Does an all-you-can-eat-drink-and-do package make Rixos preferable to its Saadiyat Island neighbours?
Oh to spend a weekend on the sunny shores of Saadiyat Island. This Abu Dhabi island is widely recognised not only as having the best beaches in the UAE – but among the best beaches in the world – thanks to perfectly sugary sands and crystal clear waters. On its fringes have flocked a collection of five-star resorts, each eager to make the most of their prime beachfront location.
Among them is Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island, promising a roster of activities and collection of restaurants far superior to the standard tacky tunes and buffets of fried food most all-inclusive resorts gravitate to. But how does it really measure up? We checked-in to see for ourselves.
Easy to reach for both residents of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island sits snuggled right in the middle of a stretch of five-star resorts on the island. To its left, a Rotana resort, and to its right you’ll find the Park Hyatt. The island is slowly transforming into somewhat of a cultural beacon, with Louvre Abu Dhabi (and a swathe of new, still-to-open museums) located a short drive away.
The look and feel
The influence of this brand’s Turkish roots is immediately evident in the design detail, fused with Arabic design influences that give the whole hotel a regal feel. The Ottoman-aesthetic is felt everywhere: from the terracotta roof to the stained glass, sunken seating in the courtyard and pops of royal blue that feature everywhere from the crystal chandeliers to the marble mosaic floors.
Entry level deluxe rooms are bright and colourful with king-sized beds and generous soaking tubs, although perhaps lacking in some of the high-spec features you might expect from a modern five-star property, such as a Bluetooth speaker. All rooms have a balcony with garden or sea views, although booking a premium room (there’s one- and two-bedroom options available) comes with the added benefit of direct access to a semi-private swimming pool. A word of warning: the swimming pool runs in a stretch down a line of rooms, so if your next door neighbours are also taking a dip, don’t expect much privacy.
If you’re a larger group looking for more independence, it would make sense to book a villa: either one of the three-bedroom abodes with pool access, or the grand, beachfront, four-bedroom mini-mansions, that each have a living room and a private pool set within perfectly manicured grounds.
Facilities and activities
At Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island there truly is something for everyone, and it feels as though every inch of the expansive grounds is dedicated to offering something extra for guests. At the pool and beach, guests can laze away the day under a shaded parasol, or work up a sweat with a morning paddle boarding session or afternoon aqua-aerobics class. Access to the biggest spa on Saadiyat, Amara Spa, is included in the room rates, with that signature Arabian grandeur leant to ornate archways, detailed mosaics and marble relaxation areas dotted throughout. Inside, there’s 10 treatment rooms, a hidden outdoor pool, plus a male and female spa area complete with sauna, jacuzzi and traditional Hammam. Body treatments, facials and massages are all chargeable, and you’re advised to book ahead as the spa gets busy.
Food and drink
Dining comes in the form of almost a dozen restaurants and bars, so it’s a considerable upgrade from the traditional all-day dining buffet that you usually find at an all-inclusive resort. Even the all-day dining at Turquoise is suitably enhanced, and the extensive breakfast spread offers a selection of freshly baked pastries, made-to-order omelettes, crepes and pancakes, plus continental meats, cheeses and buffet trays filled with European, Asian and Middle Eastern breakfast favourites. At the poolside, People’s is a colourful spot to retreat from the heat for crowd-pleasing plates like burgers, hot dogs and pizzas; while a more fine-dining evening meal can be enjoyed at beachside Mediterranean restaurant, Mermaid. Here, there’s a strong focus on seafood with hefty Greek influences, and sharing starters of tzatziki, seabass ceviche and chilled octopus are swiftly followed by a la carte options like barbecue prawns, grilled salmon and a seafood linguine.
At L’Olivo, expect to dine on a menu of classic Italian pizzas and pastas, while no stay at the Rixos Premium is complete without drinks at rooftop bar, Orient (pictured), with its grand decor and entertaining live-music serving as a great post-dinner spot. At each restaurant and bar, a curated list of signature cocktails is the ideal pairing to well-executed menus, and ensures no cocktail connoisseur goes uncatered to.
To enjoy these glittering Saadiyat Island shores at a wallet-friendly rate, book ASAP. For UAE residents throughout August room rates start from Dhs1,600 per room per night. That includes full access to the resort’s extensive entertainment programme, pool and beach facilities, plus all your food and drink. There’s also 20 per cent off in-room dining and 25 per cent off treatments at Anjana Spa. Minimum two-night stay, valid until August 31.
Verdict: For all-inclusive stays that go above and beyond, this one is hard to beat.
Tel: (02) 492 2222, rixos.com