I’m not easily surprised, but the Ritz-Carlton managed to do just that. There is something about this resort, covering an area of 80 acres lush in vegetation – with a small flock of flamingos to boot – and hugging the most beautiful coastline in Bahrain, which made me feel right at home, while at the same time transported me straight to Thailand, or was it the Caribbean? And for a short hour even to London.
The hotel may not be the newest kid on the block, but it is constantly revamping, and the staff sure knows how to give their guests exactly what they need. Parents can enjoy some quiet time while their kids have a blast at the kids’ pool or the Ritz Kids, a club offering a rich program of cultural, environmental, and sports activities. Not to mention the fact the resort boasts 23 private villas for six guests, with three bedrooms and four bathrooms, a personal butler, a rather large plunge pool, and a private shoreline for the kids to explore.
And if you’re here for a romantic getaway, well, the sky is the limit. You can take a boat trip to the exotic reef island of Jarada, and enjoy a fabulous picnic with a basket of yummy foodstuff from the chef’s kitchen; pre-order a romantic breakfast on the private island opposite the lagoon; enjoy a couple’s treatment at the excellent spa complex; get a couple’s cabana by the adults-only infinity pool, and choose your setting for a romantic dinner from a variety of great restaurants.
By the way, the hotel is quite busy on the weekends, so if you need some peace and quiet, I would highly recommend a mid-week stay or booking a private villa.
The rooms at the Ritz-Carlton are spacious and well equipped, and our Club Level room was particularly cozy, with a small walk-in closet, a dining table and a Nespresso machine, a large bathroom with both a bath and rain shower (and a small mirror TV), a dream bed that practically engulfed us in luxury sheets, and even a small seating area. The attention to detail was also evident in the turn-down service, and in general, it must be said that the level of service at the hotel was as close as it gets to perfection.
I should also mention that the Club Level rooms on the 6th and 7th floors will grant you a separate check-in, a dedicated concierge, and access to the Club Lounge, where you can enjoy a smaller breakfast buffet, and a light lunch or an evening drink.
The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain boasts 14 restaurants and lounges, but even though we gave it our best, it was hard to try them all in just four days. We had a wonderful buffet breakfast in the Mediterranean setting of La Med; Italian food with modern touches at the excellent Primavera restaurant; and some tacos, nachos, and margaritas at the Mexican Cantina Kahlo. For a truly memorable experience, don’t miss out on high tea (or at the very least the perfect cheesecake) at the Ritz Gourmet Lounge.
The Indian Nirvana, the Plums steakhouse, and the fun Thai Lounge by the adults-only pool we’ll have to sample next time, but another culinary experience awaits you at the pop-up restaurant that opens on the beach every few months. Until the end of June, you can book a table at the Riviera pop-up, a great fusion restaurant designed as a luxury beach club. And if you book your room in the winter, you’ll get to enjoy a fondue meal next to the blazing fire, against the backdrop of Christmas decorations.
By the way, if you want to book half board, call the hotel before booking online. And if you eat kosher, you’ll be glad to know that the hotel also has a separate kosher kitchen.
The Royal Beach Club
No stay at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain will be complete without some R&R at the famous wellness complex, the Royal Beach Club. There is a Turkish Hammam with a beautiful light-punctured dome rising above it, a warm and mineral-rich thalassotherapy pool, as well as a large indoor pool, a huge and well-equipped gym (plus a women-only gym), and even an air-conditioned squash court.
But this is just the prelude to a large and beautiful spa area rich in treatments, from peeling and massages to mud wraps. And if you are brave enough, like me, you are welcome to try Cryo Bahrain, a sophisticated cryotherapy facility at the entrance to the club complex, where I spent three minutes in a small freezing chamber cooled down to -166 degrees Fahrenheit (-110 degrees Celsius)!
The treatment is designed to enhance weight loss, improve sleep, strengthen the immune system and relieve stress and anxiety, but it is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Best season to visit
At the end of May, the weather in Bahrain was indeed hot but still quite bearable, so if you’re quick, you may enjoy comfortable weather in June as well. If sweltering heat is your thing, you can take advantage of the relatively low prices in July-August, otherwise, it is best to make a booking from October onwards. November and December are also quite perfect, as the weather is a bit cooler yet the hotel pools are heated. For bookings till the end of December, there’s a 15% discount on a two-night stay or more, and the second room for half price for children up to 16.
For more info and reservations, visit the hotel website.
Coming soon is an article on Manama and the many things to see and do there, as contrary to popular belief, Bahrain is far from sleepy. Stay tuned.
The author was a guest of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Bahrain, Gulf Air, the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), and Best of Bahrain.