The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal is the newest hotel situated between the bridges in Abu Dhabi. Opened in April 2013, the luxurious property is the first Ritz Carlton to open in the emirate. The 447-room hotel is located directly opposite Abu Dhabi’s serene Grand Mosque. The property has been inspired by the 15th to early 17th century Renaissance architecture and the city of Venice property offering spectacular views of the Grand Mosque on one side and the Grand Canal on the other.
First Impressions – There is nothing like a grand welcome, and at the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal guests are welcomed by the stunning views of the Grand Mosque in all its glory as soon as you step out from the car. Guests can avail of an airport pick-up in the hotel’s Audi A6 at an added cost of Dh250 ($68). The hotel’s grand three-story lobby is reminiscent of a Baroque Palace with design elements from the mosque used as mosaic tile patterns on the lobby floor. These designs are replicated in other public areas as well.
After the warm welcome from the welcome ambassadors, we were escorted to the club level for check-in.
Rooms – Our stay at the hotel was at the fifth-floor executive club suite (Dh3,000, $850 a night), which combined the best of comfort and exclusivity with their attention to detail and personalized service. The spacious (85 sq m) suite had a huge balcony that could be accessed from the living area and the bedroom; it offered spectacular views of the infinity pool and the canal. The rooms are also equipped with 52-inch LCD TV in the living area, a 42-inch LCD TV in the bedroom, a separate study area, in-room Nespresso machines, and a Tivoli iPod dock and radio bedroom.
The luxurious bathroom offered Asprey & Ritz-Carlton branded bath products, a separate rain shower, and soaker tub, and some glorious plush, terry bathrobes and slippers. We were greeted with a complimentary fruit plate and some colorful Macaroons on arrival. We were also tucked into our plush 400-thread count Egyptian cotton bed sheets were some milk chocolates every night. Wi-fi access can be availed at a nominal charge of Dh100 per day.
Besides its luxurious amenities, the rooms bore a stunning resemblance to the Grand Mosque in the motifs used on the doors and the floors. A generous amount of wood is used in the rooms, and it is Ebony Macassar, a rare and expensive hardwood from South America.
The property also offers Venetian –themed suites, executive suites, and two-bedroom suites, as well as 85 private villas. The one and two-bedroom villas are a key highlight of The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, with their spacious outdoor terraces, elegant African teak timber pergolas, and unobstructed views of the Grand Mosque.
Club Level – As guests at the Club Level, we had access to the Ritz-Carlton Club Level Lounge, where check-in too was done, offering panoramic views of the Canal, culinary offerings throughout the day (breakfast, light snacks, hors d’ oeuvres and beverages), Wi-Fi internet access and access to a lounge that is also the perfect place to conduct a meeting or unwind.
The staff at the Club Level went out of the way to make our stay comfortable. Lauren and Erit (pictured above) took special care to make sure we were looked after at breakfast or to make reservations for Kayaking at the Eastern Mangroves. The chef and the concierge team ensured a variety in our specially-catered vegetarian menu, including stir-fried vegetables and delicious Parathas (Indian bread). For dessert, it was the quintessential and terribly hard-to-resist chocolate fountain, not that we were complaining.
Leisure – The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal’s pool is one of the largest hotel pools in the UAE. The pool floor takes on a stunning design, a pattern inspired by a print seen on fabric in Italy. Post sunset, the pool is beautifully lit up with color-changing LEDs that transition from red to blue and a host of colors, making your evening dip a unique experience. The Pool bar serves up several signature cocktails and mocktails and smart Bento boxes for a quick bite. We highly recommend the ‘Acqua Allettante,’ a refreshing Vodka and gin mixed cocktail with Blue Curaçao and Sprite.
While the concierge can also arrange for sightseeing and private tours, your stay at the hotel wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Grand Mosque, 2.5 km from the hotel. Local Emirati guides conduct free tours of the Grand Mosque, with the last one being at 7.30 pm – allowing for a lovely evening stroll, weather permitting. For fitness buffs, there is a paved jogging track all the way around the hotel.
