If you have a staycation in mind and a hungry young family in tow you’ll know that hotel bill can really stack up come check-out.
With this in mind, Rixos Saadiyat Island has taken the “ultra all-inclusive” concept already successfully UAE pioneered in Ras Al Khaimah and applied it to the capital’s favourite beachfront.
The result is an elegant five-star resort with all the amenities and F&B you would hope for, but without the scary final price tag.
But, as anyone who knows the Turkish hotel group’s Dubai properties will concur, this also comes with an element of fun. The most obvious, around the main pool at least, is the hotel “skater waiters” who whizz around on in-line skates taking refreshments to guests.
With the all-inclusive model, you’re not having to sign a slip every time you snack or sip.
Rixos opened Abu Dhabi’s first all-inclusive resort last October, enabling guests to better budget their staycation or longer holiday while indulging in a resort blessed with architecture that blends Arabic tradition with modern amenities to Insta-loving effect. The bright and detailed lobby is as elegant as it is epic with a blue stained glass arch, impressive flooring and boldly shaped and coloured furniture that channels an art deco vibe.
Once checked in, a reception usher shows you to your room; in our case a garden-facing double with a deep and furnished balcony. Cheery design details from downstairs feed into bedrooms where curious ornaments accompany warmly coloured furnishings.
All-inclusive embraces an under-whelming minibar fridge where the most inspiring contents were arguably soft drinks choice and tubes of Smarties.
Several restaurants beckon, however, and while your package includes all, you’re advised to reserve a table at a la carte options to avoid disappointment.
These include the Japanese outlet Aja Asian & Teppanyaki, which offers a short but solid menu and a fun, if slightly brief, teppanyaki experience inside and out. We found generous, well-presented food at Mermaid, matching fresh decor with a nicely cooked range of Mediterranean seafood dishes, including stunning octopus, meats and salads. The lobby elegance permeates L’Olivio, serving pasta and pizza in a European ambience, while Orient blends Oriental Turkish cuisine with stylish surroundings.
By contrast People’s offers bright, thoroughly modern casual dining with beach views – although beating them all for sheer scale and instant choice is Turquoise, the resort’s all-day dining restaurant.
Its breakfast, lunch and dinner service embraces a huge array of dishes, crisscrossing territories from Arabic to Indian with the first sitting delivering regular favourites alongside Turkish staples such as menemen – posh scrambled eggs – and spicy sausage.
You can grab more nutrition at the Vitamin Bar before taking in the resort’s lush natural beach, accessed via a wooden boardwalk that crosses dune areas favoured by nesting turtles. Plenty of loungers with umbrellas face the waves and a wooden booth offers cold drinks.
With the summer heat at full setting, the main pool is serviced by a swim-up bar, plenty of loungers and – importantly if you have kids – food carts serving Baskin Robbins ice cream, fresh juices and pretzels.
Come sunset, sensitive illumination bathes the resort, with the large courtyard beyond the lobby and Lounge Bar brought to life by live music and DJs as guests share shisha (at extra cost) in sunken seating areas.
The Rixos all-inclusive concept began in Antalya, Turkey, in the early 2000s.
“Once you have checked in the hotel, what we offer is peace of mind, knowing that there won’t be any hidden costs or extra bills to settle at the end of your stay,” explains Rixos Saadiyat Island general manager Burcak Orak. “What you set out to pay upon booking with us is what you will pay at the end of your stay while having had no restrictions with food and beverages during that time in the resort.”
As for those speedy poolside waiters, they are trained in-house, reveals the boss.
“This is new for Abu Dhabi but not for Rixos – this skater waiter/waitress programme started almost 10 years before in Rixos, Turkey,” he adds.
Dubai Week was a guest of the hotel. A deluxe Room Garden View at Rixos Saadiyat Island, based on two people sharing, costs from AED 1,210 (inclusive of taxes) checking in July. Book and find out more about the hotel’s Rixy Kids’ Club at saadiyatisland.rixos.com