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An exceptional SPG / Marriott redemption deal in the Middle East

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In the Emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah, a modest drive from Dubai, is a luxury tent and villa resort in the desert.  Called Al Wadi Desert (home page here) it used to be run by Banyan Tree which gives you an idea of how upmarket it is.

Ritz Carlton Al Wadi 1

Management of the property recently passed to Ritz-Carlton.  It is currently available for redemption at EXTREMELY attractive rates as an introductory offer.  So attractive, in fact, that I’ve booked my family in for a few days in October before we head to our usual beach resort in Dubai.

The resort consists of 101 individual pool villas.  Yes, every villa has its own private pool.  The smallest villas are a modest 1,700 square feet.  The larger tented villas, pictured above, are 2,700 square feet.

Ritz Carlton Al Wadi 2

Each villa sleeps four.  Due to a website bug it will tell you that you can’t book for four people but it even has a special (cash) rate for families of four, so ignore that!  The hotel confirmed to me that all villas take either two adults and two children or three adults.  Not suprising, at 1,700 square feet!

There is a dedicated kids club and a decent range of activities to keep you occupied for a few days of peace and quiet in the desert.

Let’s get to price.

Ritz Carlton Al Wadi 3

Villas are currently just 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.  This is the equivalent of 13,333 Starwood Preferred Guest points if you transfer them over.

The hotel isn’t restricting just the cheapest villas to reward redemptions either.  The 2nd room category, ‘Enclosed Pool Villa’, is also available.

In October, an Enclosed Pool Villa is selling for Dhs 3,038 including taxes.  This is £660 per night.

40,000 Marriott Rewards points is, not surprisingly, a steal in comparison.  You are getting triple my usual valuation of 0.5p per point.

Ritz Carlton Al Wadi 4

TripAdvisor reviews recently are generally very positive (see here) although it is clear that the transition from Banyan Tree to Ritz-Carlton has been a little bumpy.

I wouldn’t want to spend my entire holiday in a desert resort.  They are generally recommended for 2-3 nights before moving on to a beach resort with a bit more bustle.   If you want to stay in Ras and save a lot of money over Dubai hotels, take a look at my review of the Waldorf-Astoria on the beach here (hotel website here).

The hotel website is here.


Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards (December 2020)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year. You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (20,000 bonus points), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus points).

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (46)

  • Keith says:

    Can you book the Marriot Hotel and Flight package getting avios back without having all the points? Presumably it is free to cancel as well?

  • the real harry1 says:

    Sorry just can’t see the point of going to a place like this. No culture. Nobody there. No buzz. In the middle of nowhere.

    • Genghis says:

      But it’s only 40k Marriott points!!! 🙂

      • the real harry1 says:

        so it’s cheap to go to nowhere very special, just hot with food & pool

        life’s too short

        • the real harry1 says:

          sorry just to expand: I actually like the places I choose to go to on hols! I like the place, the people, the food & wine, the culture & history, the safety, the experience, the difference or familiarity, sure the climate helps as well & the flora & fauna.

          so a nothing place is just the pits

          • Genghis says:

            Totally agree. I know some people love the ME but I don’t.

          • the real harry1 says:

            OTOH you stay away from your wife’s rellies for a couple of days, I have certain sympathies

          • Ross says:

            This place is outstanding. Bedouin culture is in everything here. Live falconry, owl talks, equestrian centre, camel riding, wild oryx and gazzels, fishing in the desert, nature walks, kids club al relating back to nature, organic garden as well as a luxury lodge. It’s a special place! And only 50mins from downtown dubai

    • Kipto says:

      I was waiting for your comment about Dubai Harry. Have to say I totally agree with you.

    • Leo says:

      Jesus I can’t keep agreeing with Harry – this has got to stop. I think it looks ghastly to be frank. But then I didn’t like the Hilton Mallorca either. Horses for courses etc.

  • Mike says:

    Looked at August – crazy hot and should be low season – but same rate as in October. Can’t justify the rate…should be lower.

    Rob – what’s your usual beach resort in Dubai you referred to? We stay at Mina a Salam usually but this year will be at Dar Al Masyaf (after a few years not staying there) and the new Al Naseem. Your thoughts?

    • Rob says:

      DAM, where we take 2 connecting rooms. They fully refurbed DAM 2 years ago so looking even better than it was. Al Naseem overlooks the main road on one side and even the rooms which face the beach are very close to the road so I’m not convinced by it, but it wasn’t finished in October when we were last there.

      To be fair, I priced it for half term (thinking they might have opening discounts) but DAM was actually cheaper.

      I still rate the family rooms at Zabeel for value but you are out on the Palm. I am down at Zabeel, without the kids, on HFP business in 6 weeks so I will take a look and may also try to get over to Al Naseem.

  • I am heading to Dubai next weekend and looked at the villas. They are truly a steal, I was eyeing it up at Banyan tree but it got even better 🙂 I will probably make my next visa run in one of them.

  • czechoslovakia says:

    Needed to book our hols, and managed to bag 5 nights in a cat 9, 5* Marriott resort for only 160,000 Marriott points. Oddly, all 3 suite types were the same number of points, even with private pool. Naturally gone for the nicest. Cheers Rob for the inspiration, that’s 1.5p per Amex point.

  • […] week when Rob Burgess flagged the amazing redemption value of Al Wadi resort — all villas with their own private pools that […]