I visited Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi a couple of years ago, and one of the standout memories from my previous visit was the breathtaking beach: expansive white sands and a turquoise sea that would rival any Indian Ocean island vista – so vast and so empty. I love open spaces and sweeping horizons in general, especially on holiday, where my idea of hell is to be jammed on a sun bed six inches from the next. For me, heaven is to stroll along an empty beach or watch a sunset in peace and tranquillity.
So here at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi I found my nirvana. It is the sense of space and scale that I love most about the hotel (its footprint is huge) – from the lobby and pool area to the bedrooms. There’s no feeling of impersonal grandeur that you sometimes get at other hotels in the region. There is the standard Arabian use of gleaming marble throughout, but with understated colour schemes, subtle use of local design features and zen water features in the lobbies that create a more sophisticated, contemporary and unfussy environment, which I find gentle on the senses.
Set between the beach and the Saadiyat Golf Club, the hotel does not feel surrounded by other buildings – a rarity in the UAE – and the location on Saadiyat Island is perfect for a fast transit to the airport or into town. It offers a best-of-both experience, but if you are simply looking for a beach-holiday vibe, this hotel fits that bill in full.
With 306 spacious rooms and suites, three pools, a beautifully appointed spa and gym, a kids’ club and several dining and bar options, the hotel manages that tricky balance between luxury and child-friendliness, and activity and relaxation. Better yet, the growth of the exciting new Saadiyat Cultural District nearby, which includes the new Louvre museum, makes this location even more appealing to travellers.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Served in The Café
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Dining experience
- One complimentary lunch or dinner for two at the Café to the value of US$100. once during stay, excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuities
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
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You can’t fail to be impressed by such a grand entrance area – lots of pale, intricately carved stone and marble, an efficiently run vehicle drop-off area and a whole cavalry of smiling staff taking care of bags, opening doors and ushering you towards check-in. The cool, shaded lobby is huge and spotless, designed to contrast with the brightness and heat outside with its vast ceilings and views towards the pools and beach and impressive water features. At the bank of desks, check-in was fast and efficient, and I was shown straight to my room, my bags arriving seconds afterwards.
There is a lovely house fragrance used throughout the hotel, and the communal spaces and general arrival experience are well designed to give you an immediate sense of relaxation and peace.
Rooms and suites
My room was a Sea View Twin Room, which at 50sq m (538sq ft) was spacious enough and had great views over the pools and beach. The large, shaded balcony had a chair, a comfy daybed and a small table, but it felt a little sparse for spending much time there. However, as the common areas of the hotel are so lovely, I would expect that even couples would rather be relaxing by the pool than in the room. That said, a ceiling fan above the balcony for the warmer months is a great touch.
Beds (large) and linen were excellent, and the room was interestingly laid out, with a work/dining table jutting out into the room, a large TV, a small sofa and then an open-plan flow into the bathroom area, which in turn led back into the wardrobe/dressing area and on towards the entrance, giving a circular feel. This worked quite well. Though possibly not the best use of the actual space, it did create natural areas so it didn’t feel crowded. Decor is as per the rest of the hotel: understated, subtle and contemporary. The use of soft shades of cream and brown with natural wood and pretty gold detailing lifted the general look and reminded me that I was in the UAE.
My only criticism of the room is that the wardrobe area, while attractively designed, had little hanging and drawer space, which made it quite hard to keep tidy but, luckily, the housekeeping team was efficient. Each room has an iron and ironing board, a big tick from me as having to wait for one, or paying inflated pressing prices, is one of my hotel bugbears.
In-room technology was functional and intuitive: multi-language satellite TV channels, a DVD player and games consoles on request. The free wi-fi throughout the entire hotel (and all outside spaces) was excellent.
The mini-bar was well stocked and cleverly tucked away from the main part of the room. There was the standard Nespresso machine and also a great selection of delicious Jing teas, one of my favourite brands. There was plenty of complimentary mineral water.
