As event professionals we are extremely fortunate in that we get to see so many amazing places and meet so many amazing people.
In December I hade the pleasure of attending a Fam to Ras Al Khaimah, a new destination for me as I have never been before. The Fam was arranged by the lovely Socorro Morake, MICE Manager at Ras Al Khaimah Tourist Board. VisitRasAlKhaimah
Ras Al Khaimah is the northernmost Emirate in UAE, well known for its stunning coastline, terracotta desert planes and the Hajar mountain range, which makes it perfect for outdoor and nature activities. It is easily reached by car, from Dubai in 45 min and from Abu Dhabi in 2.5 hrs.
We stayed at the iconic Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah a stunning beach resort surrounded by the magnificent Hajar Mountains in the background. The Junior Suites were larger than most London flats with all mod cons, walk in wardrobe and a balcony opening up to stunning sea views. This is very much a resort hotel with a large private beach, two pools, a spa fitness club, kids club, a championship golf course and 7 restaurants and excellent conference and events venues throughout. Historically, the Waldorf Astoria set a list of global precedents: the first hotel to have electricity on every floor, the first to have en suite baths, and the first to offer 24-hour room service.
First stop on the tour was a site visit and lunch at the fabulous RitzCarlton Al Wadi Desert It’s a true hidden gem, situated in a 1,235 acre protected reserve in the UAE desert with luxury villas, and private pools dotted around the vast area. As you can imagine you will be treated to a public pool, fantastic spa facilities, gourmet restaurants, and many outdoor activities on offer, as well as three indoor and outdoor event spaces. The one sad observation made is the way the birds of prey are kept, chained to a tree stump all day when they are not performing or let out to fly to make sure they do not lose the ability to fly. It’s somewhat disappointing that Ritz Carlton would allow this to happen even today.
We then visited the “Suwaidi Pearls” pearl farm Suwaidi Pearls located in the small fishing village of Al Rams,which nestles at the bottom of the majestic Al Hajar mountain range in Ras Al Khaimah. This tour gives you a fascinating insight into the pearl farm industry; a family business, it was established in 2005 by Mr. Abdulla Rashed Al Suwaidi, the world’s first Arabian pearl farmer. For the first time in history, the region is now farming Arabian Pearls in the surrounding seas. We travelled by boat to the pearl farm where they shared the unique cultural heritage of the pearling industry, the historic evolution and the hazardous and often very dangerous work pearl farming used to be.For three months at a time the divers would be at sea and worked long days with very little food or drink. At the end of the visit you will be able to buy the beautiful pearls for a wholesale price. I have to admit I have devoured plenty of oysters, but after being told about their face, bodily functions etc I may never look at oysters the same way again.
The evening ended with a site visit and delicious dinner at the Doubletree Hilton Marjan Island which was a great surprise, not at all like most Doubletrees I have seen before. We were welcomed by the lovely GM that may or may not have been a hit with a couple of the ladies…..:-)
For the adrenaline driven professionals out there, you would love our second day which epitomised this. The day started off with a drive into the Hajar mountains to the UAE’s highest peak Jebel Jais, with its Jebel Jais Flight Visit jebel Jais the world’s longest zipline. Unfortunately this was not for me as I am a bit of a chicken, but the rest of the team loved it. Once the protective gear was on they all looked like Ninja Turtles ready to fly, and fly is exactly what they did. Oh and if you can guess who is hanging upside down and is ready to fly, I will send you a bottle of wine.
We continued the adventure with a visit to the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp https://www.beargryllscamp.ae/ where you can get to experience anything from a 4hrs basic survival class to the 24hrs survival course. The programmes have been designed by Bear Grylls and are run by his team of highly skilled and trained instructors, and suit everyone from absolute beginners to those wishing for very technical and challenging activities. We all had the terrifying pleasure of trying the abseiling. Thank you to all of the team who were cheering me on during the very long time it took me to get down 😊 The camp also have a number of cabins for hire if sleeping in a tent is not for you.
Then it was off to the Souks – please note the Souks in RAK are nothing like the Souks in Marrakesh or Dubai, but are an array of small shops in downtown RAK.
A perfect ending to a perfect trip was the gorgeous dinner GM Rohit Suvarna, Sales Manager of Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah had arranged for us all.
I highly recommend Ras Al Khaimah as a standalone incentive, or if you hold your event or meeting in Dubai or Abu Dhabi a day trip to RAK is well worth it. Another thing to mention is that all Covid testing in UAE is free for all guests.