Acacia Hotel, Ras Al Khaimah
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.acaciahotelrak.com.