I’m still gathering my notes and organizing photos from my recent trip to Afghanistan. In the meantime, I wanted to share a quick review I wrote on the new Park Hyatt hotel on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island. The Saadiyat project itself — slated as AD’s new cultural district – has been delayed and questions raised about its economic viability. In the meantime, the newly opened Hyatt was packed on a recent visit thanks to heavy marketing campaigns directed at Germans seeking winter sunshine.  And hey — this is not a bad way to wake up:  (Sorry for the shaky camera work. This was my first time to use the video feature on my new iPhone and I was barely awake!)




The Park Hyatt Hotel and Villas on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island might be the first beach resort to actually dissuade guests from wandering around on the sand.

Instead, Hyatt encourages its patrons to take a specially made boardwalk down to the water’s edge. This is because the beach is also a nesting ground for Hawksbill turtles and the hotel’s staff hopes to accommodate both sun lovers and the native terrapins. Located on the northern tip of the newly created island, which juts out into the Persian Gulf, the Park Hyatt Saadiyat has sought to make a peaceful co-existence with nature part of its resort experience.

And it succeeds. Surf lulls you to sleep while birdsong arrives with the sunrise. The Park Hyatt stays true to this elemental theme even while adhering to the expected touches of luxury. The hotel features a modernistic decor that takes in the nature around it, whether through a metal sculpture that upon close reflection is a desert rose or the installation of wooden “waves” that hang from the foyer’s ceiling.

The menu at the Park Grille is simple, tastes of the earth and sea, with plates of Wagyu beef, King Alaskan crab cakes and Asian-themed sea bream. On weekend afternoons, Beach House, located near the beach in a separate building away from the main hotel, features DJs for a more lively vibe. The hotel plans to soon open its rooftop as another lounge option.

Treatments at Atarmia spa, which specializes in Arabic aromatherapy, also adheres to the elemental theme, with oils and creams rich with the scents of bergamot and jasmine. Treatment rooms have beds where you truly do feel you are slipping between silky sheets.

Choose between richly appointed guest rooms, many of which have either full or partial ocean views, or one of four private villas that directly face the surprisingly turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf.

The hotel is among the first of the resorts that are expected to open on Saadiyat, which Abu Dhabi is calling its cultural hub. (Branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre museums are under construction.) In the meantime, it’s more than worth a trip during the wait.

(Angela Shah is a freelance writer based in Dubai whose work has appeared in The New York Times, TIME, and Institutional Investor, among other publications. She can be reached at angela@angelashah.com)

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