Lush green gardens, powder sand beach, stunning golf course, shopping mall adjacent and a varied restaurant offering – could this be one of the best value five-star breaks in Ras Al Khaimah?
Words by David Dunn
The first thing that hits you about the Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort is, well, the beach – it is enormous. Even when the resort is busy, it is possible to find a discreet spot away from other guests in which to relax and absorb the UAE sunshine.
The approach road in, next to the spacious Al Hamra Mall, passes homes and tributaries sparkling in the light, before the lush fairways and greens of the golf course with its satisfying views over inlets leading from the Arabian Gulf.
Manicured gardens are a strong selling point of this established RAK staycation favourite. Tidy lawns, neat bushes and palm trees are a visually rewarding buffer between the main hotel buildings, the traditionally styled villas and that expansive beach.
Our bed for the night was in a King Guest Room, as spacious as that suggests, with a bathroom to match. In fact, the bathroom alone is the almost size of some standard London hotel rooms, sporting a decent sized tub and a shower cubicle stocked with Crabtree & Evelyn hair and body products.
Handsome standalone dark wood furniture and ceiling beams lend warmth to accommodation that is elegant rather than contemporary, also blessed with a discreet balcony, in our case facing the broad beach and embracing bay beyond.
It’s a tranquility trap, certainly in contrast to the lively family friendly pool, one of two lounger-lined pools. And when you’ve done soaking up the rays, the resort has a spa tendering a range of treatments, tennis courts, table tennis situated on verdant lawns, and a secure kids play area for guests with restless little ones.
For “older ones”, the 18-hole golf course offers a picturesque landscape against which to practice your swing. Designed by Peter Harradine, it is a par 72 course that works around four inter-connected lagoons with five varying tee options on each hole.
All of which leads to an appetite – and you’ve got options.
Live music and a belly dancer accompany the authentic Lebanese cuisine at Al Jazeera. Also away from the main building, Le Chalet is a prime spot for sundowners, as well as pool and beach refreshments during the day. And Scirocco – a bar that curiously claims to resemble a village pub in Cornwall, UK – is ideal for watching sports, but also hosts a singer.
There’s more live music at Trader Vic’s, a branch of the Polynesian-themed restaurant and bar chain. Seating is outdoors and in with an inventive menu that mixes up some enticing flavours with exotic results; try the beef cho cho skewers, on accompanying flames, and sweet and spicy volcano prawns. One of the highlights is arguably the tropically inspired blended beverage menu –adult tipples – served in often elaborate ‘vessels’, including a ceramic conch shell. Like Al Jazeera, the venue seems to be something of a local hub and fills up as the night, and the band set-list, moves on.
For a broader food choice, Al Shamal is a street market-inspired international dining restaurant that will suit families with younger kids. It is here that breakfast is served; a busy affair at the weekend that runs until 11am.
All in all, Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort is an established resort that is in touch with its surroundings and local culture while blending modern creature comforts and facilities without being flashy. It has an easy-going and family-friendly appeal that makes it a good target for Dubai couples or parents looking for a good value escape without having to travel far.
A garden view family room, with breakfast, costs AED612 (plus 10 per service charge) per night based on advance purchase. Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Gold Resort, Vienna St, Al Jazirah, AL Hamra, Ras Al Khaimah. Contact: 07-244-666.