From the kitchen in villa 1521 at The Cove Rotana a friendly voice invited us to take a seat outside before the food arrived.
If Dubai is the precocious nephew to Abu Dhabi’s wise uncle, then Ras Al Khaimah is a canny, but understated, cousin from up the road who craves more of the limelight.
While RAK may not be getting the same amount of press, the northern emirate is gradually kitting itself out with the necessary attributes to grab a larger slice of the modern tourism pie.
The Cove Rotana is ahead of the pack in that it is well established among UAE nationals and expats alike.
Around 90 minutes from Dubai International Airport, the resort comprises a hotel and villas on a lush hillside overlooking a village-style setting of luxury villas, set in clusters around an inland lake and each connected via arched stone bridges.
Turn a corner at dusk and The Cove Rotana could be a coastal village in the Mediterranean. The service and the setting, however, are very much five star – and the sunshine UAE reliable.
Cobbled paths and narrow roads weave down the hillside and through the resort, with electric-powered golf buggies to assist when your feet also want a vacation.
A handful of small wooden bridges lead guests across the lake to The Cove’s private beach, a long strip of golden sand punctuated by a laidback bar that serves drinks and food and on a Friday night turns into one of the city’s places to be.
Complete with a restored dhow fishing boat that sports comfortable seating, it’s a great spot from which to look out onto the clear waters of the Gulf, or watch a fattened orange sun sink into the horizon.
A low sea wall separates this pampered section of sand from the natural bay’s untamed crescent of beach where the tide lends good waves for water sports available at the far end of the resort.
The resort’s bar and restaurants don’t do badly for vista either. Cinnamon is set further into the hill and is The Cove Rotana’s all-day dining option with a strong family vibe, while the more sedate Basilica enhances the Mediterranean feel with an upscale menu coloured by Italy. A generous, vibrant terrace is a great area from which to take in the twinkling lights of the villas below.
Off the main reception area you will find two more bars with the option to sit outside and puff shisha or simply grab a nightcap, as well as food should you wish to keep it casual.
If you want to go the other way, there is the option of in-villa dining or having dinner served in a gazebo on the beach. If you are planning the latter, be sure to make the reservation when you book your stay due to the increasing demand of romantic couples
They too seem to soak up the special vibe of a place that more than deserves its reputation among UAE residents who have long had the retreat in their sights for weekend getaways.
Overseas visitors may not be able to simply dash up the road, but frequent flights into Dubai with the airport sited the right side of the city to give swift access to RAK, The Cove Rotana is a place that can easily form part of your UAE holiday plans.
And should mere views, tranquility and the sound of exotic birds seeking supper not extract the stress from your being, the spa offers a variety of treatments to bring the blood pressure down, including a mix of massages.
There’s also the option to take a couple’s massage in one of two gazebos down on the beach.
Be careful though…with the hushed sound of the waves in your ears and warm breeze on your skin as clever hands ease tension out of your body, you really won’t want to head back home.
FOR prices and booking visit www.rotana.com.
TO see more of RAK, go to www.rasalkhaimahtourism.com