As a health and travel journalist, I’ve been to many, many gyms in many, many hotels around the world. Most are sad affairs: little closet rooms with an old treadmill, a handful of weights, sometimes a stationary bike or slightly broken cable machines. Some are decent: a bit bigger, a bit airier, with enough space for you to jump, squat and even move, if you were so inclined. And then there are the rare ones that simply amaze.
The gym at St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, does exactly that. Named The St Regis Athletic Club, this massive space is so large and so posh that it comes with its own membership: Dh10,000 per person for a year and Dh20,000 if you want pool and beach access as well. It’s actually more affordable if you are a hotel guest. It has dozens of modern machines, free weights, treadmills, a yoga area, a TRX space and more, all spread over two interconnected rooms, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing views of the multiple-lane 25-meter lap pool beneath.
Like I said, it’s incredible. The only hotel gym I’ve seen that comes close is Jumeirah Frankfurt, which is actually just a Fitness First linked to the hotel by a door.
Other things make St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort an ideal place for a weekend staycation. With a clear view out into the Gulf, the swimming is top-notch and there’s an array of water-based activities, including kayaking. It also has an equally massive spa with entirely separate men’s and women’s entrances, with dimly lit rooms and mosaic floors. For a unique experience, the Diamond Facial serves up 90 minutes of lymphatic drainage and facial massage. Like the gym, it’s very solid.
Food offerings here are plentiful and varied, meaning you can go equal parts indulgent or healthy. I ordered plates of sushi and sashimi at the cool-as-cucumber Buddha Bar, a trendy space facing out over the water which really starts to liven up after 8pm. At Mazi Abu Dhabi, the venue’s Greek restaurant, I went with fresh salads and crusty bread.
The resort itself is vast, spanning eight floors, 312 rooms and 64 suites, with pools facing the beach and more lounge areas than I could count. Getting from room to breakfast was a five-minute walk – perfect for getting your steps quota in. I ordered almond milk lattes and shots of ginger, then browsed dozens of food stations drawing on international, Indian, Chinese and Arabic cuisines. Coeliacs will enjoy the gluten-free corner, while the purely health conscious can grab plates of fruits, Greek yogurt, made-to-order omelettes and more.
As for the rooms, they come with a separate shower and bath, allowing the latter to shine in all its full glory. The huge standalone egg-shaped tub is perfect for soaking away any stress after a hard workout. Ask for a sea view to look out over the water while relaxing in bubbles. Beds are big and the entire area fairly soundproof, meaning sleep comes on strong and deep. At night with the turndown service, there’s chocolate. And at any time of the day, whenever you need anything, you have an assigned butler ready to help. They even give a WhatsApp number.
The venue is on the pricy side, with rooms starting at around Dh1,500 per night. But it definitely has all the facilities needed for one incredible wellness weekend.
Danae Mercer is a freelance health and travel journalist. In addition to working as editor-in-chief of Women's Health Middle East and Men's Health Middle East, Danae has written for The Sunday Times, CNN Travel, Dubai Tourism, The Guardian, Afar, Bloomberg and many more. She's based in Dubai and is a trainer at Crank. instagram.com/danaemercer