LIQ­UID AS­SETS

The majestic re­sort in Ras Al Khaimah re­tains its crown as the ul­ti­mate escape

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Ho­tel re­view: Wal­dorf As­to­ria

The majestic re­sort in Ras Al Khaimah re­tains its crown as the ul­ti­mate escape

There’s a grandeur to the Wal­dorf As­to­ria in Ras Al Khaimah that is so im­me­di­ate and im­pos­ing, that it feels un­just to de­scribe it as a beach re­sort, a la­bel that con­jures up images of cubi­form, mod­ernist ar­chi­tec­ture, white-washed con­crete walls and a tes­sel­la­tion of uni­form, sea-fac­ing bal­conies be­side an un­gen­er­ous strip of coast­line.

It’s a vis­ual im­age that could hardly be fur­ther re­moved from the well-heeled, beau­ti­fully up­hol­stered re­fine­ment of this majestic prop­erty.

First opened in 2014, the Wal­dorf As­to­ria re­mains one of the most pleas­ing and lux­u­ri­ous places in the UAE – and be­yond – to rest one’s head af­ter a week’s work. Yes, there is a beach, yes, there are loungers and life­guards and vol­ley­ball courts and even a camel for es­sen­tial Mid­dle Eastern self­ies, but there are con­sid­er­ably more el­e­ments to a week­end away here than sun-tan lo­tion and a swim-up bar.

The op­u­lence runs through­out, from the sweep of the drive into the ca­pa­cious lobby com­plete with the brand’s sig­na­ture time­piece and down through Pea­cock Al­ley, the gallery-like lounge with a cen­tre­piece foun­tain in­spired by Da­m­a­scene court­yards. The work of the Lon­don of­fices of de­sign house Hirsch Bedner As­so­ci­ates, the in­te­ri­ors are a pleas­ing amal­gam of Wal­dorf style and regional tra­di­tion.

The rooms, though, are re­ally where the Wal­dorf As­to­ria Ras Al Khaimah stakes its claim to

be the stay­ca­tion king of the coast. A King Ju­nior Suite with a sea view and bal­cony, for in­stance, is ac­tu­ally one of the more mod­estly pro­por­tioned ac­com­mo­da­tions in the build­ing, yet it man­ages to stretch away from the door past a gen­er­ous bath­room and sep­a­rate dress­ing area, through to the dou­ble bed­room be­fore you come to the lounge and

din­ing area – and be­yond all that a ter­race over­look­ing the pools, gar­dens and pris­tine beach be­low.

Frankly, it’s tempt­ing to un­pack, slip into one of the ab­surdly lux­u­ri­ant bathrobes and spend the next 24 hours call­ing room ser­vice. But if you can sum­mon the en­ergy to get dressed again, there’s plenty worth ex­plor­ing out­side the room. For starters, there are two sprawl­ing, tem­per­a­ture­con­trolled swim­ming pools, the larger of which winds its way through palm groves and pro­vides shal­lower sub-sec­tions for fam­i­lies and smaller swim­mers, while just be­yond is the beau­ti­ful 350m pri­vate beach from which wa­ter­sports such as scuba div­ing can be ac­cessed.

If this sounds ideal enough for a week-long stay – and there are plenty of guests from Europe who have made that very choice – then the ar­ray of restau­rants ought to con­firm it. Qasr al-Ba­har is the all-day din­ing venue that is home to (su­pe­rior but stan­dard) break­fasts and buf­fet din­ners, but the real culi­nary re­wards are found in one of the prop­erty’s three sig­na­ture restau­rants: the Lex­ing­ton

Grill, where you can tuck into supremely cooked steaks from their soft-lit red-leather booths; Umi, for Ja­panese food amid crisp, mod­ern min­i­mal­ism; and Mar­jan, the oblig­a­tory but nev­er­the­less out­stand­ing Le­banese restau­rant. The Lex­ing­ton Grill perhaps just shades it, but each are worth repeat vis­its if you can’t quite de­cide.

There’s a night­club, too, and a spa should a day be­side the pool not fully ease out the creases, but there’s much to be said in this place for simply find­ing some­where to sit and al­low­ing the am­biance do the rest. In a nut­shell, the Wal­dorf As­to­ria is the kind of place where do­ing very lit­tle feels like the ul­ti­mate re­ward. It is for that same rea­son that we see our­selves vis­it­ing again.

The Wal­dorf As­to­ria oozes glam­our and charm

The rooms are adorned with op­u­lent in­te­ri­ors

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