It is difficult to decide whether one should time your first experience of Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island for the daytime or night-time. I arrived late at night and as I sleepily entered the spectacular lobby of the hotel it felt like entering a fairy tale. Strangely, my impression of the lobby didn’t diminish over my eight nights stay. It’s balance of elegance and luxury is made to impress, with an abundance of shiny chandeliers, colourful tiles and a pleasant scent.
The rooms follow the elegant décor, with beautiful interior design and luxurious bathrooms. My two bedroom suite, which comes with a private terrace and swimming pool was especially mesmerizing.
Little did I know that the best was yet to come, in daylight. For the principal feature of Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island is its beach. It could be the Caribbean or South Pacific. The powdery white sand is being caressed by a temperamental sea that changes from turquois post-card setting to wild waves, proving that the UAE can be about nature, rather than shiny buildings. More than once we experienced a family of dolphins approaching the beach, to the delight of cheering guests.
This is an all-inclusive family friendly resort without feeling like one. The service and luxurious feel remain superb despite its size. I visited in February, which is high season, but the hotel felt private and not too busy. The swimming pool area is the liveliest part, with cold drinks served by very friendly staff circulating on rollerblades. There is always a place to enjoy one’s privacy, such as in the wonderful, terraced bar of the hotel where it is delightful to enjoy a drink and live music during sunset.
The food was excellent and accommodates various tastes. Apart from a very good main restaurant with a spacious terrace overlooking a colonial style meadow, there is a Japanese, an Italian and a Greek restaurant, as well as a daily bistro. Great food in all of them. This is a family resort, so a big emphasis is on children with probably one of the most luxurious Kids Club in the world. Little guests have their own water park, beach with artificial waves and a busy schedule that promises to build new memories and friendships. I noticed high level of security in all parts with children, so parents can relax. The Kids Club comes with its own snack bar offering fruits, juices and burgers.
For guests visiting with no children there is a peaceful, adult-only beach area, as well as an excellent bar overlooking the sea.
There is plenty to do at the resort that features a wonderful Spa and various fitness activities. For sports lovers there are gym facilities and tennis courts. A golf course is within walking distance. You are encouraged to visit several attractions of Abu Dhabi, but it will feel unnecessary to leave the resort at times. Do make an effort though, as the desert trip is a must as well as a visit to the cultural sites of Abu Dhabi, including the neighbouring Louvre.
For guests seeking additional privacy, there are villas that come with a butler and private swimming pools, a Club Privée Clubhouse which offers all day dining and a private beach for the villas guests.
For most of the guests Abu Dhabi wasn’t their dream destination. But whoever I spoke to fell in love with Saadiyat Island. Some of us are already planning our next holidays in this magnificent property that has become our dream holiday destination.
Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Tel: +90 850 755 1 797
If you’re flying to Abu Dhabi Airport, the hotel is a 30 minute drive by taxi. If, however you are flying into to Dubai Airport, then it’s an hour and a half car journey.
Type of Hotel: 5-Star Hotel
Number of Rooms: 341 rooms, 25 suites and 12 villas, all with complimentary Wi-Fi.
Price Band: High
Insider Tip: Enjoy a drink at sunset on one of the hotel’s terraces.
Reviewer’s Rating: 10/10
Ana Muhar Blanquart is a Croatian journalist and former London Correspondent for national newspaper Jutarnji list and currently works for various national print and TV media.
Photographs courtesy of Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island