First look at the new Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

I spent this past week in the UAE, splitting my time between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In Dubai I stayed at the Park Hyatt, which I’ll be reviewing over the next couple of weeks in my trip report.

In Abu Dhabi I was hoping to stay at the brand new Park Hyatt, which was scheduled to open on November 1. Unfortunately they weren’t opening in time, so I emailed the hotel to see if I could at least get a tour. I was really curious about the new hotel, and I figured it would interest some of y’all, since I know many of you are loyal to Hyatt.

In the end the hotel actually did open when I was there, though only because they had previously booked tour guests, though bookings weren’t yet open to the general public. So thanks to the marketing communications manager of the hotel for giving me a tour and inviting me to lunch.

The Park Hyatt is located in the Saadiyat Beach District of Abu Dhabi, about a 15-20 minute cab ride from downtown and also fairly close to the Formula One track and Ferrari World. This was my first time to the UAE, though my perception of Abu Dhabi before visiting wasn’t that it would be a beach destination, though after seeing Saadiyat Beach I certainly have a different perception.

The Park Hyatt is located near the Saadiyat Golf Club, and there are a handful of other resorts being built within a kilometer at the same time (St. Regis, Shangri-La, etc.).

The cab driver had a tough time finding the hotel given how new the area is, though we did eventually find the hotel. The hotel has a much more modest exterior than most of the other “blingy” hotels being built in the area, which I could appreciate. To a large extent that’s what I like about Park Hyatt, that it’s usually modern, understated luxury.

The lobby is super-modern and spacious, with reception to the right of the entrance and the concierge to the left of the entrance, along with several couches and a lobby lounge.

All areas of the hotel have a ton of natural light (mostly with floor-to-ceiling windows), and also good views of the beach and pool.

The pool area is one of the highlights of the hotel. First there are a bunch of “covered” lounge chairs sitting over a pool with maybe six inches of water (not intended for swimming).

Then there’s also another pool closer to the beach intended for swimming.

There are also a handful of small plunge pools with lounge chairs and umbrellas, for those looking for a bit more privacy.

I expected nice pools, though. What really pleasantly surprised me was the beach that’s connected to the hotel. It was truly one of the cleanest beaches I’ve ever seen, with white sand and turquoise water. It was especially nice thanks to the fact that the hotel was so empty, so it was almost like having a private beach. I can’t emphasize enough how beautiful the beach was, as I never previously thought of Abu Dhabi as a beach destination.

Now back to the rest of the hotel. The hotel has three restaurants and one cafe.

Near the lobby was The Library, which can either be used for lounging or to order coffee/pastries/etc. from the bar there.

Then there’s The Cafe, which is the main restaurant that’s open all day. The marketing communications manager invited me to lunch there, and among other things we had Middle Eastern mezze, which was delicious.

The more formal restaurant in the hotel is The Park Bar & Grill, which as of now is only open for dinner daily and for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays.

The third restaurant is The Beach House, which doesn’t open till the end of the month. It’s right on the beach and will be open for lunch and dinner.


While all of the hotel’s rooms aren’t open yet, I was able to tour one of their most basic rooms, which is the Park King. The room is 50 square meters, which is big for an entry level room.

While I only spent a few hours at the hotel I got a good feel for the property. The facilities are spectacular and the location is great, and I think this would actually be a really fun place to go on a beach vacation. Abu Dhabi is a great city too and has much more “substance” than Dubai, in my opinion, so I could actually imagine spending 4-6 nights at this hotel.

Of course since I didn’t stay at the hotel I wasn’t able to get all that much of a feel for the service. Only 15% of the employees are transfers from other Hyatts, so I suspect it will take a while until service is perfect. At 306 rooms this is the largest Park Hyatt in the world, so that makes it all the tougher to perfect the service, since Park Hyatt is supposed to be somewhat boutique.

The hotel is a category five hotel making it 18,000 points per night, and as of now rates start at ~1,000AED (~$280 USD) for advance purchase rates, though the rates do fluctuate.

If you’re a Diamond Gold Passport member and using a confirmed suite upgrade, it’s also worth noting that the room category that would confirm into is the 100 square meter Park Suite, which is huge by most standards.

