Islands in the sun

The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

It’s dawn over the turquoise blue waters of the Gulf. The pristine white beach on this island flecked with gold, stretching endlessly into the distance, melding sea and sky into a seamless whole.

This is Saadiyat. Once home to dolphins and Hawksbill turtles and all manner of creatures of the ocean and the odd fisherman; today, it’s a world class leisure and resort destination with the Park Hyatt, Abu Dhabi getting top billing.
As the waves crest, delicate fronds of white on that incredible blue, just you and the expanse of sand and sea, and the rest of the world fading into the distance, the dolphins come out to play. Little wonder, Saadiyat flaunts its environmentally protected label. Communing with the dolphins. Try and beat that! There are no hordes descending on the beach. And every time you do step out, it must be along a designated path, leaving no footprints on the sand. A small army ensures it is kept free of human detritus. The waters of the Gulf do the rest.
The hotel’s exclusive tag is well warranted. The rooms are plush and contemporary without being kitsch. Huge picture book windows frame views of Persian blue. Cottages set away from the hotel and by the water, with their own plunge pool and outdoor showers are perfect for large families. And for couples looking for that perfect hideaway, there’s the Beach House for the sundowner, as the sun sets in the far horizon. The island itself has been transformed into a tourist hub, where you can soak in the sunshine. Dollops of it.
Thrown in, is a dash of culture, with Saadiyat isle preparing to roll out the welcome mat to world-class museums like the Guggenheim and the newly opened Manarat al Saadiyat, apart from offering plush gated communities and a home away from home for expats with cash to spare.
For those wanting to get an adrenaline rush, less than a blink of an eye away is Yas island’s Yas Marina Circuit, and the Ferrari World Formula One racing track.
Across the waters from Saadiyat, are the gleaming towers of Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, and the largest perhaps of this 200 island archipelago. It vies with its more well known and infinitely flashier cousin Dubai, awash with glitzy high-rises and the eye-popping 829m Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, and of course, the Dubai Mall.
Abu Dhabi bankrolled the Burj which rakes in a pretty penny since it opened two years ago, and is at the heart of Dubai’s latest tourist boom. But the Emirati capital marches to a wholly different and far more artistic drummer even as it lets the drum roll pause in Saadiyat, preferring exclusivity over raking in the moolah.

AT THE GATES Of THE CAPITAL

If Saadiyat’s Park Hyatt is the ideal getaway, its far more contemporary twin in Hyatt Capital Gate, bang slap in the middle of the Diplomatic quarter in Abu Dhabi has a wholly different ethos — it’s all business.
Capital Gate is in fact, part of the Emirate’s push to garner the conference, exhibitions and fairs business, so long Dubai’s preserve. Open, less than two months ago, the aim is to be Abu Dhabi’s premium business address, located within the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and a bare 15 minute drive from the international airport.
Its talking point is that by itself, it is an architectural marvel — a mirror image, a variation almost of the London Olympics Arcelor Mittal Orbit Tower. It literally suspends disbelief. Twisting girders of steel, soaring some 160 metres above the ground, the hotel leans a record-breaking 18 degrees, earning the tag “the world’s furthest leaning man-made tower.”
The view, from the eponymous show kitchen restaurant ‘18 Degrees’ perched precariously on the 18th floor — where some of the finest sea-food drawn from the gastronomy of Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria is served - is simply jaw-dropping. More chic dining options are offered at Profiterole, the Lounge and the Prive. But the 18th is it!
Coupled with the rooms, all contemporary luxury without losing the warmth that technology brings, Capital Gate breaks away from an Abu Dhabi once rooted in its Beduoin heritage, as it steps confidently into the 21st century. This was a city where once, one had to scratch one’s head to find anything to do. Today, in Abu Dhabi and its surrounding islands, you are simply spoilt for choice.

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