An Opulent Weekend At: Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah (Part II)

Food

spa

There are ten restaurants, bars, and lounges, all run under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Rudolf Segers. Having been with the hotel since its opening in 2013 (as have quite a few other staff members I met during my stay—a good sign!), Chef Segers runs his teams like well-oiled machines.

A seasoned professional (20+ years working in restaurants from Germany to New Zealand and beyond), the chef abides by one simple rule: Don’t overcomplicate things and be true to what you serve. Chef Rudolf takes pride in his menus and makes a tremendous effort to pick the best produce, whether that means meeting with local suppliers or traveling a bit further to find the crème de la crème!

And when it comes to his staff, he also looks for the best in the market—with the best attitude. Skills, after all, are something that can be taught (although they are certainly desired and required for senior positions). From the Lexington Grill’s Chef De Cuisine Lij Heron (who was the 2014 winner of the Pro Chef Middle East Meat Chef of the Year title and is a master of dry aging) down to the line cooks, you can see that everyone holds a great deal of pride in the work that they do and much respect for Chef Rudolf.

Unwind At: The Poolside Restaurant

We decided to do lunch at the poolside Azure restaurant, which includes poster beds swathed in voile and very comfy wooden-slatted sun beds. (Not a plastic sun lounger in sight. For any 5 star hotels trying to cut corners with this, shame on you!) We sat outside and Gabriel, our super-efficient waiter, graciously offered to burn coffee grounds for us to ward off pesky flies.

Keen to indulge and really get into holiday mode? Pop over to Azure’s swim-up bar with its comfy chairs, humongous margaritas, and gorgeous ocean view. You could easily wallow away the entire afternoon here without a care in the world.

Awesome background music accompanied the great wine list and food offerings. Our Arabic mezzeh and two wraps left us absolutely stuffed. The mezzeh alone would be the perfect thing to share with someone as you let the easygoing luxuriousness of the hotel wash over you. The only thing that disappointed is the surprising lack of thought in the outdoor space; it feels cold and like Azure was a mere afterthought. The simple addition of yuccas and foliage could easily add warmth and turn it into a tranquil oasis.

Afterward, we got some much-needed R&R and entertained the idea of doing some water sports, tennis, or perhaps a desert trek. Ultimately, the idea of moving away from our oasis bubble just didn’t appeal.

Where To Have Supper

It was a tough choice but we decided on UMI for dinner. The chain curtains, dark tones, and talented chef in the open Japanese kitchen reminded me of Hakkasan and I was initially very impressed. BUT, after having experienced superb service at Azure earlier, I was disappointed in what was slightly shabby service that didn’t match the luxury environment. Just to make sure I wasn’t overreacting, I did a quick table count and saw that they weren’t even at half capacity. Which left me wondering why I had to wave twice to get noticed? And why bring a beautiful ice cold Zwiesel glass if you’re not going to bring the actual wine for another ten minutes?

The food itself was pleasant. Our order of dim sum was amazing. The crab salad lacked flavor but the teriyaki chicken swooped in to save the day. Again, I couldn’t help but compare it to Azure, which had had a great vibe. At UMI, the music was barely audible, making the space feel like a dark, echo-y cavern. Perhaps if they separated the bar from the dining area and added more curtains, it would make the restaurant feel more mysterious and intimate.

In this sense, the Waldorf Astoria could be its own best friend or worst enemy. Because we had been SO spoiled all day, our experience with the service and ambiance proved to be a bit anti-climactic. Did it ruin our night? No, but it DID ignite a few sighs of disappointment.

The Morning After

The next day, we sauntered down to the light and lovely Qasr al Bahar restaurant for a breakfast fit for royalty. The interior here is like being on the shoreline of the sea—soothing pale creams and watery ocean hues filled the space and created a warm and welcome atmosphere for a leisurely meal.

After we’d had our fill here, I headed off on my own to another blissful experience.

Treat Yo’ Self…At The Spa

massage

Designed by The Gallery, an HBA company, this spa includes 12 treatment rooms (split evenly between men and women) and it’s clear that no corners were cut in terms of design. With a calming underwater theme, I unwound in a clean and luxurious relaxation room before moving into a glorious treatment room for my Voya full body massage. 

This light-filled room looked out onto a lush garden—it was like being massaged in a cabana but without being outside. And before you panic, don’t worry—the gardeners and grounds staff can’t see in!! My highly attentive therapist made the whole experience first class.

Headed up by the capable and experienced Carere Kwan (who previously worked at the spas in the St. Regis Sanya Resort and InterContinental Sanya Resort), the spa offers various treatments, including the Cleansing Tides Facial (to reduce the signs of stress effects) and the Oceanic Stones Massage (where you’ll be pampered with seaweed oils and experience the healing properties of hot stones).

Their menu is extensive, even offering pre- and post-natal treatments as well as “Lady Waldorf” and “Male Majestics” options. There’s also a private spa suite where couples can indulge in treatments VIP-style, with a private dressing room, steam shower, and jacuzzi, to name just a few of the perks.

With beautifully polite staff, the spa also offers manicures and employs some of the best products in my eyes, including QMS Medicosmetics and Voya (which uses hand-harvested seaweed for its powerful purifying qualities), making the whole experience top notch.

A trip to this spa is an absolute must if you’re visiting the hotel. In fact, I’d say that it’s one of the best I’ve been to in a long time! Couples who might be celebrating a special occasion will definitely want to indulge in at least one of the treatments on hand.

Mr. Herrenschmidt stated that Ras Al Khaimah appeals to a varied audience, including local Emirati and expats wanting to escape the busy city life. The hotel has hit a sweet spot within the European market, attracting British and German travelers, as well as tourists from Russia and surrounding countries.

All in all, this Waldorf Astoria was a true delight, especially since it is the UAE’s first Waldorf Astoria, and Hilton Worldwide’s first luxury property in the UAE!

Pra Says

A trip to the Waldorf Astoria RAK is well worth your time and you’ll be guaranteed two things:

It will dent your bank account, but you’ll be too blissed out to moan about it!

The Details

Address: Vienna Street, Al Hamra Village, Ras Al Khaimah

Tel: +971 7 203 5555

Website: http://waldorfastoria3.hilton.com/en/hotels/uae/waldorf-astoria-ras-al-khaimah-RKTWAWA/index.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaldorfAstoriaRAK

Twitter: https://twitter.com/waldorfrak

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/waldorfrak/

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