Andy Mossack enjoys the all-inclusive lifestyle at Rixos Bab Al Bhar on Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah.
I first discovered Rixos, a luxury Turkish hotel brand, on a trip to Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi in 2020 and honestly, I was almost lost for words. I’ve always been somewhat cynical about how the ‘all-inclusive’ label is so consistently misrepresented by hotels. With some it means you get table wine and soft drinks but only at mealtimes, with others there’s a plan but it doesn’t include certain drinks or menu items. In other words, there are always conditions and guests end up paying a ton of extras they hadn’t expected.
Rixos restored my faith in the all-inclusive plan by proving to me it can be done with almost no strings attached and, with style and panache. It’s a well-oiled model that cut its teeth in Turkey, the home of all-inclusive, and, following its first opening in the UAE, shook up the hotel landscape there to its core, forcing many resorts to try to follow suit.
So, with happy memories of Abu Dhabi still fresh in my mind, I was looking forward to experiencing some more Rixos magic at Rixos Bab Al Bahr on Marjan Island, the tourist heartbeat of Ras Al Khaimah.
Taking up 500 metres of Marjan’s prime beachfront, it’s a huge property with three Inca-style pyramids providing the 715 guestrooms and suites, 13 restaurants and bars and 8 swimming pools. These though, are just the headline names. They are supported by a whole cast of characters that include spa and wellness, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, a kids club, a teens club, basketball, tennis, an aqua park, private beach access with sun beds and umbrellas, daily activities, and a troupe of Cirque du Soleil-esque performers who stage nightly extravaganzas.
It’s probably the closest thing you’ll ever find to cruising on land.
But here’s the thing. Even though it’s a vast property and the numbers are staggering, the levels of service and quality are quite extraordinary. This is where the Rixos Bab Al Bhar magic kicks in because somehow, everything fits together seamlessly.
My personal space was one of the recently refurbished Interconnecting Family Suites, perfect for families with children. Two very spacious ensuite bedrooms with separate doors – one a king the other a twin – connected by a common entry hall. It had an enormous terrace with a third-floor view across the gardens to the waters of the Arabian Gulf. Inside I had two flat screen TVs, tea and coffee making stations, fridges and rain forest showers in each bathroom. It was the very definition of luxury living.
Back down in the resort, The Seven Heights Restaurant is the main buffet space which is essentially a five-star theatre of gastronomy. The number of choices on display at each meal service was nothing short of astonishing, from fresh seafood to a sea of salads of every description. One particular lunchtime, I remember a giant paella dish festooned with mussels, langoustine, and lobster, while at another station two chefs were cooking fillet steaks.
Each day I found myself kicking off with a chopped salad prepared in front of my eyes by a chef surrounded by produce who patiently waited while I pointed to each ingredient I wanted. This guy could skin and stone an avocado in less than five seconds. Mesmerising.
As if there wasn’t enough choice, there were also themed nights where the red carpet came out for specific cuisines. Indian specialities one night, seafood another. I was there just after Ramadan and the Eid celebratory dinner was quite something. Whilst Seven Heights serves up an endless supply of top-quality food, I liked the way reminders were posted on screens about how much food is wasted each day measured by the leftovers on plates.
It always amazes me, how people always stack plates full of food at an all you can eat buffet. Why bother when you can return as many times as you like. Hey ho.
There are also six a la carte restaurants grouped together in a village square setting, and all included in your stay. The only stipulation is you need to make a reservation each day for lunch or dinner. Aja serves food from Asia and the far east, with Thai, Japanese, Indonesian and Indian influences.
Fishbone specialises in fresh seasonal fruits of the sea, L’Oliva is an authentic Italian pizzeria, and Lalezar offers a combination of Turkish and Lebanese cuisine. MeatPoint is for South American barbecue grills, and Toast n Burger does what it says on the tin, staying open all night, presumably for those who prefer to sleep in the sun or for guests who arrive in the small hours. I have to admit I had some fun getting them to compete with each other in my own mini–Champions League competition.
Could the Italians outcook the Turks or will the Fishbone fishermen grab top spot over the Brazilian grillers. It kept them on their toes anyway!
There are plenty of bars and lounges to keep you hydrated, from rustic beach and pool bars to late night cocktails, and of course, Aisha the fancy 24-hour lobby lounge.
Showtime was the big event each evening, an impressive display of themed choreography, acrobatics, lighting, and special effects in the outdoor theatre, always followed by a live band down on the beach stage.
Rixos Bab Al Bahr in Ras Al Khaimah is aimed squarely at families with children, although there is an adults-only swimming pool and a seating section in Seven Heights reserved just for adults.
So, my latest Rixos experience was another triumph. The all-inclusive plan here was just as fabulous as I remembered, and the list of bottomless branded beverages equally impressive. The free daily activities catered for all ages, so whether it’s five a side football, beach volleyball, water aerobics, Yoga workouts, paddleboarding or cookery courses, there will be something that appeals.
Rixos Bab Al Bhar sets a very high bar for delivering a memorable all-inclusive stay. With the levels of service, the quality of the food and beverages and the number of things to do at Bab Al Bahr, I’ll be surprised if you even bother to leave the resort.
Tell me more about Rixos Bab Al Bahr, Ras Al Khaimah
Rixos Bab Al Bahr, Al Marjan Island, P.O. Box 14744, Ras Al Khaimah, U.A.E.
T: +971 7 244 4400 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more details about what to do and see in RAK please visit Official Tourist Information