The first guests to grace the pristine sands of Saadiyat Island were the Hawksbill turtles. The sea creatures nested on the natural beaches way before the Guggenheim was in the works, before the Louvre Abu Dhabi arrived, and before a cluster of five-star hotels settled on the white sandy shoreline.
Now a UNESCO heritage site, the protected habitat still hosts nesting turtles between spring and summer months, but in the winter, the destination welcomes guests of the human kind – although humpback dolphins have been spotted frolicking on the horizon, while gazelles often frequent the nearby golf course and road that leads to Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island.
Carefully avoiding crossing gazelles, I arrive at the palatial property that houses Rixos, the island’s only all-inclusive, all-exclusive resort. Inspired by the brand’s Turkish roots, the hotel mirrors the elaborate palaces of the Ottoman Empire with arabesque details, chandeliers dripping in jewels and majestic marble water features that wouldn’t look out of place in King Triton’s underwater kingdom. Encouraged to leave my wallet and my worries at the lobby, I check in and get my first taste of the limitless treats that await at Turquoise restaurant, before venturing to my room.
There are no shortages of suites (the resort has a grand total of 61 suites and 227 rooms) but this doesn’t detract from their exclusivity. While specific suites share access to hidden pools that emerge mirage-like from the terrace, others have their own tranquil gardens or extravagant layouts, and some are simply outstanding for view alone. My One Bedroom Suite falls into the latter, with two balconies (off the bedroom and living area) overlooking Saadiyat’s splendid coastline. From the arch-framed balcony, I survey terracotta rooftops and teeny-tiny umbrellas propped on off-white sand that tip toes into turquoise waters and blends beautifully with the sky, as if a painting. When I close my eyes, I tune into the faint hum of wildlife, the distant waves and the wind that carries them to shore. Curled into a chair with an afternoon snack and a sparkling drink straight from the fully stocked minibar, it’s easy to lose hours to this view.
Back inside, before the beach and boundless bites, the suite’s décor catches my attention (which was previously preoccupied by the view). Each suite is styled in jewel tones of sapphire, amethyst, topaz or teal…
My jewel for the weekend is emerald. Symbolic of clarity and renewal, the green gem appears to inspire a mosaic feature wall surrounding the king-sized bed, suggesting sweet dreams ahead. The hue also trims glass lamp shades, plush patterned rugs, soft throws and myriad mirrors, all set against gold accents that echo a piece of high jewellery – striking a balance between opulent and serene.
As I pull back a set of sliding doors, the bathroom appears in floor-to-ceiling marble, resembling a modern Turkish hammam. The rain shower is filled with organic Anjana bath products that have the same calming, aloe vera-infused scent as the hotel’s Anjana Spa, and sit pretty in miniature emerald bottles. The bathroom is completed with a sapphire-tinted sink and a curved tub from which you can spot the sea. And the marble flows through into a living area, home to a sofa, flat screen TV (another can be found in the bedroom), a dining table where fresh fruit sits, and a coffee machine above the cleverly concealed minibar.
It is the palm-fringed pool that eventually pulls me outside, where the bar staff glide past on roller skates, delivering drinks to sun-worshippers until it dips into the azure water. After a beach stroll, Orient rooftop bar lets me soak-up the last moments of sunset before dinner at Mermaid, an incredible seafood restaurant sat beside the sand. Shattering the monotonous stereotype of an all-inclusive package, the resort’s endless dining options stretch far beyond Mediterranean cuisine, but I have to say that the Greek-style mezze at Mermaid is a must. With paddle boarding prompting an early wake-up call, it’s back to the suite for an emerald-induced blissful sleep before a morning spent out at sea.
The natural beauty of the coastline is what makes this resort so special – especially when viewed from the depths of the ocean – coupled with its all-inclusive framework where everything is on hand and working together to create a seamless holiday. Before I leave, this point is attested once more when I am treated to a final feast at the Club House; an exclusive venue that is usually reserved for guests residing in the property’s newly-revamped Executive and Superior villas.
Part of Club Privé by Rixos Saadiyat Island’s experience (that includes elite privileges such as private dining, pillow menus and round-the-clock butler service), the villas form an impressive line behind the Club House – their private pools reflected through the window, glistening on the glass. Experiencing the exclusive allure of Club Privé by Rixos Saadiyat Island is the cherry on top of the trip, as I start planning my next visit… Perhaps in the spring, when the turtles return to shore.
WHAT: One Bedroom Suite
WHERE: Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
TEL: +971 2 492 2222