This past weekend we enjoyed a mini “staycation” seeing that they are all the rage in this region!
Why bother traveling hours by plane when you can hop in your car and feel like you are miles away on a fabulous getaway!
We ventured off to Ras Al Khaimah to the Marjan Islands. Upon check in we were given the most delicious freshly baked cookies (1000 calories a pop-who cares we are on vacay). After that, the receptionist came over with a basket of toys for the children to choose from (just little fun, inexpensive items like notepads, bouncy balls etc).
The hotel is rather large and has several almost apartment style blocks all overlooking the ocean + landscaped grounds. This includes a children’s playground & kiddie pool, two big swimming pools and a water park.
A casual buffet offers international cuisine, and there’s also a brasserie, an Italian restaurant and an English pub, plus a lobby lounge, a juice bar and a rooftop shisha bar. Other amenities include 5 outdoor pools, a private beach and a spa, as well as a kids’ playground, water sports and beach volleyball.
The room we had, was very average one might say. Nothing fancy or over the top. Not sure it matched up to a typical 5 star I am used to staying at (sorry I am spoilt after living in Dubai for 8+ years). The bathroom was spacious and the soaps and shampoos provided were of good quality. I will jump right in and say this now before I forget…our sleep on the hotel beds was pretty rough. Neither my husband or I felt the beds were comfortable including the pillows to sleep with.
Anyway, I know the rooms are not the most important thing when staying at a hotel as you spend most of your days outside. Which is totally what we did.
It was a rotation between the pool/beach/water park/playground. By 6pm the kids were SO tired! The pool was nice and very spacious. I didn’t see a lifeguard easily present, but that didn’t matter since my husband or myself were with the children at all times. The hotel was packed with many European’s on vacation. There was a good mix of children and elder folks.
The kids LOVED the water-park and so did I! I can’t keep track of all the hours we played there. X4 water slides and lots of little splash pads. It is designed in the form of a pirate ship. The kids absolutely had a blast!
The beach is a nice stretch of white sand with clear water. If you are one who loves to hunt for shells, you probably won’t find many pretty ones as the water is calm and mainly retains the old ones. I like that the water was calm for the kids.
Where we were seated near the pool, they had nice bathroom facilities which were easy to get to when the kids HAD to pee “right now”.
The cabana style bar was also a hop, skip and jump away. We were provided with a wristband which meant unlimited beverages. I was excited too when I found out (don’t worry, I am a responsible adult). But after sampling the cocktails, I was rather disappointed both in the way they were presented as well as the way they were made. The cups for one, were disposable. Considering how many hotel guests they have, they could at least use sturdy reusable plastic cups. It would be kind to the environment. The mixed cocktails as I already said, were very 1-2-3 made. Nothing fancy, very basic. I like fancy cocktails…
The service at each location we went to dine or drink at was your typical confusing UAE service. The big deer in headlights stare and then looking around aimlessly. It was frustrating. The service definitely needs some TLC to make it a true 5 star. Lunch was the first meal we had at the hotel. It was nothing spectacular in terms of buffet offerings. It was on the basic side. Dinner was one step above at Vespa. They had a nice “family affair” evening with live music which was rather pretty and peaceful, overlooking the ocean and the vague skyline of RAK. I really enjoyed the anti-pasti with fresh mozzarella, cold cuts and all the trimmings. It was very nice. So was the cocktails on offer (wish they would do the same at the pool bar). No complaints about dinner, we enjoyed it. Breakfast was back at the Al Marjan Restaurant (same place we had lunch). Very similar to the lunch offerings. The kids did love the banana pancakes with maple syrup (must be my Canadian influence) and the freshly baked croissants and muffins.
Our final day was bitter sweet to go home. It is always nice to have that “vacation feeling vibe”. The kids woke up at the crack of dawn (6am) telling me they were starving and wanted breakfast! After enjoying a quiet breakfast outdoors (no it was not hot at 6am) we spent the remainder of our final day again at the pool/beach/water park! By noon I was wiped, so were Ruby & Nate! Thankfully checkout was at 12pm! At least we got to fully enjoy the day. Especially when you have early risers, by noon it feels like your day is almost over!
We settled our hotel bill and drove off the RAK costline all the way home. The kids slept the entire car ride plus 2 hours more once we got home! The beautiful outdoor weather suited them well. We had fun! It was quality family time. I totally think every family should do more staycations. It is really a time to switch off and enjoy each others company without the “outside world distractions”. Oh and that reminds me, my internet signal was a real pain in the you know what. It was hard to get connected to wifi and the signal would often cut in an out. Another key point they could work on for their guests.
Overall I think the Double Tree by Hilton Marjan Island is a nice getaway for families with young children looking for a not too over-the-top bill as the pricing is very reasonable. You can even opt to have all your meals included + drinks like we did. Ie. all inclusive!