Memories At The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Travel to a new place always makes me giddy with anticipation, especially of the foodie kind. To fall in love with the place is something else. The Park Hyatt in Abu Dhabi has captured probably the most beautiful location for the time of the year and place. I doubt it would be as splendid an experience during the hot summer months; Ireland still holds first place for me.
Abu Dhabi is made up of several islands and holds the most land mass of the UAE. The population though small has indeed made this city big. Be it the petro dollars or the evolving speed of sky scrapers mushrooming all over the city, it all shows that it will take over Dubai in a short while, what with its emphasis on bringing in museums like the Lido from Paris to also encouraging its own culture and people. The generosity of the Sheikh is legendary and is witnessed in the many stories that one hears as one is travelling through.
The sand dunes, the mighty mountain range in the distance hide a hidden culture of which one only sees bits and pieces. A culture that makes one want to see and witness more, to find a reason to travel there another time. The sea culture is evident as one traverses the many islands that make Abu Dhabi the city it is. The spas and beaches act as evidence of an affordable luxury that is attainable thanks to a government that is linked to and liked by the people. Sure, the laws are strict - and the laws and rules regarding drinking even stricter forcing most to head to the hotels and restaurants where it is easily accessible.
The Park Hyatt in Abu Dhabi lies on a pristine beach on the natural island of Saadiyat along a 9 kilometre stretch of environmentally protected beach, where turtles dwell and hatchlings emerge. Dolphins even appear near the shorelines at certain times of the day.
The magic of it all is that one is undisturbed by the highly professional staff who are quite unobtrusive. The added feature of the select restaurants that serve a variety of cuisines makes it all the more pleasurable. The food has a holistic approach with the Chef ensuring that the ingredients are all organically sourced. The farm which is just an hour’s drive away is run by a local who has taken a gift from the Sheikh and made it into a source of healthy ingredients and a great place to visit if one is so inclined.
Of the hotel’s many faceted features is its 18 hole golf course and an excellent spa which again has improved on its facilities and will soon be introducing a spa cuisine centric menu.
While the rooms are spacious and oh-so-comfortable, it is the breath taking view of the sea and crashing waves that takes one’s breath away. The Hyatt has been listed as one of the 50 best companies to work for and it’s not hard to see why. The friendliness of the Hyatt personnel is wonderful and makes up for any thing that may be missed out, it reflects in the kind way guests are treated.
The restaurants boasts several signature dishes, which are a mix of Arabic with Asian touches, at the award winning Park Bar & Grill, and over some champagne served up a wonderful Carpaccio of tuna, thinly sliced with a hint of coriander. Whilst telling the story of the best lobsters coming from the coldest of waters he proceeded to serve up the most amazing Omani Lobster. Next up was the Lamb rump (cooked just right) served with mashed potatoes and mushrooms which came as a pleasant comfort. The meal was rounded off with Halawa Jebin (semolina rolls served with strawberry and rose water salsa and organic honey) which in my opinion kind of took away some of the magic created by the previous dishes, owing to it’s high level of sweetness. Coming to the ambience, though the lighting in the restaurant is a bit too dim for comfort - for I am one of those who loves to see the textures and colours on my plate – it is nice to a certain extent. The best feature of the restaurant (other than the food of course) is undoubtedly the roof top bar overlooking the sea where the hotel lights are muted for the turtles’ sake. After that fine meal, a Baileys on the rocks became just the ticket to bliss as one sat there and in memorable comfort took in the unforgettable experience of good food, wine and great company.
Their beach side restaurant “The Beach House” (which became our lunch venue the next day) is a light pastel shaded restaurant with plenty of wooden elements around. Giving a comfortable chic look, it serves Mediterranean cuisine with a hint of a difference. What with a majority of locally sourced organic produce and the Hyatt’s philosophy of healthy food it is a success in every way. Delicious fresh dishes like Char-grilled green asparagus (tossed with parmesan shavings and balsamic vinegar), Tuna salad (consisting fresh tuna, soft poached egg, green beans, grape vine tomatoes, black olives), and Yarra valley feta cheese, sticky balsamic, slow baked tomatoes made one wish for a humongous appetite even before the actual meal started. My favourite was the Quinoa, broad bean and preserved lemon salad – the innovative use of preserved lemon added a whole new dimension to quinoa and broad beans. The main course included numerous treats like Catalan meatballs (with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese), Crispy beef short rib with smoked paprika sauce – the crispiness being intact for quite some time, Sautéed chicken liver with Xeres vinegar, Chicken wings with garlic and lemon, Tiger prawns cooked in garlic, chilli and white wine and Baked portobello mushroom, cabrales crumble to name a few.
The ice creams created in-house prove to be a great demonstration of a perfect mix of fresh new flavors paired with impeccable techniques. They lend an amazing touch and finish to an excellent meal, after which a long walk on the beach is most certainly called for. Also necessary is to sit on the stands or beach beds and relax while leisurely waiting for the sun to go down over the waters, watching the moving clouds and clump grass on the tiny dunes. The entire experience sometimes makes a holiday a welcome break.