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Staycation | Yas Island Rotana

Living downtown, a trip to Yas Island feels like a mini vacation for us. Just 20 minutes from the busy corniche, there is no traffic and plenty to see and do on this man made haven reclaimed from the sea. Yas exemplifies the beauty of Abu Dhabi, a versatile capital city of beachside retreats, desert vistas and bustling city living.

A staycation is always a great idea. Really, who doesn’t like a short holiday close to home? With little to do other than kick back and relax, without the hassle of airports, jet lag, sightseeing itineraries or the indecision of where to eat. Holidaying in your own backyard, means that you know the score and can instead take time to enjoy the hotel room and amenities.

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Yas Island Rotana is a good spot for a weekend staycation, not only due to it’s location, which is the perfect base for visiting Yas Island’s leisure attractions, the Formula One or catching a concert at the Du Arena. Located in Yas Plaza, at close proximity to Abu Dhabi international airport, Yas Island Rotana is a compact hotel that offers a touch of modernity and some great dining options.

Arriving on a busy Thursday afternoon (and with the hotel at full capacity). the valet and check-in procedure were a breeze. With the team of friendly multi-lingual staff ensuring that our needs were catered to and with two young children in tow, that we were escorted to  the room as quickly as possible.

On first impressions, this Rotana is a contemporary venue housed within a very compact space. The reception area is light and welcoming, with comfortable low slung sofas and remarkable light fittings. Venturing into the hotels interior, panels of burnt orange illuminate the way to the rooms and make for a striking feature.

We really appreciated the small-scale nature of the property, meaning that with not much to explore, we could immediately start relaxing without any distractions.


The Hotel:

One of our criticisms regarding the hotel was the lift system. Without a room key you can’t access any of the hotels upper levels. An understandable security measure, that’s likely to be frustrating if you’re a party spread over a number of rooms on a number of floors. The card will only allow access to the specific floor that your room is on and the card readers in the lifts themselves, appeared to be a little glitchy and unresponsive at times.

Upon succesfully navigating the issues with the lifts, the rooms themselves are worth the wait. Decked out in autumnal colors, the theme is distinctly unoffensive, with rich textures of  orange and deep browns. As you would expect from a modern hotel. rooms feature the finest of amenities: mini bar, safe, flat screen television and complimentary tea and coffee making facilities.

While the Yas Island Rotana features 281 rooms, we were lucky enough to be accommodated in one of the 27 luxurious suites. With a kingsize bed and a separate lounge area that features a collection of comfortable sofas. Being located in the centre of the building, our room did have a strange triangular shape and the curvature of the architecture did give the transition between living and sleeping areas a slightly disjointed flow. None the less, it was a spacious room that was more than sizable for the four of us and felt comfortable and homely. Unfortunately, our room didn’t have a balcony (some d0), though the beautiful views over Yas Plaza and the ocean mangroves, certainly made up for this fact and provided a great image to wake up to each morning.

Now there are two things that we always look for when on staycation at a hotel. The comfort of the bed and how effective the blackout curtains are (the darker room, the more likely the kids are to sleep in)! The Yas Island Rotana succeeds admirably in both criteria, offering a large king size bed that veers on the right side of softness. Though the seemingly common practice of a ‘pillow menu’ (a common trend in luxurious hotels) has been overlooked. On the flip side, the blackout curtains allowed for a sense of eternal darkness that we really appreciated and the welcome addition of bath robes and slippers added an extra level of comfort.


Recreation:

Outside, the pool area is beautifully landscaped and features a large temperature controlled family pool (open from 7am – 10pm), complete with swim up bar and an abundance of sun loungers and day beds. The pool is the perfect sun trap in the morning but as sun moves around, the design of the building means that the pool is fully shaded for the majority of the afternoon. Perfect for the height of the summer months but perhaps not so ideal now that winter is rolling round.

Under date palms, guests will also find a large jacuzzi and outdoor tennis courts. While for the little ones, there’s a token playground and small shallow kids pool, fully shaded and fed by large water jets.

Other recreational facilities include a fully equipped gym and gender separated saunas and steam rooms (unfortunately we didn’t discover these until the morning we checked out). Bodylines, the Yas Rotana’s health club also houses a spa with relaxation rooms and massage treatments.


Bodylines:

Our staycation included a sixty minute couples massage that was the perfect way to relax and unwind, amid the sounds of panpipes, trickling water and the fragrant aroma of lillys. The Swedish oil massage was firm (without being uncomfortable) and the staff maintained an utmost respect and professionalism throughout the treatment. It’s also exceptionally nice to be able to have a couples massage with your spouse, as these services are quite uncommon and only offered by a handful of the capitals luxury hotels.