Other rooms I toured were very similarly decorated: luxurious, spacious and modern, designed to make the most of the water views. There are a variety of options, offering broad appeal. Those closest to the beach are designed with privacy in mind, but it’s worth noting that they do not have direct beach access – it is not possible to walk through the mangroves as they are a protected area.
There are 30 sets of rooms that can be interconnected and, subject to availability, these can be guaranteed at the time of booking, something that ties in with the family-friendly attitude at the hotel.
The bathroom managed to fit a lot into a relatively small space: a double vanity unit (with good lighting), a separate bathtub and a walk-in rainwater shower, although the shower was very close to the bath and had more of a wet-room feel rather than a separate cubicle. The bath area did tend to get a little wet when the shower area was used, but on the whole it worked well as a space-saving idea, and the bath itself was huge. The separate WC cubicle was well screened and private. However, although there was a sliding door to separate the bathroom and bedroom, it was not a hugely private set-up. Toiletries were June Jacobs (an American spa brand), the hairdryer good and there was a large, full-length mirror.
I thoroughly enjoyed every meal during my stay. Breakfast, served buffet-style in The Café, was beautifully presented and the choice expansive. I was especially impressed by the daily juices and smoothies, and the pastries were all home-made and very moreish – especially the cinnamon buns and bread-and-butter pudding, which I ate while sipping a watermelon juice. There were separate egg, waffle and pancake stations and a large selection of local Arab breakfast specialities, cold cuts and home-made breads. The restaurant was well staffed and service was fast, friendly and professional, even at the busiest of times when they were still more than happy to cater for requests such as soy milk. It was especially nice to be able to choose to eat breakfast inside or outside, and I noticed how friendly and flexible staff were with family groups.
Later, I had lunch by the pool, where the chicken-and-bacon salad was delicious, as was the tapas selection and the yummy iced coffee.
On both evenings at the hotel I decided to eat at the Beach House restaurant in order to sit outside overlooking the beach, rather than opting for the beautiful (but more formal) Park Bar & Grill, or the buffet in The Café. The Beach House menu is Mediterranean, and the salads and light desserts were delicious.
Other restaurant options
As you would expect in a hotel of this size, the F&B choice is impressive, and the range of food reflects the clientele – local Arab specialities, Asian, European and international.
The Park Bar & Grill, the fine-dining option, is open for dinner. The Beach House has a lovely roof terrace (unfortunately not open during my stay; it’s only open in the cooler months), from where the views are fantastic. And if afternoon tea is your thing, it is served every day in The Library.
Spa and wellness
The spa area is one of the highlights of this hotel. The gym area, on the ground floor below the spa, has floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides and is spacious and well equipped. Personal trainers are available by appointment. One of the three pools at the hotel is at the spa and was hardly used during my stay, so if you’re looking for some peace or a proper swim in a lap pool, this is a fantastic area with relaxing background music to keep you going. My only observation was that, although admirable in terms of resort security, the nearby (impeccably mannered) security guard interfered with my feeling of solitude. The floodlit tennis court is close to the spa and is beautifully maintained.
The spa itself is stunning – beautifully designed, sumptuous and full of delicious smells and smiling staff – a spoiling and enjoyable place to unwind for a few hours. The changing rooms are beautifully designed and immaculately kept, and the hot-tub area and heated benches are gorgeous. Like all spas in the Middle East, female and male areas are separate. I had a massage with a Japanese therapist, which was one of the best I’ve had – just the right balance between restorative and relaxing, with some superb reflexology. Although I was brought a pot of tea and delicious home-made biscuits afterwards in a comfy sofa area, it’s a shame there isn’t a separate relaxation area to reflect the overall privacy of the rest of the space.
Pool and beach
The pools and beach are outstanding at this hotel and are probably the two main reasons people choose to stay here.
