From the porch of the Al Sarab Desert Villa, gazelles can be seen grazing in the hills.

Enjoy an unforgettable wildlife adventure in the Al Wadi Desert

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Experience a luxurious desert hideaway in perfect harmony with nature just north of Dubai

Although only a 45-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of Dubai, Al Wadi Nature Reserve is a universe apart. Blessed with scintillating scenery and charismatic wildlife, this 1,235-acre paradise is a dreamy escape from the rigours of modern life. And where better to stay during your visit than The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert, a luxurious complex of 100 traditional and Bedouin-inspired private villas. Each boasts a private pool, a spacious lounge and a deck overlooking the golden desert dunes. If staying in the heart of the desert isn’t enough to entice the explorer in you, the resort also offers curated wild experiences among the dunes, like nature drives, animal feeding, stargazing, yoga, horse-riding, fine dining and a world-class spa and wellness centre. Here’s why this special retreat is so hot right now.

Saddle up and enjoy the Al Wadi Desert on horseback

There’s nothing quite like surveying the glory of nature from the saddle of a horse. And the dedicated equestrian centre at The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert is happy to provide you with just that. Beginners and more experienced riders alike are all welcome on thrilling treks out into the golden dunes of the Al Wadi Nature Reserve, where you’ll encounter easy-on-the-eye locals like muscular Arabian oryx, bashful Arabian gazelle or nimble high-stepping blackbuck antelope. Kids can groom adorable ponies and learn about the local affinity for birds of prey up close with private falconry demonstrations. Or take a day trip to the The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah sister resort at Al Hamra Beach — just 20 minutes away via the resort’s complimentary shuttle — for a relaxing paddle on a stand-up paddleboard or kayak.

Saddling up a horse at the Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert.
Beginners and experienced riders can enjoy thrilling treks across the desert


Get the star treatment with an astronomy expert

Of all the things the seclusion of the nature reserve provides visitors with, the burning clarity of its night sky is supreme. The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert prides itself on having a dedicated astronomy platform, where guests can pause for a moment and gaze into the inky cosmos, without any of that irksome city light pollution. They can even book time with a local astronomy expert, to guide their twinkling contemplation and gain a better understanding of the universe. Afterwards retire to the rooftop Moon Bar, which is reopening in October 2022, for a leisurely cocktail under the Arabian night sky. Opt for the kaleidoscope, combining whisky, Bristol cream and red vermouth or be tempted by a cucumber cooler. A cocktail on the terrace at the Farmhouse overlooking the resort’s waterhole is also an option for those wishing to stay immersed in the natural paradise, where the local wild animals often relax under the shade and enjoy a refreshing drink.

Walk on the wild side in the Al Wadi Desert

It’s when the sun sets behind the golden-hued dunes that the Al Wadi Desert really starts to come alive. The hotel’s local experts are on hand to guide guests out into the warm desert on foot under mauve evening skies for a peek at the nocturnal population as it goes about its evening business away from the glare of the daytime sun. Expect close encounters with foraging hedgehogs, sly desert foxes, skittish geckos and otherworldly camel spiders. If you want an up-close view of the flora and fauna, hop in an air-conditioned or open-topped Polaris vehicle. These buggies, which are perfect for exploring the desert, are driven by experienced rangers who know the desert like the back of their hand. And if that doesn’t appeal, you can always ride out in style on a vintage 1952 Land Rover with a bespoke picnic in the trunk, including a nice cold bottle to sip under the glowing stars.

On safari, a family of four admire a gazelle in the Al Wadi Desert while huddling close to their jeep.
Enjoy close encounters with an array of incredible wildlife
Try a unique spa treatment at The Ritz Carlton Spa

Guests at The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert can pick from an array of unique spa treatments in a choice of seven pavilions. Indulge in signature rituals, which makes use of local herbs and healing traditions, as well as massages and body therapies in the spa, which aim to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul. Whether you’re a yoga novice or an expert, unwind in the spa’s studio with lessons in Hatha and Vinyasa, or perhaps try a Restorative Sound Infused session and a Pranayama class, which aims to perfect breathing techniques that reenergise the body. Elsewhere in the chic spa complex don’t miss the ground-breaking HydraFacial. It uses smart tech to cleanse, exfoliate and extract dead cells, vanquishing impurities and moisturising your skin, which feels like a breath of fresh air for your pores while you’re in the middle of a desert. The Ritz-Carlton Spa is also home to the ultra-exclusive Rainforest Experience. Melding traditional Middle Eastern bathing rituals with sophisticated modern hydrothermal therapies, the one-of-a-kind Rainforest Experience includes a purifying hammam, an invigorating igloo, an aromatic herbal sauna, a steamy rain gauntlet, a purifying brine cavern and a bucket drench shower.

A woman relaxing in the beautiful blue spa of The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert.
Drift away in the Ritz-Carlton’s ultra-exclusive Rainforest Experience
Indulge in smoked-meat dishes at the Farmhouse

Farmhouse is an upscale dining concept serving dishes crafted with meats smoked at the resort’s very own smokehouse, and fresh vegetables grown on the resort’s dedicated onsite organic plot. The award-winning Farmhouse team roast fish to crackling, salty perfection in a specially installed Josper oven, while guests unwind in a chic contemporary space that blends the best of 21st-century comfort — air conditioning, floor-to-ceiling windows — with reassuringly old-school pops of elegance in the decor and upholstery. It’s a proper feast for the senses, from the roasted black Greek sea bass with truffle mash to the 12-hour oak wood-smoked Black Angus short ribs.

Words by Andy Hill

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