Aca­cia Ho­tel, Ras Al Khaimah

Friday - - Hot List -

Feels like... Turkey As I drove up the coast head­ing out from Dubai the scenery be­gan to change from ex­panses of brown sand to wadis with a smat­ter­ing of green­ery. It’s only a 90-minute drive, but Ras Al Khaimah feels worlds away from the city of gold. This makes it the per­fect hide­out for those look­ing to get away from the hus­tle and bus­tle of city life.

Nes­tled in the north­ern part of the UAE bor­der­ing the Omani en­clave in the mouth of the Gulf, RAK is an in­ex­pen­sive, fam­ily-friendly get­away that boasts nat­u­ral beauty – rugged moun­tains, windswept sand dunes and white sandy beaches.

I checked into Aca­cia Ho­tel, a four-star prop­erty lo­cated ad­ja­cent to the Ras Al Khaimah Free Zone. From one-bed­room apart­ments to lux­u­ri­ous suites and rooms of­fer­ing stun­ning views of the pool area or the ma­jes­tic Ha­jar moun­tains in the dis­tance, I was spoilt for choice. You’d be for­given for think­ing you were in Turkey, a coun­try that strad­dles two con­ti­nents, gaz­ing at the mag­nif­i­cent moun­tain ranges that hem it on ev­ery side.

First I needed to at­tend to my grum­bling stom­ach. I went to Al Nakhla restau­rant for lunch; it was packed with guests and day-trip­pers from around the UAE who come to en­joy the brunch and theme nights.

The buffet was im­pres­sive, cater­ing to all tastes. Meat lovers had a choice of beef roulade, lamb and shred­ded strips of chicken with pep­per and onion. From the ocean the pan-fried king­fish with basil mango sauce made its way to many a diner’s plate. There were but­ter­roasted veg­eta­bles, ra­jma masala and other treats for vege­tar­i­ans. The dessert cor­ner was laden with all the usual sus­pects – crème brûlée, choco­late pud­ding and cheese­cake. I ad­mit I gorged un­til I was full.

I lounged around the pool all af­ter­noon and en­joyed the breath­tak­ing views of the sink­ing sun as it spread vivid colours across the hori­zon. As it got darker it be­came chilly, I moved camp to the tra­di­tional Ara­bic tent,

which also serves as the shisha area. The sky was re­mark­ably clear so I sat on a cush­ion by the en­trance and gazed up at mil­lions of tiny lights scat­tered across the heav­ens. I had din­ner at Nakhla and capped off the evening with live mu­sic at the club.

My Satur­day be­gan with a healthy break­fast, per­fect fuel for aqua ac­tiv­i­ties. I put on my flip-flops and headed out. Guests at Aca­cia get ac­cess to the beach at Bin Ma­jid Beach Re­sort, just a five-minute drive away.

When it grew warmer I de­cided to tour the city. I took in the sights and sounds of the charm­ing Old Town, vis­it­ing tra­di­tional souqs where the smell of spices and Ara­bic fra­grances filled the air. Walk­ing along the nar­row lanes felt as if I was wan­der­ing through bustling Turk­ish bazaars hag­gling for bar­gains. The at­mos­phere was mag­i­cal.

Still in the mood for Turk­ish de­lights, I hit the spa for a re­lax­ing Moun­tain Re­treat treat­ment (Dh950). The pack­age, which in­cluded a body and soul ham­mam, Swedish mas­sage and Ozone Sig­na­ture Facial, of­fered twoand-a-half hours of pure in­dul­gence.

The thor­ough scrub­bing and full-body deep-tis­sue mas­sage helped me work up an ap­petite for a bar­be­cue din­ner at the ho­tel’s restau­rant. Ev­ery day – from Ara­bic to bar­be­cue, In­dian, Ital­ian and Asian nights – the chefs show off their culi­nary skills by bring­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent to the ta­ble.

Af­ter a leisurely break­fast on Sun­day I claimed my spot on a lounger by the beach in the com­pany of Khalid Hos­seini’s lat­est of­fer­ing And the

Moun­tains Echoed. This isn’t your typ­i­cal pool-side read but I can lose my­self in a book any­where, any­time. Read­ing was in­ter­spersed with dip­ping into the azure wa­ters.

All good things come to an end; I left Aca­cia feel­ing re­laxed and ready to bounce back to the daily grind at work.

DE­TAILS: A stan­dard room costs Dh250 in­clud­ing break­fast; one-bed­room apart­ment Dh499 in­clud­ing break­fast. For reser­va­tions call 07 243 4421; email reser­va­tions@aca­ci­a­hotel­; or visit www.aca­ci­a­hotel­

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