Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Powerhouse of the Middle East, hub for the world's largest oil & gas company, and home to some of the wealthiest royals in the world. At the heart of this rich country's capital city lies The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh. Originally built as a palace, this majestic oasis is an architectural masterpiece, a veritable haven for luxury connoisseurs, and a place to behold and experience. Rock Licker and I, in celebration of the Eid, spent the holidays in this most dazzling hotel in the country.
Arriving at The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh is like a real-life equivalent of royal fantasy. As we approached the property, we were astounded by the hotel's marvelous arch entrance. It is beautiful and perfectly conspicuous as if it's trying to make a regal statement. While we drove towards the grand edifice we were treated with a view of the lovely green lawn, perfectly lined palm trees and vibrant blooming flowers that attractively surrounds the pathway. The enormous fountains as well as the expansive red carpet at the grand entryway were an absolutely breathtaking sight.
As soon as we reached the porte cochère, we were welcomed by three gentlemen who then took care of our vehicle and luggage, and subsequently escorted us towards the palatial hotel's grand lobby.
A glance around the grand lobby revealed intricately hand carved and exquisitely hand painted ceilings with beautiful sparkling chandeliers, rich inlaid mosaic marble floors, towering marble columns, intimidating high-glass doorways, enthralling metal sculptures, classic furnitures and captivating floral centerpiece - all harmoniously blend in a luxurious symphony to embrace guests with utmost grandeur and magnificence.
Stunning woodworks combined with opulent gold accents with intricate details created an ambiance of grandeur that pervades the entire place. It is a fine example of the highest expression of wealth and artistry, and a quintessence of luxury.
The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh's Gentlemen
If the aesthetic is one of the benchmarks of true elegance, it was amplified by The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh's skillful and genuinely caring ladies and gentlemen. The service that they provide makes any guest feel like a true royalty in the palace.
This is Saad Qassem, the hotel's Coffee Butler. He is one of the pioneers in The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh. His expertise in making the best Arabic coffee as well as his service exemplifies a level of Arab hospitality that is totally unmatched.
This is Jaime Pinto Jr. He is the hotel's Guest Services Supervisor. He is in-charge with the bell services, concierge, valet, transportation and business centre. Prior to joining The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, he was a university professor for seven years and taught subjects in Travel and Tourism. As guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh for three days, we've seen with our eyes and experienced his high-quality service standard that's definitely worthy of high-praise.
Truly, The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh takes pride not only in its grandiose, glittery gold and crystal studded palace, but most especially, in its high-caliber employees as well. For us guests, nothing beats getting first-hand service from the experts!
This is Jebb Cabriana, the Assistant Manager for E-Commerce. He is one of the youngest employees of The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh. He is a highly-intellectual person with so much passion in his job. His elegant refinement and warm hospitality would make anyone think that he have just recently completed a course in Personality Development. I found out that at his young age, he already managed a lot of hotel properties both inside and outside the country.
During my chat with Mr. Cabriana, he shared to us many interesting facts about the hotel. We also learned that Chorisia Lounge has a unique offering called "Selection of Master Creations". These are special concoctions of fresh juices artfully mixed with Saudi's finest ingredients that brings about a delightful burst of flavours and aromas. To sample their masterpiece, Rock Licker ordered Black Magic and I opted for Rose of Taif. Black Magic is a magical blend of fresh citrus with activated charcoal powder, orange blossom sherbet, The Ritz-Carlton signature propolis and black honey lemon tincture. While Rose of Taif is a delicious mix of taif rose water and fresh pomegranate with homemade hibiscus flower reduction.
Aside from their "Selection of Master Creations", the lounge also boasts a variety of specialty loose leaf tea and tea bags from JING tea collection. There's green tea, white peony, jasmin, chamomile and peppermint to name a few.
This is the timer that Chorisia Lounge uses to make a perfect tea according to guests' preference.
I tried the white peony tea which was beautifully served in a glass teapot. Glass teapot actually makes an ideal way to enjoy delicate teas and special blends that use signature herbs, since the glass doesn't add or subtract any flavor to the tea blend being infused. Aside from that, the taste characteristics of glass are 100 percent neutral and it don't cause allergies or off-gassing. Its pore-free surfaces also resist chemicals and staining. Most of all, glass pots elevates stylish tea service as it is more aesthetically pleasing when guests can view the steeping process through a material that is transparent.
