Where on earth is Zaya Nurai Island I hear you say. No, its not in the Seychelles or the Maldives but it is in fact 20 mins off the coast of Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi! While it very much feels like a luxurious Maldivian resort, the property is located on a private island in the Arabian Gulf and is one of the most luxurious resorts in the Middle East. Apparently Ange, Brad and the kids stayed here a few years back!
We booked a one night stay with two friends and stayed in a two bedroom villa with its own private pool. As we only had one night, we wanted to make the most of our stay so decided to get the first boat out in the morning. We left the welcome centre from the port in Saadiyat Island at 10am and arrived at Zaya Nurai 20 mins later.
On arrival at the island it feels very much like arriving into a resort in the Maldives, there are staff at the ready to welcome you on the island and you check in water side, no need to go to reception which I thought was a lovely touch. Our bags were put onto a golf trolley and to our delight our room was ready. We had been told check in was 3pm so were intending on spending some time at the beach but we were taken on a little tour of the island and then to our room.
There was an impressive entranceway to our room with one main door opening up into the living room and then separate doors to the left and the right for private entrance into the two bedrooms. All the rooms are interconnected but I liked that you could have privacy if you wanted.
The decor in the room itself was beautiful. Everything was blue and white and had an extremely luxurious feel. The bathroom was huge with a stand alone tub and separate rain forest shower. Toiletries were nothing special given that this was a luxury resort but everything else felt lux down to the towels.
Moving outside through the sliding doors is where it really felt like a private resort. The decor of the sun loungers and beach towels were blue and white in keeping with the colour scheme of the interior and we also had a couple of swinging chairs!
The pool was bigger than most plunge pools I’ve ever seen and you could actually swim from one side to the other! At most times during our stay there were four people in it and there was still plenty of room to swim.
After checking out our room we decided to use our allocated bicycles and take a cycle around the island
The island is small, it only takes about 10 mins to cycle around, but there are two different pool options and three different restaurants. The ‘Smoking Pineapple’ was my favourite area and very Instagram worthy. There were swings in the sea, giant flip flops and sunglasses on the beach and a stunning bar and pool area. As we visited Nurai during Ramadan the smoking pineapple was closed but I would be intrigued to see how busy it gets during peak season. I could imagine sitting around on the swing chairs by the bar at night with some friends and really feeling as if you are on some tropical island far away from city life!
After exploring the island we headed back to our room to relax for the day. While we really wanted to see as much as possible our room was amazing and we wanted to get as much use as we could out of it so we set ourselves up for a day of sunbathing by the plunge pool and ordered some room service.
The next day we got up and made the most of our morning. We went for another cycle around the island, past some very impressive looking 5 bedroom villas which are two stories high and each have a massive outdoor pool. This would be a great option for families or a large group of friends.
When it was time to check out we called reception and the golf buggy arrived to take our cases. We were not in a hurry to get back to Abu Dhabi so we decided to stay on the island for the afternoon and get some lunch. We looked at the menus in both Frangipani (the main restaurant) and the Ginger Mermaid (small poolside restaurant) and decided to have lunch in Frangipani. I ordered the Tuna Nicoise salad and it was one of the most beautifully presented dishes I’ve ever had. The tuna was perfectly seared and the purple baby boiled potatoes were a first for me.
After lunch we spent the afternoon lounging by the pool and escaped the heat of the sun by dipping into the sea water and then the pool alternately!
We had a lovely lazy afternoon and reluctantly left the island on the 6.00pm boat back to Saadiyat Island. From here it took 10 minutes to get back home again.
There are also day packages available to Nurai Island and I hear they do an impressive brunch on a Friday.
For a look at the interior of our room check my twitter page @AbuAdventures
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