Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Review: The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert resort in Ras Al Khaimah (Part 2)

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

This is the second half of our review of The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert resort in Ras Al Khaimah.

You can read Part 1 of our Al Wadi Desert review here.

Around the resort

The resort is actually a nature reserve and is fenced in.  Whilst you are technically in the desert, there is no risk of anything unexpected (human or animal) turning up at your villa.

This is the Farmhouse ‘all day dining’ restaurant.  This was impressive, both in terms of the quality of the food and the design.  In 2017 we had breakfast here, but it has now moved to one of the retaurants nearer reception:

Review Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert resort hotel Ras Al Khaimah

… and interior:

Review Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert Ras Al Khaimah

Outside Farmhouse is a lake, which is used for fishing.

Review Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert Ras Al Khaimah

Slightly oddly, for the middle of the desert, it is fed by a waterfall:

Review Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert resort hotel Ras Al Khaimah

In terms of things to do, the resort lays on a variety of events.  Every day at 5pm there is an owl and falcon show in a purpose-built spot.  This is free.

Other activities include (chargeable):

Molly Burgess

  • archery
  • biking (free bikes are provided with your villa and a trail is laid out)
  • fishing
  • nature and bird-watching walks
  • nature drive
  • stargazing
  • horse riding
  • camel caravan
  • yoga

Review Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert Ras Al Khaimah

The two pictures above are from 2017.  This time we decided to do a drive into the reserve with the in-house naturalist:

Review Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert resort hotel Ras Al Khaimah

I strongly recommend this, as you can get up close with the local oryx:

Review Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert resort hotel Ras Al Khaimah

We didn’t use the spa.  I reviewed the ‘Rainforest Experience’ in this article.  We didn’t use the kids club but there is one if you want it.

Here is the family pool – derelict in 2017 but now full of life again:

Review Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert Ras Al Khaimah hotel resort

It is a big site.  It is hard to get anywhere without a golf buggy, but the service is very efficient and we never had to wait more than a few minutes.  Each villa also has its own bicycles.  I found it easier to walk around this time because the temperature was ‘just’ high-20s in December.

This review was mainly designed to show you the accommodation.  I haven’t touched on the rooftop bar (PR photo):

Review Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert Ras Al Khaimah hotel resort

….. or the other restaurants, or many of the other activities on offer.

The resort is big on ‘outdoor dining experiences’ and there are a large number of viewpoints around the resort which have been set up for dining.  There is easily enough to occupy you for three nights, which is how long we were there.

How does Al Wadi compare to Al Maha?

The obvious question is how Al Wadi compares to Marriott’s luxury Al Maha desert resort in Dubai?  Our occasional contributor Caroline reviewed Al Maha here.

The honest answer is that I don’t know, because Al Maha imposes a minimum age of 10 years on kids (our youngest is 9) whilst Al Wadi has no limits.  I will tell you in a couple of years.

Review Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert Ras Al Khaimah hotel resort

I wouldn’t come to Al Wadi Desert for a holiday just on its own.  A lot of weekend business seems to come from UAE expats looking for a break, and I think 3-4 days is enough.

However, Al Wadi has a sister, The Ritz Carlton Al Hamra Beach ResortI reviewed Al Hamra Beach here – every room is a beachside villa and it is a bit like being in the Maldives!  You can easily make a weeks holiday between them, although Ras Al Khaimah has none of the glitz of Dubai.  If you want to hit the shops during your holiday then add a couple of nights in Dubai too.

The impressive Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is also very close (see my review here).  It is on the same stretch as The Ritz Carlton Al Hamra Beach Resort, with a few lesser quality hotels separating them.

Ras Al Khaimah is in the other direction to Abu Dhabi, so adding a couple of nights there – assuming you are flying in and out of Dubai – is not so clever.  The drive between Ras and Abu Dhabi is probably around two hours.

You can find out more – especially about areas like the spa which I didn’t see – on the Al Wadi Desert website here.

How to book Al Wadi Desert

If you are booking Al Wadi Desert for cash, I recommend using our luxury hotel booking partner Emyr Thomas.  He is a member of The Ritz Carlton STARS programme and any booking he makes for you will include free breakfast, an upgrade if available, a special welcome gift and various other benefits.

