Pristine white sands and sun kissed mountains welcome you into the luxurious interiors of Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah. This property is a part of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts’ portfolio of 24 landmark destinations, each being a true reflection of their surroundings in the world’s most sought after locations
A scenic drive down desert ways inhabited by camels and the legendary ghaf tree, leads us to the palatial Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. What instantly captures our attention as we enter the massive lobby of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is the iconic clock that was inspired by the ancient astrolabe, which was used to discern the exact prayer times in the Islamic faith. Modelled on a compass, the faces of the clock are decorated with turquoise glass accents.
The interiors of the hotel are designed to immerse guests in an ambience woven from the local heritage and culture. Envisioned as an escape from the wind-swept deserts to the tranquil waters of the Arabian Sea, the light-filled spaces evoke calmness and serenity.
The resort owes much to its extraordinary location – cradled by the crimson Hajar Mountains, amidst vast expanses of desert, it stands out with the vibrant grassy plains of the Al Hamra championship golf course against the turquoise waters of the Arabian Sea.
The maritime theme extends to the interiors – the design of the lobby is derived from the centuries-old practice of pearl-diving in the surrounding sparkling waters. Behind the reception desks, framed wall-panels recall the colours of the sea; covered in turquoise silk, they have been meticulously hand-stitched with mother-of-pearl buttons in a flowing wave patterns and the bespoke artwork conjures up the underwater world.
Flowing from the lobby is the Peacock Alley, a signature lounge said to feature in all Waldorf Astoria hotels. A ring of banquettes encircle a tiered, marble fountain and a spectacular chandelier with handcrafted glass elements, suggestive of stylised peacock feathers, is the centre piece. Serving fine coffees and light bites, including the famed Waldorf Salad, this lounge is a convenient meeting place.
The hotel’s bedrooms continue the concept of being a waterside oasis from the desert. Neutral-toned textiles set a soothing ambience, punctuated by splashes of turquoise such as the scrolled lines of the carpet and the swirled, handmade glass spheres, which sit atop the timber headboards that have been carved by wood-workers and adorned with mother-of-pearl inlays and circular custom-designed Islamic patterns.
Our accommodation is in the spacious, richly appointed King Classic Room, featuring a King-size bed, a walk-in closet, an elegant marble bathroom with soaking tub and separate rain shower. The interior design is truly majestic, with upscale amenities and furnishings, inspired by bright and airy Arabian palaces.
Located on the uppermost levels are the luxury suites, designed to provide guests with privacy and offering spectacular views from private balconies.
We also take a look at the ultimate accommodation that is on offer – the King Imperial Suite, a truly unique duplex that stands alone over two entire floors with its private staircase, a VIP elevator and direct spa access – an extravagant address, fit for royalty. It features separate King-sized and Queen-sized bedrooms, a full-sized foyer, two en-suite bathrooms, a dining room, kitchen and the living room with a grand piano. Privileges include a private cabana at the poolside and, of course, the True Waldorf Service.
From our experience, we feel that, apart from the inspirational environment and luxurious settings, it is the True Waldorf Service that makes one’s stay unique. Personalised concierge delivers bespoke service from the moment our reservation is made right through check-out. A personal concierge is assigned to each qualified guest and acts as the primary contact, before, during and even after a stay, to ensure every request is met – from greeting on arrival to assisting with personal culinary preferences, local transportation and arranging any special occasion details.
There is another differentiating feature that seems unique to the Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah – the Master Collection – a unique assortment of three exquisite experiences: Bath Master, Fragrance Master and Sleep Master.
Guests can request the Bath Master to draw their bath any time of the day, using a deluxe menu of bath infusions and fragrances that can be mood enhancing or altering. The sensory experience is enriched by a complementary culinary experience.
The Fragrance Master helps create a special ambience in the guest’s room at turndown, with the finest aromatherapy scents of rose, mint and jasmine, all perfect for retaining equilibrium, soothing tensions and preparing for a good night’s sleep.
The Sleep Master, provided again at turndown and complemented with a delicious culinary experience, involves organic and natural pillows of heated cherry stones or buckwheat or cosy feather pillows to ensure the most relaxing sleep.
There are dining options aplenty. The handsome Lexington Grill takes its name from the eponymous street in New York City and conveys the masculine atmosphere of a classic American steakhouse – the deep Carnelian red marble flooring with white veining alludes to the meaty cuisine on offer; table-tops are inset with hammered copper; and banquettes are upholstered with burgundy and cream crocodile-embossed leather. It turns out to be an eatery with a delicious menu of celestial steaks and the fresh seafood from around the world.
The Camelia is a contemporary twist on traditional Middle Eastern tea and shisha lounges. Tea specialists guide guests through the elaborate menu to find the perfect tea suiting one’s specific taste. Outside, an expansive terrace is the picture-perfect place to share sunset or late night beverages or the traditional Arabic shisha.
The airy décor of the semi-circular restaurant, Qasr al Bahar, offering guests dining in a cool, light-filled setting, takes inspiration from the verdant gardens, especially mint, which surround the restaurant’s outdoor terraces. Marjan is an eclectic fusion of tradition and quirky modern interiors, serving fine Middle Eastern Cuisine.
Bursting with sensory excitement and offering 360-degree views of the skyline from the 17th floor, the glamorous evening venue, 17Squared, is an intimate elevated lounge-cum-nightclub, where one can dance the night away. Fittingly, the décor is draped in casual opulence, with swathes of crystals that swing languidly from the chandeliers, plush leather seating and delicate golden touches, with signature cocktails and cool tunes.
To top it all, there is a sumptuous spa, designed to create the sensation of floating underwater. A peaceful serenity is felt throughout the spa journey, intended to enliven the senses, whilst instilling deep levels of well-being, with the sounds, the sights and the smell of the sea and surrounded by fragrant gardens. Typical treatment rooms play with light and shadow to create a warm, inviting mood; backlit coved ceilings emit a gentle glow, and soft sheers filter the illumination from the outdoor garden with its bubbling water features.
Ras Al Khaimah, being a destination of choice for adventure, nature and tranquillity, with so much to see and do at the Waldorf Astoria, our short visit seems almost superficial. There’s no option but to call up True Waldorf Service once again – very soon!