Having enjoyed other Ritz Carlton hotels, we went here for a one week sun break around Easter. It is very impressive indeed at all levels, particularly for a newly opened hotel (it had been open for only 3 weeks when we arrived). The service everywhere was astonishingly good. The Ritz C clearly don't do opening glitches. The service may no doubt slacken off somewhat when the hotel begins to fill up, but is of such a high level, this may not be discernible.
We were upgraded to a two bedroom villa over looking the canal and the accommodation was sumptuous. Each room has its own bathroom with bath tub, separate shower and wc. There are 36inch flat screen tvs in each bedroom and in the sitting room. There is also a separate kitchen area with sink, fridge and microwave. The only quibble was that the (spacious) terrace had no shade.
The buffet breakfast was very good (or as good as you're going to get without any bacon or sausages to go with your eggs!). Only two a la carte restaurants are open at present in the evening, but more are planned. Mijana (Middle eastern), was servicable, no more, but Li Jiang (Asian) was incredibly good, quite a revelation.They tend to be busy, so book before you arrive if you are only planning a short stay. Oddly, given the climate, there is nowhere simply to sit outside and enjoy a drink -the only bar is inside, somewhat tucked away. I understand this will be rectified when the spa building opens, which has a canal front location, with more bars and restaurants.
Food prices, as you might expect, are not restrained, but comparable with outside restaurants. The price of wine is exorbitant in Abu Dhabi generally (think top end London prices, easily doubled and some). Look at it as a holiday for your liver as well.
Only two restaurants being open was not a problem as outside the hotel there are an abundance of good restaurants. A short distance away, the Shangri La (and the adjoining hotel "souk") on the other side of the grand canal houses Ushna (indian) - outstanding - and Hoi An (Vietnamese) - very good. And cab prices in Abu Dhabi are unbelievably cheap and the roads are free from congestion (unlike Dubai) so distance is no object.
The hotel have gone for just one pool, rather than set pools amongst the villas (there are no plunge pools in the villas should you expect that sort of gimmick). But what a pool - 57 metres long and quite beautiful. There were tons of sunbeds available at all times, but this could change as the hotel fills up, but perhaps not due to the large business clientele.Complimentary water is provided along with the other stuff one expects -cold towels, fruit kebabs etc.
It is around the pool though that we found the one note that jarred (hence the title of the review). For some unaccountable reason, muzak is played around the pool (of the "chiill-out" variety I guess). Why an august chain like the RItz C should do this in a top end 5 star hotel is a mystery. Certainly from the Europe perspective, it comes across as tacky and the sort of thing one might well find in a 3 star hotel on the Costa Brava. Happily, such is the faultlessness of the service, the pool staff were happy to turn it down to a minimal setting or off altogether.But seriously guys, ditch it - we don't want to see the embarrassing spectacle of the venerable Ritz C trying to "get down with the kids".
The only other off-note was that the wi-fi room charge cost more per 24 hrs than I pay in a month in the UK. There is, however, a very good business centre with complimentary internet access.
In short, a fabulous place which certainly has the wow factor (in spades). Go before it gets to 50C in the summer!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Retreat to premier luxury at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal. Our 5-star hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates is set against the backdrop of the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Stay with us an enjoy our stately architecture evoking the Italian Renaissance and our tranquil waterfront location. ... more less
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