For beach or desert, try the Ritz-Carlton hotels, less than an hour from Dubai.


The Al Wadi Desert hotel and its sister the Al Hamra Beach hotel offer pared back luxury.

They are the jewels in the hotel crown of Ras al Khaimah, the northernmost of the United Arab Emirates' states.

Located in the emirate's 1,235 acre protected nature reserve, the Al Wadi offers a view of desert wildlife.

Each room is a Bedouin-style villa with a huge deck and impossibly large private pool.

Sit outside, and you may well spot baby gazelles or Arabian oryx wandering past, unfazed by the tourists.

Nature lovers can take part in guided walks and bird-watching trips at sunrise or sunset.

You can also try star-gazing on a night walk.

Horse lovers can take advantage of the hotel's equestrian centre. Try a sunset gallop through the dunes in winter.

Or opt for a camel ride.

Smart bicycles are left outside each villa so guests can cycle to breakfast or the spa.

But, after a few sundowners at seasonal restaurant Farmhouse, the chauffeured buggy may be the sensible ride of choice.

For beach lovers

The sister hotel Al Hamra is reached by a short but glamorous speedboat ride.

Here every villa has its own private pool. They also have an outdoor bath and lush private garden with multiple spots for sunbathing.

With just 32 villas, the hotel’s private beach is pristine with nobody to be seen apart from a lone lifeguard.

The spa here is definitely worth a visit. Ask for therapist Natkrita to help ease your aching muscles after an afternoon hiking in the mountains.

Shore House is the only restaurant at the hotel. But those in the know order the hotel’s signature floating breakfast – served poolside – and save dining out for the evenings.

Best of all, the hotels are less than an hour’s drive from the bright lights of Dubai, although, happily, you will feel a million miles away.

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