A beach resort in the UAE modeled on the Venetian Renaissance might precipitate a collective rolling of eyes in northern Italy, but, in Abu Dhabi, all eyes are on the new Ritz-Carlton, which has just held its grand opening. Taking its cue from arguably the greatest city ever built, the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal offers 447 guest rooms and suites, as well as 85 villas, arranged in a crescent around landscaped gardens and a 1,500-square-meter swimming pool. Ritz-Carlton’s chief executive has said that the company had waited for the right venue to set up shop in the city and, for a start, the property holds wonderful views of Abu Dhabi’s centerpiece, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a confection of Moorish and Arab architectural techniques built for more than half a billion dollars. Guest rooms and suites take cream color palettes as their base, but are enlivened by splashes of color and wood inlays. Japanese design house Super Potato was brought in to oversee three of the restaurants, and there’s a plate for seemingly every palate—from the Lebanese fare of Mijana, to Giornotte, which serves dishes from (predominantly) the other side of the Mediterranean on its alfresco terrace, which has a spot overlooking the resort’s gardens. Those wishing to cast a wider net can try Li Jiang’s pan-Asian menu or opt for steak and a glass of claret at The Forge. The resort’s spa is not due to open until next year, but there is plenty in the surrounding area to explore—from the National Theater to the soon-to-open Middle Eastern outpost of the Louvre.
Khor Al Maqta’a, Abu Dhabi; 971-2/818-8888.