Long-term readers of Head for Points will remember that last year I visited The Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi desert resort in Ras Al-Khaimah about 60 minutes drive from Dubai International Airport.
The standard ‘room’ at Al Wadi Desert is the 1,700 square foot Al Rimal villa. This is potentially bigger than where you live now. All villas come with a private pool.
You can book Al Wadi for just 50,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. To put this in context, I value a Marriott point at 0.5p usually, yet Al Wadi sells for over £600 per night including taxes at peak periods. That implies a valuation of 1.2p per Marriott Rewards point or 3.6p per Starwood Preferred Guest points (they transfer at 1:3 into Marriott).
But what if you don’t want to stay in the desert ….
The Ritz-Carlton has thought of you too! It has opened, just down the road in Ras Al-Khaimah, The Ritz-Carlton Al Hamra Beach resort. And it looks stunning.
Imagine a beach resort with just 32 rooms …..
…. except that each room is actually a private villa with its own private pool …..
…. and that these villas line the beach and are all 180 square metres (including the outdoor area)
It all sounds horribly expensive, doesn’t it? By the standards of Dubai it is actually fairly reasonable – over October half term you are looking at £600 per night including taxes.
It makes far more sense, of course, to use Marriott Rewards points.
The Ritz-Carlton Al Hamra is just 50,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. This gets you 1.2p per Marriott Rewards points and 3.6p per Starwood Preferred Guest point.
Due to the Marriott Rewards ‘five nights for the points of four’ deal, it gets even better value on longer stays.
The only slight downside is that, as it is a The Ritz-Carlton branded hotel, you won’t get free breakfast whatever your status in Marriott Rewards.
If you combined a few days at Al Hamra with a few days at Al Wadi you would have a very interesting – and cheap, with Marriott Rewards points – two centre Middle East holiday. There is also a more traditional Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al-Khaimah which I reviewed here and which I also recommend if you want to add on a few nights at somewhere ‘buzzier’.
I have booked into Al Hamra on points for a couple of nights in October so, if my plans don’t change, I will be able to check it out first hand. In the meantime, here are some TripAdvisor reviews. The hotel website is here.
(EDIT: I later stayed for three nights at Ritz Carlton Al Hamra Beach – here is my review.)
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (October 2021)
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 usually 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.
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 status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
Until 2nd November 2021, The Platinum Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points. This converts into 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (30,000 bonus points – special offer to 9th November 2021), 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).
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)