While Dubai might be known for its pizzazz and Abu Dhabi for its thriving cultural and events calendar, Ras Al Khaimah has sealed a reputation among UAE residents as a great spot for lazy, luxury staycations.
The Movenpick Resort Al Marjan Island is no exception, as this sprawling complex has something for everyone, from the waterpark for children to the romantic brasserie for couples and a soothing spa for wellness seekers.
The National checked in for a stay in one of its suites.
The spacious lobby gives off coastal-calm vibes, inspired by the land and its wildlife, the sea and mountains. The artwork decorating the entire back wall of the lobby lounge cafe, Moca, displays elements of this theme and has been produced by local artists. The monochrome piece is punctuated by pops of colour in framed sections.
This and the mismatched furniture – couches with colourful cushions, high-backed rattan chairs, white sofas with pink and white cushions – make the hotel feel unique and help to create an inviting space to pass time in enjoyably.
After looking around and chilling out in this space, I head to the desk. Despite the hubbub when I arrive, staff keep their cool with every interaction. They’re helpful and polite, and I’m swiftly checked in and handed the key to my junior suite.
The resort is in the middle of a cluster of others along the cove that forms the famous aerial view of Al Marjan Island. The Movenpick already offers all I want from a luxurious hotel stay. However, if there's anything else I desire, with the number of hotels in close proximity, my wish is basically the island’s command.
Resorts aside, though, the area feels quiet and isolated. Across the road is a running track and a little beyond that a picturesque walkway along the Arabian Gulf. For a slice of the good life away from it all, this is a great spot.
My Panoramic Bridge suite is in the building that sits across the top of the property’s two premises. This penthouse room is spacious and exudes luxury and relaxation. The bed takes pride of place, facing the sliding doors that open up to the balcony and those impressive vistas. It sets me up for a peaceful, serene stay.
The room has distinct sections. There’s a small desk space and a wider desk that juts out from behind the bedhead, so it faces the balcony, perfect for spreading out some papers and soaking up inspiration afforded by the lovely views.
The bathroom is split into four sections. A central space for the bath is flanked by a private shower room and toilet. Outside of these are separate his and her sinks. Sustainability comes into play at this property, too, thanks to the refillable shower gel, hand soap and lotion. The dental kit comes with a toothbrush made of bamboo, and back in the room, there’s a coffee machine that comes with compostable and biodegradable pods and stirrers. Even the room key card is made of bamboo.
Staff are personable and helpful throughout – from the welcome we receive at reception to the staff at the pool who guide us to our reservation at Beach House. In the restaurants, they take pride in knowing the menus and comfortably reel off great recommendations.
At Ula, in addition to being guided to some top-notch dishes, I’m given a rundown on the wildlife outdoors. On good days, sea urchins and sting rays will congregate by the cove, giving guests a spectacle to enjoy.
At the watersports centre, I’m given a detailed description of what to expect from certain activities, so I can assess the level of adrenalin I’m able to stomach. Staff are well trained and well versed on the hotel’s offerings, and are happy to keep guests informed. It probably helps that they all live at the resort, so they’re fully immersed in hotel life.
The resort is massive. As well as its 300 metres of private beach, there’s so much to see on a meander through the grounds. There’s an outdoor play area for children and an illuminated walkway to the 28 chalets, each of which has a private pool.
Guests can swim in the resort’s huge main pool, but there’s also an adult-only pool at Ula, and a separate pool for youngsters, as well as a floating waterpark that the resort says is the largest in Ras Al Khaimah. For children, there’s also the Starfish Adventure Club.
Elsewhere, thrill-seekers are spoilt for choice at the watersports centre, where there are nine activities to choose from, including doughnut rides and jet-skiing. There’s also a fully stocked gym for more regular workouts and, for some R&R, the massages at Citrine Spa melt troubles away.
Lunch at Beach House, the California grill where surfboards decorate the bar, is a delight. There are seats inside and outdoors on the sand. It’s close to the pool and beach, and I can go straight from wading in the water to whetting my appetite over the enticing menu barefoot and in beachwear. The list is filled with indulgent dishes. There are nachos, chicken wings, burgers, tacos, ceviches and pizzas. I choose the fish tacos with chipotle cream, red cabbage, coriander slaw, avocado and jalapenos (Dh65). With a squeeze of lime, they’re a zingy treat all held together by a soft, chewy tortilla. A side of rosemary truffle fries (Dh25) adds a decadent kick.
Ula, meanwhile, is swish, with the azure sea standing out against the light wood furniture and beige furnishings. It’s set by the adult pool and, while still casual, it’s more sophisticated. The set menu is Dh500 ($136) per person and consists of a starter, main and dessert. Options include a black olive tapenade, grilled halloumi, pizza, pasta and churros for dessert. The calamari rings starter is lightly battered and tender, with just the right dusting of salt and black pepper. The margherita pizza comes highly recommended by staff, but I can’t resist the spicy, tender chicken souvlaki, beautifully tempered with a cool tzatziki. Staff also kindly swap the churros for a strawberry cheesecake more to my taste.
Boons is a cool, contemporary brasserie and it’s best to sit outside for dinner when the weather allows. The sound of the sea in the distance and the mood lighting give it a romantic feel. The menu features soups, salads, sandwiches and more, but the highlight is the steak. The Angus grass-fed striploin (Dh159) goes down a treat with Bearnaise sauce and sides of sauteed mushrooms and spinach (Dh25 each).
Highs and lows
It’s lovely to be able to go from beach to meal at the no-fuss Beach House, and the food is outstanding. The only downside of this resort would probably be the price. But a stay here is a real treat, so enjoy it and lament the bank balance later.
The insider tip
When the weather permits, Ula holds movie nights al fresco by the pool with popcorn. Check with staff to find out what films will be screened and when.
This resort is a great all rounder. If you’re coming with children, there’s plenty to keep them occupied, but it’s also fantastic for a romantic getaway, or simply some relaxing alone time.
The bottom line
A Deluxe Island sea view king room costs from Dh615 ($167.55) excluding taxes, and a Panoramic Bridge junior suite costs from Dh1,168 excluding taxes. Al Marjan beachfront suite chalet with private pool costs from Dh3,512 excluding taxes. Rates change depending on the date of stay. Check-in is at 3pm and checkout is at noon, movenpick.accor.com.
This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel and reflects hotel standards during this time. Services may change in the future