A home away from home

Life on a beach

Not every hotel can claim 5-star status. It comes after careful examination of amenities. Adherence to international standards must be met. A visit to preview the latest offering of Al Raha Beach Hotel’s Azur Restaurant, came my way. Since I’m based in the northern Emirates it was going to be a three-and-a-half-hour journey to Abu Dhabi. No distance is an obstacle when it comes to work and so I went to check out the property. 

Azur is a casual dining restaurant that has both outdoor and indoor seating options. The recently revamped menu harbours a homely Italian Trattoria. The turquoise-hued place is buzzing with people when I finally arrive. The first course is already over and done with and people are digging in to their Mushroom Risotto. A dish I thoroughly enjoyed. For anyone who favours Italian cuisine, there was a lot more headed our way. In came a succulent Lamb Shank or lamb ossobucco, which was served with its own beef sauce.

The music and the ambience added to the experience. We were in Abu Dhabi but this could well have been a Tuscan villa. Fresh flowers and greens hung all over the venue and our attendants Brian and Daryl were nothing but smiles when they came to offer lavish generous portions on the media gathered in the room.
For most events such as these, I make sure I have exercised a little in advance as it is always an extra helping of guilt that you take home inevitably. There was no room for that here. A sea food pasta headed straight to my plate. Also called a tagliatelle pasta with lobster meat, the dish left a lasting impression. Other dishes included Chicken Milanese and Branzino (a grilled seabass) in acqua pazza sauce.
The award-winning chefs of Azur certainly put out no stops when it came to their guests. A salad bar stood at the front of the restaurant. Most of the diners didn’t venture in its direction. We were too busy with our main course.
It soon became clear to me that what makes Al Raha Beach Hotel so unique is not just the food, it is the people. The friendly faces that I met from the lobby of the hotel to the chefs at their stations, everyone seemed committed to their guests. A few of the media came with their families to enjoy the fresh air and have a meal under the stars. Yes it is still possible in the month of May. 

The hotel is managed by Danat Hotels and Resorts and is located on Al Raha Beach, a walking distance from Al Raha Mall. It is off the highway and the hotel offers complimentary shuttle buses to the main malls and spots in the capital. Of course for me, that didn’t help since I had to take a private taxi to the venue, but I had no time to dwell on the journey. The lobby is so large and opulent that itself takes a moment to take it all in. The concierge smiles as he is used to seeing many people react this way.

Azur Restaurant, serves Italian cuisine.

After my meal I make a mental note to check out the rest of the amenities. There’s a large indoor pool, with a jacuzzi, besides a massage pool which basically offers tired guests a chance to get some aqua therapy. The hotel has nine other venues to dine in as well. CafĂ© Mozart intrigued me both for its name and its clever pastries some of which were designed like fashionable shoes. Located in the lobby lounge, the venue serves traditional English and Colonial High tea, mocktails and desserts.  Award winning Chef Yasser Ahmed Bebers is the Executive Pastry Chef who pops over to say hello. When quizzed about the unique treats he says, “I try to keep up with social media and so the team and I put up some of the cakes we design,” he says.  

Accommodation options range from 2, 3 and 4 rooms and villas to rent as well. The spa is exceptionally relaxing. Guests can also spend an evening by the beach in one of the beachfront gazebos. 

George Chatziemmanouil is Executive Assistant Manager of the hotel in-charge of F & B. He has been in the hotel industry for two decades and worked at this hotel for four year. He explains, “We like to promote this hotel as a family destination. Our staff is well versed. Our pastry chefs have won numerous awards including the Gulf Food competition. Sevilla is a busy all day dining restaurant which has different theme nights with cuisine from different parts of the world.”
As I take a look around Sevilla, it is easy to see a mix of European and Arab guests. There is an Indian puri kept at the buffet alongside Emirati dishes. Explaining the concept of Azur he says, “Italian food is very popular with the Emiratis as well as the residents of the UAE. We also offer a nice shisha at the end of the meal.” Most of the staff are getting ready for the next 12 hour shift as we complete our meal. 

“Our Executive Chef is from Switzerland. He has worked in the US, China, Jordan and KSA and is well versed with different cuisines. He incorporates ideas from the whole team and myself and we take things to a new level,” says George.
 It is possible to taste Italian, Arab and Indian hospitality all under one roof. “We have a mix of nationalities working at the hotel. The secret here is team spirit,” says George. A group of equipped animators are on call to assist with children’s activities. I am reminded that my next visit to this place must certainly be with the family.


  1. Well wriiten article...Having been to the Al Raha Property myself I felt I was reliving my time spent there through your writing..Great piece..keep it up!!!

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