It’s official – staycation season is finally upon us! The weather is slowly cooling down and it’s finally bearable to be out on the beach again at last, hurrah! So last weekend we took ourselves off to Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort for a couple of nights.
The hotel is coming up for a year old in November 2019 so it’s still pretty new and there are a few small things around the hotel still being tweaked – a few landscaping spots here and there, but the first impression as you walk into the hotel is definitely impressive. It’s my kind of building – I love the contemporary feel and the bright, clean appearance of the foyer.
We had an Ocean Suite room which had a large separate living area, and both the bedroom and lounge had views facing over the pool and beach. There was plenty of space for the three of us in the room that’s for sure! The hotel had also set up the extra bed for my son at the end of our bed which we’ve found is quite unusual – often the extra bed is placed in the lounge. I didn’t mind being in the same room for just two nights, and it means that we can make use of the lounge after my son goes to bed which makes sense, otherwise you end up with a lounge that you can’t really use which is a bit silly. If you have a longer stay or just prefer the kids in a separate room, there’d definitely be enough room to move the extra bed into the lounge anyway.
So once we’d received our bags in the room and settled in a bit, the boy was keen to go check out the play areas. The kid’s club is supervised and open to kids aged four and above to stay and play (younger also can enter but they must be with a parent / babysitter at all times). The club is again impressive, it’s well designed with lots of fun spots to play and hide in and a variety of toys around too. There’s also a full activity schedule that kids can choose to be involved in. The club actually consists of three main rooms – there is a small one to attend to the needs of babies, the main one for younger kids and separated along a short corridor is an age appropriate teens room kitted out with computer games, table tennis, foosball table and lots of places to just sit around and chill.
And of course the sign of a great kids club is when the kids don’t want to leave… so of course we were only to happy to oblige, and took the chance to go off and enjoy some peaceful sundowners! We headed over to The Lounge, which on the fifth floor of the hotel (there are only six floors) has great views over the pool and beach. It’s a stylish place to relax and has a very large outdoor terrace too. The Lounge also has an evening bites buffet and live small bites cooking station so it’s a perfect place for aperitivo – in the true Italian spirit of the word where more than a drink, it’s almost a light meal before dinner. It’s also pretty good value – it runs every day from 5pm to 8pm and is Dhs85 for unlimited snacks and one cocktail. And if like me, one cocktail isn’t enough for you – extra cocktails from a set menu are just Dhs20 each! I thought that was a bit of a bargain all round.
After retrieving the boy from the kids club, we couldn’t resist a walk along the beach before getting ready for dinner. I mean, it’s the best beach in Abu Dhabi and look at that sunset, how can you not?!
After ordering room service for the little one (which was homemade and fresh by the way, they have a decent kids menu with good quality ingredients) we’d booked a babysitter so we could escape for a quiet dinner ourselves, and off we went to Mare Mare, the resort’s traditional Italian restaurant. It’s a poolside restaurant so I wasn’t expecting very much, but it’s much smarter than it sounds. The only down point was that there wasn’t more outside seating – there was only really space for two tables by the pool in the evening (during the day there’s more casual poolside seating closer to the beach, but this doesn’t seem to be used at night). The restaurant does have floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the pool which do open out when the weather is considered cool enough, but since there was still some humidity when we visited in mid October, it was still considered too warm.
The breakfast restaurant at the hotel is called White, and how beautiful and white it is. I couldn’t help but keep taking about how gorgeous and bright the place was. I also really love the design of the room – the seating area is separated from the buffet section by a sort of modern cloister. It sounds weird, but actually it really works and I loved the fact that it helped to keep the feeling of calm and peace in the eating area. It really separated any hustle and bustle of the food preparation areas and just created a much more upmarket feeling than you might normally find at a buffet. The whole thing is also laid out so it really doesn’t make any difference to how far you have to walk, it just makes for a more peaceful breakfast.
Next stop after breakfast was to check out the pools and beach. The hotel has an adults only lap pool, a family pool and a large kids pool with shade. In all honesty, the family pool wasn’t really my thing – I found it a bit shallow and you couldn’t really have a decent swim in it. It looks lovely as it’s designed like a beach with a gradual descent into the water (no steps etc), but I didn’t find it that usable as there’s only really a small part that is deep enough, but this part isn’t really wide enough for swimming. It’s also quite strangely divided into two completely separate sections by the main hotel walkway which make it two awkward sized pools rather than one big one. It does work for local sensitivities though, since one of these pools has a swim up bar, so it does mean you can avoid this if you choose to. It is regardless a lovely pool, I just found it to be more suitable for dipping in to cool off, or.. in these times of social media, as what I like to call a ‘posing’ pool (complete with obligatory unicorn inflatables!). The adult lap pool is a decent size for a swim though, and the kids pool is exactly the kind of design I love – it just works so well. It has plenty of seating right around the edge so you can sit back and watch the kids splosh away, it has water fountains and squirt rocking water toys for them to play with, it’s not too deep and has a gradual edge so there’s really shallow bits for very little ones too.
And what is there to say about the beach? It’s gorgeous of course. And since the hotel has quite a long stretch of beach the sun loungers aren’t set too close together and there are plenty of them so it stays pretty peaceful, even when there are quite a few people around. The water is just so clear, we had a lot of fun sitting in the water watching the fish swim right up to us, and the water is still so lovely and warm at this time of year, but has lost that ‘hot bath’ effect from the summer.
The final meal of our weekend was at the hotel’s Levantine restaurant, Tean. I really enjoyed it here as there’s plenty of room to sit outside (the restaurant windows also peel back completely in winter to give it an open plan feel). It’s so lovely to be able to sit so close to the beach, and although the restaurant is not on the beach itself, it’s actually positioned closer to the beach than other local restaurants that are considered ‘on the beach’.
We had a really wonderful weekend at Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Beach Resort. In my opinion it’s a gorgeous, contemporary hotel that has a really clean and airy feeling design about it. It just feels uplifting to me. The food was great throughout – we honestly didn’t have a bad thing to say about a single meal. I found the service to be great throughout the hotel, and even the couple of small hiccups we did witness were fixed quickly and professionally. I just found there was no awkward confusion or embarrassment about anything as sometimes can be created due to lack of understanding or training – I found the staff well trained and able to execute everything efficiently. The team in the kid’s club were particularly memorable – they were super friendly and really went out of their way to entertain and welcome the kids, my son loved it there and already keeps asking to go back!
Disclaimer: I was invited to stay as a guest of Jumeirah though all words and opinions expressed here are firmly my own.