Kids and their comfort is a very aspect for Ritz-Carlton. The Ritz Kids arrive at the property and receive a V.I.K (Very Important Kid) passport upon check-in containing instructions and clues for one of two exciting adventures: a Treasure Hunt for children aged 4-7 and a Culture Quest for children aged 8-12. With activities from 10 am to 5 pm, parents have nothing to worry about seven days a week as their kids can mingle with others their age. Lunch and dinner are also served at the Ritz Kids Club, which offers a healthy, nutritious, and fun menu. Reservations are required for all-day activities as space may be limited.
A 22,500 sq ft Espa Spa including a steam room, a hammam, hair and beauty salon, and 15 treatment rooms offering treatments including massages and facials is currently under construction at the Hotel. The Spa is expected to open doors by the end of the year, along with three new restaurants.
Dining – There is no shortage of dining choices at the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal. The signature steak house, The Forge, takes its name from the intricate process of forging or shaping a high-quality steak knife blade. It serves its specialty cuisine in a stylish and contemporary setting paired with the world’s finest wines. Private dining rooms and a variety of seating options are available for guests.
Li Jiang is a modern, Southeast Asian restaurant with an open kitchen serving authentic Oriental cuisine. Meaning “beautiful river” in Chinese, Li Jiang is a wonderful reflection of the resort’s location on the Grand Canal.
Contemporary Arabic Mijana serves the very best in Lebanese cooking. The restaurant offers live entertainment, an Arabic oud player, and shisha on their outdoor terrace until 2 am daily.
The resort’s Al Fresco outdoor dining overlooks the pool, while Dolce, the Italian-inspired café, is the ideal place for some fine coffee, espresso, or homemade ice cream.
We dined at Giornotte, the all-day dining restaurant set in what looks like a classic Italian villa serving light Mediterranean cuisine. The Giornotte also offers a lavish breakfast spread serving everything from fresh rolls, cold cuts, cereals, eggs prepared to one’s choice, freshly whipped pancakes, and Belgian waffles, as well as some Arabic choices of Ful Medames, Grilled Haloumi, and Shakshuka.
The hotel also features a traditional Ritz-Carlton bar – the Sorso serving a great selection of drinks and bite-sized meals. Sorso, which means sip in Italian, is the way you should enjoy your evening drink.
Alba, the resort’s lobby lounge with its vaulted ceiling and semi-private dining areas, is the place to try the traditional Ritz-Carlton Afternoon Tea. You can enjoy a drink or have a light bite in the evenings while an Opera singer serenades the guests from 7 to 7.40 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
The resort’s Al Fresco outdoor dining overlooks the pool. At the same time, Dolce, the Italian-inspired café, is renowned for its homemade gelato, and also on the menu are some fresh coffees and ice cream.
Meetings – The property offers some stunning views given its proximity to the Grand Mosque and the Grand Canal, making it an ideal destination for large or intimate weddings. The striking Roma Ballroom can accommodate up to 900 guests. The Ballroom is the epitome of elegance and an ideal fit for any grand wedding with a dramatic fountain at the entrance, spacious foyers, exquisite chandeliers, sumptuously upholstered walls, and stunning lighting. There is also the intimate Olive Garden, which provides a beautiful alfresco venue for smaller cocktail receptions. The Grand Canal Beach overlooking the canal and the Pool Gardens can accommodate up to 1,000 guests.
To Splurge – The signature Royal Suite is located on the top floor of the property, occupying 250 sq m of the entire floor. Italian-inspired wood inlays and semi-precious stones used in the Royal Suite flooring and counter tops epitomize its understated luxury.
At Dh25,000 ($6,800) per night, the suite overlooks the canal and offers two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchenette. Its expansive bathrooms come with a separate rain shower, a soaker tub, and a color therapy shower.
Did you know – The Ritz-Carton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is the third largest Ritz-Carlton in the world and is home to 24, 125-year old Olive trees imported from Spain. The tree near the pool restaurant is nearly two centuries old (180 years to be precise).
Although the property faces the Grand Mosque, only select rooms face the picturesque mosque; this is done to respect the local traditions and customs (alcohol is banned in Islam).
The address – The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, PO Box 91888, Khor Al Maqta’a, Abu Dhabi
Phone – (971)(2)8188888
Web – The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
Grand canal view from the balcony