DUBAI: Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort has been open for less than a year, but has already been named Abu Dhabi's Leading Luxury Resort by this year’s edition of the long-running World Travel Awards. And considering the competition in the UAE capital, the accolade speaks volumes about the experience at the resort.
Celebrating its first birthday this November, the property had something of a quiet soft launch, and even now — just a couple of months away from its first birthday — remains relatively unheralded compared to other Jumeirah properties such as Burj Al Arab and Zabeel Saray. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not worth a visit.
Because it most definitely is. Sometimes the less hype about a place, the better.
Located a 30-minute drive away from Abu Dhabi International Airport, Saadiyat Island is billed as a “world class leisure, residential, and cultural hub,” and is already home to several luxury resorts as well as the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Jumeirah’s latest edition is situated in prime position among the other five-star retreats, and is attracting a diverse clientele — during our visit we met travellers from the GCC, Europe and the United States.
A couple of things are major highlights: the gorgeous view, and the food.
Most rooms — there are around 290 rooms, suites and villas on the property — overlook the beautiful private beach and pool areas. The golden beach spans about half a kilometer along the gorgeous blue sea, and there are three swimming pools to choose from. For those seeking relaxation, Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort is home to a standalone spa, featuring 15 treatment rooms.
The marine theme spills over into the hotel’s interiors, intentionally offering a “backdrop of refined island life,” with spacious rooms featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and opening to a balcony with a panoramic view of the sea. The cool breeze feels fresh and calming — a welcome change from the atmosphere of the daily grind.
The hotel is taking active steps towards sustainability too; amenities are recyclable where possible, and it has eliminated single-use plastic. Water-filled glass bottles can be found near the room’s mini-bar, and these are replenished daily, while the resort also provides complimentary reusable plastic bottles for guests to refill at water stations dotted around the place.
As for the food — oh, goodness the food. If you don’t have time to stay at the resort, then you should at least try one (or more) of its seven restaurants. Our first stop was the poolside eatery, Mare Mare, which specializes in the home-cooked-style coastal flavors of Italy. The La Burrata starter that arrived at our table — fresh burrata cheese, heirloom tomatoes and basil pesto — was simply divine, while the Classica gourmet pizza — with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and anchovies — was one of the best pizzas we have sampled in the Emirates so far (for those averse to anchovies, don’t worry — there are plenty of fish-less options).
Saving the best until last, try the fantastic Tean, a Levantine/pan-Arabic restaurant that has an exciting menu. Rather than just sticking to the tried-and-tested mixed-grill dishes, here you have a choice of everything from manakeesh to Turkish pide, and Emirati specialties too (Machboos Robian, Al Harees, and Thareed Dajaj, for example). Signature dishes include homemade manti, and Dajaj Musakhan (chicken, sumac, onion and pine nuts). Leave room for dessert — the Umm Ali is worth it.
And if you decide you should work some of those calories off, the resort features fitness facilities, a floodlit tennis court, a watersports center, and a golf course. Whatever your holiday format, you’ll definitely enjoy a stay here.