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Project Overview

Set right at the heart of Ras Al Khaimah, Banyan Tree Al Wadi Resort will be a one-of-a-kind project based on the relatively new ‘desert resort’ concept. The resort will be located within Wadi Khadeja, situated 20 kilometres outside of the city centre. Featuring 30 deluxe villas, 70-block hotel, restaurants, conference halls, camel and horse station, falcon centre and two watch towers, Banyan Tree Al Wadi Resort is perceived as a perfect antidote to the stress of city living. The property will also house two royal spas, deluxe spa, gym, yoga/meditation centre and a hydrotherapy centre.

MONACO _ Côte d'Azur
16,650 Posts
Desert bound

by Selina Denman on Mar 9, 2010

The new Banyan Tree Al Wadi in Ras Al Khaimah blends seamlessly into its desert setting

When it came to selecting a location for their first ever resort, the founders of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts settled on a 600-acre site in Phuket, Thailand – vast swathes of picturesque coastal land punctuated by lagoons of the most intense cobalt blue. It soon transpired, however, that the intensity of the blue had little to do with the marvels of Mother Nature and was, in fact, the result of extensive pollution from the site’s previous tenant, a tin mine.

Rather than walking away, the founders dedicated themselves to cleansing the acid-laden soil and planted more than 7,000 trees, painstakingly transforming an ecological wasteland into the environmentally-sensitive site of the first ever Banyan Tree resort.

This was a founding block of the Banyan Tree ethos. “Banyan Tree is about the romance of travel and giving people a ‘sense of place’,” explained David Barclay, assistant vice president of design, Architrave Design and Planning, the design arm of the Banyan Tree Group. “Through the design and architecture of our resorts, we promote the uniqueness of indigenous cultures.

“Each Banyan Tree resort is designed to blend into its natural surroundings, using locally-made materials as far as possible, and reflecting the landscape and architecture of the destination.”

UAE debut

The company’s inherent respect for natural environments is reiterated in the newly-opened Banyan Tree Al Wadi in Ras Al Khaimah, the brand’s debut property in the UAE.

First and foremost, the Ras Al Khaimah resort was designed to blend unassumingly into its striking desert backdrop, Barclay explained. “At Banyan Tree Al Wadi, the interface between the desert and the resort is intended to be as seamless as possible, providing guests with the experience of staying ‘in’ the desert,” he said.

“Consisting of 70 Al Rimal Deluxe pool villas and 31 Al Khaimah and Al Sahari Tented pool villas, the resort sits on 100 hectares of desert plains, of which 60% is dedicated to a nature reserve housing indigenous wildlife and flora.

“Designed to retain the natural feel, topography and vegetation of the desert, the pool villas are constructed on valley floors between existing dunes, thus maintaining a degree of privacy and consequently preserving the site naturally,” said Barclay.

Every Banyan Tree resort has its own distinct sense of character, and the Ras Al Khaimah property is no different. It is the first Banyan Tree with its own nature reserve, horse and camel stables, water home, bird hide, and falconry mews.

The emphasis is on creating symbiotic relationships between resorts and their physical surroundings, while embracing local influences and the natural quirks of the selected site. “If you look at our signature restaurant, Saffron, for example, which is a restaurant that can be found across all Banyan Tree properties, each Saffron is uniquely designed.

“Saffron in Banyan Tree Al Wadi has been designed overlooking the water-hole so that you have a front-row seat for animal viewing,” Barclay noted.

This is one of a number of ‘interest areas’, Barclay explained. “As the resort is spread out over one quarter of a 100-hectare private nature reserve, we tried to create interest points as guests move through the resort – such as the water-hole, which is a source of water for the animals, watchtowers on higher ground, and the falconry mews with viewing deck, to name a few,” he detailed.


The resort, which has been dubbed ‘an oasis of indulgence’, has very consciously embraced Middle Eastern design influences. Customised geometric Arabesque motifs are reiterated in light fittings, fretwork, timber and glass-reinforced concrete panelling. “To enhance the sense of adventure, we used elements of typical regional architecture,” Barclay explained.

“For example, each villa is finished with polished wood, high ceilings, and elaborate Arabic touches of lattice woodwork, stylised motifs and intricate carvings,” he continued.

For the block pool villas, the design was inspired by the atypical architectural style of traditional mud-brick housing still seen in Ras Al Khaimah today, consisting of square blocks with private courtyards. The tented pool villas were inspired by the nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouin. “We created a modernised version of the tents by structuring them on a raised platform for better views and privacy, and added a personal infinity edge swimming pool built with deep blue mosaic to represent an oasis of water,” Barclay noted.

While the design ethos is predominantly Arabian, there are also subtle Asian undertones throughout.

The aim was to create a delicately balanced design that was respectful of the hotel’s Middle Eastern setting, but also paid homage to the company’s Asian roots.

“The interior design is mainly Arabic with small Asian hints, such as employing Thai silk for fabric and cushion covers, to bring a little Asian influence into the overall Arabic sensibility. The artwork in public areas is a combination of antiques and contemporary Arabic collections. Thai and Asian artwork is specifically used in our spa and ‘rain-
forest hydrotherapy’ circuit, and for our signature Thai restaurant, Saffron.

