Paradise Found: Zara Nurai Island Abu Dhabi
There are times when a few days out the office are required. High-flying jobs come with a large amount of responsibility - and stress along with it - and even the most talented executive can only work so hard before burn-out sets in.
Fortunately, our region is set right in the middle between Europe and Asia – with hundreds of destinations just a few hours away. But while flying to Paris, Milan or Bangkok is certainly doable; you'll first have to deal with the stress of flying, as well as more time out the office.
Indeed, the ideal weekend getaway needs to follow a few basic rules. First, it must be no more than an hour travel away, letting travellers make the most of the precious few days they have at their final destination. Second, it must be the epitome of luxury; it needs to be an experience like no other, because that's what any form of travel – weekend or otherwise – is all about.
Fortunately, there is one such place that ticks all the above boxes, and it's a lot closer than you think…
The ultimate getaway
Zaya Nurai Island is located in the pristine waters of the Arabian Gulf. Just a ten-minute boat ride away from Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island, the secluded resort is one of the most unique in all of the Emirates.
To reach the island, visitors arrive at a small welcome centre on Saadiyat Island, a 10-minute drive from downtown Abu Dhabi. From there it’s another 10-minute speedboat ride which departs are every hour.
Inspired by the Arabic word 'nur' meaning light, Zaya Nurai Island is a boutique island resort with 32 one bedroom villas, 10 two bedroom villas as well as several four and five bedroom villas available for rent. Each of the one-bedroom villas have their own private slice of beachfront, which blends into the landscape and offers uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf beyond.
If sand isn't your thing, each villa comes with its very own 130 square metres of outdoor space, along with a private plunge pool. The 260-square-metre villa comes kitted out with the latest in-room amenities (and if you don't know how something works, you can just ask your personal butler to show you).
The resort is managed by the hospitality brand Zaya, which was created by Nadia Zaal (also behind luxury Dubai development, Al Barari).
A journey for your taste buds
You wouldn't expect a hotel in the middle of the Arabian Gulf to take food and drink so seriously, but Zaya Nurai Island boasts some of the tastiest food in the Emirates.
There are a variety of dining options, but all of them serve local, authentic produce. In fact, wherever possible Zaya Nurai Island Hotel offers sustainably sourced food straight from the island's own kitchen garden. Its entire approach to dining is 'fresh-food-to-fork', meaning dishes go from raw ingredients to your plate as quickly and responsibly as possible.
The main dining area is the seafront terrace – all day dining restaurant Frangipani. The Friday brunch is particularly popular among residents of Dubai and Abu Dhabi; it costs AED550 for non-alcoholic package, AED650 for alcoholic package and AED750 for bubbly and involves hot & cold buffet and free-flowing drinks every Friday from 12:30 PM until 4 PM.
Besides Frangipani, there are four restaurants to choose from. There's Mexican cuisine (Dusk), Lebanese Seafood Restaurant (Hooked) and one of a kind beach club (Smokin Pineapple), along with a bar (Ginger Mermaid) that offers some truly sensational mocktails and drinks.
Go for a day, create memories for a lifetime
If you can't spare an entire weekend, Zaya Nurai Island is perfect for day-trippers. Guests can enjoy the same private speedboat ride to the island as regular guests (where there's good chance you might see dolphins on the way). The hotel has a minimum spend policy of AED420 per person for a day pass including pool & beach access.
Instead of checking in, visitors can laze by the lounge beside the beach or by the resort's infinity pool.
The spa is particularly popular for guests and day-trippers. Each relaxing treatment uses only the best natural ingredients, with aromatherapy treatments that complement the experience. Each treatment room has amazing ocean views and comes with access to an outdoor relaxation area that lets you admire the scenery post-treatment, while you listen to the waves below.
Zaya Nurai Island
Stemming from the Arabic word 'Nur' meaning light, Nurai is an island of staggering beauty, of turquoise seas and white sands. It's a place filled with natural harmony appealing to all five senses.