The Cove Rotana is one of our favourite spots when we’re in need of a short break and a spot of relaxation and pampering. Situated in the UAE’s fourth largest Emirate, Ras Al Khaimah (meaning ‘top of the tent’ in Arabic). This private beach resort feels a world away from frantic Dubai, despite being only an hours drive.
Life in Ras Al Khaimah moves at a slower pace and is far more traditional than the city. The drive up boasts remarkable scenery of rolling red sand dunes, towering mountain landscapes and of course… a few camels. Each time we embark on a staycation to RAK, we feel as though we’re in another world. One where life is simpler, less stressful and altogether more tranquil. A place where a traditional charm embraces the uniqueness of the Arabian culture.
Much of this feeling comes from The Cove Rotana as a property. A private beachside resort that we first visited for Christmas in 2013. At that time we’d only just arrived in the UAE and were looking to explore. The Cove feels like a secret escape and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re on a Mediterranean Island rather than the Middle East. Situated on a steep incline that stretches down to the beckoning waters of the Arabian Gulf, the resort boasts Nubian flourishes and the dazzling white architecture is a maze of narrow alleyways, traversing a network of gardens and viewing points.
From the moment we entered the resort – from the valet to the check-in – the process was wonderfully smooth. Simple touches like a set of small steps leading up to the check-in desks, means that even the smallest of guests are bound to feel welcome. Having stayed in one of the rooms on our previous visit, we felt privileged to be staying in one of the villas on this occasion. Whisked off to one side, villa guests have a separate check-in area off the main lobby. Though you’re unlikely to notice as the stunning panoramic vistas are more than a little distracting.
Being set on a rather steep incline, guests at The Cove Rotana can expect a fair bit of exercise as they travel from their rooms to the pool, the beach or one of the resorts six restaurants. For those looking to make their stay completely relaxing, a fleet of buggies and mini vans are on hand to make traversing the numerous steps and ramps that little bit easier. If you want to travel anywhere in the resort, just pick up the phone and a buggy will be at your door within minutes (now this is the life).
Having previously stayed at the resort, we promised ourselves that when we returned we’d stay in one of the ‘floating’ villas situated around a central lagoon. Fast-forward three years and our wish has come true and our villa didn’t disappoint. Split over two floors, the upper level is home to a bedroom, bathroom and a balcony offering spectacular views. Downstairs you’ll find the living area, complete with small kitchenette and breakfast bar. The master bedroom is an absolute delight and offers a large comfortable bed and plenty of space, simply furnished and completely understated. The en suite boasts a bath tub and a separate dressing room (complete with our favourite thing in any hotel, the robes and slippers).
A small outside terrace is accessible from either the living area or master bedroom and features sun loungers and a private plunge pool. The small pool is deceptive, reaching a depth of 1.2m. The filtration system may offer crystal clear water but the lack of a heater makes for a very chilly swim during the cooler months. Not that it stopped us!
The Cove Rotana has 78 of these elegant one, two and three bedroom villas (plus 204 rooms) and offers the ultimate in five star luxury. With complimentary wifi, three television sets and the aforementioned plunge pool (it really is a strong selling point). Alongside the expected hotel staples (tea and coffee facilities, security safe and laundry service) what we appreciated most about the villa was its suitability for families, or groups who want to spend time together. With everything right there, one could quite easily spend their whole vacation within the confines of these self-contained villas.
When it comes to facilities the Cove Rotana has all bases covered. For the little ones there is Flippers. A kids club full of colorful toys, games, arts, crafts and a fenced outdoor area where kids can play safely.
Two swimming pools are available on site. The one by reception is the larger of the two and is one of the most striking infinity pools we’ve had the pleasure of taking a dip in. The curvature of the pool’s design follows that of its hilltop location and from the ledge, you can gaze out to sea where the Hajar Mountains meet the water in a stunning vista that only improves with the arrival of sunset. The swimming pool is beautifully heated and there’s a fully shaded kids pool just across the terrace. With plenty of sun loungers on offer and a handy bar. We guarantee you’ll spend most of your stay at this spot.
For those seeking a slightly quieter time, head down towards the beach where there’s another infinity pool. Though somewhat smaller, this one is reserved purely for adults and features an additional bar. In our experience this pool is generally a lot quieter. So if you’re looking for peace then this is the one for you.
Aside from swimming. The Cove Rotana also features Body Lines, a health club complete with state of the art gym equipment.
An untouched beach is the jewel in the Cove Rotana’s multi-studded crown. A 600m run of pure sandy bliss that feels more natural and untouched than its counterparts in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The waves here can get a little rough and when the tide is in, the size of the beach reduces significantly. So arrive in the morning and you’ll likely get the whole beach to yourself.
