Make the most of a languid weekend during the final days of summer with a staycation at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas on Saadiyat Island.
Approximately a 60-minute drive from the Marina end of Dubai – on a quiet Friday morning – Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas sits on the Saadiyat Island beachfront, one of Abu Dhabi’s most peaceful destinations. Adjacent to the public beach with views out to sea, it may feel far-removed from the city, but will be mere minutes away from much-anticipated new art institutions, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Louvre Abu Dhabi (the nest-like latter of which you can see a stretch down the beach). It’s also a snappy 20-minute drive from the palatial, gleaming-white Sheikh Zayed Mosque – well worth an early morning tour of before the crowds and heat sets in.
Whether in the main hotel or the discrete villas, guests here can count on a spacious room kitted out in muted, desert-toned colors that lend the accommodation a calm (if slightly executive) feel. Rooms start at 50 square meters and include indulgent bathrooms with stand-alone tubs, rainforest showers and Le Labo toiletries. Some suites, such as the Beach View Suites and Garden View Suites, stand alone outside of the main hotel, giving them an almost villa-like feel, with small gardens and plunge pools.
I had the pleasure of staying in an Executive Villa this time around, which included two en-suite bedrooms (as well as a maid’s room), a refreshingly chilled private pool, beachfront views (from beyond the mashrabiya fencing), small kitchen and large living/entertaining space – although I’d imagine that most guests, like myself, would spent the majority of their time lounging poolside and enjoying the hotel’s amenities, rather than sitting in a living room. Having stayed in villas at other hotels, one downside is often their location, which while private tends to be rather disconnected to the rest of the hotel. Here, the main pool areas, restaurants and hotel itself were all within easy walking distance (even in 110-degree heat). The bedrooms’ bathrooms were a highlight – vast, open-plan spaces with ample room to get ready – although, frustratingly, no power points near mirrors which made curling my hair something of a challenge.
With six bar/lounge and restaurant venues to choose from, there’s ample choice over a quick staycation. And if you like tapas (and oh, how I love it) you could easily eat at Beach House a few times, order a handful of tasty plates, and never try the same thing twice. In terms of tapas, it not only has great variety, but fantastic quality: creamy burrata, tender calamari, perfectly spiced meatballs and tangy ceviche – I would only say that the dishes are more appetizer-sized than tapas-sized, and ordering six tapas between two people is likely far too much. It’s not all tapas, though, and a nice selection of main dishes cover Mediterranean fare, and the terrace area is ideal for sundowners (along with its rooftop, which is only open in the cooler months).
Park Bar & Grill is the hotel’s signature restaurant, and specializes in – you guessed it – freshly grilled steaks and seafood. After a massive tapas lunch, I had to forgo the steak, but a special of oversized lobster ravioli was delicious – succulent and flavorful. The simply named Café serves as the all-day Middle Eastern and international dining venue, and whips up a predictably vast spread for breakfast, covering all the usual suspects, from made-to-order eggs and pastries galore.
For a pampered and restful getaway, there’s plenty to keep guests occupied around on the hotel grounds. A variety of pools and water features lined by plush loungers are laid out on the grounds, in varying depths and targeted to various age groups (distinct kids’ pool and adults’ pool areas are a huge plus). Beyond the pools the tranquil aquamarine sea beckons, and a wide spread of powder-soft and pure-white sand plays host to even more sunloungers on the hotel’s private beach – but beware the searing sand at midday in summer.
In the heat of the day, Atarmia Spa is a welcome retreat with a wide range of treatments, and the peaceful space, replete in cool grey stone, features a sauna, gold-mosaic Jacuzzi and chilled-out outdoor pool area. An on-site fitness center, neighboring golf club and eco boat tours round out the offerings for guests looking to be a little more active.
Where: Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Call: +971 2 407 1234
Rates: Rooms from appx. AED800 ($217); Executive Villa from appx. AED15,700 ($4,275)
*images © Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas