It’s not every day a ‘limo’ picks you up from your flat to take you door to door but who’s going to say no, when they do offer. St Regis’ first entry into the UAE market, sits pride of place on Saadiyat Island. If you think you’ve heard the name Saadiyat before but aren’t sure why, it’s where the Louvre and the Guggenheim outposts are supposed to be going, once the projects get back on track. Safe to say they’re not opening next year, when they’re meant to be. So what does that leave at Saadiyat? Not a lot but the St Regis is worth a visit.
A large scale resort, the property overlooks the Arabian Sea, with a huge expanse of beach. You’re more likely to see the small amount of nature there is here at Saadiyat than anywhere else in Abu Dhabi, so do make the trek down to the shore, to spot the odd dolphin and Hawksbill baby turtles hatching making a break for it back in to the sea (June/July time). There are no motorised watersports allowed to help lessen the impact of tourism on the island’s environment.
Although St Regis is all about luxury, the hotel seems to be extremely popular with large families, both local and expat and it has a huge family pool and kids’ club over by one wing of the hotel. However, if you value peace and quiet and a pool bar, head straight for the adults only pool to the left of the complex. It is heaven. One of the best pool/sunlounger area/bar combinations, from a variety of chic loungers, beds and hammocks from which you can catch the rays to shaded private areas to retreat when it all gets a bit much (or for the morning after the night before), the layout with various different pool areas and levels is inspired. Slightly not so inspired is the line of metal loungers in a shallow pool – we can see what you were trying to do St Regis, allowing for sunbathing while in the pool, but under the harsh UAE sun the metal gets red hot and will sear any bit of unfortunate flesh it touches. We learnt that the hard way!
The hotel has one fairly reserved bar, Manhattan Lounge, which serves some pretty decent cocktails and it has an impressive selection of unusual spirits but it’s not the place to whoop it up with a large group of friends. Restaurant wise it’s home to an all day dining open plan affair, a modern steakhouse and a Thai place set out in the grounds, which although it has a fantastic al-fresco terrace, has barely any tables inside, and is popular with the aforementioned families, so getting a romantic tete a tete is hit or miss here during the hotter months (we had a miss).
It’s worth knowing too that if a quiet breakfast is what you’re after, the hotel does seat couples in the steakhouse for brekkie, where you can order drinks and eggs made to order, and then do a sweep of the larger buffet in the all day dining restaurant, before getting comfy with good coffee and the papers.
One of St Regis’ big selling points is that every room gets its own butler and butler service, there’s nothing they can’t do for you (legally). And whilst the staff we met were super attentive and courteous for us during our stay, we didn’t have much luck getting hold of an actual butler through their phone system. One of these calls was only to ask where the hairdryer had been hidden (it’s hung in a bag inside a cupboard on the side end of the wardrobe, that isn’t marked in any way – in case you have the same problem) and to order a toothbrush – really groundbreaking butlering – but perhaps you’ll be better at thinking of tasks for your man on standby.
Other than not being able to get hold of the butler after an impressive build up by the lovely guy who checked us in, the overall experience really was above and beyond a five star. And in a land of more five star hotels, than we’ve got weekends, that’s impressive. Put it at the top of your list.
St Regis Saadiyat Island is around 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi’s Corniche and about 90 minutes from Dubai.