As a city person moving directly out of the bustling central London, I have been a little tentative about settling in on the serene island of Saadiyat. Its beauty is unmeasurable, but I have been a little concerned about looking out onto the quiet sandy beaches each day, rather than down onto the taxis, traffic and buses that I am used to.
With our first visit to the luxurious Saadiyat Beach Club, which is only a short drive from our flat, I realized that I may be able to get used to the salty sea air a little easier than I had expected. Out on the far end of Saadiyat Island, past the bustling construction sites of the all of the soon-to-be beautiful new villas, lies a hidden gem of a beach resort....without actually feeling pretentious, surprisingly.
The facilities are numerous. There is an infinity pool open for swimming laps or just taking a dip. There is a fantastic gym that overlooks the pool cabanas and the beach shore. And after a vigorous workout (or Spinning class), you can jump into the jacuzzi, steam room, or just have a relaxing rain shower to rinse off...all in 5-star changing rooms (dedicated for men and women).
Covered cabanas surround the immediate pool area and pool attendants are happy to supply you with unlimited towels and cold water all day long. (I could really get used to this! I am thinking of asking Brian if he could bring me a fresh bottle of cold water and my towel every morning.)
Just when the sun is highest (and you are completely drained from relaxing all morning), your stomach may be growling for nourishment. It must be time for the beach BBQ brunch at Safina. Safina is just one of the club's handful of high-end restaurants. You can sit inside or outside, under the shade of the large umbrellas and palm trees.
The BBQ brunch was extensive and really high quality. Grilled shrimp and lobster, corn on the cob, perfectly moist salmon, crispy chicken wings, amazingly tender beef short-ribs and my favorite, skewers of shishito peppers! First time to see those in Abu Dhabi.
Brian was in heaven to have a piping hot beef short rib and chunk of salmon, "paired" with a cool fresh oyster... for his appetizer.
However, as a pastry chef at heart, it was really the dessert table (more like a dessert extravaganza) that left me wide-eyed and circling the room in complete confusion as where to begin...or end. It was as if your dessert fantasies of childhood had finally come to fruition (just thirty years late). Intricate fruit tarts, puddings, cheesecakes, chocolates, cookies, doughnuts, creme brulee, caramelized nut tarts...and on and on and on...
As I was spinning with indecision, the sugar high was kicking in by pure osmosis. Macarons? Which flavor? Do you want chocolate with roasted nuts? What about Opera cake? Who has time for the lovely fresh fruit and cheeses with all of this pastry?
As usual, everything ranked very high on taste and quality (as expected at this point), but it is also noted that much time also goes into the presentation. Cheesecakes are served in small single serving glass vases, cookies jars and candy bowls are colorful, and cake slices are meticulously sliced into tasting sizes! ...so you never feel truly guilty when you may need to "taste" everything.
I will do my best to get used to this laid back beach life, but all of this great food and luxury was really torture in disguise as adjusting back to life outside of Saadiyat Beach club was now going to be painful. I may need to come back tomorrow, if only to wean myself off my sugar hangover.