FACT’s Homara Choudhary headed to Bahrain for a surprisingly exotic break.
Right in the heart of the glittering Arabian Gulf, set in 20 acres of lush gardens and soft golden sandy beaches and only 3km from the city, lies a beautiful oasis of tranquillity. Renowned globally for its luxurious hospitality, The RitzCarlton, Bahrain offers a majestic taste of paradise.
Now that diplomatic ties have been restored and the borders are open, I was able to take a short business trip to the Kingdom from Qatar. It was going to be my first visit to the island and I was curious and excited to visit the hotel dubbed the ‘most elegant destination in Bahrain’.
Perched on the north coast, along an exclusive bay in Seef District, The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain boasts its own private beach, a magnificent lagoon and an idyllic private island, home to 23 bespoke seafront villas, each with three bedrooms, outdoor, indoor and an infinity pool. There’s private beach access and a 24-hour butler service. So, it’s no surprise that this is a popular choice amongst A-list celebrities, diplomats and royalty from around the world.
For the health-conscious there are also two gyms, a tennis court, an indoor squash court and an award-winning spa. The exquisite resort is the only hotel in the country to have its own kosher kitchen. And, if that wasn’t enough, after breakfast nature lovers can also feed the stunning flamingos that live on the property!
As I made my way through the revolving doors, I was personally greeted by the Assistant Manager Victor Grafilo, who had waited for me, despite his shift ending some hours ago. The lobby was breathtaking. Classical Greek columns perfectly framed the stunning black and white marble flooring. Artfully arranged flowers provided a delicate counterpoint to the grandeur of the space, creating a sumptuous first impression.
I was shown to the ‘Club room’, where I was staying for the week. The rooms and suites on the Club floor are located on the sixth and seventh floors and were designed by the French architect Pierre-Yves Rochen.
As I walked into my room I was greeted by a ‘Welcome to Bahrain’ banner, a beautiful bouquet of flowers, an exotic fruit basket, a tray with fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate, a selection of dates, baklava and the infamous Ritz-Carlton cheesecake. There were even balloons! To my pleasant surprise there was also a hand-written welcome note from the General Manager Bernard de Villele, who joined The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain in 2018. He’s been described as a ‘fervent leader and visionary’. I could see why. This five-star luxury resort was in a league of its own. My room was exactly what I needed for a business trip. It had a generous lounge area with a giant flat screen TV, a sleek walk-in wardrobe with enough closet space for the week, a king-size bed, and an oversized executive desk with an arresting view of the turquoise Gulf waters. The standout feature of the room for me was the enormous bathroom. It had a spacious ‘open concept’ and was fitted with a generous deep bathtub, a separate shower area, and an LED TV embedded into the glass mirror. It was the perfect blend of contemporary design and comfortable elegance.
After a deep and restful sleep, I was ready for breakfast. Visitors staying in a Club room, have exclusive lounge access where you can enjoy your meals facing out onto a magnificent panorama of the Gulf. I was ravenous and there was every kind of breakfast item you could possibly imagine. A live cooking station made it almost impossible to decide. My lovely server, Sameer, helped by recommending a vegetable omelette. Served with all the trimmings, the omelette was light and fluffy, my hashbrowns crispy yet tender. It was exactly what I needed to set me up for the day. The hotel caters to every palate with 14 dining establishments and lounges, including the world famous La Table Krug by Y, which only opens its doors for exclusive clientele. I decided to try Plums. A sophisticated contemporary steakhouse which only served premium cuts of meat and specialised in exceptional seafood. The Plums dining experience begins as soon as you walk in. With its unique, modern, stylish décor and seductive lighting, it’s the perfect venue for a romantic meal or a small private dinner.
Our server Ali suggested we begin with the Foie Gras. Imported from France it was served with a light raspberry sauce and celery root puree. The texture was firm yet delicate and it had a rich buttery flavour. The steak tartare was next, a must-try for meat lovers. The Chef de Cuisine, Kaustubh Chavan, informed us that it had been made with hand-churned mustard. It was simply luxurious. I was keen to try some seafood and decided on the pan-seared scallops. They were drizzled with an onion and lemon sauce, lightly garnished with garlic flakes. With a soft texture and delicate, yet sweet taste, they were absolutely sublime.
For my main course I plumped for the prime 220-gram Black Angus Tenderloin centre-cut steak, imported from the United States. It had been marinaded in a unique blend of spices, including rosemary and paprika and was cooked to perfection. There was a variety of sides to choose from, including mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and steamed vegetables.
No meal is complete without dessert, I opted for the American cheesecake with Irish cream liqueur ice cream. It was deliciously light, with a rich velvety texture and had the perfect combination of creaminess and crunch.
I couldn’t leave without trying the award-winning luxury spa. I was ready to be pampered like royalty before heading back to Qatar. After being offered a cool pomegranate drink infused with honey I was shown to the spacious and beautifully decorated changing room, uniquely made predominantly of wood.
My therapist Yanie began my relaxing body massage with hot towels to clean my aching feet. After a full body analysis, she conducted a sensory test to determine which essential oils would be best for my treatment. We chose lavender for its healing and relaxing properties. Using medium pressure, she focussed on my neck and shoulders. I could feel the tension slowly melt away as she gently massaged the tight knots along my back and my pressure points. I immediately felt tranquil and restored.
For my custom ESPA facial, a gentle cleansing milk was applied before a balancing toner to restore the PH levels of my skin. Once my face was squeaky clean, a refining skin polish was used to remove any dead cells. Now that my face was cleansed and buffed, it was ready to be steamed. A brief manual extraction was followed with an invigorating face massage. Once she had determined my skin type, Yanie opted for the ‘lift and firm’ clay mask. I didn’t object, gravity isn’t everyone’s friend! After applying a lifting serum and eye cream, my face was hydrated with a replenishing moisturiser. After my two-hour treatment I felt brand new. A perfect way to end what had been a magical week.
The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain is the epitome of splendour and sophistication, whether you’re travelling for business or leisure. It truly is a ‘Pearl in the Arabian Gulf’ and its exceptionally talented staff were both attentive and thoughtful throughout my trip. This isn’t just a luxurious five-star international resort, it’s a five-star international experience. ✤