REVIEW: Rixos Bab Al Bahr
Since opening in February 2014, the palatial Rixos Bab Al Bahr has become a magnet for both sun-seeking Europeans and local city staycationers wanting to lose themselves to a few days of sun-soaked idling. Firstly, the resort is all-inclusive and offers access to all food and beverage outlets (and day care for any children) for the duration of your stay, all for a single price, which means you can leave your wallet and your caution in your room. Secondly, the options for eating, drinking and entertainment are so many that once you’ve valeted your car, you won’t need the keys again until it’s time to return home.
What to do
It’s tempting to do the square root of nothing for the duration of your stay here; this is a place geared up for relaxation, not least the 345-metre stretch of private beach which is liberally sprinkled with cabanas for secluded lounging.
If you’re interested in volleyball there’s a net and court marked out, but we’d probably recommend watching others slug it out instead. If you do get a bit restless, there are plenty of watersports on offer from both the Dive Centre and Water Sports Centre – including jet skiing and parasailing.
We suspect that a good many of visitors, though, don’t wander too far from sight of one of the three outdoor pools – including one adults-only pool. The presence of two pool bars – Su Bar and, by the adults-only pool, Infinity Bar – providing an array of cold, liquid reasons to stay in the vicinity. It’s what Fridays are for. And, as we discovered, most of the guests agree.
What to eat
There are 14 separate dining venues here, ranging from casual to formal and pretty much span the world – South American to pan-Asian – in terms of cuisine type. We managed to tear ourselves away from the lounger to pop by Toast’n’Burger, which perhaps doesn’t need much in the way of explanation. The chilled, urban space – set away from the main pools – is a decent pitstop and home to high quality, fresh-off-the-griddle burgers and hotdogs and a buffet of fresh salads.
In the evening, it was a toss-up between Italian restaurant L’Olivo with their wood-oven-baked pizzas and Lalezar, which specialises in Levantine food. We opted for the latter – Rixos is a Turkish brand after all – and tucked into the usual grazing plates to start and grills, although only the desserts really rose to the standards of the hotel in general. Perfectly fine but it’ll be pizza for us next time.
They do have a nightclub here, Inferno, which promised Cuban dancers and singers, but a day in the sun and a stack of Middle Eastern food meant we were happy with a nightcap in the Cigar Bar.
The Turkish DNA of Rixos is much in evidence in the Anjana Spa, the centrepiece of which is the luxurious hammam – complete with all the marble slabs, fonts, taps, steam rooms and assistants with loofahs to exfoliate a few years’ worth of skin. The soaping here is very different and more delicate; a fishnet cloth is dipped into soap and swung around the air to create large soap bubbles which then settle on your body. There’s nothing like being bathed on a giant circular tiled slab in jasmine-scented water and then massaged to ease away whatever stress you might have.
Although the treatments here aren’t part of the all-in concept, this is really worth adding to your bill.
A stay here perhaps ought to be billed as “just what you need”. Although there does seem to be a focus on a younger, bouncier crowd, the property is large enough and sufficiently well designed to ensure that any guest will be able to find the experience they’re seeking – kids, quiet, whatever.
It might only be 50-odd minutes from Downtown Dubai, but like most hotels in Ras Al Khaimah, it does feel like a genuine seaside retreat, where you can turn your back on city life and just, well, breathe out. Complete with the all-in-one aspect, it’s geared towards ease. Your blood pressure will thank you for it.
Prices for a standard room start at AED1,700 for an all-inclusive package for two.