By Jola Chudy
For those in search of restorative weekends away, heading into the dunes instead of the beach is a compelling option at The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert
Nestled amidst 500 hectares of rolling red dunes within a nature reserve, the low-rise architecture of The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert makes a light footprint within its surroundings.
A lobby within a landscaped garden boasts an ancient olive tree inside its Arabian-style atrium. Here, reception will hand you your key and rustle up a buggy to take you to your villa; the signature Ritz-Carlton hospitality consistently bringing a welcome touch to your stay.
The resort is gloriously spaced out, with tent-style or low-rise villas along cobbled walkways surrounded by trees and dunes as far as the eye can see. Nature is all around, and it is abundant.
A desert bird shakes his feathers proudly, revealing an unexpected coat of cerulean beneath grey feathers. If you’re lucky, while wallowing in your private watering hole – each villa boasts its own outdoor plunge pool – you may spot a shy oryx nipping past.
The villas are generously proportioned, with lavish bathrooms that invite a long soak after an afternoon’s adventure.
An array of restaurants offer up a variety of cuisines including rustic fare at Farmhouse, Arabian dishes at Kaheela and Moroccan delights at Moorish. There is the opportunity to experience a private dining experience, outdoor buffet, or even just a few drinks at Moon Bar, with its view out over the treetops.
Step outside in time for sunset, and a grassy outdoor stage is the setting in which to admire hawks, falcons and even an owl or two show off their incredible speed and hunting prowess.
With the sun giving way to the inkiness of a desert night, fires are lit around the resort and it’s time to gaze upwards. Seeing the stars clearly, away from urban light pollution, is magical in itself, but with the resort’s ultra-powerful telescope on hand you can make out individual craters on the moon’s silvery surface, or even count Saturn’s rings. It’s a breath-taking reminder that getting closer to nature brings with it a sense of peace, a balance restored.
Around the resort there are ample ways in which to immerse yourself in outdoorsy pursuits – horse riding, falconry, archery, walks, and biking. If you’re with the family, the Ritz Kids Club is fully-kitted out complete with outdoor playground, meaning that the spa visit you’ve been eyeing up becomes a distinctly more alluring prospect.
The Rainforest Spa boasts an array of facilities including a brine cavern, grotto steam, hammam, herbal sauna and a vitality pool – it is an oasis within an oasis, a retreat for the soul and senses, surrounded by that captivating desert landscape. ritzcarlton.com