A special thanks to the marketing communications manager (who was awesome, by the way) for the tour, and I also want to recognize one other employee. Since this is a new area cabs aren’t readily available, so I had to wait for about 20 minutes for a cab since they had to specifically order it. While waiting for the cab I got to talking with Oleksandr, one of the bellman. He was all smiles and when he started talking to me I did a bit of a double take, since he spoke perfect English, almost with an American accent. I honestly assumed he was from the US. As it turns out he’s from the Ukraine and was only once in the US for six weeks, but explained how he tried to start learning not only the language but also the accent from a very young age by watching TV. He was truly one of the most engaging and motivated hotel employees I’ve ever interacted with in the ~20 minutes we talked, so if the hotel is smart they’ll be promoting this guy soon, because he’s certainly a huge asset to the hotel.

If anyone actually stays at this hotel soon, please report back on your experiences! Or if anyone has any questions let me know and I’ll do my best to answer, or at least find an answer.

Comments

  1. I am do to go to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi in June with my wife. I have had people tell me recently they wouldnt take a american female to either place. Any thoughts? Did you feel safe?

  2. @ Peetyrd — Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to check. Shoot. Let me ask what the temperatures are like and I’ll let you know.

    @ ryan — I’ve heard the same thing about the UAE from others before I went, and I can honestly say I don’t think there’s a place I’ve ever felt safer. Admittedly this is all based on my experiences so take it for what it’s worth.

    But the thing about both cities is that they’re filled with immigrants and ex-pats. In my whole trip I interacted with maybe a handful of people that were actually originally from the UAE. Everyone else is from the UK, Philippines, Kenya, Pakistan, etc. It’s actually the first time I’ve been out of the country where I get in a cab and the drivers ask me if I live in Dubai. Seriously, I felt incredibly safe there because virtually nobody is a local, so there’s no reason anyone would become a “target,” IMO. So I’ve never *felt* safer…

  3. Thanks… That is what I,ve read and seen from people who have actually been. Did you happen to notice if American women were dressed about like the states or more conservative?

  4. What beautiful pictures. It looks like a great destination hotel. Thank you for taking the time to visit and thoroughly inspect it for your review.

  5. @ ryan — Well I didn’t see any women dressed as if they were trying to score first place in a wet bikini contest, but there were plenty of “fashionably” dressed women like you’d see here.

  6. For women in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, dress a little on the conservative side, ie, best not to wear shorts or sleeveless tops during the day, unless you are going to the beach…at night, depending on where you are going, you can dress a little more relaxed.

  7. I would like to go to the UAE sometime. I wonder at the pool, would I be able to wear a regular one-piece bathing suit? I wouldn’t even want to go to the pool if I had to get one of those full body wetsuit things.

  8. Ryan, no worries–my husband and I lived in the UAE for 3 years, along with our children, and like lucky said, there’s hardly a place I’ve felt safer. I love Abu Dhabi and would be more than happy to move back and stay longer than 3 years!

    Lyssa, you’ll be fine–if you’re at a hotel pool or beach you can definitely wear a regular swimsuit.

  9. @ Peetyrd — The answer from the hotel is as follows: “In regards to the temperatures, it really depends on the season but currently the sea temperature is around 20 – 25 degrees.”

  10. Hi, I live in Dubai and in my opinion the sea is too warm to swim in from June thru to the end of September – not refreshing at all, hence all the swimming pools. In Dec/Jan/Feb the sea is nice and fresh. It LOOKS gorgeous all year around though (we have very little rain).

    Ladies, you will be perfectly safe in the UAE so long as you don’t wander around the mall in hotpants and a boob tube (you would be amazed how many women do this; it’s not very respectful). For reasons of air conditioning as well as modesty, it’s advisable to carry a long cardigan and/or pashmina with you at all times, and then to use your discretion. You can pretty much wear what you like at the beach (the minimum being a bikini) but it’s inappropriate to wander through hotel lobbies or take elevators wearing a transparent kaftan over a bikini, as this is likely to cause offence to the locals. As observed above, UAE and GCC nationals are usually in the minority in hotels; however they do travel a lot, even within their own countries or emirates, for leisure.

    The beach vista on Saadiyat Island is breathtaking (much more beautiful than anything in Dubai sadly, as Dubai is now so built up) but since Saadiyat is all about new construction going on don’t be surprised if your views are slightly marred by cranes!

    If you visit Saadiyat Island do not miss Manarat al Saadiyat the arts centre which features an ever changing exhibition space (Abu Dhabi Art takes place here, and the Larry Gagosian collection toured here last year), a fantastically affordable and exquisitely designed cafe (Cafe Manara) which has lovely outdoor seating and serves alcohol, and The Saadiyat Story, a large scale, multi-media, interactive exhibit showing the vision for Saadiyat Island, with scale models of all the amazing new museums by Frank Gehry, Sir Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel et al.

    The UAE is a beautiful, modern country. Please visit us. I hope this helps.

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