Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Rocco Forte Abu Dhabi

30 Mar 2012 by BusinessTraveller

BACKGROUND Open since January, this 281-room hotel is the first under the Rocco Forte brand in the Middle East, with a further property to follow in Jeddah. The company is also in discussions about a property in Beirut. In Africa, hotels are under development in Cairo, Luxor and Marrakech.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The curved blue and green exterior of the striking 11-storey glass-walled property has been designed to resemble a wave. The theme has been carried through to the room furnishings, outdoor pool and lobby, with several glass installations by Abu Dhabi-based artist Fatima al Mazrouei depicting colourful shimmering fish. At one end of the building are three food and drink outlets that between them span the 11 floors, creating a huge sense of space and height – the all-day diner Oceana Grill is on the ground floor, above which is Chinese/Japanese restaurant Rouge, and Blue bar, which offers great city views from its soaring five-storey windows. A glass lift allows guests to peek into each as it shoots up the building.

WHERE IS IT? On Abu Dhabi Island in the growing diplomatic district, close to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and the Capital Gate building (see Hyatt review, previous page). It is about 15 minutes’ drive from the Corniche, traffic permitting, and a similar distance from Abu Dhabi International airport.

ROOM FACILITIES As with most new Rocco Forte properties, the interiors have been designed by Sir Rocco’s sister, Olga Polizzi. Wide corridors are clad in green marble with teal carpets to give the effect of walking through an outdoor setting. Rooms have a contemporary feel, with Arabian touches such as geometric patterns, yellow and terracotta detailing, and the Arabic phrase “May it rain on our desert” etched above bathtubs. Entry-level Classic rooms are 35 sqm, while Deluxe rooms – which account for more than half of the room count – are 45 sqm. All feature a king-size bed, a workdesk with wired and wifi internet access (charged at Dhs 100/£17 per day), a sitting area, Nespresso machine, bathrobes and slippers, iPod dock, Ren amenities and a separate bath and shower.

There are also 38 Executive rooms and suites on the eighth floor, which benefit from free wifi, a complimentary one-way limousine transfer to or from the airport, and entry to the Executive lounge, offering free breakfast, afternoon snacks, evening drinks and canapés, and use of a meeting room. Having visited other Rocco Forte properties such as Hotel de Rome in Berlin and Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt, the rooms felt familiar, with high-quality fixtures and fittings, muted pastel colour schemes, and excellent limestone and marble bathrooms with mosaic floor details.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS These are arguably the hotel’s most impressive features, with five restaurants and bars in the main building and the South American Noche bar and club set to be unveiled imminently on the far side of the outdoor pool. Breakfast and a buffet/à la carte lunch and dinner are served at Oceana Grill, while Rouge has a contemporary setting with stylish red and black seating, and Blue Bar serves cocktails and canapés. Across from reception, Oro Italian restaurant features art deco interiors, a grand circular bar and private dining for up to 14 people. Brown’s Tea Lounge, named after Rocco Forte’s iconic London property, is located on the third floor and serves English and Arabic afternoon tea.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES These are located on the first floor, with a separate entrance, lobby and dedicated lift. Meeting rooms are named after existing Rocco Forte properties, including Astoria (St Petersburg), Lowry (Manchester) – both of these hold 30 delegates – and Verdura (Sicily), which has a capacity of 265. The ballroom can seat up to 700 delegates theatre-style, while the adjacent foyer can accommodate 500 guests for a reception.

LEISURE FACILITIES The hotel’s spa and gym facilities include a large plunge pool, sauna, steam room, hammam, “experiential showers”, and 15 treatment rooms, with options such as the extremely relaxing Four Hands massage (Dhs 1,130/£196). The 25-metre curved outdoor pool is open 8am-7pm daily.

VERDICT A hotel with excellent facilities located in an up-and-coming area. The new-build doesn’t quite have the same atmosphere as some of Rocco’s converted hotels, but the modern building allows for superb spaces such as the food and drink “atrium”.

FACT FILE

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 281 – 55 Classic, 156 Deluxe and 38 Superior Deluxe rooms, and five suite categories.

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The large walk-in shower and separate bathtub, and good in-room amenities including a Nespresso coffee machine and iPod docking station.

PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in May started from Dhs 1,200 (£208) for a Classic room.

CONTACT Rocco Forte Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street; tel +971 2617 0000; roccofortehotels.com

Mark Caswell

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