What’s a five star resort without a spa? Taking full advantage of the stunning beachfront location, The Cove Rotana provide guests with the opportunity to have their massages within one of seven treatment rooms or in one of the private beachfront cabanas. We bet you can guess which one we picked? The raised wooden cabanas are situated adjacent to the volleyball courts at the quieter end of the beach. A light sea breeze billows the chiffon curtains, inviting us in to relax. The outdoor nature of the massage certainly adds an element of relaxation and the sound of ACTUAL waves lapping at the shore, beats the whale sounds and panpipes of your standard spa. Our one hour Swedish massage left us feeling completely pampered and is something we would recommend to anyone visiting this resort.
We realize that we’ve been particularly harsh on hotel all-day-dining restaurants of late. In fact our last few experiences have been far from memorable. Thankfully, Cinnamon breaks this trend. The buffet breakfast is full of options from egg stations to the wonderful crepes and waffles. Yet it’s the more unusual touches that really stood out for us. A gluten free corner (great work Rotana on catering to dietary requirements) and lots of healthy options, including plenty of fresh salads, fruits and breakfast smoothies (you must try the date one). Pastries and international dishes are available, alongside more unusual items like honey straight from the comb. What we found pleasing about the extensive breakfast were the consistent quality of ingredients and the freshness of the dishes.
When it came to dinner, we opted for the upscale offering, Basilico. A place that seems to be extremely popular with local RAK residents and is well worth the drive from Dubai just for dinner. Interiors are simple and feature plenty of wine memorabilia – bottles, corks, caskets, you name it! The outside terrace is far more appealing for its elevated views over the entire resort and makes for the perfect place to gawp at the sunset. As the sky takes on pink hues before turning a vibrant orange.
The Mediterranean menu is a mixture of traditional and modern dishes and features a strong emphasis on Italian cuisine. Dishes are appealing and we opted for appetizers of Beef Carpaccio, Pan Fried Spicy Crab Cakes and Orange Flavored Seafood. All dishes excel but it’s the thinly sliced raw prime beef carpaccio with truffle essence that’s the clear winner. The crab cakes feature a spicy kick and despite being deep fried, show no signs of grease. While the seafood dish with squid, prawns and octopus, seemed perfectly fitting for our beachside location.
Even though there’s no kids menu, children will find plenty to love. Ours were taken with the Salami and Chorizo Pizza with it’s beautifully crisp base and the fresh tortellini stuffed with goats cheese. With little to keep children entertained other than the attentive staff, we were more than a little surprised at just how long the location and views alone, kept our little ones occupied.
Main courses were more hit and miss. The chef’s signature take on a Beef Wellington was beautifully pink and tender but the Seafood Paella proved to be the exact opposite. A little underwhelming and very dry. The Roasted Duck Breast however, was exceptional with a marsala sauce and accompaniments of compressed apple and acacia honey.
Desserts maintained the same high levels of quality. With a fantastic Tiramisu (regular readers will know how fussy we are when it comes to Tiramisu) boasting the name of the restaurant written in cocoa powder. The trio of Creme Brûlée (pistachio, classic and coffee) was significantly smaller than we expected, but offered sweet bliss. The Magic Chocolate Lava Cake transpired to be more of a torte than a cake, with an almost nougat like centre that combined beautifully with a rich chocolate sauce.
In summary, we wholeheartedly recommend a trip to The Cove Rotana, feeling more like Santorini than Ras Al Khaimah, it’s the perfect place for a relaxing staycation and is up there with our very favourite hotels in the UAE. The resort is ideal for exploring the Hajar Mountains, the UAE’s tallest peak, Jebel Jais, or as an access point to nearby Oman and the Musandam Peninsular.
If we’re being picky there are a number of things we’d like to see improved. The showers were not powerful and it would be nice to see the addition of a rainfall shower. We also say this in the majority of our reviews, but a Nespresso machine would be a welcome addition (please no more powdered coffee and milk) and finally, the outdoor furniture would be far more appealing if it wasn’t ‘garden centre’ plastic. Arguably these are minor issues but things that could elevate this high quality property even further if addressed.
We say the same each time we write about a Rotana but you always know what you’re getting. Consistency, excellent service and value for money. As the company slogan so rightly states: “At Rotana, your comfort comes first.”
Location: The Cove Rotana Resort, Al Dhait South, Ras Al Khaimah
Social: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter
Phone: 07 206 6000
We were invited to stay at The Cove Rotana. All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.