Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort: Sheer Luxury

It may not get the recognition that some of its sister properties do, but this is a magical resort. (Supplied)
Updated 03 September 2019

Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort: Sheer Luxury

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.

Celine Dion returns to Canada to kick off world tour

Updated 19 September 2019

Celine Dion returns to Canada to kick off world tour

  • The Grammy winner also recently announced the release of a new album titled “Courage”
  • She said in April that she felt motivated to create new music and hit the road after the 2016 death of her husband and manager

QUEBEC CITY: After living and crooning for years in Las Vegas, French-Canadian superstar Celine Dion returned home to Quebec to kick off her first world tour in a decade on Wednesday.
At 51, the Grammy winner also recently announced the release of a new album titled “Courage,” which will be her 12th in English and is due out on November 15.
The first single “Flying On My Own,” featuring her powerful vocals backed by techno beats, has already hit the airwaves, while three more dropped Wednesday: “Courage,” “Lying Down” and “Imperfections.”
Known for her blockbuster ballads, Dion said in April that she felt motivated to create new music and hit the road after the 2016 death of her husband and manager Rene Angelil.
“When I lost Rene, he wanted me back on stage. He wanted to make sure I was still practicing my passion,” she said. “I wanted to prove to him that I’m fine, we’re fine, we’re going to be OK. I’ve got this.”
So, after more than 1,140 concerts for 4.5 million fans over 16 years in Sin City, she bid adieu to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace with a final two-hour show.
“Courage is exactly the way I feel,” she told public broadcaster CBC at the time, talking up the upcoming tour of the same name.
“In the past three years, it has been difficult for me to talk to my children, to raise them, to lose my husband, wondering am I going to sing again... so much has happened, but at the same time I feel that I’m in control of my life.”
Some 60 dates in North American have been confirmed so far, her label said, with two arena shows in Quebec City on Wednesday and Saturday kicking off the tour, which will run through April 2020, and will be her first world tour since 2008-2009.
Her show was almost two hours of mastery, as she performed some of her greatest hits — from “I’m Alive” to “My Heart Will Go On” — as well as new material to an ecstatic crowd of roughly 20,000.
“It was really impossible to miss Celine at home,” Nicolas Delivre, a French university exchange student in Montreal, told AFP.
Donald Berard, from Quebec City, said he had grown up listening to Dion. “We love her like a member of our family.”
“Courage” marks the first album and tour in Dion’s long career without Angelil, who steered her success beginning in 1981 when he mortgaged his house to finance the young teen’s debut album.
The pair began a personal relationship in 1988 when she was only 19 years old, and married in a lavish ceremony in 1994. Angelil died of throat cancer at age 73.
In an interview with NBC’s Today show, Dion revealed that she longs for the hugs and laughs that come with a relationship, but added, “I’m not ready to date.”
The youngest of a family of 14 children raised in the suburbs of Montreal, Dion has sold 250 million copies of 23 studio albums in English and French, including collaborations with French singer-songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman, Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder.
Back in Canada, she told the Montreal Gazette that the tour schedule was “a little crazy,” but that she had found time in advance to take in life’s small pleasures.
At a press junket last Friday, Dion told Radio-Canada: “There are good wines that age well, and there are good wines that age badly. I hope to be a good bottle of wine.”
“I’m not a new Celine,” Dion added. “I’m a continuity of myself.”