IF YOU’RE THINKING OF GETTING AWAY THIS VALENTINE’S DAY, OR IF YOU’RE IN NEED OF A BREAK THAT’S NOT TOO FAR FROM HOME BUT OFFERS ALL THE COMFORTS AND LUXURIES OF GOING ON HOLIDAY, WE’VE GOT JUST THE PLACE FOR YOU. ENTER THE SPRAWLING RITZ-CARLTON ABU DHABI, GRAND CANAL, A 5-STAR RESORT THAT FITS THE BILL WHEN IT COMES TO SPECIAL OCCASIONS AND STAYCATION SPOTS IN THE UAE…

We’ve had many encounters with the stunning Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal and, every time, its five-star hospitality, serene setting and overall holiday vibes did not disappoint. The third time around, we were looking for something special, something that makes this property a worthwhile stop for couples, friends and families too. Facilities and fun things to do in-resort to keep guests entertained were at the forefront of our stay.

Much like the UAE capital itself, which is a blend of a laid-back and welcoming, traditional culture with lively happenings, and modern amenities, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is a clear representation of luxury hospitality at its finest. Located just across the road from the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the hotel is somewhat of a dream destination that could easily resemble an opulent resort found on the canal shores of Venice – with all the charm and elegance of the Arabian Gulf, of course. Sound good? Keep reading…

SUITE ENVY

Stay as a Club Level guest and revel in all the personalised service, attention to detail and extra benefits offered as part of this accommodation type. Firstly, the Club Level has both room and suite options that would suit all types of travellers including couples, groups of friends, families with children and even solo visitors. Private check-in at the Club Lounge is how you’ll start your stay. Staff will greet you with a friendly smile and share information about all the Club Level amenities and extras that you can enjoy, as well as addressing any other queries you might have.

We stayed in a beautiful Executive Suite with a balcony that overlooked truly amazing views of the beach and Grand Canal, and the lush gardens and pool area – the ideal place to relax with your morning cup of tea or coffee. The suite itself is incredibly spacious, possibly one of the largest we’ve ever stayed at in the capital. With a floorplan that could rival any luxury apartment, you’ll get a lovely large living room decked out with cushy furnishings including a cosy seating area facing a 42” LCD TV showing a mix of local and international channels, a fully-stocked mini refreshment bar with tea and coffee-making facilities, snacks and drinks, a desk area to separate work time from chill time, and big sliding doors out onto balcony number one.

In the bedroom, you’ll find a HUGE comfy king size bed (that made for some of the best night’s sleep we’ve had in a long time) with a lovely armchair that feels like a warm hug when you sit in it, and, once more, sliding doors out onto balcony number two which in the winter time benefits from a gentle breeze. A full marble bathroom with a large tub, separate rain-shower, his and her wash basins and luxury Asprey amenities is definitely a focal point of the room. There was no better feeling than having a nice long soak after a day of beachfront relaxing or tourist-hopping, and getting cosy into the plush, terry bathrobes and slippers – aaah, it’s the finer things in life!

 

ROMANCE IS IN THE AIR

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is pulling out all the stops to ensure that you and your loved one can enjoy a Valentine’s Day to remember.

Dinner a Deux

THE FORGE: Book a table at The Forge and start your night off with 30 grams of genuine Sturia caviar served with traditional blini and sour cream accompaniments, followed by a middle course of tuna with smoky raspberry-habanero sauce, pickled onions, hibiscus flower and red cabbage purée. Following a refreshing orange raspberry granita, savor a main course of bone-in striploin and lobster with purple mashed potato and asparagus and sauce Béarnaise. To round off the evening, enjoy Cupid Delicatessen – a decadent red choux pastry case filled with caramelised mango puree and caramel mascarpone cream, along with petits fours of berry tartlets and Valentine macaroons.

LI JIANG: Head to Li Jiang to enjoy an appetiser of pan-seared scallops, crab, avocado, wasabi mayonnaise and homemade chili tomato, followed by an indulgent starter of foie gras dumpling with creamy shimeji mushroom, Thai basil and bok choy. For your main course, choose between wok-fried lobster, wagyu beef in black pepper sauce or seafood fried rice. And for dessert it’s Tiny Pavlova, with petits fours of berry tartlets and Valentine macaroons. A choice made in heaven for any South East Asian food lovers!

