There is something refreshing about a luxury hotel that only makes a statement about you, the guest, says the gal. All too often owners are somewhat egocentric and think of hotels as being ‘living wills’ about them, and the legacy they will leave behind. The designers they employ, at great cost, never think of guests, people who pay lots of money to stay in the rooms they ‘create’. Park Hyatt, as a brand, DOES think about the consumer. Things are where you expect them. Light switches and temperature controls and window covers controls are easy to find, and use. This is Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, coming up to its fifth birthday, and now under the tender loving care of Federico Mantoani.
After this time, the lush greenery in the 18-acre gardens between the wavy-W-shaped building and the white sand has grown up. Look the other way, and you see the 18-hole Gary Player golf course (see the panorama video, below). No wonder Europeans, especially Germans and, increasingly, Scandinavians, escape the weather and stress, political and otherwise, back home, and come here for a week or more. I just love room 422, a 550 sq ft ‘starter’ or ‘base’ room, with a big totally private terrace for no-prying-eyes sunbathing. Inside, the room has an open bathroom, which you can of course close off but being solo I have all the pull-across screens open, which saves time.
And luxury today is time. I can head down to the 24/7 LifeFitness gym whenever I want (it has a quiet pool outside). I can go out to the main series of pools, with secluded sitting areas – and one pool is adults-only. At the end of the pools is The Beach House, with a bar on its rooftop. Sitting outside, as I did, with Federico Mantoani, there was just a slight cooling breeze. We were on the deck, but other tables were right in the sand. We toasted many things, with a glass of Brancott Estate Pinot Noir 2013 from Marlborough, and we talked about Somalia, where my friend was brought up, and about his origami-mad son, and about Arabella, the 306-room hotel’s marine biologist.
This is obviously an ideal hotel to bring kids as there is so much for them to do: Arabella teaches turtle life, for instance, by letting children go through obstacle courses to get an idea of how difficult it is for turtles to mate – it means so much more to them when they then see turtles hatching, and scuttling out to sea. There is a lot for parents to do, too (try the spa, especially for a refreshing Natura Bissé facial). Federico is adding a shisha lounge, this October, and putting in new decking, and redoing the terraces of some of the suites. Coming up before the end of the year is the long-awaited Louvre Museum, designed by Jean Nouvel (who stays in this luxury hotel whenever he is in Abu Dhabi). Yes, there are lots of famous people staying here, it is that kind of ideal retreat.