The Intercontinental in Ras Al Khaimah has great potential but it just didn't live up to the Walforf Astoria sadly. The only other 5* we've stayed at in the area.
A few things let it down; having the room ready as per our booking (Extra bed ALWAYS get's forgotten) and some rough around the edges beach umbrellas, service in some parts and general layout/access to toilets from the beach/pool area.
It does however have plans to improve already, and if that is done right the hotel could be up there with the best in the area.
Sun Bed Reserving Score
Restaurant Quality Score
Dress Code Score
Hotel Cleanliness Score
Hotel Decor Score
Service Level Score
Short Version: We wouldn't rule out going back as it has great potential.
As you'd expect in this area, a private man made beach with it's own water sports firm onsite to sell you excursions and onsite restaurants that offer good food.
We paid extra for TWO beach villas even though many reviewers got lucky with free upgrades, we wanted to try them out but sadly it did mean as a family we were disjointed, which was our choice/gamble to make.
If we went back, I'd really want to see more reviews where some of the negatives are fixed.
The service on check-in was perfectly fine but the preperation between the bookings team and house keeping was obviously non-existent. That resulted in frustration on arrival.
The dress code here was fine, it could be a little more 5* by excluding footie shirts at dinner but otherwise, it doesn't bother me personally and the main thing is there was no restrictions and that would be more annoying. (See our One&Only review!) The beach and pool area/service was one of the main issues, along with general service/organisation within the hotel. It seemed as though the 'new hotel' teething problems were still apparent but, thats why this place has potential. Overall the hotel looks and feels 5*, but the beach/pool area needs more improvement to the toilet situation, ordering drinks at the pool bar, and sunbeds/ordering food to them.
Here's the full bullet point report.
Staff are all friendly, some more than others especially in the main restaurant and beach team.
Decor is clean, modern and has a 5* luxury feel.
Sun beds were nice, comfy.
The sunbed/Beach team were mostly helpful in finding/allocating beds where possible so if beds were full, they'd 99% of the time find you some. Although some issues, see below.
Martin, one of the directors took time out to speak to guests whilst on the beach. Very friendly, approachable. We noticed he was the ONLY one tidying in certain parts of the beach where people leave shoes/flip flops on the paving for some reason who then supplied a shoe rack, which still didn't get used so he used to place shoes in the rack. He clearly looked high up the staff pecking order so it was strange to see why beach staff wasn't doing this. Martin listened to some of our concerns and did advise what was being planned soon, which would make some improvements for sure.
Housekeeping staff are SO friendly and polite.
All food, in all restaurants was of a high standard.
The all-inclusive deal was a big factor in choosing this hotel even though not all drinks included were nice, or the best choice, it did help a family of 5 bring costs down a lot. It helps even knowing milshakes, soft drinks, lunch and enough alcoholic drinks (limited choice) were included.
Beach Villas were nice. We had to book two for our family of 5, which was expensive but we wanted to test them out. They are more like a large hotel suite than a Villa. Each villa is one level so the pictures you might see online is rather like a maisonette, with one up one down. We had one whole building so Amber and Libby (17/11) were upstairs whilst we were downstairs with Remi (3yr old) on a rollaway bed near the front window in replacement of a little sofa.
Walking Distance from Villas to Restaurants/beach/pool was no more than 3 minutes! Sorry but got to stick up for the hotel on this one, despite a few reviews stating people complained waiting for a golf cart to pick them up; how lazy do you have to be! It's literally shorter than some hotels I've stayed in from room to ground floor! This shocked us, and we stayed in the furthest Villa away.
At weekends when it's busy, the Turkish restaurant 'near the Villas' is opened for exclusive use of Villa guests for buffet breakfast. This is a huge help. **
On check in our rollaway bed was not ready, which is annoying when you're arriving with kids at midnight and just want to get to sleep quickly. I even predicted it, and emailed the day before AND on the way to the airport from the car. Still didn't have it ready. I complained and they were very apologetic and sent flowers/wine but, as nice as that is it just didn't need to fail so quickly.
The beach umbrellas looked tired with a few damaged. If it was me, I'd not want that on show at my 5* hotel. I'd get rid immediately and change for new. The umbrellas could do with renewing for a more robust/5* style personally speaking.
Unlike the likes of Waldorf RAK or Al Qasr Dubai, ordering food to a beach sunbed or pool bed isn't easy. There was not often a QR code on a side table and even then, the staff would get lost looking for where you are on the beach. Tables/QR codes are obviously getting moved and there's no structure in place. It was painful at times so we gave up and just walked back to the bar to order ourselves.
