Hotel Insider Set on the shores of Saadiyat Island, this hotel offers both luxury and a feeling of remoteness.
Serenity by the sea at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas
There are few other guests when we stay, and the welcome in reception is a little over-attentive: I feel like I'm being pounced on.
As the first hotel to open on Saadiyat Beach, the Park Hyatt is currently gloriously isolated. At the moment, Manarat Al Saadiyat and the St Regis are the closest neighbours, and everything is generously spaced out.
There are 12 room categories. We try a garden view suite, which is about halfway up the list. It's on the ground floor of a two-storey, purpose-built, beachside villa divided into four 120-square-metre suites. Although not a separate villa, it feels private enough, with a screened patio with a plunge pool and a private gate out onto the beach. To be able to tumble out at 7am on a weekend morning is wonderful, although unfortunately a sandstorms blows in. Luckily, the interiors mean we could have stayed in all weekend. Floor to ceiling windows, our own kitchen, separate living room, two televisions and a lovely bathroom with a Toto bathtub, plus an outdoor patio at the rear, all made us want to live here permanently.
At dinner, the staff at the Park Bar & Grill are cheerful, attentive and skilled. There was much less attention at breakfast the next morning, where I had to wait more than 20 minutes and ask several times for a cappuccino.
With 306 rooms, suites and beach villas, the Park Hyatt isn't much smaller than the St Regis, although it looks and feels it. The minimalistic cream exteriors blend well with the beachy surroundings, although the interiors feel more businesslike. The lobby is somewhat dark and has less of a wow factor, and there isn't much of a buzz, though this is somewhat compensated for by the very attractively laid-out outdoor areas and beach villas, which feel more intimate and exclusive. The highlight, apart from our room, is a sunset drink at the bar on top of the Beach House restaurant - there can be fewer better places from which to welcome the weekend. There aren't many other guests but I prefer peace to crowds anyway.
There are three restaurants, the best and smartest of which is the Park Bar & Grill in the main building. It's beautifully designed, with high ceilings, diaphanous curtains and iridescent lighting. There's a semi-open kitchen and staff are confident and well-trained. We liked the crab cakes (Dh80) and the steamed sea bream with shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, sesame and soy dressing (Dh130) with a selection of side dishes, including silky mashed potatoes and spinach (Dh30 each). The barbecue brunch at The Beach House the following day is less impressive, though the setting is lovely.
The beach and the exquisitely designed, two-floor Artarmia spa. A one-hour Royal Opulence massage, which mixes various techniques, costs Dh490.
The outer door of our beachview suite slammed shut in the wind, meaning we had to call staff to gain access.
A hotel offering both luxury and a feeling of remoteness; not a place to go if you're looking for action or "bustle". Go now before the hotel - and the area - fills up.
The bottom line
A double room costs from Dh788 per night, including taxes. The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi (www.abudhabi.park.hyatt.com; 02 407 1234).