This is my review of The Ritz-Carlton Al Hamra Beach hotel resort in Ras Al Khaimah.
Long term readers may remember that I visited The Ritz-Carlton’s desert resort in Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi, last year and reviewed it here. If you are looking for something different in the Middle East, Al Wadi is well worth a look and, given the cash rates, a great use of Marriott Rewards points.
The Ritz-Carlton Al Hamra Beach is the sister resort and a short drive away. Let me tell you why this is an exceptional deal:
The resort is £800 per night at peak season (ie now) but is just 60,000 Marriott Rewards / SPG points. For a five night stay this would average down, with ‘fifth night free’, to 48,000 points per night.
There are no standard rooms. Instead there are just 32 stand-alone villas.
Each villa has its own private pool and cabana
All of the standard villas open out directly onto the private beach which is likely to be the most deserted beach you have ever seen
The resort website is here if you want to find out more. The photo below is from the website:
Sounds good? Thought so. There is only one snag – villas are technically limited to three people, so if you have two children you can’t go. In reality, the hotel told me that they can handle two young children (eg 5 years and 3 years) but you need to speak to them directly as marriott.com will reject your booking.
The only reason we could book is that my wife was in London working so there were only three of us. As I was with my kids this review does not cover the spa or evening meals in the restaurant, since we didn’t try them. We also didn’t try out any of the offsite activities which the hotel can arrange. Our stay was booked with Marriott Rewards points.
When you look at the pictures below you will think that this is some Maldives-style isolated spot. Nothing could be further from the truth. The hotel is directly next to a massive Hilton resort (if you want a taxi you take the 45 second walk from the Ritz-Carlton reception to the Hilton reception). Next to that is the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah which is probably the tallest building in the Emirate. I reviewed Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah here.
This Google Maps image explains it better than my words can – click to enlarge. The blue dot was our villa.
10 minutes walk up the road, or a £1.50 taxi ride, is a modern shopping mall with a huge Spinneys supermarket plus Pizza Express, Caffe Nero, Starbucks, H&M and other home comforts.
The drive from Dubai International Airport is exactly one hour. A standard taxi off the rank will be Dhs 200 (£40) but we took a Blacklane BMW 5-series for $96, picking up a chunk of Miles & More miles at the same time via Blacklane’s current ’10 Miles & More miles per $’ promo. We took a normal taxi back to Dubai three days later.
Inside your villa
The resort is L-shaped. If you arrive during the day they will take you from the gatehouse / reception to your villa by boat, but this is just for effect. For the rest of your stay you will be shuttling up and down via golf buggy. We arrived late in the evening, as would most people flying from the UK, and the boat was no longer operating.
The interiors are designed to look like tents but are actually solid structures. They are smaller than the villa we had at The Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi in the desert last year. The private pool was also smaller, but Al Hamra has a big shared pool too which Al Wadi lacked.
There are two types of villa – Al Bahar Tented Beach Pool Villa and Al Naseem Tented Beach Pool Villa. Al Naseem villas are more expensive so you will be redeeming into an Al Bahar as we did.
The Al Naseem villas are more private, but in my view in a bad way. You get no view of the beach or water. They are virtually identical inside with the addition of a small desk. The hotel told me that some people who book the pricier Al Naseem villas ask to swap to the cheaper Al Bahar ones for direct beach access and views, whilst some who are fanatical about privacy ask to swap the other way.
To put into perspective how fanatical you need to be about privacy to swap to an Al Naseem villa, over the three days we were there I saw a grand total of two people walk down the beach past our Al Bahar villa.
We took a twin bedded Al Bahar villa. The beds were as comfortable as you’d expect from The Ritz-Carlton with especially soft mattress toppers.
There is a storage unit which sits between the beds and the sofa and which contains your mini-bar and a pop-out TV. This photo from the hotel website shows how it looks:
As a general point, wi-fi was excellent and free but the villas suffered from a lack of plugs. There is only one by the bed, for instance, and a Tivoli clock radio is plugged into it. The lighting could be better too – it is great during the day but a little dark at night.
The picture below shows the sofa area at the base of the bed:
The sofa turns into the third bed in the evening if you need it:
The wardrobes are immediately behind the bed, and then you have the bathroom. The door to the left in the picture contains a shower, the loo is to the right. There is also an outdoor shower and a huge outdoor bath on your terrace.
Let’s step outside. In the foreground is the outside bath. In front of that is a seating area which, to be honest, could have done with a canopy. In front of that is your private pool. There is table and chairs next to that.
In front of all that is a cabana with a further two deckchairs.
Here is a better shot of the pool (depth 135 cm). The pool is not secured and poses a risk for very small children.
Here is the view from the cabana onto the beach:
I split this review into two parts due to length. Click here to read Part 2 of our Ritz Carlton Al Hamra Beach review.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (September 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.)