MIJANA: Savour hearty Arabian favourites at Mijana with a romantic twist, topped off with a special Valentine’s dessert. Enjoy a tempting selection of appetisers, including hummus with cranberry, and labneh with truffle oil, before sharing delectable lobster and shrimp kibbeh, almond and hazelnut falafel, and shrimp kanufa, followed by a traditional Arabic mixed grill. Then, for dessert, “Kubid Delicatessen” – a red choux pastry case filled with apricot purée and caramel mascarpone cream, with a pistachio crust. How delish does that sound.

 

Having access to the Club Lounge is definitely a bonus. Here, you can enjoy complimentary food and beverage for breakfast, afternoon tea, and light snacks and drinks in the evening. We especially loved the breakfast with its huge variety of hot and cold food – the porridge, the pastries and the fresh fruits were yummy! The added value of having a place that offers you free foodie treats and drinks throughout the day is an absolute delight! So, whether you decide to spend all your days at the hotel, or if you’re venturing out to explore the city, a Club Level room or suite will be the perfect place to take respite after any activity or adventure!.

DINING GOALS

You have literally got every kind of cuisine to satisfy all those cravings! For a taste of five-star dining, head to The Forge Steakhouse and opt for the deliciously creamy Burrata Salad, followed by your choice of main with mouthwatering sides and a glass of vino or one of the thirst-quenching mocktails. The venue is elegant yet inviting and the staff is incredibly attentive. This one’s for those who want a more refined dining experience with quality ingredients but without the pretentiousness of the usual upmarket restaurants. Our absolute favourite, however, is the South East Asian eatery Li Jiang. The menu is packed with the most flavourful dishes such as the appetising Prawn Dim Sum, the most tender Black Pepper Beef, and the standout – their succulent Crispy Half Duck, paired with a delicious sauce and shredded tableside – just incredible.

Do spend an evening on the Li Jiang terrace which boasts some of the most stunning night views of the Grand Mosque. If you happen to take your staycation here before the weekend, check out the innovative No Mobile Dinner Challenge. Taking place every Wednesday evening at The Forge, Li Jiang and Mijana, the hotel’s newest cool dining concept is bringing conversation and good company back to the dinner table. Lock away your mobile phone for the duration of your meal, and earn 15 per cent savings on your bill. They’ll provide your table with a lockable box in which to store your phones (it’s transparent, so you’ll still be able to see calls or messages as they come in – though we decided to cover the glass box with a napkin). All you have to do is resist the temptation to open the box until the end of the meal. Easy? We’ll see!

FABULOUS FACILITIES

The one thing that we really enjoyed during this stay at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, is the luxury of not having to leave the resort to enjoy our home-away-from-home  holiday. One of the reasons why the hotel makes for a good anniversary, romantic getaway and even a weekend staycation spot, is that it offers something for everyone! For little ones, the pool and children’s water play area will be a haven of fun, plus the Ritz Kids Club which offers safe, friendly and super fun recreational activities, will provide mum and dad with some ‘me time’ to chill out on the beach and take a dip in the canal waters. Couples, friends and solo guests will relish in the outdoor facilities, as well as the beachfront, Bedouin-inspired ESPA with a hammam, sauna, steam room, plunge pool, and treatments that embody the very meaning of relaxation.

We’d highly recommend the 60-minute Personalised Facial. Our therapist Ava runs through this exquisite treatment. It can be customised and adjusted to your skin’s needs. It includes a triple cleanse (second cleanse consists of steaming and exfoliation). After the first cleanse, the therapist will perform skin analysis using a SkinVISION lamp to define your skin type and skin needs in order to choose ideal products to either hydrate, energise, purify and nourish your skin. After the triple cleanse, the therapist will perform a facial massage with a suitable massage oil followed by a personalised mask and scalp massage. The treatment ends with a soothing skin serum and moisturiser. Our main concern was slight skin dehydration, so the therapist used products to help with hydration and nourish the skin. To say that our faces were glowing post treatment is an understatement, the results were SO good that it was the first time a no make-up selfie was tekn for the ‘gram! In true staycation style, we spent three whole days at the hotel, experiencing everything that it has to offer. For a quick romantic getaway or quality family-time, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, will impress on every level.


GO: VISIT WWW.RITZCARLTON.COM OR CALL (0)2 818 8888 FOR RESERVATIONS AND MORE INFORMATION.