As the car pulls up to Abu Dhabi Marina, I find myself doing a double take. Uncannily reminiscent of the Atlantis in Dubai, head-turning curves and a majestic arch frame the entrance to the newly-opened Rixos Marina Abu Dhabi. Defying all odds, the resort is destined to write its own story, breathing new life into a building which stood empty for a decade, leading locals to believe it was, perhaps, ill-fated. Shifting local negative perceptions to positive ones, Rixos Marina Abu Dhabi has embraced the oldness of the building as a part of the capital’s heritage and acknowledged it is an icon restored with all new stories to be told.
The strategy that has seen Abu Dhabi become a watchword for cosmopolitan cultural and local heritage is realised at the newly opened resort. As I sit in Godiva Café in the lobby awaiting my room with a cappuccino in hand, my gaze is directed to the whimsical jellyfish chandelier hanging above me – a contemporary take on the Emirate’s seafaring past. The sea was Abu Dhabi’s economic lifeblood and a source of nourishment, with the city’s sailors, fishermen, and pearl divers honouring and respecting the water, immortalising their craft and love of the ocean in ancient sea shanties chanted as their crews harvested their marine treasures. The history of pearl diving in Abu Dhabi goes back more than 7,000 years. Emirati sailors would travel as far as East Africa to trade dates, pearls, and mangrove wood. The essence of this past is captured throughout the resort where aquatic design is interwoven with contemporary arabesque geometric art. Elegant abayas sashay around the lobby, gliding past the many international tourists checking in, connecting the rich heritage of the city with its cosmopolitan future.
The hotel wants guests to be part of this story, whilst also the authors of their own – to create experiences where their imagination is their only limitation. My story starts in the Executive Suite which sprawls across 1,345 square feet – bigger than my first apartment, it is the first room of its kind that I have experienced. A large main lounge offers a sitting area alongside a casual dining space. The hidden jewel lies to the right of the lounge, a completely private office with a mahogany desk, television, and guest armchairs. To the left lies a spacious bedroom with an enticing king bed. Folding doors lead to a generous bathroom – stocked with Hermès toiletries – with a bathtub located in prime position to watch the bedroom TV. The room interiors reflect regal splendour suffused with 21st-century sensibilities, and little treats from freshly baked baklava to nuts and chocolates, are peppered throughout the suite. Ocean vistas from the floor-to-ceiling windows are mesmerising and I already earmark where I will be having my morning coffee to maximise my view; with two coffee machines in the room, I imagine I’ll be settling in for a while.
As pioneers of limitless luxury, Rixos Hotels’ Turkish hospitality shines through its “All-Inclusive All-Exclusive” concept. Rixos Marina Abu Dhabi, rather than being all-inclusive, offers “Multi-Board Experiences”. In line with the resort’s mantra to let guests write their own stories, this gives them the opportunity to opt for only a room, half-board, full-board, or all-inclusive packages. With 10 signature restaurants and bars on the property, whatever package they opt for, guests will be spoilt for choice.
After a quick workout at the Exclusive Sports Club, I head to lunch at Turquoise, the hotel’s signature all-day dining restaurant. Although an open buffet, the quality of food lies firmly at the high end of the spectrum. Fresh sashimi, succulent grilled prawns, and in-house baked flaky baklava are just some of the highlights on my plate. While I could have stayed longer to sample the plethora of food stations, an afternoon languishing by the beach was calling to me. It is by the poolside that the multifaceted offerings of Rixos are on full display. As the afternoon turned into the evening, the crowd slowly shifts from young families to youngsters chasing a sunset framed by the DJ and fruity sundowners. As the music gets louder, I better understand the resort’s “entertainment square” concept – a staging point for international DJs, grand theatrical performances, and extravagant entertainment spectacles. After watching the sun set into the vast ocean from the resort’s private beach, I head to an early dinner at People’s, the à la carte restaurant. Pescatarians will love the selection of seafood on the menu, of which there is ample. I bite into my grilled catch of the day whilst captivated by the hotel’s illuminated arch that I dine in the shadow of.
The next morning, I awaken to views of a never-ending sea, and sit sipping my coffee in silent caffeinated calm. After, I head back to the Exclusive Sports Club where a room dedicated to group exercise is hosting a yoga class. In line with the global growing wellness trend, the classes give guests the opportunity to break up their daily routine with different wellbeing disciplines, from yoga to spinning and functional fitness – something for everyone. For the less active, the resort’s revitalising and award-winning Nature Life Spa offers a chance to recharge with different treatments, hammam, steam rooms and sauna. The yoga class has given me quite the appetite for the breakfast buffet I discover at Turquoise, where the spread is laid out as far as the eye can see. With views stretching out over the beach, I energise with many a coffee ahead of my drive back to Dubai, already writing my Rixos story in my head. A new chapter begins.
WHAT: Executive Suite
WHERE: Rixos Marina Abu Dhabi
TEL: +971 2 498 0000