Arabian Horse Statues
At the centre of Chorisia Lounge, there were four captivating life-size Arabian male horse statues that were made in the image of the King's horses. It's so awesome!
The Art of Coffee
If you're the kind of person who fancies specialty drinks. Chorisia Lounge is really the place for you. Along with distinctive teas and juices, Chorisia Lounge is well-known for "The Art of Coffee". Its coffee expert is highly-trained in the craft of coffee making and remarkable coffee presentation to guests. It uses the top 5% of beans produced in the world originated from three different countries such as Colombia, East Java and Ethiopia. It utilizes Syphone, Pour-Over method, AeroPress and Cold Brew technique that gives a special flavour and scent to the coffee.
Rock Licker was able to try the cold brew coffee. It was made through regulated drops of ice cold water on fine grinded coffee up to 6 hours. This technique gives the coffee a sweeter, fruitier and soft taste because fewer bitter and acidic notes from the coffee bean are extracted when cold coffee is brewed.
Attractively located in the courtyard of Chorisia Lounge are four chorisia trees with ages between 400 - 500 years old and two olive trees from Lebanon which are around 600 years old. When the weather is nice, guests can enjoy their food and drinks here and relax under the shade of these ancient trees.
The palatial hotel has eleven massive elevators. Four in each wing and three servicing the Club Lounge, indoor pool and down to The Ritz-Carlton, Spa and Strike Bowling Alley.
The hallway itself is pure luxury with its impressive Corinthian-inspired columns, etched glass railings with gold borderline pattern, glamorous geometric carpet, classic gold lamps and stylish furnitures. A walk towards the rooms and suites is always a delight because of this wonderful sight.
Did you know that these fine filigree artworks are actually the hotel's fire exhaust system? A great combination of beauty and functionality!
And the best part of the hallway is its mural sky painted ceiling that helped add height, light, drama and uplift the area to a heavenly plane. Isn't it so lovely?
Executive Club Suite
After marveling at the grand lobby and hallway, with the help of The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh's gentlemen we made our way to our suite - an Executive Club Suite. These gentlemen explained to us the details about the suite. With all the informations that they shared to us, we can easily tell how very well-informed and educated they are about the property.
The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh is known for its generosity and extravagance when it comes to space and design. In fact, our suite has a remarkable size of more than 1,000 square feet with luxurious finishes.
In the bedroom, there's one king size bed with nightstand in each side, a vintage ottoman and classic vanity dresser.
Across the bed, there's a standing lamp, classic wooden hanger and a flat screen TV place on top of a stylish media unit.
The suite's all-marble bathroom offers an opulent retreat filled with an array of decadent toiletries. It has a single sink vanity, bathtub with shower, and toilet & bidet.
In the living room, there's a work desk with chair and an enormous lounge area where they presented us the welcome treats.
There is also a mini bar that has a fully-stocked fridge, glasses, a coffee machine, complimentary water, teas and coffee pods.
The suite's powder room is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes with luxury fixtures. It smells really good and, most of all, very clean.
While, the fabulously old-fashioned console table in the entryway created an elegant and stylish entrance.
There are six exceptional dining facilities in The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh: Al Orjouan, Azzurro, Hong, Turquoise Lounge, Strike Bowling Alley and Chorisia Lounge.
Al Orjouan - Breakfast
Al Orjouan, meaning purple in Arabic, is a feast all-day long dining offering a lavish buffet of finest Lebanese and international delicacies. It features a phenomenal food stations with abundance of delicious food to choose from. All of them are kept in an appropriate temperature to maintain its freshness.
As I walked around to observe, I felt the sense of joy in Al Orjouan team as they lovingly do their job. Look how much love and care these chefs put into each dish. Amazing!
Look how much love and care these chefs put into each dish. Amazing!
Salute to Executive Sous Chef Carlos Rodriguez for making delicious dishes and for leading his culinary team to excellence and to Director of Restaurants Melih Eker for making the restaurant's ambiance so neat and lovely. Hats off too to all the staff for making us feel very special with the attentive and warm way they attended to our needs, and that added value to our overall dining experience.
