With yachts bobbing gently in the turquoise waters of the lagoon, carpaccio on order and libation in hand, you could only be in a Cipriani. That easy style, the relaxed sophistication that is the hallmark of the brand, is now firmly established at the Yas Yacht Club.
It's the latest outpost of an empire that began in Venice in 1931, expanded to a luxury hotel on the tip of Giudecca Island, only four minutes by boat from St Mark's Square, in 1956, and now spans the world, with Ciprianis around the globe, from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.
The Yas Island Cipriani is a sleek, ultra-modern building designed by the O1A architects' founder and principal Omiros Emmanouilides, who describes the design as "a composition of dynamic and fluid forms that link the buildings to the nautical theme, the heritage of the location and the new F1 character of Yas Island.The yacht club is designed to excite, inspire and strengthen the concept that is Yas."
On offer are two restaurants, Cipriani and Yotto; a luxuriously appointed Cigar Room; and a new nightclub, Allure. Cipriani brings with it a company stalwart of 20 years, the executive chef Tito Piazza, responsible for safeguarding the signature dishes for which the original Harry's Bar was so widely regarded. All the classics are here - carpaccio, calamari, scallops, steaks and grills - together with more modern staples.
The head of the global organisation, the third-generation Giuseppe Cipriani, describes a simple philosophy, that of "good food that you can eat every day many times a day", backed up with great attention to service and detail.
Yotto seeks to offer a more contemporary experience - modern Japanese cuisine served with the same easy confidence that is the Cipriani style. Though Irish by origin, the Nobu Matsuhisa protégé chef Shane Macneil brings a passion for oriental cuisine sparked by early years in Australia.
"That's really where I started to see the real Asian influence in cooking with barely or not even cooking. This for me was a whole new side to what I had seen," Macneil says. So inspired, he went straight to London and the kitchen of Nobu, then Ubon by Nobu, followed by stints in Nobu Paris, Armani Nobu in Milan, and other restaurants in St Moritz, Mykonos and Athens.
Now even more passionate about the thrill of the service, Macneil says of his new posting: "Cipriani has given me that fuel required for the extra mile, an impeccable record and such history revolving around fresh products and attention to detail. I feel very fortunate to have been chosen for this position."
Yotto offers the full spectrum of sushi, sashimi, nigiri and maki, tempura, yakitori and udon, prepared with passion and consummate skill. But though the food and the service are impeccable, in true Cipriani tradition, they are never intimidating.
Cipriani Yas Island, 02 565 0050, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.cipriani.com
How it all began
Harry’s Bar in Venice, the flagship of the Cipriani empire, opened in 1931 in a stone building on a canal just off Piazza San Marco.
According to company history, Giuseppe Cipriani was a bartender at the Hotel Europa in Venice. When Harry Pickering, a rich, young Bostonian, stopped coming in, Cipriani asked him why. Pickering said he was broke because his family had cut him off for his drinking habits. Cipriani loaned him 10,000 lire.
Two years later, Pickering returned, ordered a drink and said: "Mr Cipriani, thank you. Here's the money. And to show you my appreciation, here's 40,000 more, enough to open a bar. We will call it Harry's Bar".
Harry's Bar has been a favourite of Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Orson Welles, among other iconic celebrities. In 2001, the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs declared it a national landmark.