“Over recent years, even with the company growing at a tremendous rate, it has not forgotten its Asian roots. In fact, it has grown to embrace the world’s increased awareness and interest in being Asian. At Banyan Tree Al Wadi, I believe that we have married the perfect design balance of Arabian architectural heritage with Asian touch points,” said Barclay.

Sustainable solutions

Architrave made a point of utilising locally-produced materials and locally-based suppliers.

Flooring, cladding and wall tiles were made by RAK Ceramics, for example, while natural stones for bars and water features were extracted from local quarries. Other suppliers included AMS Joinery, Thermavium, RAK Luminar, Bose, Ginox, Promorak and RAK Aluminium Fabrication.

The designers were also conscious of making the resort as sustainable as possible. Showing respect for the natural environment was of vital importance, so villas were build in neutral tones to ensure that they blended seamlessly into the desert backdrop. Meanwhile, the landscape was kept as natural-looking as possible, through the planting of typical desert flora such as cattails, ghaf trees and sidr trees.

In the villas, sliding, full-length windows allow for natural ventilation and reduce the need for reliance on air-conditioning, Barclay explained. “Waste water collected from the resort will undergo a reverse osmosis process so that it can be pumped into the reserve’s water-hole, as well as used for landscape irrigation.

“Apart from establishing water flow control systems and utilising energy-saving light bulbs, a recycling centre will be set up on site, segregating all waste material,” he continued.

The team were already dealing with a site that had no existing infrastructure to speak of, which presented a whole host of challenges. Using building methods that were as unobtrusive as possible was cause for further complication.

“There was no existing infrastructure to support such a sprawling villa property, so necessities such as plumbing and roads were built from scratch. Due to the remote location of the resort, the limited access meant that we had to construct a new road from the main highway.

“In wanting to maintain the site naturally, we had to be more sensitive with the type of equipment we employed as well as in the careful preservation of the natural vegetation of the desert. We planted an additional one thousand ghaf trees, sidr trees and local grasses throughout the site.

Unobstructive fences and walls to keep the protected wildlife had to be built and constructed in such a way so as to blend seamlessly with the desert landscape and not noticeable,” Barclay detailed.

The end result is a viable reaffirmation of the principles that were laid down all those years ago on a polluted, acid-laden beach-side site in Phuket.

MONACO _ Côte d'Azur
16,650 Posts
Banyan tree Al Wadi launches exclusive beach club

Nov 29, 2010

Banyan Tree Al Wadi in Ras Al Khaimah has launched its brand new beach club, consisting of 32 luxury Beachfront Pool Villas.

Guests will be sailed to the beach villas in a traditional Dhow boat — just two minutes from the main shore line.

Each villa has direct access to a private beach as well as a secluded terrace, plunge pool and covered gazebo.

There is a dedicated spa with six treatment pavilions as well as a beach grill restaurant called Sands that will serve light snacks and a selection of daily specials.

MONACO _ Côte d'Azur
16,650 Posts
EXCLUSIVE: RAK government takes over Banyan Tree

Victor Louis, chief operating officer of Ras Al Khaimah Hotels and Tourism Development Authority: "proud to have Banyan Tree RAK join the government's

May 30, 2011

The government of Ras Al Khaimah has today inked a deal with Rakeen Development to take over the luxury Banyan Tree Al Wadi desert resort.

According to the agreement, Rakeen Development will hand over ownership of Banyan Tree Al Wadi to the government of Ras Al Khaimah.

Speaking at the signing, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah, said: “With this wonderful partnership and our regional expertise, we believe that Banyan Tree Al Wadi will outgrow its potential, achieve new heights and grow to become the beacon of top-class quality service in this region.

“We aim to create an impact as a strategic player and increase our portfolio with a goal to attract world-class hotel corporations and investors to the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah that is with our robust economic growth and strong tourism expansion plan in the next few years,” His Highness asserted.

The acquisition of Banyan Tree Al Wadi is part of the emirate’s 10-year ambitious growth plan, which states that Ras Al Khaimah will plough hundreds of millions of dollars into hotels and tourism projects in a bid to quadruple its visitor count.

The emirate, from which GDP comprises 1.5% of the UAE’s economy, is aiming to grow tourism revenues to account for 20% of its income by 2021 — by positioning itself as a lower-cost destination to neighbouring Dubai.

Victor Louis, chief operating officer of Ras Al Khaimah Hotels and Tourism Development Authority — responsible for driving this growth on behalf of the government — commented at the signing: “We are very proud to have Banyan Tree RAK join the Government’s portfolio. This is a really unique property that offers the highest standards of excellence to sophisticated clientele.

“As a boutique hotel it forms a part of a growing, high value added sector of the travel industry in which we intend to further expand our investments.”

The contract was signed earlier today at the resort, with attendees also including Ho KwonPing, executive chairman and founder, Banyan Tree Holdings Limited; Jim Stewart, chief executive officer, Investment & Development Office —Government of Ras Al Khaimah; and Pascal Eppink, general manager, Banyan Tree Al Wadi, who has lead the resort through pre-opening and its first year of operations.

Banyan Tree Al Wadi was officially launched on April 17, 2010, in the Wadi Khadeja area of RAK, set amongst 100 hectares of private nature reserve.
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