Ultimate Desert Glamping: The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Review

By Abi King | Middle East

Apr 23

Desert Sands Al Wadi Ras Al Khaimah

Dawn in the Desert at the Al Wadi

Across the sand, something is moving. Slowly. Stuttering. But real.

An oryx, I think, white flanks caked in dust, horns piercing the air. It’s almost as though she’s following the sun, appearing with its quiet, dawn-like shift across the dunes.

It’s early, but as a new mum, I’m used to early.

I’m not that used to quiet.

A bird dips its wings in the water and I hold my breath, waiting watching.

And I haven’t needed to venture far. In fact, I’ve just opened up the blinds. And tiptoed to the edge of the private plunge pool…

Ultimate Desert Glamping: The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Review

My work with the airline Royal Brunei highlighted an unusual travel destination to explore: the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah in the U.A.E. This Ritz Carlton Al Wadi review forms part of a project produced in partnership with Royal Brunei, RAKTDA and Ritz Carlton. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. Now, about that oryx…

Gorgeous reception at Al Wadi in Ras AL Khaimah

The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi: The Vibe

Mix of high luxe glamping villas and more traditional rooms set in a desert nature reserve.

Clean lines, Arabian influence and beautiful design, combined with different activities, allow for both relaxation and a glimpse into local culture.

Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Review

The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi: The Location

In Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, just a 45 minute drive from Dubai airport. Beyond that, it’s set in the 1235 hectare Al Wadi Nature Reserve (wadi means oasis.) From the hotel, drives of 20-30 minutes take you to the coast or to the top of the Jebel Jais mountain range and world’s longest zipline. A shorter drive takes you into an introductory Bedouin camp, but you will need to drive to visit anywhere other than the hotel.

Ultimate desert glamping luxury travel ritz carlton al wadi

The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi: The Rooms

I stayed in one of the gorgeous Al Khaimah Tented Pool Villas, and filmed a live walkaround which you can watch here:

Find more information about the different room options at the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi over here. 

Food in Ras Al Khaimah at the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi

What is the food like at the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi?

The main restaurant is the Kaheela, an all day, all out buffet with a la carte options to match. The design of the room and outdoor space is gorgeous, with latticework, bright white lines and perfectly framing foliage.

The other main food spot is the incongruously named Farmhouse, with the feeling of a distinguished gentlemen’s club. Blue and yellow leather chairs wait besides textured brick walls and shelves brimming with globes, ceramics and glassware.

Bird in plunge pool and Abigail King in Kaheela Restaurant

When it comes to what arrives on your plate, though, both places excel with fresh flavours and a fusion between Arabic and Indian cuisine and aged meats.

Private and dune-top dining is also possible, though I didn’t have time to check this out.

Falconry display in the AL Wadi Nature Reserve in Ras AL Khaimah

The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi: Other Facilities

There’s a fully fledged equestrian centre and spa (though the two are separate) and a dedicated on site spa (also untested!)

You can take up archery or take part in an interactive and educational falconry display that talks about the history and culture behind the practice (it also lets you get close to the birds and was big hit with visiting children.)

Standing in the desert for a falconry display

What is the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi like for kids?

I travelled alone on this occasion but my daughter would have loved it. There’s a kids’ club for the over 4s, which looked amazing, but the masses of space and easygoing staff made things look very child-friendly. The private pools make it much easier with children, although the tented villas are not fully enclosed so you would need to make sure no one wandered off…

The study in the Al Wadi Villa

The study in the Al Wadi Villa

The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi: Unusual Fact

Blue bicycles are provided in each room to help you travel around. If that doesn’t appeal, there’s always a buggy…

White oryx spotted at the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi

The Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Review in Summary

Private luxury in a beautiful natural setting that’s a desert instead of the sea.

Who it’s for: people looking for relaxation, good food and a dip into local culture

Who it’s not for: people looking for sharp city life or adventure sports.

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Ritz Carlton Al Wadi looking at wildlife from within the air conditioning...

Ritz Carlton Al Wadi looking at wildlife from within the air conditioning…

Flying to Ras Al Khaimah with Royal Brunei Airlines (into Dubai)

Royal Brunei Airlines, is the national flag carrier airline of Brunei Darussalam and operates one of the youngest long-haul fleets in the world based on 40 years of aviation service and winning the Luxury Travel Guide’s Airline of the Year Award Asia & Australasia in 2017.

It’s the only airline to guarantee a Boeing 787 Dreamliner service on all long-haul routes, to 18 different destinations. And it remains one of the few airlines to offer a Dreamliner service from London to Melbourne (via Dubai and Brunei).
They operate daily flights from London Dubai. From there, it’s only a 45 minute drive or 25 minute scenic trip by seaplane with Seawings to reach Ras Al Khaimah.

DisclosureThis article forms part of a project produced in partnership with Royal Brunei Airlines, Ras Al Khaimah Tourist Development Authority and Ritz Carlton. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. Otherwise, I just can’t relax in a plunge pool.

Find part one over here: Where is Ras Al Khaimah and Why Should You Go There. Find the second instalment, What dune bashing tells us about life in the desert, here. And tune in for more on the sister property and coastal retreat: the Ritz Carlton Al Hamra. 

So what do you think? Would you like to stay at the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi hotel?

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About the Author

Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!

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