There’s good reason turtles like to nest on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island – it is blissful.
Words by David Dunn
Okay, so marine wildlife experts will give additional motives, but homegrown hospitality brand Rotana recognised the location’s special qualities and has opened a resort befitting its surroundings.
With a reputation for the occasional dolphin sighting and one of the UAE’s most natural beaches, this evolving corner of the emirate now has a stunning new location from which to enjoy such wonders.
Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas occupies prime beachfront, a short drive from the wonderful Louvre Abu Dhabi. While its mix of modern Arabic design and contemporary features lift the resort above many staycation challengers, use of place underlines the appeal.
Wooden and matted boardwalks link the hotel to a white sand shoreline, passing over protected dunes fertile as nesting territory for challenged turtle species – a reminder that Saadiyat is more than simply another beach destination.
That said, surfboards and calm waters make this an ideal paddle-boarding spot – you can hire equipment on-site or simply relax on loungers metres from the sea.
Directly out back of the hotel is a generous pool area. Flanked by lawns, trees, plentiful loungers and cabanas and turtle waterspouts – plus a strong lifeguard presence – it is ideal for young families.
Alongside is the hotel’s signature Turtle Bay Bar & Grill where a thorough, but not over-facing menu includes melt-in-the-mouth beef Carpaccio, beautifully fresh crab, perfectly seared yellow fin tuna steak and Chilean sea bass, lit up by well-imagined sauces.
Alternatively, Hamilton’s Gastropub is an urban meets industrial-themed venue mixing brick walls, steelwork and a US-style bar area with pull-up stools for sports viewing as well as patches of more intimate seating.
More stylish interior design shines at impressive new dining concept Si Ristorante Italiano & Bar. Concrete finishes and funky artwork accompanies booths, standalone tables and a lofty ceiling touched by the pizza oven chimney on one side.
This high-end establishment offers a consummate menu of Italian staples, but also scours other regions of the country for sophisticated and rustic flavours. Try the lamb meatballs in rich pomodoro sauce for dining joy.
A dedicated cheese and charcuterie counter takes authenticity the extra yard and there’s a contemporary buzz that makes this place great for groups as well as couples. As with the other outlets here, menu prices do the Dubai thing of already including taxes, so you don’t get any shocks when the bill lands.
All-day dining international restaurant Sim Sim provides a broader option, ideal with kids in tow. It is here that you also have breakfast – an extensive affair with great baked goods and cooked choices that include Asian dishes.
So to the rooms…
Designers have again infused contemporary colour and material palates with subtle Arabic touches and artistic flourishes. Modern yet warm, with calming shades give way to – in our case – a stylish bathroom separated from the bedroom by a canny sliding screen for privacy, or inclusion.
Rotana’s new destination is a large resort as suited to romantic couples as it is young families looking to reconnect in the pool or at Aladdin’s Cave kids club.
It balances stylish design with a sense of its surroundings – and the right amount of luxury without feeling stiff.
Rooms at the five-star Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas now start from AED 774 per night, before taxes. To find out more about the resort and room and villa options – or make a reservation – www.rotana.com/rotanahotelandresorts