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:
… and interior:
Outside Farmhouse is a lake, which is used for fishing.
Slightly oddly, for the middle of the desert, it is fed by a waterfall:
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):
- biking (free bikes are provided with your villa and a trail is laid out)
- nature and bird-watching walks
- nature drive
- horse riding
- camel caravan
The two pictures above are from 2017. This time we decided to do a drive into the reserve with the in-house naturalist:
I strongly recommend this, as you can get up close with the local oryx:
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:
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):
….. 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 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.
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 Resort. I 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.
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 marriott.com 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 from UK credit cards (August 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.
Until 31st August 2021, the bonus is doubled to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
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.
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).
(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.)