Despite staying at some of the world’s finest hotels, I never had a chance to experience the famous St. Regis hospitality. I always expected the prestige hotel brand to be a place where royalty walks in and out and have butlers all around to listen to your beck and call.
As we drove in to the St. Regis on Saadiyat Island, I was pretty excited and charmed by its classical style. It felt as if I had entered another time and ought to be wearing a ball gown. We went last weekend on a Friday and as soon as we entered the surprisingly contemporary lobby, I was aghast at the sheer number of hotel guests and staff running around the place.
Neither did we have any assistance with our luggage from getting out of the cab, nor any courtesy until we complained that we haven’t been checked in for over half an hour. Just over a couple of minutes being there and I was already one of those rich brats who have way too much money and way too short a temper! Maybe that’s the effect the hotel has on you; it creates this feeling that you’re some sort of diva.
I saw bellboys running around with their bellcarts with the luggage enshrined in a covering, bearing the classic ‘R’ logo. It’s a classy hotel, but the service seemed to be lacking atleast at the start. After we were checked in to our superior suite, I discovered it was decent sized. It didn’t really ‘wow’ me though. Perhaps it was because the superior suite faces the entrance of the hotel and not the beach.
Even though I had asked the hotel in advance to arrange a birthday cake for F.C., it just never arrived. When the butler came and rang the doorbell, I had to mouth it to her. The cake arrived later then. Since it was too hot, F.C. and I decided to make the most of the afternoon and watch Netflix till we later decided to head to the beach.
I really enjoyed the lapping shores and private beach at the hotel. It was serene and extremely beautiful, with the salty sea breeze billowing about.
We then decided to saunter over to the “adult pool” which had these really unique floating pool beds. We sat there and ordered seriously lethal long island iced teas and mai tais. Unfortunately, it took us ages to flag down someone to take our orders; and when we finally managed to, we couldn’t order snacks anymore by 5pm. This adult pool is cool (It’s also a place where I got to take some seriously awesome photos with my iPhone underwater). It has a jacuzzi and a hydration pool included. At around 7.30pm, we decided to head for dinner.
I was highly tempted to try Sontaya, but since it was a weekend to celebrate F.C.’s birthday I decided to take F.C. to an Italian dinner at Villa Toscana (F.C. really likes Italian food). Villa Toscana is located at the St. Regis in main-island(?) Abu Dhabi. Here, we were welcomed with so much grace and poise that I wondered how and why the service between both hotels differed so greatly.
Our dinner at Villa Toscana was lovely; from the delicious spicy shrimp to the scrumptious, freshly baked focaccia. They even remembered F.C.’s birthday, which they celebrated with panache. We then headed back to the Saadiyat island St. Regis.
To be honest, you need two days to fully savour and enjoy the hotel’s facilities as it’s pretty huge. I would’ve liked to arrive early and check out the Ripe Market that takes place there every Friday and spent a lot more time lounging at the beach and pool. Unfortunately, not much could be done in just a day. The UAE summer gives you limited options to do things as well.
Towards the end, I found that the service was getting better and noticed that there was far less chaos. It could be probably because the hotel wasn’t as crowded.
The St. Regis Saadiyat Island is a place I think you should reserve for special occasions as it is quite a pricey hotel. I booked almost two months in advance on Booking.com for AED 702 for one night in August. I’ve heard prices for up to AED 4,000 per night, so if you’re going…do book well enough in advance.
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It’s a shame you didn’t quite get the service expected from such a high quality hotel! It looked lovely from the pictures. Maybe a little out of my budget but like you said, sometimes it’s nice to celebrate a special occasion with some luxury!!