Now thanks to the opening of Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas there’s a stunning new location from which to enjoy these wonders.
While its mix of modern Arabic design and contemporary features mark the resort out from many staycation challengers, its use of location underlines the appeal.
Wooden and matted boardwalks link the hotel to a white sand shoreline, passing over protected dunes that remain fertile as nesting territory for challenged turtle species.
That said, surfboards and calm waters make this an ideal paddle-boarding location while there’s a general under-populated peacefulness to this stretch of the Abu Dhabi coast. You can hire equipment on-site or simply soak up the ebb of the waves from loungers a short hop from the sea.
Plentiful loungers and cabanas line a huge swimming area that is ripe for all demographics; with a strong lifeguard presence ensuring it is perfect for young families.
Little cool boxes with complimentary local water is a nice touch, as is the towel design. Both the latter and poolside turtle waterspouts pay homage to the protected and private residents of this island and the nearby dunes.
This also extends to the name of the hotel’s signature restaurant.
Come sunset, Turtle Bay Bar & Grill takes on a cool ambience as subtle lighting illuminates the pool and strategic beams around the building pick out its eye-catching architecture.
Seating is inside and out, the former including a bar boasting some clever cocktails and speciality gins.
You’ll also find the latter at Hamilton’s Gastropub.
This urban meets industrial-themed venue mixes brick walls and steelwork and US-style bar area with pull-up stools while TVs for sport viewing and a mix of seating areas allow you to be as cosy or sociable as you wish.
The same can be said of the stylish and fairly epic space occupied by impressive new dining concept Si Ristorante Italiano & Bar.
Led with enthusiasm by general manager Mario, this high-end establishment offers a consummate menu that includes Italian staples of pizza and pasta, but also scours other regions of the country for more sophisticated and rustic flavours.
Many highlights lurk, but we found particular joy in the lamb meatballs in a rich pomodoro sauce and chicken liver pate with pomegranate molasses and stewed grapes, while ossobuco Milanese, braised veal shanks with saffron risotto was classy comfort food in keeping with the surroundings.
Save room for dolci a finire – aka dessert – which includes the mini cannoli filled with sweetened ricotta, chocolate chips and maraschino cherries and some clean-tasting gelato.
As with the other outlets in the resort, menu prices do the 'Dubai thing' of already including taxes so you don’t get any shocks when the bill lands.
Sim Sim provides a broader option as the hotel’s all-day dining international restaurant.
It is here that you also have breakfast; an extensive affair that majors on its baked goods section, good fruits and yoghurts and cooked choices that include Asian dishes.
Above all that, though, there are the guest bedrooms and the designers have infused contemporary colour and material palates with subtle Arabic touches and artistic flourishes.
Cute black Noir shampoos and gels add further sophistication while a balcony lets you take in the cooler night air.
All in all, Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas is a triumphant destination for the Abu Dhabi hotel group; surely set to enjoy the kind of impact The Cove Rotana had on its arrival in RAK.
It is a large resort that is as befitting romantic couples seeking private enclaves as it is young families looking to reconnect in the pool, at Aladdin’s Cave kids club or in the seclusion of a dedicated beach-front villa with dedicated pool.
Rotana’s Saadiyat entry balances smart and sassy with a fun side; stylish design with a sense of surroundings and the right amount of luxury without feeling stiff.
From the lobby glass floor displays of sands from different emirates to the stand-out F&B options and blissful shoreline, this a place that will stick in your mind long after you've departed.
ROOMS at the five-star Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas start from AED 975 per night, before taxes (based on late May). Look out for summer offers for residents.
TO find out more about the resort and room and villa options – or to make a reservation – please click onto www.rotana.com/rotanahotelandresorts/unitedarabemirates/abudhabi/saadiyatrotanaresortandvillas/dining