Yas Beach:

Staying at the Yas Island Rotana provides guests with complimentary access to the fantastic Yas Beach Club. Open from 10am every day, the beach club comprises a number of restaurants, a large infinity pool and a sweeping stretch of sandy beach that gives way to shallow and welcoming waters. Off the coast are a cluster of sandy islands and natural mangrove forests which makes for a very picturesque location.

Despite its man made nature, the beach is impressive and guests certainly get that immediate ‘wow factor’ upon arrival. The area feels somewhat exclusive with a hidden cove, meaning that the shallow water are protected from waves and just perfect for young children. Making it one of the safest swimming areas for young children in the capital.

Yas Beach has recently introduced  the ‘LivDay / LivNight’ concept. Promoting daytime relaxation, chilling by the pool ( with a cocktail) or spread out on a curtained cabana. Once the sun sets though, the music is turned up and LivNight takes over. The poolside becomes a dance floor with a lineup of international DJs providing the tunes and a hedonistic party atmosphere until the early hours. You can read our full review of Yas Beach here:

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Food & Beverages:

Being food bloggers we were excited to try out the numerous dining options that the Yas Island Rotana offers guests. Aside from the 24 hour room service, there are six food and beverage outlets, offering a multitude of worldwide cuisines.

Aquarius, the causal poolside eatery offers a good selection of salads, pizzas and pastas but better still are the cocktails (we loved the green apple mojito).

Inside, Island Cafe with its patisserie counter and jars of confectionary, feels like an old school sweet shop and is a great spot to grab a cup of coffee.

Taking it more upmarket, Y Bar is the place to party. Featuring an urban styled decor and epic daily happy hour from 4pm – 9pm. Thursdays signify ladies night – meaning complimentary beverages for the girls.

For the carnivores there’s Blue Grill. A contemporary venue offering char-grilled cuts of premium meats and an extensive wine cellar. This was the only outlet that we didn’t get to try as they don’t allow children under 8, though we will save it for a future visit.

Love Indian cuisine? Rangoli is for you, a vibrant venue that encapsulates the colours and aromas synonymous with the Indian subcontinent and combines them with immaculate service and extensive beverage options. You can read our full review of Rangoli here:

Finally there’s Choices. Yas Island Rotana’s all day dining option and as the name suggests, there’s a whole lot of choice! A restaurant that successfully manages to transform itself during breakfast, lunchtime and dinner service. While rarely offering the same dish twice. Thursday night is seafood night and provides an abundance of sushi, shrimp, mussels and calamari.

Better still, ensure you don’t miss the chocolate cinnamon brioche that is served as part of the breakfast buffet.


Summary:

Yas Island Rotana is a wonderful spot to spend a few days and in keeping with the Rotana brand, offers a great all round package at competitive and affordable prices. With a fantastic location, a whole host of dining options and additional access to Yas Beach it’s hard to beat. A good choice for exploring Yas Island and to experience the thrills and spills of Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World and the soon-to-open Warner Brothers Theme Park. Looking for something more casual? How about a round of golf at Yas Links? Or a spot of retail therapy at the Yas Mall, the largest shopping destination in the capital.

Yas Island Rotana offers close access to all this and more, while continuing to build on a fantastic reputation for providing family friendly accommodation and quality service. It must be noted that staff throughout our stay were exceptional and the team at Yas Island Rotana have done a commendable job in making the hotel one of the most desirable places to stay in Yas Plaza.

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Location: Yas Plaza, Yas Leisure Drive, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter
Website: https://www.rotana.com/abudhabi/yasislandrotana/
Phone: o2 508 0555


We were invited to stay at the Yas Island Rotana. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE. Room photos used courtesy of Rotana Hotels.

Yas Beach Club has a very laid back and relaxing ambiance, as Balearic beats pump from the speakers. We were astounded at such a remarkable transformation from our previous visit, from the dining quarter to the boutique shops and the beach itself, which has tripled in size since our last visit. The blue and white colour scheme of towels, sun beds and staff uniforms immediately conjured up images of Santorini and European island life – a place for good times and fun in the sun.

Entrance to Yas Beach costs a very reasonable 50 AED (weekdays) and 100 AED on weekends and is inclusive of rowels, sun loungers and umbrellas. For those looking for the ultimate in beachfront luxury, private chalets, cabanas and daybeds are available at an additional charge.

Despite its man made nature, the beach is impressive and guests certainly get that immediate ‘wow factor’ upon arrival. The area feels somewhat exclusive (despite free access being provided to all Yas Hotel guests), a hidden cove with islands scattered off shore, meaning that the shallow water is protected from waves and is just perfect for young children (those under the age of eight enter for free).

