I spent a few days at the St. Regis Saadiyat in early April. The resort is located on Saadiyat Island, a sprawling development by TDIC (the Abu Dhabi government-owned tourism investment company) which will eventually include several resorts (two of which are already in operation: the St. Regis and the adjacent Park Hyatt, with more set to open, including, I believe, one operated by Mandarin Oriental and one by Shangri-La), a golf course (operational), residences and museums (including local outposts for the Louvre and Guggenheim, which won’t be ready for several years), amongst other attractions.
When booking, I was torn between the St. Regis (which opened in December) and the Park Hyatt, which opened a few months earlier. I picked the St. Regis as it seemed somewhat less sterile than the Park Hyatt (though I generally like Park Hyatts’ design, this one seemed underwhelming from the pictures). Also, the St. Regis was marginally more expensive, which, rather naively, I took as an indication of greater quality. I suspect I made the wrong decision, but more of this later.
Rooms: the room (with sea view) was tastefully (and luxuriously) appointed, with the usual amenities (large TV, Bose sound-deck, etc., though no Nespresso machine, which I have seen in a number of resorts of comparable quality but have never used) and a wonderfully comfortable bed. The bathroom in particular was stunning. I strongly recommend paying a little extra for a sea view room, otherwise your view is likely to be rather miserable.
Indoor communal areas: like the room, I thought they were also excellent – luxurious but not over-the-top (unlike, some may say, the Emirates Palace). The décor in the wide reception area, Manhattan Lounge and restaurants was faultless.
Outdoor communal areas: I thought these were disappointing. Not only is the exterior of the building itself rather crass (faux-‘Mediterranean’ style, whatever that means), but the pool and beach areas are also underwhelming - there is far too much stone everywhere (which, although obviously not cement, does give a similarly bleak impression) and nowhere near enough greenery. True, the vegetation that is there needs time to grow but it seemed to us that that a lot of the outside space is simply not reserved for vegetation, which is a pity. I also found the lay-out of the pool and beach areas to be unintuitive, with unnecessarily round-about paths required to reach certain amenities. Both main and adult-only pools are also underwhelming.
Food: breakfast was very good, with a very generous spread of (mostly) quality products. Dinners at 55 and 5th and Sontaya were also very good. Lunch, however, was consistently disappointing. This is mostly due to the fact that, at least for the time being, the lunch options are very limited: either Sontaya (which serves Asian cuisine and is fairly formal) or a very small selection of standard snacks, sandwiches and salads, which is also prepared by the Sontaya kitchen and is served either on the beach or at a small seating area with a bar by the adult pool. Despite the small selection, the quality of the food was disappointing. The fact that both the kitchen and staff were clearly overstretched did not help. Also not helpful was the fact that Turqoiz, the beach front restaurant, had not yet opened.
Service: a mixed bag here. Upon arrival, despite having booked a sea view room, I was assigned a non sea view room, which took a couple of hours to sort out. Service at breakfast and dinner was good but was very slow at lunchtime (hour-long waits for simple salads and sandwiches, etc). Not necessarily the staff’s fault - like I said above, it seems they were simply overstretched. Otherwise, staff were generally courteous and tried to do the best they could with the situation. What I found more irksome was the presence of a small army of managers in suits trotting around the place without making any visible effort to alleviate the situation.
Dined out on two occasions: once at Hakkasan at the Emirates Palace (which I strongly recommend) and once at the Beach House at the Park Hyatt next door, which was also very good and gave us the opportunity to explore the Park Hyatt a little – slightly smaller property, more intimate feel, vastly superior outdoor spaces, better beach and better pools (reminded me of the excellent Chedi in Muscat, Oman).
All in all, although the experience at the St. Regis was generally quite good (though I may be erring on the generous side with my 4 rating considering the reputation of the St. Regis brand), there were some issues. Needless to say, some of these issues are likely to be resolved with time (e.g. the service wrinkles), whilst some, like the design and layout of the outdoor areas, are more structural. Like I mentioned at the beginning, were I to go Abu Dhabi again, I would almost certainly stay at the Park Hyatt – it is a more elegant property.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The St. Regis Saadiyat Island is your new address in Abu Dhabi overlooking either Saadiyat's pristine beach or the impressive Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, designed by the golfing legend, Gary Player. The resort provides unparalleled accommodations and service along with food and beverage outlets that provide sumptuous meals and refreshing drinks. ... more less
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