Anantara Mina Al Arab brings overwater villas to Ras Al Khaimah – Hotel Insider

Surrounded by mangroves, this luxury resort draws inspiration from the Maldives

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Ras Al Khaimah has no shortage of top-tier hotels and resorts thanks to its beautiful beaches and relaxed pace of life.

Anantara Mina Al Arab is one of the newest, having opened its doors last month with 174 rooms, suites and pool villas. It is the first property to introduce overwater villas to the emirate, making the most of its proximity to the Arabian Gulf coastline and the UAE's natural splendour of flora and fauna.

The National checked in for two nights to find out if the new overwater villas live up to expectations.

The welcome

I arrive during a rare rainstorm, but it’s not hard to find the way as there are marked signs that make it all the easier to find the entrance. Although I arrive a little early – surprisingly, making it in an impressive two hours from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi – I’m allowed to check in.

I’m greeted by Rahman who is friendly and gives me the details I need to know about the overwater villa I’m staying in. The lobby has stunning features including a beautiful handblown glass sculpture hanging from the wall. Since it is a Thursday, check-in is on the quieter side as there is no queue.

Most of the guests in the hotel seem to be from the GCC and some are just residents who live in the Mina Al Arab community and are visiting the cafes and restaurants. There is a mix of families, couples and friends.

The neighbourhood

Mina Al Arab is a gated waterfront community. It is a gorgeous green space lined with villas and Anantara is only the second hotel in the area, although more are on the way. Despite having residential houses nearby, the resort feels more like a secluded getaway.

The room

The overwater villas draw inspiration from the Maldives, featuring stand-alone structures with a circular layout over the water. Each villa comprises a living room, kitchenette, half bathroom, a bedroom equipped with a king-sized bed, a walk-in closet and a full bathroom.

The bathroom is spacious and has a stand-alone tub with panoramic views of the lagoons and mangroves through floor-to-ceiling windows that line the entire back end of the villa. In addition to a shower, there's also a bonus outdoor shower. Bvlgari toiletries are provided by the hotel, along with bath salts, and a soap menu is also available.

Although the space is beautifully lit with plenty of light (natural or artificial), there are a surprising number of control panels on the walls. I count nine. They do everything from offering different types of lighting to controlling the curtains to setting the air conditioning. However, it can be a bit overwhelming to know which panel does what.

Each villa also has an outdoor deck area, featuring a private temperature-controlled plunge pool. The deck is furnished with chairs and a lounge bed, offering unobstructed views of the water. Notably, there are outdoor charging ports that are good for those who require a tranquil and comfortable space for work or relaxation.

Stylistically, the villa is decorated in serene blue, warm brown and crisp white tones – hues that mirror the soothing water theme of the resort. Additionally, wooden details throughout the space enhance the overall aesthetic, creating a luxurious and inviting atmosphere. However, there is also a sense of seclusion as I cannot hear or see my neighbours.

The service

While everyone on site is friendly and helpful, service can be slow at times. For lunch, I order a sandwich and fries from Waves Cafe but it takes more than 30 minutes, which makes me worried they forgot. Luckily, the food is still hot when it arrives.

However, when it comes to asking for directions or needing an opinion on what to order, the staff at the hotel are eager to help. When I’m feeling particularly tired, Ayo makes an iced coffee that does the job of waking me up. He remembers me the next day at breakfast and kindly makes me another.

There is a turndown service at the villa while I’m away at dinner so I do not have much interaction with housekeeping, but they do a good job of getting the room ready for the evening.

The scene

There seems to be something for everyone. Besides being surrounded by nature, there’s an infinity swimming pool that’s connected to the beach as well as a children’s pool. There’s also not only a children's club but a teen’s club as well, which comes with TV screens, a PlayStation 5, board games and a foosball table.

Adults can also head over to the gym, which is open 24 hours and offers views of the mangroves, or to the spa to enjoy some pampering. I try the Anantara Spa’s Signature 60-minute massage (Dh650) from masseuse Amy who does a marvellous job. I feel relaxed but also rejuvenated after the experience.

There is also a padel court and a yoga pavilion. As the emirate is known for its beaches, it’s not surprising there are also water activities offered such as stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and wakeboarding. However, they come at an additional cost.

The food

There are six restaurants and cafes. Breakfast is served at Sea Breeze from 7am to 11am, providing ample time for those who prefer waking up later. It is set up as an international buffet with an impressive array of options.

For lunch, I return to Waves Cafe. As it’s Friday afternoon, it is busy. This time, I order the Tropical Pitaya smoothie (Dh45) and a side of sweet potato fries (Dh35), which arrive at a more reasonable time. The smoothie is so enjoyable, I order a second to go.

Dinner is at Anantara’s famed restaurant Mekong, which serves Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese menus. I sample a few of the appetizers, but the fresh spring roll (Dh70) and crispy sea bass salad (Dh90) offer exceptional, punchy and delightful.

For my main dish, I order the lamb chops with Chinese five spices (Dh220), served with a side of aubergine. I am surprised by the sweetness of the sauce, which tastes great with the meat but not so much on the sides. On a plus note, the lamb chops are cooked perfectly to my preference of medium well.

I round things off with the mango and sticky rice (Dh60), which satisfies my sweet tooth, despite not being overly sweet.

Highs and lows

Book an overwater villa and receive a complimentary 60-minute massage. Mine from Amy is one of the best I've had.

However, being in an overwater villa means being further away from the main building and facilities. Buggies can often take a while, though it's only a five-minute walk.

The insider tip

Bring comfortable walking shoes. It may seem unnecessary at a resort, but there's lots of walking to be done if staying in an overwater villa.

The verdict

Although Anantara Mina Al Arab is trying to emulate the Maldives with its overwater villas, it doesn’t quite reach the same level yet – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t creating its own peaceful and relaxing sanctuary.

The bottom line

Rates for rooms start at Dh1,700 while villas are Dh7,000 including breakfast and VAT. Check-in is 3pm, checkout is noon;

This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel and reflects standards during this time. Services may change in the future.

Updated: February 06, 2024, 4:59 AM