Abu Dhabi’s undisputed beach resort champion is Saadiyat Island, sitting just to the north of the city centre and easily connected by freeway to Abu Dhabi’s International Airport and Dubai.
Not nearly as over the top as Atlantis the Palm in neighbouring Dubai, Saadiyat Island has a growing reputation as one of the countries most beautiful and exclusive beach resort zones; it’s hard to believe you are still in the heart of a major city.
There are now five 5-star resorts that hug the coast of Saadiyat with uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf, but are there better ones for families, and what does it cost?
Our review looks at each of the resorts as you head West to East along the coast – you can use our easy reference map to see where they all sit along the coast:
St Regis Saadiyat Island
Nearest to Saadiyat’s Culture district, but bordered by an empty strip of beach, you get a great feeling of exclusion here yet you are still only a stone’s throw from the action.
The main hotel has a distinct Mediterranian style with Arabian touches, a huge airy lobby with beautiful Gulf views. Rooms are generously sized starting from 55sqm (And don’t forget your very own personal butler).
Families love it for the exceptional Sandcastles Kids Club offering an extensive range of activities as well as dedicated play spaces. There are five swimming pools spread over the resort including a dedicated lap pool and kids splash zone.
There are six bars and restaurants covering south-east Asian to Mediterranean cuisine.
What does it cost? You can pick up a superior room starting from 700AED. Interconnecting options are available, up to ocean view suites starting at 3000AED.
Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas
Now open for over 12 months, Saadiyat Rotana is proving a popular family choice with a great range of family-sized rooms as well as access to Aladdin’s Cave, the kids club which has a lazy river, splash pool, cinema zone, water slide and entertainment for your younger kids.
Housing 327 rooms as well as 13 beach villas, the resort is huge but well spread out over Saadiyat Beach. There are seven different options for dining from Italian to Gastropub, as well as a rooftop bar for catching those sunset views.
For parents, there’s the outstanding Zen Spa to enjoy with 10 treatment rooms and a Hamman, as well as Bodylines gym, tennis courts and a mini-golf course.
What does it cost? Family rooms or 2 bedroom suites start in the vicinity of 2600AED per night, classic rooms for couples start from 750AED.
Rixos Saadiyat island
This palatial hotel is draped in opulence with a grand foyer and many touches true to the brand’s Turkish roots.
What sets Rixos apart from others is that they offer all-inclusive and ultra-all inclusive packages. This suits some to a tee, whilst others might find this a little overwhelming, especially at weekends when staycationers also join the crowds.
The crowds are well spread out though among the dozen bars and restaurants on-site. There are also tennis courts, a gym, Anjana Spa and wellness club and an extensive program of sports and activities to keep you busy too. Live performances and DJ’s supplement the entertainment offering.
Kids can access the Rixy Kids Club – supervised for 4 to 12-year-olds (babysitting can be additionally requested). One of the highlights of the resort is the mini aqua park and wave pool, making it one of Abu Dhabi’s best for families.
What does it cost? Deluxe King rooms start from 1150AED (all-inclusive), whilst the ultra-luxurious 3-bed villas with pool access start from 5000AED.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas
The Park Hyatt was one of Saadiyat’s first openings and has come to be known for its ultra relaxing getaway from the city. You are nestled in between the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and the Saadiyat Public Beach.
One of the smaller hotels, it has a more intimate feel perhaps than the others, but none the less it’s on a grand scale like only Abu Dhabi does with one of the most spectacular pools. !
It doesn’t have as many family-friendly offerings as those around it (it does have a kids club and playground though), making it our top choice if you are looking for a quiet retreat! We particularly love Atarmia Spa.
There are two bars and three restaurants including The Beach House restaurant which has one of Abu Dhabi’s best ocean views.
What does it cost? Basic rooms start at around 830AED with suites in excess of 3000AED but plenty of options in between that can be mixed and matched for family groups. There is also a selection of private villas.
Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
The most recent opening on Saadiyat and also the most isolated, it occupies its own stretch of silky white sand, adjacent to Saadiyat Beach Club at the eastern end of the island.
