Luxury, let’s face it, is not difficult to find in the UAE. The newly opened Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach, on the other hand, poses an enchanting opportunity to reassess what you consider ‘luxury’ in a country where fine-dining and five-stars are constant buzzwords.
A weekend of solitude and absolute serenity is what we found on this small island, which is just a stone’s throw off the shoreline of Ras Al Khaimah. And while the lavish, first-class comforts — a private villa with pool, open-air spa and gourmet dining — were undeniably superb, the real ‘luxury’ is in Ritz-Carlton’s ability to whisk you away into a true island mindset.
The resort is reached via a small boat journey, best made during or after sunset when the island’s 32 villas are enchanting under delicate night-light. If you let your imagination run away for just a second, you could be in the Maldives. Unsurprisingly, no cars are allowed and, instead, Al Hamra’s noisiest element is its island birds, chirping from morning to night. Accommodation is reached via a gently spiraling track that’s framed by quaint, tented villas on one side, and open sea on the other. A small pathway and rustic stonewall later, and the gate to our villa is open.
The garden itself is a feat. A hammam-style alfresco bath and shower area sits on the patio decking along with four-poster sun loungers. A serene private pool overlooks the garden where flora and fauna act as a natural shield around the private quarters. Typically just for couples or very small families, the generous space and seclusion is lavish. Inside the traditional Bedouin-style villas lies beautiful architecture and plenty of lounge area for kicking-back, reading, and reconnecting.
Should you want to leave your villa (which isn’t at all necessary) then signature restaurant, Shore House, is your go-to for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It overlooks the pool and beach area and is intuitively tranquil and calm. The menu is small at first sight, but in fact, three days in and you’ll still have plenty to try from freshly-caught fish to decadent twists on Mediterranean favourites. Waiters are attentive and beaming with character, yet never over-bearing. And the same can be said across the resort where a truly zen-like nature exudes, from Ritz-Carlton’s architecture and interiors, to its staff. Solace, serenity and space — a rare find for the region and one that redefines the meaning of luxury.