Got a weekend to spare and want to spend it at an amazing destination? Let me help you get to one of the most amazing places in the UAE, which literally is a beach paradise.
Location: When entering the city of Ras Al Khaimah, either from the Emirates Road or Al Etihad Road coming from Umm Al Quwain, it is impossible to miss The Cove Rotana which would be to your left just before you drive on the newly constructed bridge. However, you’ll have to go all the way over it till the roundabout as the underpass is still under-construction.
07:00pm – Check-in: It was a lovely, early autumn evening when I arrived at the Cove Rotana for the third time. My previous two trips ranged from a dinner at one of the restaurants to a one-night stay while on-board the RAK Airways’ inaugural flight. However, this time I promised myself to enjoy more than ever before – literally in every sense!
The experience at Cove Rotana begins right after you are past the archway of this heavenly complex and come to the lobby area where guests can park their cars to be driven away for valet parking. As soon as I entered the lobby, I found an extremely courteous staff welcoming me with a genuine warm smile, and telling me that I’ve reached the right place to be among the right people!
Once I checked-in, I was driven to my single bedroom villa in one of the small electric golf carts that gave me a brisk view of the sea as well as the lagoon that surrounds the Nubian-style villas, all of which face the Gulf. The interior of my one-bedroom villa was an intriguing blend of modernity, simplicity and exuberance, with elegantly arranged furniture inviting me to have some rest on it while the balcony urging me to sit down and appreciate some outstanding moon-lit lagoon views.
Before deciding on what to do next, I had a glass of cold water at the open kitchenette. There, I couldn’t resist munching a few strawberries and bananas set on the dining table for my pleasure. And if that was not enough, I indulged on the box of finest dates filled with nuts and dried fruit. And this was just the beginning of the heavenly pleasure this place was about to offer me…
Upstairs was a master bedroom that came with a spacious attached bathroom and private terrace that offered fascinating views of not only the beach but also the lush green hills that overlooked the sea. What a pleasant end to the day and wonderful start to the night, I imagined, while sat in the balcony enjoying some fresh sea breeze. Then it was time to get ready for the evening extravaganza!
08:00pm – Octoberfest @Breakers-on-the-beach
While sitting in the balcony, I was tapping to some lovely music while trying to figure out what was happening on the beach, which was hardly a few hundred metres away from the villa. I put on the party clothes as it was time to hit the beach bar!
To my utter surprise, I crashed into an Oktoberfest party, which was playing some amazing live Bavarian music with lots of German guests dancing to it and having a good time. And to double the party atmosphere and make revelers go crazy was the irresistible aroma of the German barbecue, which was drawing all the guests to the dinner tables.
And to top it up, the guests were treated with a raffle draw where they had a chance to win free return tickets, night stays at different resorts in the UAE and several other prizes.
09:00am – Swimming @The Laguna Bay
After waking up early and watching the mesmerising beach views from the villa terrace, I decided to nip to the pool and have a swim at the Laguna Bay which overlooks the villa clusters and the lagoon. Apart from sipping some fresh juices and cocktails while basking in the autumn sun, one can have an amazing view from the pool which is simply spectacular!
11:30am – Jet skiing @Water Sport Centre
If Cove Rotana can be considered as a ‘Temple of Relaxation and Recreation,’ part of the rituals must revolve around water-based activities. And keeping this mantra in mind, I then hit the Water Sport Centre which is located on one end of the resort’s 600 metres-long private beach.
Present before me here were a raft of water sports activities that included windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, cruising with speed boat, parasailing, windsurfing and, of course my favourite, jet skiing!
Without any delay, I stripped to my swimming trunk, put on my lifejacket, hopped on to the 750cc jet ski and stormed into the sea in no time! It was something like a prison break experience where all I wanted to do was to leave the shore behind me and fly over the blue waters. The experience, despite all my efforts, cannot be described in words. The closest you’ll ever get is speeding in a F1 car on a long, unending road…
01:00pm – Lunch @Cinnamon
With half the day gone in water, it was time to return to the land and grab something to eat. And what place could be better than Cinnamon, which offers an extensive and diverse choice of international cuisine – from Continental to Middle Eastern and from Indian to Far Eastern.
On an autumn afternoon, the best option is to sit on the outside tables and enjoy the pleasant sea breeze. As soon as I entered the restaurant, I saw a children’s play area called the Little Chef’s Brunch where kids can have a go at baking, cooking and dressing food. So while the couples were having a romantic brunch at the Cinnamon, kids were also having a wonderful time.
