What better way to get over a return from holiday than to dive right in with a staycation?! Well, on our recent return from spending time in the cooler climes of the UK, with the weather in the UAE regularly reaching the mid 40s and beyond, that’s exactly what we decided to do with a little one night staycation at the Marriott Al Forsan.
To make the most of the weekend, we checked in on a Friday morning with a very excited child who couldn’t wait to get into the pool!
The hotel has only been open for just over a year now (opened March 2017) so it’s all very new and modern inside. The main foyer is spacious and well designed, with plenty of places to sit back and watch the world go by.
We were also impressed with the bedroom – attractive, comfortable and roomy – and with a spacious bathroom complete with giant walk-in shower and a gorgeous big deep bath (not pictured).
And as for the bed, well, the little one was eager to test it out and jumped right in! I have to say, it was a notably comfortable bed (you know, the type you sink into but it’s not too soft at the same time?) and although I find I don’t usually sleep too well the first night in any hotel, I slept very comfortably.
After dropping our stuff off and getting changed, next stop was to hit the pool. I mean, what better idea to try to stay cool in 45° heat?! It’s that or stay indoors and the skies were beautiful and clear, so outdoors it was!
The pool is pretty inviting… but did you know it’s also the largest pool in Abu Dhabi? It’s a sort of H shaped pool, which seems a bit odd at first but actually it creates separate areas without having two separate pools which was quite nice. One side is deeper for adults and lap swimming, and the other is shallower in part so suits families well.
At the shallower end is also a shaded kids play area with shallow pool for very little ones and several water features to play amongst and cool off in.
And just below the kids pool also sits another kids area – a fenced off splash pad, excellent for running off excess energy in! Another level below the splash pad is also a kids play area with climbing frame and slide, and though it looked enticing it was a bit too hot to investigate in the searing July heat! It’s worth noting that there is also an indoor kids play area if the heat gets too much, kitted out with foosball table and a small play area for young ones (though note there is no kids club at the hotel).
The swimming pool also has a swim up bar at the opposite end to the kids play area so refreshment is never far away! Of course there’s also seating round the other side of the bar for those who prefer to stay dry.
And as an H shape, this makes more space for loungers, either around the edges of the pool or in the ‘peninsulas’ that the shape creates. These ‘peninsula’ areas also seemed to be a little more secluded which is a nice option if that’s something you’re looking for.
The other thing we really liked about the pool was the numerous little inlets providing entry into the water along the sides. These created a lovely little sun trap (certainly more bearable in the cooler weather!) for anyone who wants to sunbathe. Or for people like us with kids, it allowed us to be submerged and keeping cool in the water while the little one pottered about happily splashing about and playing on the shallow ledge which was brilliant. It acted as our own little private section of the pool, right next to our loungers which was great!
We spent the whole afternoon by the pool, splashing around and keeping cool. We even ordered our lunch from the bar to eat poolside. I don’t have any pictures of the food but I was pretty impressed. Frequently, I find pool menus have too many options and then none of them are all that good. All too often you get soggy, tasteless generic cooking. Conversely, although it appeared at first as though the pool menu didn’t offer a great deal of choice, when the food was actually presented it was good quality, well cooked and very tasty. We ordered the chicken shawarma which we thoroughly enjoyed (and got stuck into with such excitement that I forgot to photograph the evidence for you!). My son ate popcorn chicken from the kids menu and I don’t think I’d seen him eat so much in one sitting for quite some time which is testament in itself!
The pool started to get quite busy in the late afternoon as is fairly customary in this part of the world as everyone comes out as the weather starts to cool off and the sun goes down, and this is our usual cue to leave, to go and shower off and have a little quiet time before dinner.
The hotel has a number of restaurants including a very appealing lobby lounge. We were quite keen on the idea of the pub – the Appaloosa Bar (American) as these places are always open early, serve classic favourites, are informal and therefore as long as there’s a no smoking section are usually very convenient with kids, but sadly, we were told no kids were allowed.
The jewel in the crown of the hotel is The Grill, which I have read many good reviews on (and it’s in The Entertainer too). But we decided it was probably a bit too formal since we were dining with the three-year old after a long day tiring himself out in the pool and plumped for the evening buffet at all-day dining Khayal restaurant (which is also in The Entertainer).
With the restaurant opening at 6.30pm it meant my son would be able to get a good feed in before going off for a later than usual bedtime, hopefully satisfied and exhausted!
The restaurant was pretty impressive, with genuinely international food. I find that a lot of these places say ‘international buffet’ and then you can’t find anything you really like, but, the buffet at Khayal is massive, so I’m sure everyone will find something to their taste. They have large stations for Asian, Indian, pizza and pasta, sushi, Arabic, salads and lots more. If you can’t find it at Khayal, you pretty much need to stop looking!
The restaurant is also the venue for breakfast, and again, it’s set up to accommodate a lot of people eating a lot of food! For both the dinner buffet and breakfast we found the choice very wide and the quality very good – though I must say the Asian was the stand out from both meals – the dim sum was absolutely delicious!
I found the service to be very helpful and accommodating also, AND, despite having visited a lot of hotels both regionally and around the world, for only the second time ever in my experience, the hotel had dedicated kids tableware! It’s something that is such a small touch but is so often overlooked and makes a really big difference to my son being able to manage by himself, leaving us to enjoy our dinner without so much interruption, and that’s priceless!
The hotel also has a large spa, the Saray Spa which looks fabulous. Sadly, since we stayed just one night on the weekend I didn’t have a chance to check it out but, in good news, it’s also in The Entertainer so I hope to be able to report back soon! 🙂
To find out more about the hotel and their current offers check out their website.