Leaving a legacy
Make your mark by planting trees at RAK’s newest nature resort
The term ‘oasis’ might be bandied around far too frequently in these parts, but when you stay the night at Al Wadi Desert, a Ritz-Carlton partnership resort now open in Ras Al Khaimah, it truly does feel like a luxury Bedouin getaway. Despite being just over an hour’s drive from Dubai, the resort’s position in the heart of a desert valley, sheltered by orange-tinged desert dunes on all sides, feels a million miles from the glitz and noise of the city, and the lack of cars makes for a peaceful stay. Guests are transported by buggy, although you can also get around on one of the fleet of bicycles from Charicycle, a local company that upcycles bikes and puts its proceeds towards providing bikes for children in refugee camps in the Middle East. The bicycles are just one of a number of eco-friendly measures the hotel takes to benefit the environment and the community.
There are just over 100 villas within the property, strategically placed to maximise the sense of seclusion. We love the tented villas, which are a far cry from the tents we’re used to during our usual desert excursions. Spacious and luxurious, with huge bathtubs, overhead showers and cosy dressing gowns, this is one of those resorts where you’re not too inclined to leave the room. At least you don’t have to go far for a refreshing dip – each villa has its own private plunge pool, as well as a desert-facing deck for sunbathing and watching the local wildlife go by. You can even extend this privacy to your evening meal; instead of going to one of the on-site restaurants, which include an Indian restaurant and a rooftop bar, guests can book a table on the top of a windtower, which has room for just two diners and makes an unforgettable spot for watching the sunset.
While the intimate setting and stunning location make Al Wadi Desert undoubtedly one of the most romantic properties we’ve ever visited, the hotel is also a wonderful place for families, and one that takes great care to keep little ones entertained. As well as the novelty of seeing indigenous animals such as Arabian oryx and sand gazelles wandering past the villa, children will also love the opportunity to get up close to owls and falcons during the daily bird show, or to go horse or camel riding in the dunes. There are even plans in place to open an eco-friendly animal sanctuary and petting zoo on the property by the end of the year, with the aim of helping children reconnect with nature and wildlife – a welcome move in the age of the iPad. After all, who wants to be playing Pokemon Go when there are actual oryx to spot around the resort?
Grown ups can get involved in the eco-friendly side of the resort too. Apart from environmentally friendly activities such as nature walks and horse riding, you can also contribute to the property
itself by planting a ghaf tree, part of an environmental initiative to ‘green the desert’ and increase the population of indigenous plant species in the resort and beyond. It’s a great way to invest in the environment – plus, it gives you an excuse to visit again and see how your tree is doing. We’ll definitely be doing just that.