It is really a very good idea to try out a bit of everything – from sushi to beef roast and from biryani to an amazing palette of seafood – as the place offers some really fresh food, especially beef and fish, which is sourced from places like Italy, France, Oman, India whereas a lot of vegetables arrive from organic farms in Ras Al Khaimah and other parts of the UAE.
While having a conversation with the master chef, Chadi Salloum, I was told that great care is taken to ensure that the food is fresh and caters to the taste of a range of guests that come from Germany, Russia, Britain, France, United States, China, India and many other places.
03:00pm – Ras Al Khaimah City Tour
After having a sumptuous international dinner, it was time for me to visit Ras Al Khaimah and enjoy the sights and sounds of this small but interesting city. My guide was Mr. Abrar from RAK Royal Adventures who promised to take me to some amazing places around the city.
First stop was the zoo, which is the UAE’s biggest private zoo, and has a collection of lions, tigers, cheetahs, hyenas, monkeys, ostriches and few other exotic animals. The owner, Jasem Ali Salem, revealed that so far he has spent AED8 million ($2.18m) on the Wild Life Park Ras Al Khaimah on acquiring the animals and their upkeep. He also added that he would like to add more animals in near future and is expanding the facility for that very reason.
Also present in the vicinity is the Horse Club where horse lovers, especially children and women, come to learn horse riding which is taught by one of the UAE’s youngest female horse riders, Mayassa Sultan Al Kendi. The Emirati lady, who is currently studying at the university, decided to start her own horse riding school and help young talent excel their equestrian skills in a country where horse riding is nothing less than a national sport.
My next stop was a spot 10km outside the city known as the Wadi Qidaa Dam, a natural rainwater reservoir which was empty at that time. Surrounded by rocky mountains, the place offered a fresh breath of air and climbing on one of the heights to catch a glimpse of the setting sun was amazing.
As the sunset was approaching, we then headed to Ras Al Khaimah’s famous Al Qawasim Corniche, a fascinating spot where people, both young and old, come in the evening for a walk or to have tea at the beach. Nearby shops add value to the place where people can buy souvenirs or grab a quick bite from the cafes.
The best way to end the evening is to drive by the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, located at the end of the Corniche, where faithful assemble to say their sunset prayers. A masterpiece of Emirati architecture, the mosque accommodates thousands of worshippers on Fridays and Eid.
07:30pm Relaxing @Sauna & Jacuzzi
Ms. Carine Joun, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications of The Cove Rotana, was making sure that all arrangements go smoothly and I have an amazing experience at the resort. While I was bent on making the most of my time by visiting different places, the caring Lebanese executive equally insisted that I take proper rest at many of the spots the resort has to offer, especially at the Bodylines Leisure & Fitness Club, which offers a fully equipped gym, Jacuzzi, steam and sauna rooms as well as a spa massage centre. And after having a hectic 24 hours here, my body badly wanted a break…
The last time I had a true sauna experience was in Finland which was many moons ago. After a quick shower, I stepped into the sauna which was boiling to say the least. However, the Nordic interior was so fascinating that I ended up sitting tight and sweating myself for at least 15 minutes before my body started to melt down literally! A quick dash into the steam sauna further reduced me but I believe it did many favours to my body…
After all the tears, sweating and pain, it was time to settle in the Jacuzzi and just relax! Different ideas came pouring and I wished I had a waterproof pad to write them down. @Cove Rotana: That’s a suggestion for you guys!
9:00pm – Dinner @Basilico/Cinnamon
After a relaxing break, I was fancying a deliciously wonderful meal. Perhaps something fresh from the sea!
I had two options:
Basilico, which is an upscale Meditteranean-style dining restaurant with an outdoor terrace that faces the sea and offers a mix of traditional and modern dishes, or Cinnamon, where I had my lunch earlier in the day and enjoyed the extensive and diverse choices of international buffet. After learning that Cinnamon was having a Seafood Night, I surrendered to my temptations and headed to check out the sumptuous Seafood menu that was on offer.
From sampling deep sea highlights like lobsters, oysters and prawns to seafood barbecue, I enjoyed the meal on the starlit terrace with waiters topping up my drinks every now and then and taking away the plates as soon as I finished. The only disappointment was the BBQ which, in my opinion, was a bit overdone.
