Just on the outskirts of the UAE's capital, nestled between the airport and the city itself, lies the latest addition to Abu Dhabi's hotel scene. With the kind of quality that they reserve for all their developments the Shangri-La chain have finally arrived at what promises to be the new big destination on the Gulf tourist map.
Although CEO Middle East was only at the soft opening of the hotel (some of the facilities were in the process of being opened) the project already seems to have developed a niche of its own to find its place in the chain.
The staff are uniformly pleasant, courteous and highly professional – and the service, as always,was immaculate.
The area where it has been developed is integral to this. The drive down to the impressive front gate is one where patrons are surrounded by peace after the bustle of the highway, there is even a canal on the one side of the road and the area is quietly residential - a world away from the bustle of the Sheikh Zayed road where the Dubai Shangri-La is based.
Yet the beauty is that despite the peace and quiet the hotel is literally only minutes away from the entrance to the capital - as opposed to its Muscat counterpart. In a coup sure to attract visiting high-flying executives the development has also managed to position itself as the closest hotel to the brand new Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
To cater to the needs of travelling business clientele the hotel includes a 300m2 ‘apartment-style' space made up of a boardroom, kitchen, dining area, lounge and terrace for those wanting to hold an event. There are an additional two breakout rooms, two boardrooms and six villas that can be used for private meetings.
On arrival at the hotel guests are met with the usual Shangri-La style, and the staff are uniformly pleasant, courteous and highly professional - and the service, as always, was immaculate. The 214 rooms are good size, with the executive suite is up to 110m2 with a separate lounge. Most of the rooms have balconies overlooking one of the swimming pools or directly over the creek, a perfect place for quiet contemplation during the cooler months.
The view from most of the rooms is of the nearly completed Sheikh Zayed mosque, which rather surreally seems to rise from the sand dunes on the far side of the water - an image from every Arabian Night fantasy.
The bathrooms are equipped with L'Occitane toiletries and guests are also met with an eclectic array of sweet treats to sample as they unpack. The furnishings and backdrops are of an exceptionally high quality and no expense appears to have been spared on any of the fittings or fixtures - the results speak for themselves.
The main swimming pool has an infinity effect overlooking the water. It was thankfully not too crowded during our visit as it is perfect for cooling off but not large enough for serious swimmers. Despite its size the aesthetics perfectly matched the backdrop to the hotel, mirroring the opulence inside.
The peace was somewhat disturbed by the appearance of the local jetski enthusiasts society shortly before sunset who roared around the small beach for a few minutes, but they were soon chased off by the lifeguards.
During our stay we were lucky enough to sample the food at the signature restaurant, the Shang Palace. What is undoubtedly the best Chinese food this side of Singapore was completed by its excellent choice of regional selections and colourful Maitre d'.
The hotel's other three restaurants are most certainly to the same standard but the Shang Palace could occupy the visiting palate for the entire length of their stay.
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