It's more than a month ago that I got the chance to review The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, before the festive season descended upon us here in Dubai. That time has done nothing to change the fact that I cannot wait to go back.
After a short one-hour Gulf Air flight from Dubai to Bahrain, I had a tiny bit of trouble going through immigration. At the exit, I looked for anyone who looked remotely interested in me - when I saw my name on a card with the cardholder tentatively smiling at me. Soon after, the sleek sedan and its plush interiors had me forgetting the minor irritation from waiting around at the airport. As I got to talking to my driver, he said the Ritz organises pick-up for all travellers in a similar manner so that the guest arrives on time and without any hassles in a new country.
As we pulled in to the elaborately decorated driveway, the mood is festive and the weather chilly. I have a concierge, the lovely Olga, waiting for me by the door. My suitcase is thankfully whisked away, but I am yet to have lunch.
Met by my gracious hostess, I am led to have lunch at The Ritz Gourmet Lounge located conveniently close to the entrance. A fresh salad and delicious main course later, I am at my pre-flight energy levels. Sitting by the wall to floor windows, the view is beautiful as well and during my visit, a mammoth golden Christmas tree dominates part of the scenery. This is when I realise how big the property actually is, stretching across to a man-made island and then opening out to the sea.
"Shall we go to your room?" never sounded sweeter to me, after the hectic day and that insane lunch. I was assigned a Club Suite - guests on the Club floor get complimentary access to the Club Lounge and a private check-in and check-out desk. The room has an entire closet area complete with a mirror and safe.
A sliding door from my bedroom leads to a lavish bathroom, with a tub and separate shower. The room also has a work area with a cable internet connection, a desk and two chairs. There is also a lounge sofa in case you have guests over and shuttered full length windows giving me a nice view of the property and the beach.
Denny, a cheerful and exuberant Malayali, shows me the technical facilities I have - like blocking all light from my beautiful windows if I choose to sleep in. Personally, I can't wait to get in the comfy bed and nap.
I had nothing else scheduled for the day - so I ordered in some burger sliders and cappucino. The menu has a wide selection of desserts as well. I settled for kiwi icecream and a brownie. It was as mouthwatering as it sounds. The mini bar is also well stocked with goodies and beverages.
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Breakfast was at the Club Lounge - a spread of continental dishes and a live counter for eggs and pancakes. A made-to-order omelette, pancakes and one reviving cappucino later, I feel ready for the rest of my day. This breakfast spread and refreshments throughout the day are complimentary to anyone who stays on the Club floor.
Tour of Bahrain
The hotel organises tours for its guests depending on how much time they have and what the focus of their visit is. I was open to pretty much anything in under 5 hours and Farhat Tours and their tour guide took me to several places in Manama and Muharraq. That, like the elders say, is a story for another day or you can read it here.
Famished, tired and a bit flustered from all the running around, I dump my things in the room and hurry to my lunch reservation at Primavera. On my way downstairs, a guest overhears me saying Primavera on the phone and he tells me "That place is the best restaurant in here". He wasn't wrong.
The USP of restaurants at The Ritz-Carlton is their people and the relation of their staff to each restaurant. Primavera, serves Italian food and is completely staffed by Italians. I ended up ordering gnocchi and steak. If you ask for it, they will also pair a choice of grape with each course and I strongly recommend you do.
The Ritz-Carlton features 23 private villas, each with its own private pool, private beach access and all other facilities. The venue also has a man-made lagoon, which guests can swim across to get to sunbeds placed along the shore. While the weather is chilly, many prefer the temperature controlled pools inside the hotel or the sea water jacuzzi in the ladies spa area. The tour took us a good half an hour which should give you a fair idea as to how vast the property is. A tip for brides-to-be, the Ritz regualrly hosts weddings and receptions, even doing special packages to make your planning easier. The best part of the tour were the flamingos, unofficial ambassadors of the Ritz hospitality.
I am a bit skeptic, in general, about spa treatments - only because I think everything makes my sensitive skin flare up. But I allow myself to be in the very capable hands of my skin therapist. A series of comforting warm towels later, she analyses my skin for problems like dry skin and sun damage. It is only then that she starts working her magic. After a personalised treatment, head and shoulder massage, followed by ginger tea, I walk out of the spa feeling like a new person.
I had mentioned to my hostess my love for Indian food and dinner was served at Nirvana, their Indian outlet. Staffed entirely by Indians, it is hard to not feel at home here. Though I wasn't hungry (lunch seemed only an hour ago),when crisp fresh naans, fragrant curries and rice made their appearance, I tried it all. I ended with a bite of a kulfi dessert.
The last day of my visit - I can't help but keep repeating to my folks back home that I would come back again with them. After breakfast at the Club Lounge, I say a fond farewell to Denny, Carol, Ghizlane and everyone else who made my stay so much fun. As I am driven to the airport, the driver tells me how this is the most traffic any road in Bahrain has - and I see just four cars on our lane. I can't really say I want to go back to Dubai just yet.
Location Manama, Bahrain Flight time from Dubai One hour Rooms Over 260 Private Villas Over 20 Restaurants 10 Facilities Gym, Spa, Indoor courts for squash, Seawater jacuzzi, temperature controlled indoor pools, beach access, beach club and more Cost of stay Dh1,450 onwards per night
Perfect for couples, families and groups, staying at the Ritz Carlton does not come cheap but is totally worth it.