The hotel has a contemporary, quite futuristic interior filled with dangling glass installations yet still distinctly Arabic styling. There are 293 rooms available (include interconnecting and villas with private pools). Facilities include three swimming pools, a 400m stretch of beach and tennis courts.
There is no shortage of food options with seven on-site restaurants, a poolside bar and room service.
It has one of Saadiyat’s most extensive spas with 15 treatment rooms and kids are not forgotten either with a complimentary kids and teens clubs (for over 4’s)
What does it cost? For larger families looking to stay in one room, the Saadiyat Suite will set you back 10,000AED a night or a 2-bed villa 9,000AED. There are plenty of interconnecting options families can also consider with deluxe room rates starting from 750AED.
*For all the Saadiyat Island Hotels listed make sure you look out for breakfast inclusion and taxes when comparing prices.
Is there a budget hotel offering on Saadiyat Island?
Not really. The cheapest offers apply only to single rooms and start around 750AED per night, excluding meals and taxes. Saadiyat is all about luxury and relaxation, these come with a price tag.
It is well worth keeping your eyes out for specials though, residents may be able to scoop up a bargain in off-peak seasons (ie, when it is incredibly hot outside in July/August, or middle of winter when the Gulf is too cold for swimming!)
If it’s budget and value offering you are looking for, you are better looking to neighbouring Yas Island including the likes of Centro Yas Island by Rotana and Park Inn by Radisson put up some great budget deals with access to Yas Beach.
Alternatively, if you still want a little bit of beach but closer to the city Le Meridien Abu Dhabi can be a good option under 500AED or Traders Hotel Qaryat al Beri on the Grand Canal with views of the Grand Mosque and a little bit of beach frontage.
If you just want a daycation, Saadiyat Beach Club is a popular day pass option. Giving you all the same views, service and meals as the luxury hotels just without the cost of the overnight stay thrown in.
What is there to do on Saadiyat Island
Culture & Museums
Saadiyat’s greatest claim to fame so far is being home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It is part of a mammoth cultural district project planned for Saadiyat Island. The project has stalled in recent years due to the economic climate but there are still grand plans to add additional world-class museums.
In the meantime, the Louvre has proved a huge success and well worthy of inclusion in your Abu Dhabi itinerary, the building alone is a stunning masterpiece.
Don’t miss Manadar Al Saadiyat too. As well as permanent and rotating exhibitions, this multi-purpose art space is used for live performances, photography workshops and an art studio for adults and children. Many of these events are offered free of charge.
You will also find nearby New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) on Saadiyat Island who run extensive exhibits and community programs throughout the year.
Recreation & Amusement Parks
Saadiyat Beach Golf Club must be one of the most stunning courses in the world (part of the Troon Golf network). The 18-hole course overlooking the Arabian Gulf was designed by Gary Player taking into account the islands natural beauty and a focus on eco-consciousness. The course includes three saltwater lakes and over 60 bunkers, also making it one of the country’s most challenging. The clubhouse includes a popular terrace event venue taking in some of Saadiyat’s best views with family-friendly dining available at Hawksbill restaurant.
Saadiyat Island is only a stones throw away from Yas Island. Home to the famous Yas Island Marina Circuit (hosting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix each November), it’s also where you will find Abu Dhabi’s BIG THREE popular theme parks – Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World. Anyone visiting with kids will definitely want to check out this award-winning collection and the nearby Yas Marina, home to many super yachts and a vibrant strip of bars, restaurants and a play park.
Saadiyat Island is home to the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle. During the breeding season, many of the hotels listed above have additional programs and each engages in their own way between nature and community. Hatching sites are protected by strict environmental measures and are patrolled by trained personnel who continually monitor the reproduction of the turtles.
There is a section of Saadiyat Island reserved as public beach frontage. Saadiyat Beach is accessed by a road adjacent to the Park Hyatt. Here you can look to rent beach chairs and umbrellas, or simply pull up your towel on the pristine white sands. Do note that the dunes are a protected area due to the wildlife that calls them home. You will find a protective boardwalk along the edge of the beach.
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