11:00pm – Nightout @Breakers-on-the-beach
After a sumptuous meal, it was incumbent on me to hit the beach and have some fun. Luckily, it was the second and last night of the Oktoberfest and with German beers flowing around and catchy Latino, European and Middle Eastern tunes played on the trot – the revelers had no choice but to enjoy every moment and make it a memorable night.
12:00am – Chilling out @Breeze
After some magical mayhem at the beach, it was time to hit a secluded spot and continue the interesting conversation I was having with my new friends Oliver, Ivy and Carine who work at The Cove Rotana. And what place could be better than the Breeze which is located around the lobby area. The lounges offer an elegant and relaxed atmosphere to enjoy quiet chit chats while having savory snacks and refreshing drinks. Being a football fan and AC Milan supporter, I got the chance to watch the Milan derby on the massive plasma screen in the lounge before moving outside and sipping a few mojitos under moonlight accompanied by the magnificent sea breeze. What a way to wind up an exciting day…
10:00am Breakfast @Villa Terrace
After a chilled, fun-filled night out, I had a lie-in in the plump double bed. Then I had my breakfast on the terrace that faces the lagoon which was an amazing experience, thanks to the outstanding views the resort has to offer!
The interior of the villa has a very distinct Arabic setting with white walls and red-brick domed ceiling giving the thoughtfully designed room a new and spacious feel. A quick shower in the airy and brightly-lit bathroom and I was all set for some water sport!
11:30am Kayaking @The Lagoon
The best way to start the morning is a walk to the beach. After an exhilarating Jet Ski experience yesterday, it was time to have a mellowing experience. And what better could it be than kayaking on The Cove Rotana’s legendary lagoon which is surrounded by lush green hills on one side and deep blue sea on the other with villas dotting all around. While the water was clean throughout the lagoon, it was a bit stagnant in the channels that were near the hill.
Many guests relaxing in their terraces waved at me as I waded through the calm waters of the resort while the sun smiled above me. As I was finishing my 30 minutes-long kayaking session, I saw a few families arriving to have a go at the paddleboats and canoes on the lagoon. “You sure inspired them to come for a ride,” one of the instructors told while he helped me come out from the kayak. The kids, along with their parents, were having a good time on the boats. It was a moment to watch as smiles were floating around…
1:00pm – Swimming @The Beach
I had already spent 42 hours at the resort and the beach kept tempting me throughout this time. Finally, it was time to take a dip in the warm waters and enjoy the waves of the Gulf.
On one hand, both young and old couples were swimming in the sea, while many male and female guests – presumably from the UAE, Gulf, Middle East and Europe – were sunbathing on the beach and enjoying the mild sea breeze. Kids, on the other hand, were making sandcastles and showing them off to their friends and parents. All in all, it was a postcard-perfect scene at the beach…
3:00pm Massage @The Spa
Before coming to The Cove Rotana, I had already learned that the resort offers some amazing spa treatment with massages including the Swedish, Shiatsu, Deep Tissue, traditional Thai and hot stone. I was also told that a relaxing massage can be had in one of the idyllic cabanas at the beach.
Despite the fact that I’m a pretty rough and tough guy and not into pampering my body a lot, I was really looking forward to my maiden experience and wanted to try the signature ‘Cove Rotana massage’ which is a unique combination of holistic Asian, Chinese pressure point and European massage techniques that help soothe the body, ease muscular tension and improve circulation. The masseuse applying some beautifully blended oils on the body was a sensuous experiment while a cup of green tea after it was something that topped my tranquilising experience.
4:30pm Visit to the Gym @Bodylines
The Bodylines fitness & leisure club is a fully equipped gymnasium with lots of machines for cardiovascular and weight training. It also offers fitness classes – including aerobics and yoga – to guests. A must-visit place if you’re a fitness freak!
5:00pm Relaxing @The Villa
My time at the resort was coming to an end so the best way to spend my last few hours was to sit on the terrace and wind down. It also occurred to me that I’ve not tried the room service yet so I placed an order for some fast food and went to have a shower.
It took almost 30 minutes for the beef burger and chips to arrive but it was worth the wait. The meal was very delicious, and given how other 5 star resorts charge exorbitantly for room service, came at a very reasonable price.
The terrace offered some very romantic sunset views and I couldn’t help but think how wonderful the whole stay has been at The Cove Rotana resort. From the extremely friendly staff to helpful attendants and from the scenic surroundings to sumptuous meals – this place had everything I was looking for to have a relaxing weekend in Ras Al Khaimah, far away from Dubai’s hectic life.