Azzurro - Dinner
I am a firm believer of first impressions. First thing that I found rather pleasing at Azzurro is the great welcoming. On arrival, we were met at the door by the charming Restaurant Supervisor Mohammed Belal who showed us to our romantic table with candlelight and masses of roses. Mohammed introduced to us our waiter, Marlon who then offered us drinks and showed us the menu. Executive Sous Chef Carlos came to our table too and expertly set the scene and explained to us the concept of Azzurro which is classic Italian fare with modern twist. The menu on offer is quite enticing so we ended up requesting for chef's specialty dishes.
While Mohammed was joyfully engaging with us, Marlon brought us the restaurant's signature drink, the spiced spritz, which was specially made by The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh's in-house mixologist.
Immediately after we got our drinks, Reggie served us assortment of breads with dips.
Our dining experience began with a surprise amuse-bouche in the form of pan seared scallop with green pea puree. The scallop was impeccably seared, juicy and with a sweet mild taste. Whilst the green pea puree was very light and refreshing. It did a great job cleansing the palate.
For our starter, we had wagyu beef carpaccio, Italian salad, caprese and mushroom soup. With high-attention to detail and sublime presentation, all the starters were hands down and exceeded my expectations.
Our main course was branzino all’ isolano, a fresh catch from the Mediterranean Sea according to Marlon. It has a sweet, and succulent flavour. Rock Licker and I loved it!
For desserts, we had meringata which we paired with Azzurro's signature mokha. The meringata have lots of different elements to it and it all comes together so beautifully. It's sweet, but also light and airy. I can honestly say that it's one of the most delicious desserts I've ever had. As for mokha, I can clearly see why it is one of their signature drinks. It is a work of art and perfect for those who crave for something special to round off their luscious meal.
One of our most memorable experiences here occurred before we left the restaurant when Brayno Braynov, the Restaurant Manager, handed me a bouquet of roses as souvenir from the whole Azzurro team. These gentlemen really know how to make their guests feel special. For me and Rock Licker, it's been such a wonderful night that we will never ever forget.
Chorisia Lounge - Dinner
Aside from specialty drinks Chorisia Lounge is also known for its assortment of homemade cakes and freshly prepared snacks. On our second day in the palatial hotel, we had an early dinner here to try their highly-acclaimed afternoon tea. We started off with some drinks from the "Selection of Master Creation". I went for Liquid Sunshine, while Rock Licker opted for Emerald Orchard. Both were deliciously aromatic, light and refreshing.
After a little while, Rock Licker's wagyu burger was served, as well as my Jing earl gray tea which was beautifully presented along with the incredibly impressive 3-tier platter of sandwiches and bite-sized desserts.
The afternoon tea experience and the wagyu burger was heavenly from start to finish. Everything was perfect. The lounge's decor and the ambiance were impeccable. It's also worth mentioning that the Chorisia team especially Vinish Vinayan and Lineesh Koshy's superb service were all worthy of exuberant accolades.
Hong was billed as traditional Chinese in a modern setting. Although it was not open during our visit as it was Eid holiday, I can easily imagine that it would be a perfect place to dine and unwind with the perfect view of the hotel's grandiose swimming pool.
Turquoise Lounge offers the perfect setting for guests to conduct business and social gatherings. Its name came from the colour that gorgeously dominates the room.
Strike Bowling Alley
StrikeBowling Alley is an upscale sports lounge with six-lane bowling alley, billiards table, lavish juice bar, entertainment area with 100-inch TV and generous lounge with family-friendly atmosphere.
It was afternoon when we went to Strike. Pranal Kanti, the supervisor, welcomed us at the door and guided us to our table. Edward Alba also came to assist us and showed us the menu. He asked for Rock Licker's shoe size and came back with a pair of bowling shoes that can protect his feet and the approach as he play. Because of the automated system in the bowling alley, Rock Licker was able to play on his own, while I indulge and enjoy the flavour and texture of my delicious cardamom clover smoothie. Rock Licker had an amazing time playing. Because of the incredible setting of Strike, he said he was able to reignite his interest in bowling.
