Travel: All-inclusive but not as you know it, Rixos Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
It’s well acknowledged that all-inclusive holiday options can divide traveller opinions rather radically. For some triggering traumatic flashbacks to sad looking warming trays overflowing with decidedly unappealing chips and indistinguishable local spirits. Others rave about the ease afforded by the all-inclusive option, especially when travelling with families. Citing wealth of choice and the undeniable extravagance of realistic budget management whilst denying yourself no little treats as being the major pulls.
Previously synonymous with European holiday destinations, those existing all-inclusive fans and those who have yet to be converted (bear with me here) need to know about Rixos Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Having opened in October last year, this is the latest offering from the Turkish grown hospitality brand, and has the accolade of being Abu Dhabi’s first ever all-inclusive resort. In destinations such as Abu Dhabi and neighbouring Dubai, who are known and celebrated for their indulgent luxury, competition is rife and the standards are high, with this in mind Rixos have taken every care to ensure there are no compromises at Saadiyat Island.
Making an entrance at the Rixos Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
As everyone knows, first impressions stay with you and the grandeur of the lobby is not one any guest will forget any time soon. Rich sapphire tones contrast crisp white marble, the carvings so intricate they stop you where you stand. And of course just enough decadent gold flourishes as you would hope for in this part of the world.
This opulence set the tone for the rest of the resort, set around an impressive courtyard and framed by towering archways leading you through to the sprawling private beach, affording you panoramic views of the Persian Gulf. It goes without saying this is a super-sized resort with 366 rooms and suites, plus 12 three and four bedroom villas for those travelling with families, but due to its epic proportions of your surroundings you never feel overwhelmed by other guests.
Whereas others raved about the Rixy kids club and the aqua park, I jumped at every opportunity offered by the enthusiastic activities team. Unashamedly I am naturally one of ‘those’ people, I hanker after organised fun on holiday, plus it’s my job to try it out so you don’t have to. Indeed if I wasn’t that type of person I wouldn’t be able to tell you about the joys of aerial yoga, there is a lot to be said about the inner calm you experience whilst hanging upside down listening to the waves crashing on the beach behind you. A big thank you to the team and in particular Marianna for her never-ending patience with this scaredy cat, you made me feel like a graceful circus performer although I am sure I looked like a cat stuck in a sleeve. Google these videos on a rainy day, they are sure to bring a smile to your face.
Opulent jewel tones are continued throughout the rooms
After a long day spent alternating pool side lazing and obscure fitness classes, I relished going back to my room and putting on my finery for a long languid dinner, usually accompanied by too much wine. It’s fair to say I love the pomp and ceremony of a meal, scanning the menu in ambient lighting, the anticipation between courses, people watching, it’s all part of the experience. Which is why I have been left feeling disappointed by traditional all-inclusive resorts, a buffet every night just doesn’t cut it. As if with me in mind (although I very much doubt it) Rixos boasts an astonishing 10 restaurants and bars, which include specialist Italian, Turkish, Japanese and seafood a la carte restaurants, visits to which are included at no extra cost. Be sure to make your reservations on arrival to ensure you aren’t disappointed. An extra special shout out goes to the Orient for traditional Turkish cuisine and Aja for A grade teppanyaki and sushi. With the evening restaurant dilemma sorted, it’s safe to say I am fast becoming an all-inclusive convert.
The Spa is not a spot to be missed however long your stay
With so much on offer, it can be overwhelming if you are only on a short stay. But I beg of you, do not miss the Spa, pay a visit to check out the inspired Ottoman architecture, a fitting homage to the brands Turkish roots. As well as steam rooms and saunas, the courtyard adult only swimming pool, is a serenely blissful spot, offering protection from the sea breeze should you be travelling a little out of season. Those looking for a little extra indulgence will relish the traditional Turkish Hamman and the extensive treatment list.
It’s worth noting that Saadiyat Island itself is looking set to become a cultural hub upon its full completion next year, with the arts worlds big hitters joining the roster, the Louvre (already welcoming visitors) and Guggenheim (set to open in July) leading the pack.
In all Rixos Saadiyat heralds a change in pace for resorts in this part of the world, and sees them seamlessly translating the customary luxury and high end flourishes within an all-inclusive setting. I can fast see it becoming a favourite with British travellers. Not to mention, a perfect place to catch some winter sun in the early months of the year whilst your traditional European all-inclusive destinations have yet to warm up. I am convert, see you there (thankfully there are more than enough sunbeds for all of us).
Rooms at Rixos Saadiyat Island start from £205 per person, per night, all-inclusive (excluding a small selection of alcoholic beverages and cigars/shisha at Shisha Lounge). rixossaadiyatisland.com.
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