Why book Anantara Mina Al Arab
In the past few years, the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has been making monumental gains. Once living in the shadow of Dubai and largely the preserve of mountain adventures, hiking, glamping and desert vacations, this emirate has transformed into a luxe beach destination, with luxury residential communities (and price hikes to match) island hotel developmental and the global news it would be host to the UAE’s first Wynn Resort (of Las Vegas fame)- where ‘legal gaming’ will take place. One hotel that has dominated the news is Anantara Mina Al Arab, the emirate’s most exciting new opening from the luxury Thai brand known for its tropical resorts, Maldives getaways and, most recently, city hotels. What makes this property so special is its unique overwater villas – Maldivian in style – and location within the protected mangroves – a serene, natural space where the only sound is the chirp of birds and the gentle lap of waves. This, plus plans for a wildlife reserve, make this a unique hotel offering in the UAE – and a must-visit staycation spot for UAE residents or a relaxing escape (or an entirely new final destination together) for tourists.
Anantara Mina Al Arab is part of the gates Mina Al Arab waterfront community – an exclusive new regional and leisure destination in Ras Al Khaimah. It’s accessed by beautiful tree-lined streets home to green spaces, park and tennis courts, and backs right onto the ocean – with views over the coast and the mangroves. Anantara is only the second resort on the island, so it still feels very peaceful and exclusive.
On the weekend not long after opening, we’re met with a peaceful yet not-too-peaceful vibe. Elegant Emiratis float around the resort, packing into the coffee shop and enjoying cakes, pastries and afternoon tea in the glossy dining room or terrace. There’s a buzz, the hotel is clearly drawing attention, though there’s ample room at breakfast, in the restaurants and by the pool and beach – so you won’t have to wait (there’s also plenty of everything to go around). Guests are elegant and respectful, maintaining the exclusive Maldivian resort vibe and allowing for peaceful weekend breaks.
Rooms, suites (and villas)
The stand-out offering is the overwater villas – one- and two-bedroom offerings strung across the water on two long jetties jutting into the ocean and mangrove fields. Stylish and spacious, the villas emulate the feeling of Anantara‘s Maldivian properties – all soothing whites, oceanic hues and pops of orange and pink. Open plan living areas have a dining table and kitchenette, complete with everything for days in the villa and even hosting, and lead into a separate bedroom through grand sliding doors. The bedroom’s ceiling is soaring and thatched – adding to the tropical island theme – and guests can awaken to views of the ocean and mangroves. A thoughtful touch are black and white photographs of Ras Al Khamah’s natural beauty. Adjacent is a huge walk-in closet and dressing room, so there is no need to save space when packing.
While the star of the show, the rooms and suites are also fantastic – dotted in the main building and around the green grounds. All have the same tropical aesthetic with whites, blues, and teaks and have private terraces with two personal sunloungers.
The bathroom is again, typical of the brand’s Maldives properties, with a bath overlooking the water and both and indoor and outdoor showers – the bathroom has a soap menu, fragrant bath salts and is stocked with Bulgari toiletries, though shampoo and body wash are combined (so fussy guests may want to pack a separate shampoo). A wrap-around terrace hovers over the ocean, complete with a plush circular day bed, two armchair seating and a small private plunge pool just big enough to cool off in private. A generous touch is outdoor charging ports – as we all know how, a bright screen frains battery… While rightly packed together, the villas offer ample privacy, and we didn’t see or hear anyone on our stay.
Food and drink
There are six dining outlets dotted around the resort and its grounds: some concepts Anantara regulars will love and recognise, and a handful of new, setting-specific locations. Breakfast is served at Seabreeze, the vast all-day dining outlet that spills out of the dining room onto a mangrove-facing terrace – dappled with morning sun. Delightfully served until 11am, it has all the classics, budget, live cooking, and al la carte and a special effort is made for healthy – a kale smoothie maker and beetroot boost are daily rituals for this reviewer (plus, there’s a great selection of non-dairy milk).
Seabreeze is open for lunch, serving salads, seafood and grills alongside Waves – a popular spot known for its poke bowls and burgers. Across the resort, the Beach House is the ideal beach resort hangout, right by the ocean and with a large terrace, plus Mediterranean cuisine and pasta and seafood. For something more casual, there’s poolside Jalabar with all the classics. A popular with locals, afternoon cake and coffee break at The Lobby Lounge. For dinner, there’s the relaxed yet elevated Mediterranean Beach House and Anantara’s signature restaurant, Mekong – serving Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. The latter is the place to get dressed up, with the elegant restaurant sitting right on the water with dark, moody hues, gilded touches and an open kitchen. The seabass is wonderful, steamed and fragrant, the dim sum is perfection, and the drinks menu is encompassing and well-priced. It’s refreshing to have the choice between casual, beachy and elegant, so no trip ever seems the same. Room service is popular, and Anantara’s signature dining by design is in full swing – along with Middle Eastern cooking classes on demand.
Spa and facilities
As a beach resort, guests can experience a wonderful Rolodex of activities, including non-motorised watersports like paddleboarding and Kayaking (for a fee). Kayaking through the mangroves is the perfect way to connect with this beautiful corner of the world and experience its rich and diverse ecosystem, including some bird spotting. There are even plans for a wildlife centre on site. A kids’ club keeps little ones entertained alongside dedicated children’s pools and play areas, and two huge swimming pools lined with loungers offer ample sunbathing spots. A long stretch of soft golden beach is also dotted with loungers and elegant cabanas.
The Anantara Spa is renowned across the world, and Anantara Mina Al Arab’s is a work in progress – with a soon-to-be-launched yoga pavilion and treatment rooms. Our massage with Cherry left us feeling woozy – in the right way – hitting every pressure point and relieving all tension. A fitness centre upstairs overlooks the ocean with brand-new equipment.
Wow factor and verdict
The overwater villas are fantastic – for someone who’s visited Anantara Maldives, I truly believed I was back in these idyllic waters. That being said, the main draw is the beautiful protected mangroves, which instil a wonderful sense of calm. While overwater villas are quite pricy, they really are a unique offering and come with a complimentary 60-minute massage for all guests as an added perk. It’s hard to imagine this resort is just an hour’s drive from Dubai and poses as the perfect escape for a long weekend and even long dedicated breaks – as there’s so much to do.