1 Emirates Palace
Here are two stunningly spacious beach clubs that differ in style – each wing at the hotel has two pools, one featuring slides, a lazy river, kids’ pool, playground and kids’ club. The other provides more adult indulgences: a swim-up bar, whirlpool baths and hammocks suspended above the water. The buggy ride between them is an opportunity to soak up the beachside scenery – camels, Bedouin tents, fountains and gardens.
Pros The vast area means plenty of sunbeds
Cons Need a Prince Charming to pay for palace membership
• Rates: annual fee Dh35,000, Dh25,000 joining fee; day pass Dh700 (www.kempinski.com; 02 690 9000)
The Hilton may be one of Abu Dhabi’s oldest hotels, but its gardens are timeless and the beach club has an art deco style that’s always in vogue. It boasts three pools, water slides, playground, kids’ club, gym, fountain lake and peacocks strutting about.
Pros Abundance of watersports – try yoga on a paddle board
Cons Day-pass users might find it tricky finding parking
• Rates: annual fee is Dh11,000 for men, Dh7,700 for women; day pass Dh185 (www.hilton.com; 02 681 1696)
3 Beach Rotana
This club is great for the family – there’s a spacious new kids’ club opening soon, a kids’ pool and playground, gym, tennis and squash courts, watersports and diving centre.
Pros Numerous fitness classes, including poolside RPM with a complimentary drink after
Cons From La Biella in Abu Dhabi Mall, you can spot bathers below.
• Rates: annual fee Dh10,200, day pass Dh150 (www.rotana.com/beachrotana; 02 697 9000)
Provides Venetian-style grandeur for those with refined tastes. At sunset, enjoy the harmony of a light show married to an opera singer’s music. Boasts a large kids’ club with baby sleeping room, splash park, gym, beach volleyball and football and ice-cream parlour. For VIP novelty, a deluxe poolside cabana includes iPod, toys, homemade ice lollies and iced facial sprays.
Pros The pool is so vast you could be doing the backstroke for hours and not bump into anyone
Cons It doesn’t have its roots in the community yet, but they are trying hard to impress
• Rates: annual fee starts at Dh11,800, plus Dh1,300 joining fee. Deluxe day cabana Dh400 (www.ritzcarlton.com/abudhabi; 02 818 8888)
5 Monte-Carlo Beach Club
The most beautiful landscapes are sometimes those left as nature intended. The majestic design of the infinity pool and its cabanas are impressive, but nothing beats the crashing waves, dune vegetation and soft white sand on the beach.
Pros Spa-like changing rooms
Cons Sandy ground beneath the poolside loungers means sandy towels
• Rates: annual fee Dh25,000, day pass Dh450 (www.montecarlobeachclub.ae; 02 656 3500)
6 The Club
The Club harks back to days when there wasn’t much else for expats to do, so membership offers more than just a beach club – a place to celebrate seasonal festivities in style and indulge in almost any hobby.
Pros Food is cheap and at weekends kayaking, paddle boarding and wall climbing are free
Cons No lifeguards, and the sea view is of pylons and construction
• Rates: annual fee Dh3,800, plus Dh3,850 joining fee, other services extra (gym, Dh900; member’s guest, Dh140) (www.the-club.com; 02 673 1111)
7 Le Meridien
For the past two years, the fate of Le Meridien hung in the balance as it seemed the hotel would be knocked down to make way for a new bridge. Now the hotel and its lush gardens and aviaries have been spared. Includes three pools, squash and tennis courts, spa, gym and watersports.
Pros Not somewhere you feel obliged to suck your tummy in
Cons No kids’ club
• Rates: annual fee is Dh8,500 for men, Dh5,500 for women; day pass Dh90 (www.lemeridienabudhabi.com; 02 644 6666)
8 St Regis
Shaded hammocks and raised loungers feature in the adults-only pool, next to mineral-encrusted tables. Members access a gym, indoor pool and incredible kids’ club, with slides, grottoes and waterspouts that will make you wish you were young again.
Pros Looks like it was designed by an artist – the family pool’s tiles match flawlessly with the colours of the sea on the horizon.
Cons Day passes and poolside menu are overpriced
• Rates: annual fee Dh20,000, day pass Dh500 (www.stregisabudhabi.com; 02 694 4444)
The swim-up bar, scenic garden and lively music make for a Caribbean vibe. In another area is a large kids’ pool, featuring basketball hoops, waterfall, slide, playground, and kids’ club that opens on request. Also gym, squash courts and beach volleyball.
Pros The well-equipped kids’ pool
Cons The beachside view onto two large towers under construction, with a slither of sea between them and beachgoers
• Rates: annual fee is Dh11,500 for men, Dh7,700 for women; day pass Dh125 (www.sheratonabudhabihotel.com; 02 677 3333)
There are two beaches, an infinity pool and beachside pool, both set in luxuriant gardens. Two poolside majlises are decked out with opulent Persian carpets, complete with outdoor hammocks.
Pros Sunglasses were polished and cool boxes of iced water provided
Cons Jet-skis disturbing the serenity
• Rates: annual fee Dh12,000; day pass Dh250 (www.shangri-la.com/abudhabi; 02 509 8888)
11 Madinat Jumeirah Beach Club
Where the sleek Burj Al Arab looms from the shimmering turquoise sea, Madinat Jumeirah’s nearby canals and loggerhead turtles offer plenty more to feast the eyes on. Members can use the impressive kids’ club and pool. The menu in English and Russian reflects guests in attendance.
Pros Massages on the beach
Cons Lifeguards are overzealous with the rules
• Rates: annual fee Dh15,000; day pass Dh395 (www.jumeirah.com/MJTaliseFitness; 04 366 6821)
12 Riva Beach Club, The Palm
This beach club attracts a young, trendy crowd, with loud music and the crowded bar providing a buzz like a nightclub. Two pools, gym, paddle boarding, kayaking and diving are available.
Pros Mouth-watering restaurant food
Cons Arrive early to guarantee a sunbed
• Rates: annual fee Dh5,500, day pass Dh150 (www.riva-beach.com; 04 430 9466)
13 The One & Only, The Palm
Not a beach club as such, but you can rent out a luxurious poolside cabana for the day. It takes the beach hut concept of an indoor space providing home comforts to a new level of luxury. Your own private garden area faces the pool and inside the cabana are all the things you’d find in a swanky hotel room.
Pros An original treat to surprise someone special
Cons You might feel tempted to lock children in the cabana to maintain the tranquil mood
• Rates: Cabanas are Dh2,500 for the day (thepalm.oneandonlyresorts.com; 04 440 1010)
All membership prices are for one year, including taxes. Day pass rate is for one adult on weekends