It wasn't always easy to secure sunbeds but it certainly wasn't the worst place we've been, and the staff did try to keep on top of 'reseving' issues but not good enough. In fact, we once left our beds for breakfast to come back and had someone steal/remove 2 of our beds. We were told they cannot be left for more than 2 hours (or something like that) but we'd only been gone 45 mins! This was frustrating as we totally agree with the rule and wanted them to enforce it, yet they did so on the wrong people that were always following the rules!
There were too many people getting away with reserving beds from early morning though, and leaving them for HOURS, sometimes all day which is a waste.
No Sports Bar - nowhere to watch any football games or sporting highlights/events.
Some kitchen units had not been checked/cleaned before our checkin resulting in wrappers/cigarette packet still there.
All inclusive beers could do with a wider range or something different other than Becks and Budweiser. Ideally would like to see Corona, Estrella, or Madri on this menu.
At the pool, there is only TWO MIXED TOILETS to choose from beside the pool bar! Everyone is getting out the pool and going to these two toilets which are, as you can imagine soaking wet on the floor but you cant tell if its water or..... It's not what you want to be walking amongst at a 5* hotel. The layout here for me is wrong. There should be totally separate male and female toilets, with at least 3-4 for each and urinals for men.
During the evenings, after dinner there was not much to do especially for families. Your only choice in all honesty is to stay at the dinner table for longer and talk/drink/socialise amongst yourselves which in itself creates another problem of not free'ing up tables quick enough. We tried going to the bar, but it wasn't actually available for young kids to go in and even so, it STUNK of smoke so even I didn't want to go in there. The reception level bar had lovely staff, but most nights especially at the weekend it seemed to be overrun with local arab families where the men would sit by themselves and the women also by themselves, taking up every table/sofa on the floor and when me, my wife and daughters would walk round looking for spare seats, it felt uncomfortable from the looks we were getting. I'm not sure why that was. I'm pleased for this reason we had the Villas which had a large lounge/sofa area and TV which was our only choice to go back to. If I was running this hotel I'd have a dedicated area for families to go after dinner, a family bar with sports TV would fix two things that are missing here. (Otherwise it doesn't make sense, as families get stared at in the 'Arab' lounge and kids arent allowed into the bar where smoking is taking place! 🤯
The beach Villas were nice but be careful if you are considering them for a family as you'll need more than one. Our 17yr old was upstairs in a separate villa with our 11yr old, whilst myself, Nancy and Remi (3 yr old) stayed in another Villa downstairs. They are not interconnecting. They served a purpose for us, but came with segregation negatives so it might be better to look for 2x double interconnecting rooms which would be much cheaper (If they do interconnecting, not sure?).
I went to use a toilet near the buffet restaurant and noticed there was human excrement on the water hose thing!!! Someone had used it in a way I didn't know it was for. I thought it was for cleaning the toilet instead of a brush! (🤢).
Staff, although lovely were often forgetful in the buffet restaurant. We would order drinks and wait a long time, often not getting them at all. They seemed rushed/unorganised at times. The same for the pool bar, there seems to be enough staff on the ground level but totally unorganised where the manager would be shouting (which doesn't help) at other staff as yet another order is messed up or late.
The swim up bar, the poor guy working there is on his own trying to serve multiple people at once. Get him some help for god sake..... Often the top bar would come down and steal his ice/mixer machine then he'd turn around and its gone. Get two! Also, some kids and would you believe it adults would push in and the bar staff would not enforce who was first. We'd wait there politely for 10-20 minutes on occasions then give up because some little demanding kid has rocked up and shouted 'Strawberry shake please'! and the bar tender just makes it, possibly for a quiet life but its not the answer.
** Further to the positive of the Turkish restaurant opening up at Weekends for Villa guests, this really should be an option all week considering the money paid for a Villa, and how busy the buffet main restaurant gets. We would always have to wait for a table to come free, usually around 5-10 minutes but at weekends before we knew about the Turkish restaurant (This wasn't told to us on check in!) the main buffet was carnage! 30 min wait at least.
As aluded to above, one of the directors indicated some changes will be made already i.e, Beach food ordering system is due an improvement, not sure how/if it will work, and the beach bar is being moved to the end of the wooden jetty with toilets being installed there too.
I'm not convinved all the negatives will be addressed, as after all it's not my hotel and those negatives are just our opinions, but some improvements will surely happen which will make all the difference.