There are three pools: the spa pool, described above, is tucked away (its main charm), but the other two pools – the curving children’s/ family pool, and the iconic and infinitely Instagrammable palm-tree-lined main pool – make up the central part of the outside space of the resort. The main pool is flanked by cabana-shaded sun beds. It stretches from the main hotel room directly towards the beach, so you get fabulous views from here. Pool service is fantastic, and you will find yourself supplied with bottled water and fresh fruit non-stop. The food menu, although relatively limited, is delicious and has some nice lunch options. Staff around the pool couldn’t be more friendly and responsive, happily bringing more towels and moving large parasols whenever needed, always with a smile.
If you’re unlucky and don’t bag yourself a poolside sun bed, there are lots of other loungers dotted around the surrounding manicured gardens, many of which are closer to the children’s pool. The sun beds by the main pool are far more suited to adults, but there seemed to be enough room for everyone to spread out without intruding on others’ space. (The hotel was 70 per cent full during my stay, and it felt like there was a lot more capacity before it started to feel too busy).
The huge children’s pool loops around much of the garden and is between the main pool and Camp Hyatt, the kids’ club. Shallow in depth throughout, this offers a great option for families to base themselves around all day, and there is plenty of shade.
Saadiyat is Abu Dhabi’s main beach, stretching for nine gorgeous kilometres. The hotel provides many sun beds and parasols, serviced by hotel staff, and one of my favourite parts of the hotel is the Beach House restaurant – perfect for an evening cocktail and offering a literal sundowner. I especially recommend the All Hail Suhail: tequila, lemon, honey, pomegranate, pink grapefruit and champagne.
The beach is perfect for a short stroll – or a longer hike or jog in cooler months – and is wide, clean and flat for families, and the sea itself is safe and bath-warm in the summer months. The new Louvre is visible towards the end of the beach, and it’s worth noting that there is new development further along the beach. I hope the local authorities limit this and Saadiyat doesn’t become another Dubai; its openness is its biggest charm.
Although very child-friendly in terms of staff attitude, babysitting services (six months plus), interconnecting rooms and a kids’ club, the hotel manages to welcome families without compromising on either style, luxury or an adult experience for those travelling without children. There are more comprehensive kids’ club offerings in nearby hotels, but if your children are more excited by the beach and a safe pool than a more formal kids’ offering, then this hotel would work well for you. That said, Camp Hyatt is a good option and offers a structured timetable of indoor and outdoor activities, including zumba, Twister and balloon ping-pong.
Teens aren’t specifically catered for but would enjoy the independence that a safe, gated resort like this offers. There are beach volleyball facilities, and although there are no motorised water sports, the nearby public beach club has stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking facilities. It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s only a ten-minute taxi ride into town for teens who may get a little bored in one place, and there are excellent kids’ and teens’ activities throughout Abu Dhabi – I’d especially recommend the facilities at Yas Mall and Ferrari World, for example.
Friday brunch, as at most luxury hotels in the Arabian Gulf, is something of a speciality, and non-residents visiting for brunch also get access to the pool and beach, making it a very popular destination for locals and expats. Shisha is available by the pool and outside at The Beach House, which also appeals to locals, so as well as your fellow holidaymakers from the UK and Western Europe (predominantly Germany), there is a nice mix of locals and expats that makes a stay here feel more authentically Middle Eastern.
Even though Saadiyat isn’t exclusively a leisure-led location (there are conference facilities nearby, as well as the new Cultural District), 90 per cent of the guests here are leisure guests, which does help the hotel’s holiday vibe.
There is a nice blend of older and younger families, couples, honeymooners and groups of adults holidaying together, and the spacious nature of the hotel allows everyone to co-exist happily.
Check-out was quick and efficient with regards to billing, payment and luggage; my bags were loaded into my taxi without me asking. Staff seemed genuinely to care about whether I’d enjoyed my stay, and were as equally polite and friendly as when I arrived.
How to get there
25 minutes by road transfer from Abu Dhabi International Airport
306 rooms, suites and villas