When it comes to staycations in the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah’s Marjan Island is a tried-and-tested favourite.
There are plenty of reasons for that, from its proximity to some of the emirate's well-loved attractions (think Jebel Jais and the world’s longest zip-line) to this particular stretch of land offering some of the best waterfront views in the city.
So it comes as little surprise that Radisson Hotels picked Marjan Island as the location for its first Radisson-brand resort property in the Middle East.
It’s worth noting that the brand has some pretty ambitious expansion plans in the works, with five more resorts due to open in the region by 2025, and one in Dubai planned to welcome guests on Palm Jumeirah in time for summer.
The National experienced a night at the Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah Marjan Island. Here’s everything you need to know.
The valet service and the entrance of the four-star hotel is tucked inside the premises, right next to one of the swimming pools which gives you a wonderful glimpse of what's to come during your visit and makes you feel like you're in the heart of the action from the moment you step outside your car.
The lobby isn’t quite as big as we'd expected, but floor-to-ceiling glass walls usher in plenty of natural light making it feel very bright and airy, and at the same time giving visitors a glimpse of the waiting blue skies and azure waters.
Complimentary infused water and cookies are on offer for guests in the lobby — and these were very welcome after a fairly lengthy drive from Dubai.
As mentioned, there’s a reason that Marjan Island is prime real estate location for hotels in Ras Al Khaimah. The coral-shaped island offers plenty of white sandy beaches and stunning watery views in just about every direction.
Meanwhile, for adventure lovers, there’s a wealth of water sports on offer, from wakeboarding and parasailing to stand-up paddleboarding and jet-skiing. Those looking for something a little bit more offbeat can make a beeline for Jebel Jais — 85 kilometres away — where mountain views await. For mall crawlers, Al Hamra Mall is a closer attraction, only an 8km journey away.
The safety measures
Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah Marjan Island has implemented the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol programme which lists certain guidelines, in partnership with inspection and safety company SGS, that covers cleanliness and disinfection.
During our stay, all the most important bases are covered: staff are always in face masks, and there are plenty of hand sanitising stations dotting the property. The place was also relatively quiet when we visited, making two metres of social distancing easy. However, as with all resorts, people tend to eschew masks, especially near the pools or beaches. We didn’t spot any other Covid-19 specific safety precautions.
The property houses 388 guest rooms, including 24 suites.
We were in a one-bedroom suite for the night, and loved the extra space it gave us. It's almost worth booking a suite only for the sweeping balcony, which is more than four times bigger than balconies in other rooms, and comes complete with wicker furniture that you can laze around on and enjoy the beach views.
Interiors are modern and comfortable, with neutral sand and grey tones, complemented by pops of colour such as the bright red armchairs.
All the basics that you could possibly think of are taken care of: hairdryer, ironing board, kettle and more. There are two giant flatscreen televisions — one in the hall in front of the cosy, no-nonsense couch, and another in the bedroom so you don’t need to fight over the remote.
Staff are friendly and efficient, with check-in completed in a speedy manner and all team members that we spoke to able to help with any questions or requests that we had.
Chances are, you’re not going to have a lot of time to venture outside the hotel because there’s so much to do and see within the property.
The hotel boasts three swimming pools, a private beach, a compact but fully-equipped gym (serving beach views) and the recently opened Jouri Rose Spa for those looking for a spot of pampering.
Of the three swimming pools, it’s the children’s pool that really cements the hotel as a family-friendly venue. While many hotels often include children’s pools as an afterthought, Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah has gone all out. There are giant water slides, dumping buckets, fountains, water features and basically everything they need to make sure they have a good time. It's so good that even the adults may be tempted to join in.
Only a stone’s throw away is a rooftop temperature-controlled pool, where adults can enjoy a swim or simply relax with a book accompanied by bites and refreshments from the Shelf Pool Bar.
Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah boasts six food and beverage venues.
Bake House, a cafe located in the lobby, offers a number of delicious baked treats and La Med is the place to go for Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as pizzas, pastas and more. RBG Bar is the resort's beachfront sports bar.
However, being seafood lovers, we decided to head to Seafood Shack which, despite its casual-sounding name, is a pretty snazzy venue, with indoor and outdoor seating.
We ordered a sea salt and sesame flatbread with umami butter (Dh25) and, on recommendation from our friendly waiter, a salmon tataki (Dh80) — with bits of charred citrus and soy sauce.
A real highlight came in the form of the grilled monkfish tacos (Dh65). Three bite-sized portions are served with chipotle mayo and pickled jalapenos, while the mango salsa adds a tangy twist. We also ordered the seafood mixed grill (Dh155) and it’s a smorgasbord for pescatarians. There’s prawns, squid, salmon, sea bass, grilled oysters and even the option to add an extra portion of lobster (an additional Dh95).
For breakfast, RBG Restaurant, the all-day dining venue, puts together a sprawling buffet that’s available until 11am, with live cooking stations for your eggs, all the makings of a classic English breakfast, a fruit, cereal and cheese section and more.
Highs and lows
The rooftop pool, nestled a bit away from the hotel entrance, felt like discovering a hidden gem. The water was perfectly temperature-controlled and warm during the cooler February months. And with Shelf Pool Bar providing bites and drinks directly to your sunbeds, you could easily while away the entire day here.
In contrast, we found the other pool — located between the lobby and the beach — a tad cold and deep at 150 centimetres (there wasn’t a shallow end and a deep end either, only one height). A pity, as it offered way better views of the beach and the ocean beyond.
The insider tip
If you’re planning to spend more than a night or two, spring for the one-bedroom suite with the extended balcony. The extra space means that you don't need to hit the beach every time you want to sunbathe, instead you can do so right from the comfort of your private balcony.
If you’re looking for a fun staycation with family or a group of friends, Radisson Resort RAK at Marjan Island has all the makings of a good time. The children’s swimming pool is awesome, while adults have plenty of sunbeds to relax on and some very good restaurants to dine at for a hearty meal. However, if you’re looking for more of a party vibe or a luxury-filled getaway, this one might not be for you, remember it's a four-star property — thankfully, the reasonable rates also reflect this.
The bottom line
Rooms at Radisson Resort RAK are from Dh360 ($120), excluding tax. Check-in is from 3pm and check-out is at noon.
Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah Marjan Island; www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/hotels/radisson-resort-marjan-island
This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel during the global coronavirus pandemic. It reflects hotel standards during the time; services may change in the future