Staycation spotlight: Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi

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 recognized not only for having the best beaches in the UAE – but among the best beaches in the world – thanks to perfect sugary sand and crystal clear waters. Clustered on the outskirts is a collection of five-star resorts, each keen to make the most of their prime beachfront location.

Among them is Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island, which promises a roster of activities and a collection of restaurants far superior to the standard tacky tunes and fried food buffets that most all-inclusive resorts gravitate towards. But how does it actually measure up? We checked in to see for ourselves.

The place

Club Prive Villas Saadiyat Island

Easily accessible to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi residents, Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island is nestled right in the middle of a stretch of five-star resorts on the island. To the left, a Rotana resort and to the right of that you will find the Park Hyatt. The island is slowly transforming into something of a cultural beacon, with the Louvre Abu Dhabi (and a number of new, still-open museums) located a short drive away.

The look and feel

The influence of this brand’s Turkish roots is immediately apparent in the design details, fused with Arabic design influences that give the entire hotel a royal 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 appearing everywhere from the crystal chandeliers to the marble mosaic floors.

The rooms

Entry-level deluxe rooms are bright and colorful, with king-size beds and generous bathtubs, though they may lack some of the high-spec features you’d 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 are one and two bedroom options) comes with the added benefit of direct access to a semi-private swimming pool. A word of warning: the swimming pool runs a bit down a row of rooms, so if your neighbors are also taking a dip, don’t expect much privacy.

If you are a larger group looking for more independence, it would make sense to book a villa: either one of the three-bedroom residences with pool access or the magnificent four-bedroom beachside mini-mansions, each with a living room and a private pool set in perfectly manicured grounds.

Facilities and activities

At Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island there really is something for everyone and it feels like every inch of the expansive grounds is dedicated to offering something extra for guests. By the pool and beach, guests can laze away the day under a shaded parasol or work up a sweat with a morning paddleboarding or afternoon aqua aerobics class. Access to the largest spa at Saadiyat, the Amara Spa, is included in room rates, with the distinctive Arabian grandeur of ornate archways, detailed mosaics and marble relaxation areas dotted throughout. Inside there are 10 treatment rooms, a hidden outdoor pool plus a men’s and women’s spa area complete with sauna, Jacuzzi and traditional Hammam. Body treatments, facials and massages are all chargeable and you are advised to book in advance as the spa gets busy.

Food and drinks

Dining comes in the form of nearly a dozen restaurants and bars, so it’s a significant upgrade from the traditional all-day buffet you’d normally find at an all-inclusive resort. Even all-day dining at Turquoise is suitably enhanced, with the extensive breakfast spread featuring a selection of freshly baked pastries, made-to-order omelets, crepes and pancakes, as well as continental meats, cheeses and buffet trays filled with European, Asian and Middle Eastern breakfast favourites. By the pool, People’s is a colorful place to retreat from the heat for appealing plates like burgers, hot dogs and pizzas; while a finer evening meal can be enjoyed at the beachside Mediterranean restaurant Mermaid. Here, there is a strong focus on seafood with a strong Greek influence, and sharing starters of tzatziki, sea bass ceviche and chilled squid are quickly followed by a la carte options such as grilled prawns, grilled salmon and seafood linguine.

At L’Olivo you can expect to dine on a menu of classic Italian pizzas and pastas, while no stay at Rixos Premium is complete without drinks at the rooftop bar, Orient (pictured), with its grand decor and entertaining live music acting as a great place after dinner. At each restaurant and bar, a curated list of signature cocktails is the ideal combination with well-executed menus and ensures that no cocktail connoisseur goes unheeded.

Room rates

To enjoy these sparkling Saadiyat Island shores at a wallet-friendly price, book ASAP. For UAE residents throughout August, room rates start from Dhs1,600 per room per night. It includes full access to the resort’s extensive entertainment programme, pool and beach facilities and all your food and drink. There is also a 20 percent discount on in-room dining and a 25 percent discount on treatments at Anjana Spa. Minimum two-night stay, valid until 31 August.

Verdict: For all-inclusive stays that go above and beyond, this one is hard to beat.

Tel.: (02) 492 2222,

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