Jewels of the Desert – Iconic Hotel Properties in Abu Dhabi
Green grass, bushy plants, palm and coconut trees, pristine beaches, lush oases, sunny weather, spectacular sand dunes and vibrant city life all come together to make your holiday a truly amazing one.Whether on a business trip, a quick stopover or an extended holiday, Abu Dhabi is a fantastic destination for a vacation any time of the year. It has just about everything you could desire in a tourist destination.As one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in the world, a majority of leading hotels are located around the turquoise waters and their propinquity to the water front is an added advantage.
Team Abraxas gives you a glimpse into some of the most iconic hotel properties in the UAE’s capital city.
A real iconic Abu Dhabi landmark, this luxurious hotel blends Arabian splendour with the latest technology to create a magical and memorable experience. During the daytime, the hotel’s golden-sandy colour contrasts with its fresh green gardens, silvery water fountains and the blue sky. At night, the hotel’s lighting changes subtly, featuring a majestic rainbow-changing effect over the main dome.
The main Palace building stretches over a kilometre from wing to wing, and its gardens and surroundings spread across 100 hectares. The hotel features 114 domes, with the central dome towering at an imposing 72.6 metres above the ground. Gold, mother of pearl and crystals dominate the interior. The Palace has 1002 chandeliers, the largest weighing 2.5 tonnes. What really caught our attention, however, were the two Thai handmade wall display carpets which portray the Palace itself and weigh a tonne each.
Qasr Al Sarab
Almost like one of the tales from ‘1001 nights’, this magnificent resort seems to spring out of nowhere, a luxurious oasis in the midst of the mystic Liwa Desert. Set in the middle of the Rub’ al Khali or Empty Quarter – the largest uninterrupted sand mass in the world, the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara is isolated from the outside world, yet is less than 200km away from Abu Dhabi. There are sweeping desert views from the many beautiful rooms, suites and villas. Interiors of warm, earthly hues are accented by local hand crafted furnishings.
Some of us savoured an authentic culinary journey at Al Waha, where the richness of indigenous culture was expressed in their theme nights which featured local performance artists, while the rest of us relaxed in cosy armchairs at Suhail, dining on fresh seafood and grilled specialties in the tranquil atmosphere of this rooftop restaurant. Cooling down with icy treats at the poolside bar became a favourite pass time, as did an afternoon ritual of authentic Arabian coffee and pastries at Al Liwan.
We also partook in a range of excursions on offer which reflected the region’s ancient cultural traditions including early morning desert walks, camel treks, archery and mountain biking through awesome scenery.The resort brings the mysticism of this eminent location to life, and we got to discover the unique appeal of its surroundings. Boasting of an array of facilities and desert experiences, the Qasr al Sarab immerses one in the wonderful splendour of an eternally changing landscape.
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
Nestled amidst a host of cultural institutions including the National Theatre, the Abu Dhabi Classical Music Society, the upcoming Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum and the Louvre, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is a luxurious retreat that includes private residential-style villas.
Inspired by the 15th to early 17th century Renaissance architecture with a distinctly Venetian feel, and with an expansive Khor Al Maqta setting close to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, this is the world’s largest beachfront Ritz-Carlton resort. As guests in the resort, we were able to sample delicacies from 10 restaurants – three of which have been designed by famed Japanese restaurant specialist Super Potato – marking the designer’s debut in the Arabian Gulf.
The 57-acre property consists of ten stately buildings arranged in a crescent formation, completed with artfully designed water features and manicured gardens. With 447 luxurious guest rooms and suites, as well as 85 private villas, each with spacious balconies overlooking the canal, the resort offers a luxurious experience with amenities such as 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens, separate rain showers and soaker tubs, plush terry bathrobes and slippers, and 24-hour in-room dining. The Ritz-Carlton Club®, located on the top floor with panoramic views of the city, is an exclusive offering with complimentary food and beverage presentations and a dedicated concierge service.
The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort
Just minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport and the city’s downtown, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi is situated on a pristine beach and framed by the prestigious Saadiyat Beach Golf Course.
