A spectacular and unforgettable destination resort
Word to the wise: It is certainly worthwhile to opt for access to the Club Lounge, which offers a continuous stream of culinary offerings in a cozy, chic environment.
Located directly opposite the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, with the waters of the Grand Canal lapping gently against the resort's private beach on the other side, this Ritz-Carlton really is a beautiful destination resort in its own right. Its sheer scale is impressive, signalled immediately by the huge arched gate and the winding road leading up the main entrance. Inspired by early Renaissance architecture, ten separate cloister-styled and red-roofed buildings form a crescent around the huge canal-fronted swimming pool, with extensive lawns and landscaped gardens completing the grandeur. It may sound a little Vegas, but it's really not, and has been so tastefully done.
It's the ultimate in relaxation, and most guests while away their days next to the pool, which is the centrepiece of the resort and one of the largest in the UAE. There's also a lovely beach and an ESPA spa that draws on local Bedouin traditions and has 16 treatment rooms, plunge pool, hammam, and jacuzzis. The staff will take special care of you, providing a superb, personalised and extremely attentive level of service throughout the resort - handwritten notes were left, for instance, from housekeeping, and we were greeted with fruit and chocolates on arrival to the room.
The spacious and elegant suite was comfortable and well-appointed, with cavernous bathrooms awash with marble and a large balcony that could be accessed from both the living area and the bedroom, as well as thoughtful touches like an electrical outlet in the safe and Geneva iPod radios in the bedrooms. There's eight dining options - three of which have been designed by Super Potato, the famed Japanese restaurant specialist - covering a wide range of cuisines (Asian, Lebanese, Italian), but we opted for the adjacent Venetian Village which had a lovely selection of al fresco, canal-side restaurants.