but Abu Dhabi, that is), and it's The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal.
Those who know its location – directly opposite the capital's Grand Mosque – may feel that one of the many hotels situated on Yas or Saadiyat Island would make a better choice. However nightlife is not easily found on either island.
The semi-circular hotel is reminiscent of a grand Venetian mansion and boasts some 447 luxury rooms and suites, along with 85 villas. The hotel is so large that once through its great gates you forget that you're just minutes away from Abu Dhabi's city centre.
The impressively elegant resort has a stunning 1,600-square-metre pool, along with beautifully landscaped gardens and impressive views of the Grand Mosque beyond.
As its name suggests, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal takes inspiration from Italy's water city and just down from the hotel lobby lies the 'Venetian village', designed to look like an Italian piazza. There you'll find Espa spa, complete with 16 treatment rooms and plunge pools, along with an exclusive beach area where guests can unwind in privacy.
For dinner and drinks, The Ritz-Carlton has a bevvy of restaurants, including The Forge signature steak house; Li Jian – a modern South-east Asian restaurant with an open kitchen, Mijana which serves contemporary Arabic cuisine, Giornotte for Mediterranean and Dolce, an Italian-style café for home-made ice cream and desert.
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal is big enough to forget about the city around it, with more than sufficient to keep you occupied for far longer than an indulgent weekend.