RESORT VIBES

As far as first impressions go, the five-star Marriott Hotel Al Forsan gives the utmost importance to service and welcome. from the valet, to the security team and the front desk staff all offering hospitality far above the expected norm. fact checks in for a weekend staycay that helps us to switch off and rejuvenate the mind, body and soul…

The Marriott Hotel Al Forsan brought a whole new luxury hotel scene to Abu Dhabi when it opened just over two years ago. A sleek glass building rising from between the well kempt polo fields of the equestrian centre at Al Forsan International Sports Resort, it’s an impressive structure home to 400 rooms and a number of distinct food and beverage outlets that really inject life and character into the otherwise sleepy residential community of Khalifa City.

Floral bouquets and ample soft furnishing greet guests in a lobby bathed in natural light. While the open-plan setting of the building’s design provides a sense of seamless space that would remain unchallenged were in not for the cubic glass elevators that whisk guests upwards towards the comfort of the rooms.

SUPERIOR LIVING

The superior twin room is designed with comfort and functionality in mind. Keeping with the theme of the property, the room showcases a contemporary vibe with a transparent writing desk and headboards splashed with vibrant colours resembling an artist’s canvas. A small seating area is ideal for relaxation, as are the beds, with their plump pillows and thick duvets. The bathroom is encased in glass, as if an extension to the living area (don’t worry, a remote-controlled privacy screen can be lowered – and we really enjoyed this form of separation), and features a sleek curvature throughout the design.

From the egg-shaped sink, to the deep and appealing tub to a curved walk in shower tiled in exquisite mosaics, the bathroom emanates a sense of newness that many older hotels in the city lack. Whether visiting for business or leisure, the Marriott Hotel Al Forsan is a good choice and one that pushes technology and ease to the forefront. All rooms contain a media hub (for all your connectivity needs), 3a 2-inch television, plenty of sockets and super-fast Wi-Fi that connects seamlessly and without issue throughout the entire hotel.

To top all that off, you have a private balcony overlooking Al Forsan International Sports Resort and the lush pool area. Sitting here with a cup of coffee in the morning is the ultimate reminder of your relaxing weekend escape.

TOP UP THE TAN

Speaking of the pool, it has to be one of the biggest in Abu Dhabi. A generous body of water provides a definite wow factor, punctuated with palm trees and small alcoves to provide privacy. Shallow ledges situated underneath the tranquil waters are perfect for sunbathing and reading books, while a swim-up bar is located at the far end of the pool. Beneath a shaded canopy is a splash park for younger guests, an aqua playground full of fountains and water jets that is bound to keep the little ones occupied for hours, as is the kids’ playground with climbing structures and a poolside sandpit.

The Marriott Hotel Al Forsan may not be located near the beach but there is little doubt that this is a resort, offering a number of leisure activities including a state-of-the-art fitness centre and a luxurious spa.

The award-winning Saray Spa would be our pick of leisurely time pass. Offering a number of treatments in a tranquil environment, relaxation is the name of the game and we are definitely here to play. This spa promotes an all-encompassing experience where guests are encouraged to linger in the relaxation lounge long after their treatments are finished. Indulge in everything from healing massages to restorative facials and more, where electronically-controlled heated massage beds and add an additional level of comfort.

FOOD COMES FIRST

Six new dining destinations accompany the arrival of this new hotel, each unique and looking to bring something distinct to the city. We’re impressed by Khayal, the hotels all-day dining restaurant which adds a personal touch via tours of the buffet and a multitude of seating options. We suggest you try and bag one of the raised tables that appear to be ‘floating’ amongst the water features.

The buffet spread is large and offers everything from dim sum and sushi, to Arabic favourites and Indian specialties. The versatility of the restaurant is remarkable, as the buffet adapts for the various meals while rarely repeating dishes. Breakfast was our favourite for its abundance of fresh fruits, thick ‘slabs’ of French toast and some unique inclusions such as noodle soup and baked flapjacks.

Sitting in the centre of the hotel is the Lobby Lounge, a great spot to gratify that caffeine fix or indulge in afternoon tea. Couture Lounge is the place for happy hour sundowners while Appaloosa is a hybrid of casual sports bar and shisha lounge, serving up some interesting dishes. Amongst the usual salads, sandwiches and pub grub, we suggest the seared tuna burger with its fiery wasabi mayonnaise and black squid ink bun (an Instagrammer’s dream). The venue’s BYOF Friday Brunch is a great choice for classic, comfort food and all-round good vibes.

The Grill is the Marriott Hotel Al Forsan’s crowning glory, a steakhouse that looks to differentiate from the numerous other steakhouses in Abu Dhabi. Forgoing the usual masculine connotations of dark wood and leather furnishings, The Grill is a sleeker affair with a modern and light design drawing attention to the central show kitchen. Service throughout the restaurant is engaging with a number of incredibly-tasting dishes including the Burratina and Baby Rucolla, delicious Pan Seared Scallops and mouthwatering Creole Lump Crab Cakes.

The Grill selection is extensive and thoughtful. We opt for the USDA Ladies Cut Tenderloin which is an absolute delight at 170g of medium-well USDA “Fox River” Prime Grain Fed Beef. Hormone- free and grain fed, Fox River comes from the Illinois County of the United States of America. Delightfully tender and moist, this meat offers a buttery finish to the palate. It’s juicy and tasty with a side of mac and cheese and grilled asparagus. For dessert, try the exquisite 12 Hour Braised Spiced Pineapple – passion fruit and mango coulis, coconut sorbet, coconut shaving and the Elegant Lemon Tart – lemon sorbet, white chocolate and bergamot ganache, wonderland soil, meringue mousse, lemon curd for the most satisfying end to a meal.

HOSPITALITY BUZZ

The Marriott Hotel Al Forsan’s location is in fact desirable. Out of the city – but close enough to tons of major attractions – the property is the true epitome of “getaway” due to a culmination of factors including the high level of service, the quality of product and the leisure activities available. Whether it’s shooting, archery, wake-boarding or something more relaxing (like the spa or swimming pool), Marriott Hotel Al Forsan has filled a gap in the market by striking a balance between relaxation and active experiences. This is the kind of place we think about when recommending a weekend staycation spot for families, friends, couples and even solo visitors. ✤


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