What is cradled by the crimson Hajar Mountains and vast expanses of red sandy desert, the verdant grassy plains of a championship golf course and the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf? Why its the Waldorf-Astoria Ras Al Khaimah! Our extraordinary destination getaway during a Middle East winter, and one the husband and I will never, ever forget visiting.
Inspired by the palaces of the Arabian Peninsula, Waldorf-Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is located only 50 minutes from Dubai International Airport, and a cab ride of only 200 dirham (which amounts to $60. Bargain!). Erroll and I were unaware that the beloved and coveted hotel brand had opened right here in the UAE, and the instant we did, I was on the phone to make last minute reservations. It was time to get out of Dubai; time to explore the natural beauty of this smaller Emirate, Ras al-Khaimah. For here lay in wait our home for 3 days: suite 624 at the Waldorf-Astoria.
This exquisite hotel has a remarkable history: back on the 13th March 1893, millionaire William Waldorf Astor opened the 3 story Waldorf Hotel on the site of his mansion on the corner of 5th Avenue and 33rd. Renowned architect Henry Hardenberg was charged with creating the vision that was William Astor’s of a beautiful lodgings.
Four years later, on 1st November 1897 The Waldorf was joined by the 17-story Astoria Hotel, erected on an adjacent site by Waldorf’s cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, who then died on the Titanic on the 5th April 1912. Later, William Waldorf died in England in 1919 where he’d relocated in 1893.
This very first Waldorf Astoria closed down in 1929 and it was here on this site that the Empire State Building was erected.
The second Waldorf-Astoria opened in its current location on Park Avenue on 1st October 1931 as the tallest and largest hotel in the world. Even then US President Herbert Hoover, in a radio broadcast from the White House saluted the new hotel! It was the founder of Hilton Hotels, Conrad Hilton, who acquired the brand and expanded it to various beautiful locations around the globe, one of which is right here in the Middle East.
Well the Hartleys salute you too, Waldorf-Astoria. Never before have we experienced such service, such plush and comfortable surroundings, a property magnificently bathed in natural light, and one we neither of us wished to depart from. Oh and did I tell you about our suite’s walk-in wardrobe? Every girl’s dream…