Offering Mediterranean comfort, it features rooms and suites, all with private balconies, and the signature St. Regis Butler Service. With seven unique food and beverage venues including 55&5th The Grill – its signature venue, we foodies at Team Abraxas were in culinary heaven! Other facilities include the Early Arrival and Late Departure Lounge, the Iridium Spa with 12 treatment rooms, the Sandcastle Club for children, the St. Regis Athletic Club and The Regal Ballroom, a grand facility with a 3000sqm ballroom and an ocean-view terrace.
Hyatt Capital Gate
Driving down Khaleej Al Arabi Street, we arrived at the modern day challenger to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Capital Gate, developed by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, has been certified as the ‘World’s Furthest Leaning Man Made Tower,’ by the Guinness World Records.
Leaning 18 degrees westwards – more than four times that of Pisa’s famous Leaning Tower, the 160 metre high, 35 storey tall tower is a postcard image of Abu Dhabi and makes for a spectacular holiday photograph.
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, a premium 5-star business hotel, is in the iconic building.
The hotel is adjacent to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the region’s largest conference and exhibition venue. Above prime office space, the hotel is within walking distance of the UAE capital’s up-market Embassy District, and 15 minutes from the city’s international airport.
The hotel has luxury guestrooms and suites and we were greeted with panoramic views from floor-to-ceiling windows, and treated to innovative and authentic dining experiences.
The hotel’s signature restaurant, 18 Degrees (18˚), presents authentic seasonal Eastern Mediterranean dishes using perfect preparation methods and fresh market produce in elegant and stylish surroundings.
Profiterole offers an à la carte menu that revolves around small puff pastries with a sweet or savoury filling in a sophisticated environment, while the residential-style Lounge offers an intimate atmosphere for its Afternoon Tea.
Privé, on the Mezzanine floor next to the hotel’s four ‘Salon’ meeting rooms, is the ideal place to relax after work or with business associates, or to just meet up with friends or colleagues.
Desert Island Resort by Anantara
Just 250km west of Abu Dhabi on the nature reserve of Sir Bani Yas Island, the five-star Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara has well appointed rooms, suites and villas, which blend luxurious amenities with rich Arabian touches and sweeping views over lush landscape and the Arabian Gulf’s sparkling waters.
We explored majestic hilltops rising amidst rugged hinterlands, and visited picturesque lakes to admire elegant pink flamingoes against the backdrop of a violet sky. The more adventurous ones of our team encountered breathtaking nature and rare free roaming wildlife with exciting activities adapted to the island’s unique geographical traits, while the lazier ones lounged beside the resort’s infinity edge swimming pool, and treated themselves to a sensuous Anantara Spa journey overlooking the azure Arabian Gulf.
Nature inspired activities are part of the visitor experience on Sir Bani Yas island such as guided nature and wildlife drives, mountain biking, kayaking, sailing, cruising, hiking, snorkelling, falconry and archery. Some of us took advantage of the riding lessons are offered at the Sir Bani Yas Stables equestrian facility, while the history lovers of our team joined in on an archaeological site tour to marvel at the uncovered remains of an early Christian monastery.
A true architectural triumph, this five star iconic hotel is the only one in the world to straddle an F1 race track being breathtakingly built half on land and half over water.
The hotel’s main feature is its unique ‘grid shell’ – a 219 metre expanse of sweeping curvilinear glass and steel covering that drapes over the two hotel towers, linked by a bridge that crosses the F1 circuit. The ‘grid shell’ features a lighting system incorporating video feeds that are transmitted over 5,096 diamond shaped, colour changing glass panels. We found the optical effect to be absolutely stunning, reflecting thousands of coloured lights against the surrounding sky, sea and desert landscape.
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
A singular architectural statement on an unprecedented scale, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers’ dramatic sculptural forms and spectacular design innovations have set the benchmark for luxury experiences in Abu Dhabi.
On the 74th floor of Tower 2 at the Etihad Towers complex, the Observation Deck at 300 offers unbeatable views of Abu Dhabi’s cityscape and surrounding islands (take our word for it!) What’s more, the capital’s highest vantage point – the ‘300’ stands for ‘metres in the air’ allowed us totake in the sights while enjoying delicious refreshments, light snacks or an extremely scrumptious High Tea.
If a luxurious Arabian adventure is what you’re after, head to Abu Dhabi!
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