You don’t pay a penny more than the flexible rate showing on and you pay on departure as usual.  You can contact Emyr via the form on this page of Head for Points.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (June 2023)

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.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits each year 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 status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

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 Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (22)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • lumma says:

    “although Ras Al Khaimah has none of the glitz of Dubai”.

    Sounds like a benefit rather than a negative.

    • Rob says:

      That’s not the right way of looking at it. I mean …. when you’re in your five star resort it doesn’t matter if you’re in Ras or Dubai. Your options outside that are very limited in Ras. OK, the lack of an indoor ski slope might not bother you, but if you need a certain brand of baby milk in an emergency then you also have umpteen Waitrose stores in the Dubai malls that sell it. Ras doesn’t.

      • Bah says:

        That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not the right way to look at it? Being close to a Waitrose isn’t always the top of people’s holiday checklist 🙂

        • Kevin C says:

          Much preferred RAS to Dubai (we stayed at the Waldorf). The Al Hamra mall in RAS has quite large supermarket.

          And two years ago the Hilton had a Trader Vic’s with a happy hour.

      • Bagoly says:

        Just teen – thirteen to be precise!

  • Waddle says:

    What’s the dining like at Al Wadi? Al Maha is full board from what I have read.

    • Rob says:

      We didn’t try it all because we were a little restricted with the kids. Not life changing but totally acceptable. Not cheap though, as it usual in the Middle East resorts. £30-£40 main courses etc.

      • Yorkieflyer says:

        £40 for a main course, wow, that’s us Yorkshire folks idea of a family meal 😬 including pot of tea and bread and butter. You’ve definitely moved up in the world Rob

        • Rob says:

          Don’t go to a 5-star resort in the Middle East unless you are prepared to pay £30-£40 per main course. Remember that menu prices exc 20% tax and service.

          Everything is imported, remember. It’s not unlike being in the Maldives to that extent.

  • Simon says:

    Stayed here two years back and the service everywhere was almost comically awful. I vowed never to return after the turndown service failed for the 3rd night running, and I was left manually closing the 30 separate roller blinds in the massive but terribly designed villa.
    We also nearly missed our flight home when the pre booked hotel car was an hour late.

  • Doc says:

    Having stayed at Al Maha in a “standard” tent, it looks more in par with the highest room room here in the tent.
    The service and food were excellent at AlMaha(apart from paying for water which sounded a bit underhanded) and two activities a day were included with your own SUV and a guide without having to pay anything extra.
    Also the age limit suited us since it was pretty much adults only when we there and we went as a couple.

    • Harry T says:

      I honestly find Al Maha’s policy on young kids refreshing. Makes me more likely to stay there.

  • Henry says:

    I have stayed at all three of them (Al Maha, Ritz al Wadi and Al Hamra). Al Maha definitely the best experience as amazing food included plus you get great views from the rooms and lots more wildlife. Tents at Al Wadi are beautiful though and more recently updated than Al Maha

  • Martin says:

    So are you saying top tier equals no upgrade..
    Book with emyr and get an upgrade..

    • Rob says:

      To be totally honest, I am just repeating the published rules about the STARS benefits. It is possible that there is some small print there about upgrades too but we don’t have it to hand. Emyr should be able to confirm.

      It isn’t unusual to see this happen though. If I book InterCon Le Grand in Paris via Emyr I get free lounge access, which you can’t get via Ambassador or Spire Elite status.

      • Harry T says:

        Emyr can also liaise with hotels to try and negotiate bespoke benefits, if they are important to you.

        • Rob says:

          He can. Last time I stayed at Le Grand he arranged for the hotel to send me pictures of 3 suites and I could choose which one I was upgraded into!

          • Harry T says:

            Now that’s impressive! He recently talked a certain luxury hotel in Tokyo into extending me a 3 for 2 offer that wasn’t actually running during my stay dates.

  • Dave says:

    Did you have to pay for breakfast Rob? If so, how much was it?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Now that’s an important question and I actually think it should be in these reviews as there’s no other choice here.

      • Rob says:

        Embarrassingly, I can’t remember. That’s the problem writing the review 6 weeks later. Free brekky is not a status benefit at RC.

  • Sandra says:

    Possibly need to check when booking what activities are offered when you are there as in ME quite often outdoor activities (wildlife tracking, riding) can be suspended over the very hot months (and Ramadan) in a lot of places, although you really wouldn’t want to go at the hottest time if you could help it!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.