Spacious, secluded and serene, the Oberoi Al Zorah Beach Resort is a passion project of award-winning, Italian architect Piero Lissoni. With only 89 suite-sized rooms and villas set across 27 acres, the hotel feels intensely private, akin to your own summer residence. As you stroll from your sea-view villa, past the sparkling sands, and into the spa, you won’t see another guest.
You can sense the architect’s design flare in every detail, from the split-level spaces, to the Italian-made furnishings and textiles. As a result, the hotel is a picture of understated luxury. You will feel your shoulders relax the moment you step into the lush greenery, past the ancient Spanish olive trees, and into the jasmine-scented lobby. Pools of water surround the hotel, stretching out towards the well-stocked library, reflecting azure skies and framing the modernist architecture. The hotel is the epitome of tranquillity, and you're only 25 minutes from the bustle of DXB airport.
In terms of natural beauty, the pristine surroundings give the Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah something of a head-start. Built between a mangrove lagoon, and a virgin, 400 metre private beach on the coast of Ajman, the hotel and spa are nestled in a grand landscaped garden. As you relax by your villa’s plunge pool, with a view of the turquoise waters and white sands, you will hear birdsong amidst the bougainvillea, and no wonder – there are almost 60 species within the mangroves, including the native, protected, pink flamingos.
As I settled into my villa, I luxuriated in the sense of space. Floor-to-ceiling windows bring the outdoors indoors, while sage greens and palm prints reflect the leafy gardens. Texture is everywhere: from the dimpled tiles behind the headboard; to the plaited leather bench; and the handwoven rugs from Italy. A teal sideboard containing drinks and snacks mirrors the colour of the sea at dusk. The extravagant bathrooms offer walk-in rain showers, double basins, and enormous oval baths, along with citrus-scented Forest Essential bath products specially blended for Oberoi hotels. All boast expansive views of either the Arabian Sea or mangrove forest, but offer one-touch blinds for privacy.
If your focus is on relaxation, the spa hides its secrets behind a discrete door hidden in the gardens. Inside it opens up into a maze of private, contemporary rooms, including several traditional hammams. You will be greeted with a refreshing lemongrass, lime and honey drink, and offered a choice of scented oils from the Spanish brand Alqvimia for your treatment. The 75-minute Oberoi Signature Massage starts with an indulgent, Indian foot-wash in copper bowls – said to purify the water, and ends with green tea served in an airy lounge.
In addition to pampering the hotel is a dream come true for anyone who loves to swim. The infinity pool is astonishing – 85-metres long and climate controlled, with spectacular views of the sea. The individual cabanas make for deliciously private poolside lounging, made all the more perfect by deliveries of complimentary fruit ice-pops and Evian spritzes. On my first morning, I emerged from my daybreak swim to discover chilled water and a towel neatly laid by an invisible hand. The Oberoi brand is known for these thoughtful gestures, and it’s what makes the Al Zorah feel so utterly luxurious.
The hotel sports two fantastic restaurants – Vinesse which offers world cuisine, and Aquario which serves freshly caught seafood. During my stay I sampled caviar, ceviche and sea-bass - my choices facilitated by the knowledgeable in-house Fish Sommelier. Breakfast, served in Vinesse, is something to behold – with an open glass show-kitchen, serving a la carte hot dishes you order at your table, alongside a buffet of delicate European pastries, Arab meze and an array of seasonal fresh juices. Both restaurants offer indoor and al fresco dining, and the views over the ocean are distractingly beautiful.
Most visitors stay on a half-board basis, and many come from Europe for a week of complete relaxation, barely leaving the grounds – except perhaps for a round of golf, at 18-hole Al Zorah Club next door. The hotel is also popular with staycationers drawn from Dubai by the promise of relaxation on their doorstep.
That is the magic of Al Zorah – the peace, the quiet; the overarching sense of calm. Looking out over the Arabian Gulf, sipping a cappuccino and tracking the route of a passing ship, I realised my 24 hours felt like days. It’s like a time machine – giving you back valuable hours you thought you’d lost.
A premium two bedroom villa costs Dhs4,460 per night and includes breakfast for four people. oberoihotels.com