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Yas Beach has introduced a new concept to go with it’s new look. The LivDay / LivNight takes a precedence on daytime relaxation, chilling by the pool with a cocktail or spread out on a curtained cabana. Once the sun sets though, the music is turned up and LivNight takes over. The poolside becomes a dance floor with a lineup of international DJs providing the tunes, a hedonistic party atmosphere takes over until the early hours, in what is sure to become one of Abu Dhabi’s hottest new nightspots. I mean who doesn’t like partying outside on the beach under the light of the moon, for that ultimate sense of freedom?

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During our daytime visit, we couldn’t help but be blinded by the bright whites and attention to detail on display. From the gold mosaic trim on the swimming pool steps, to the pink flamingoes that dot the pathways along the beachfront. Our favourite decorative touches were the reclaimed seashore debris that has ben turned into shell lamps and sign boards, with creative words of wisdom such as: “Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, breathe the wild air” – a motto that Yas Beach goers live by.

The very nature of beach club evokes an impression of exclusivity, but Yas Beach is not a  pretentious place. It’s all about good vibes, friendly relaxation and making you feel welcome. Families are encouraged and children can join in the fun with their own shaded splash pool, fed by a rocky waterfall. Unfortunately the large infinity pool is out of bounds to under 21s on the weekends.

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Lying on the white sands and working on the tan is the perfect way to spend the day and at Yas Beach guests are made to feel extremely pampered. Waiters are on hand to move sun loungers and umbrellas and take food and beverage orders, from a selection that includes the freshest juices and alcoholic tipples. During our time at the beach we found the service to be very good with our waiter being exceptionally friendly and constantly refilling our ice bucket to ensure that beverages remained chilled at all times. A small shisha shack provides your favourite flavours of hubby bubbly with the fruity aromas filling the air and adding to the laid back ambiance.

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For seclusion, venture away from the pool and down towards the water sports and volleyball court, were you are more than likely to have the beach all to yourself! This is also the area for the more active beachgoers with water-sports and fun activities at the forefront. If beach volleyball is not your game (the national  championships are held here bi-annually), then why not participate in water-sports (at an additional cost) thanks to the team at Noukhada.  Top aquatic activities include sailing, kayaking, wind surfing, paddle boarding, with trained instructors on hand to help. There is also an outdoor gym featuring ropes and punching bags.

The chill out vibes and tranquility are somewhat interrupted every few minutes by aeroplanes from the nearby Abu Dhabi airport – a fact that cannot be helped by the beaches location under the flightpath. This won’t ruin your visit though, as the inviting waters are on hand to sooth your worries. Stand still enough and you will see small fish swimming past and gazing out to the horizon, you will notice the tourist playgrounds of Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, Yas Marina Circuit and the forthcoming Warner Brothers Theme Park. It is remarkable to think of what Yas Island has become in such a short space of time, it really is the ultimate destination for fun in the sun.

For those wanting to enjoy some culinary delights during their time at the beach, a new food quarter offers a wide selection of Neapolitan pizzas, grills and Italian gelato. Now this wouldn’t be an Out & About UAE review without discussing the food options. First things first, no outside food or drinks are allowed into the beach club and bags are throughly checked (so don’t even try and sneak anything in). Yes the prices are elevated due to the location and the fact that you have no alternative, but the food is not extortionate, portions are large and the quality is good.

The options include the outside kiosks which sell a variety of pizzas and Arabic snacks such as Falafel, these items can also be ordered to your sun lounger. With it being the heat of the day (44 degrees and counting) we ventured into the air-conditioned comfort of the tiki lounge for our lunch. The space is nice with Hawaiian themed murals covering the walls, a large aloha greets guests from behind the bar and there is even the option to sit on sofas mounted upon wooden long boats.

The bamboo tiki bar brings the tropics to Abu Dhabi and is sponsored by rum brand Bacardi. Cocktails are the main component of the menu (we just love a mojito) while the food options are exactly as you would expect, light bites for the beach consisting of sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes, all accompanied by a complimentary bread basket. The one thing we were not prepared for was the portion size! Opting for ciabattas of the steak and grilled vegetable variety, both arrived stuffed with ingredients and with a mountain of fries. One to share would’ve been more than enough!

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All in all we are still astounded by the overhaul of Yas Beach and can see it becoming a regular fixture in our calendar. The feeling of being so far away from it all, despite still being within the city limits, means that we can have a mini vacation at the drop of a hat.Yas Beach Club is a great place for socialising with friends, getting out on the water and topping up that tan before it gets unbearably hot.

With affordable prices (we’re looking at you Saadiyat Beach Club) this is the ‘must visit’ beach club in the capital. We don’t want to use the word paradise, but Yas Beach certainly seems close.

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Annual memberships are available starting at 4000 AED (single) 6000 AED (couples) and 7000 AED (families) for the year.


Location: Yas Leisure Drive, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Website: http://www.yasbeach.ae
Hours: 10:00am – 1:00am

Phone: 056 242 0435 / reservations@yasbeach.ae


All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.


Yas Beach Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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