Club Lounge, located on the second floor, offers exclusive environment and special services and privileges for Club level guests which include the following:
All-day access to the Club Lounge
Club Lounge check-in and check-out services
Continuous culinary and beverage offerings throughout the day
A dedicated Concierge at guests disposal
Complimentary wireless Internet access
The Ritz-Carlton, Spa
My geoscientist needs pampering once in a while and one of the best places for indulgence is The Ritz-Carlton, Spa. In the gentlemen's spa, Rock Licker had the pleasure of having a two-hour body massage and a half-hour jacuzzi which he thoroughly enjoyed.
Because I think I deserve some pampering too, I luxuriate in my bubble bath complete with rose petals and candlelights which I requested prior to our check-in.
To my surprise, they also sprinkled our bed with beautiful rose petals! It's always fascinating that at the top of the luxury class, The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh ensures their guests' stay is peppered with personal touches and heartfelt service.
Excellence, legacy and grandeur meet state-of-the-art technology - that's the hallmark of The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh's meeting rooms. It offers facilities every bit as impressive as the leisure amenities. It is an impeccable venue for world summit, business event or a magical wedding. On the third day of our stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, we were granted the privilege to have a look at the hotel's outstanding meeting spaces.
The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh's Grand Ballroom
The Grand Ballroom's soaring ceiling boasts a regal glamour complimented by crystal chandeliers that sets the tone for any type of function that can be held in this spectacular venue. With floor area of 19,900-square feet, this magnificent room can accommodate up to more than 2,000 guests depending on the setup.
The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh's Symposium
The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh's Symposium is a perfect gathering place for the world's most brilliant entrepreneurial minds for global summit, conventions and conferences. Designed with dome ceiling combined with good lighting, its bold style will surely keep the guests attentive all throughout the meeting.
The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh's Auditorium
At an enormous 6,600 square feet of luxurious floor space and a capacity to accommodate around 500 guests, this lavish auditorium guarantees an impeccable venue that is world class in every aspect.
Exclusive Passage for the Royalties and Dignitaries
All my life I have been fascinated with royals especially king and queen. As a kid, the concept was magical to me. And now that I'm residing in a country that is ruled by a King, I see them as a living symbol of national unity and an embodiment of their kingdom's identity. I hold them with high regard because of their outstanding contributions to the lives of their people, to their Kingdom and to the world.
On our last day in the palatial hotel, we were given a private tour to the secret area which is exclusive only for them.
This is me and Rock Licker together with the young, brilliant and energetic Managers of The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh inside the exclusive passage for the royalties and dignitaries.
This is the Royal Suite, a 426-square metre of pure palatial luxury. It’s a wonderfully opulent harmony of cream, brown and honey gold that contrives to be majestic and beautiful. The suite is entered through a set of grand double-doors into a dazzling living area.
On the left, there's a magnificent double-door that leads to the exquisite dining room where 14 people can be seated for dinner surrounded by captivating decors.
Alongside the dining room, there's a private living room with a ring of luxurious and comfortable seating.
There's also a personal office room where guests can conduct their business with exceptional comfort, rich elegance and high-technology luxury.
The highlight of the suite is the splendidly-appointed masters bedroom which features elegant carpet flooring, luxury leather wall panels, meticulously hand-carved ceiling, stylish furnitures and opulent decors.
This is the suite of choice for high-profile guests staying in the palatial hotel. We were told that the royals stayed in this suite for eight weeks.
The grandiose indoor swimming pool is one of The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh's most astounding features. It has an intricate hand-carved and mural sky-painted dome ceiling, an opulent all-marble floors, exquisitely arched marble walls, delicate filigree railings, enormous windows overlooking the attractively landscaped grounds and a stunning pool foyer with breathtaking grand staircase. All beautifully blend together to demonstrate resplendence and display affluence.
A magical stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh is never complete without taking photograph at the palatial hotel's grand staircase.
The Home of Royalty
It has always been our dream to stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh. During the Eid, the moon and the stars had finally aligned and we've had the most magical moment of our life. Thank you The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh for creating such wonderful memories that will infinitely stay with us. Indeed, dreams do come true!