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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.