Beach resort or desert escape? Why not try both these hotspots? 


We explore two Jumeirah hotels in Abu Dhabi. 

The first is a contemporary, family friendly beach resort on Saadiyat Island.

The second is an Arabic style desert property, Al Wathba.

Refreshingly, the 293-room Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort actively eliminates almost all single-use plastic.

Each guest is given a reusable water bottle on arrival to be refilled at many stations around the hotel.

Plastic bottles in the rooms have been replaced with glass. Although pesky disposable plastic crops up occasionally, wrapped around cotton buds and pads hidden in jars in the bathrooms.

The resort also employs a marine biologist to help conserve the turtles who lay their eggs on Saadiyat's shores.

During the summers, marine expert Emily has found and protected many nests on the island leading to successful hatches. She has also rehabilitated and re-released adult turtles who wash up injured.


Guests can enjoy the resort’s health centre, where trainer James Duigan’s Bodyism brand is responsible for the gym.

Try Pilates on the beach at sunset with a Bodyism instructor and the sound of waves lapping at your feet.

Over in the desert, less than an hour’s drive away, Al Wathba is the more boutique property with only 90 rooms and suites.

But it still boasts six restaurants and bars to Saadiyat’s seven.

What both properties have in common is stunning spas, with treatments from brands like 111SKIN.

There are also relaxation areas with a salt crystal sauna, hammam, hydro pool and even a cryotherapy chamber.


Horses, camels and falconry

Fancy riding a horse into the dunes? The hotel has new resident Arabic stallions, which recently moved into five-star stables on site.

For a more traditional experience, the hotel puts on falconry displays and can organise camel treks in the desert too.

Al Wathba has just one main pool but, at 1,000 square metres, it’s never crowded. Enjoy panoramic views towards the empty desert. This is the ultimate tranquility, bar the occasional passing jet from a nearby military base.

For added luxury, stay in one of the 13 private, super spacious villas, which each have their own private pool.


For more information about Jumeirah hotels, read here.

Read the full review by Cally Squires in the Mayfair Times here.