Jumeirah’s second venture into the UAE capital is marked by the opening of the Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort. A five-star property offering understated luxury and strong eco-friendly principles.
While development along the Saadiyat Island’s natural coastline has been rife in the last twelve months (with no less than three hotel openings), Jumeirah Saadiyat is found on a lesser developed stretch of sand and boasts the distinct advantage of being the closest distance to the shore of all the Saadiyat hotels. While it appears that taxis may not yet know exactly where the hotel is. This is a blessing that provides the capitals newest hotel with a sense of serenity just a 10 minutes drive away from the downtown area.
For many of us living in the UAE, life revolves around hotels and therefore first impressions are key. We often become blasé to our surroundings but the Jumeirah Saadiyat makes its mark with a minimalistic lobby in which the statement feature is a sprawling glass chandelier. Hand made in the Czech Republic from over two hundred individual pieces, seven colours can be found upon this sculpted light fitting which takes on motifs of jellyfish, shells and tentacles that are in perfectly in keeping with the beachfront location.
Those who have visited Jumeirah’s other Abu Dhabi property at Etihad Towers will notice resemblances between the two hotels, with both reception areas flanked by curved windows providing an abundance of natural light and pleasing vistas out to sea. Yet it’s the unexpected warmth and hospitality of the staff that is differentiates the two properties, with check-in procedures completed promptly and with gusto.
We’re led to our room by the gracious Paul who does a wonderful job of embodying the Jumeirah brand with his enthusiasm for the property which still retains a new sheen while feeling somewhat clinical at times. The modern and appealing style carries seamlessly from the communal areas and into the bedrooms.
Comprising of 293 rooms, suites and villas broken up into small pods, each room at the Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort offers impressive sea views and balconies. Our ocean deluxe room clocks in at approximately 50SQM meters and is tastefully decorated in natural tones reflective of the dunes at the beach. Decor is kept to a minimum with the exception of a large basket, woven from palm fronds in the traditional Emirati style and the king size bed feels particularly large, piled high with plump pillows and a thick duvet that results in an comfortable nights sleep. The room also features a small writing desk and seating area, while a rotating flatscreen television allows for comfortable viewing wherever you may be in the room.
Bathrooms are spacious and beautifully appointed with separate bath and shower areas. The former provides a deep tub that could well be the definition of #BathroomGoals, while the latter boasts a powerful rainfall shower that is an impressive visual treat with all the plumbing selected in a tasteful bronze colour. Regular Out & About readers will know of our fixation with hotel robes and slippers and we’re pleased to note that those at Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort are both comfortable and practical.
Guests are overwhelmed for choice when it comes to the five onsite dining destinations which include Majlis Saadiyat home to an Arabian afternoon tea. The Lounge is a sophisticated space with a lovely terrace for sundowners and a fun Thursday Night concept known as the Retro Social. White represents an all-day-dining with a difference! For the design is beautifully conceptualised via archways and screens that break up the large space and provide pockets of privacy. This was the location for our breakfast and we were impressed by the smoothie bar, gluten free section and the global nature of the buffet spread (we’re all for ha gao for breakfast) which includes gravalax salmon, ample salads and an enormous selection of fresh fruits.
We also had the pleasure of dining on Levantine cuisine at Tean where we enjoyed Turkish Pide and Manti in a restaurant that is small enough to create atmosphere even on a quiet night. Our venue of choice would have to be Mare Mare, an al fresco Italian venue that has the ability to make diners feel immediately relaxed. Sat overlooking the Arabian Gulf, the seafood heavy menu features Italian favourites elevated via their unique and often audacious plating. Portions are large and the price point is reasonable and we would certainly recommend the tuna tartare and the burrata pizza. It’s a menu that certainly piqued our interest and we look forward to returning again in the near future.
While the Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort may forgo the Arabic stylings and sandy tones of the other Saadiyat hotels in favour of something far more modern (think a hybrid between spaceship and conference centre), the resorts eco-friendly initiatives are to be admired and are perfectly suited to Saadiyat Island and its natural shoreline. With no plastic straws or single-use plastic bottles available, guests are instead provided re-usable water bottles which can be refilled with still or sparkling water from various stations dotted around the resort (they also make for great mementos). This initiative is further enhanced by Emily Armstrong, the resorts on-site Marine Biologist who is available to discuss marine habitats and the resorts Hawsbill turtle and dolphin population.
With Saadiyat Island offering 9km of coastline in addition to mangrove and wetland areas and the Saadiyat beach dune ecosystem, the beach is always going to be the primary draw. An untouched swathe of golden sand and turquoise waters that could easily be mistaken for the Caribbean rather than Abu Dhabi is pleasantly unmarred by construction, meaning you have the opportunity to stroll along this natural stretch of coastline unhindered and If you’re lucky (as we were) you may even see pods of dolphins frolicking close to the shore. Sun loungers, umbrellas and spacious curtained cabanas are spaced appropriately along the beachfront enabling guests to find their own slice of island paradise.
Between the beach and the main hotel building there are three swimming pools. An adults only lap pool, a family lagoon pool and a children’s splash pool, complete with fountains and playground equipment housed within the shallow waters. Its a novel approach to recreation and one that offers something for everyone, allowing guests to spread between the three bodies of water means none of the pools feel particularly busy. The resort also offers tennis courts, a state of the art gymnasium and a 2,700SQM spa containing 15 treatment rooms anchored around a central hammam.
The Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort may be a new addition to Abu Dhabi’s luxury hotel market but the thing that surprised us most about our stay was how well children are catered for at the property. From the children’s personalised check-in, through to the treasure hunt maps, the coloring books in the restaurants and the extensive kids club with its playground, soft play area and video games room. The kids club is easily one of the most expansive in the city and benefits from educational activities which allow children to understand the natural environment of Saadiyat Island and get involved in environmental initiatives.
Jumeirah’s latest foray into the capital is one to be applauded and is perfectly on brand in its representation of luxury and sophistication. Located close to both the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the leisure attractions of Yas Island and just ten minutes from the city centre, Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort feels offers an island escape close to home. With a desert property, Jumeirah Al Wathba scheduled to open very soon, we are already looking at booking a stay. For if it’s anything like this Saadiyat property, both parents and kiddos will have a wonderful time.
Location: Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
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Phone: +971 2 811 5888
Out & About UAE were guests of Jumeirah. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.
The Verdict: Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort