Home / SPECIAL REPORTS / Update: Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas to open in Q3 2018

Update: Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas to open in Q3 2018

by Fatima De La Cerna on Mar 31, 2018

The nesting habits of hawksbill sea turtles is not a topic that tends to come up in construction-related discussions – that is, unless the project being discussed is located on Saadiyat, a natural island located 500m off the coast of Abu Dhabi and the site of the five-star hospitality development, Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas.

“What I like about Saadiyat is that the Environment Agency [Abu Dhabi] is very keen to keep this destination protected and preserved,” says Shaikha Al Nowais, owner representative, Rotana. “I remember while [the project was] under construction, we had [to follow] some guidelines, requirements, and building restrictions, especially in April because it’s [the start of] the turtle nesting season.”

Those requirements and restrictions have been put in place by Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), the master developer of Saadiyat Island, in a bid to balance environment conservation and tourism efforts.

As the master developer explains on its website: “TDIC has put [in place] a number of strict development guidelines for resort developers to follow, which take into account preserving the natural environment, including a dune protection zone […]. As a result, the area is today alive with native wildlife, which includes [the] hawksbill turtles that use the beach as their nesting ground. Hatching sites are protected by strict environmental measures and are patrolled by trained personnel, who continually monitor the reproduction of the turtles.”

Explaining one of the TDIC-compliant features of the project, Faithful+Gould’s commercial manager, Lee Stafford tells Construction Week: “The dunes on the beachfront can’t be touched or removed, which is why the [boardwalk] goes out beyond the dunes, and it is only from there that you can step on to the beach.”

In addition to complying with TDIC guidelines and regulations, the project meets Estidama Pearl 2 requirements, says Stafford: “We have solar panels for the hot water system and a wastewater management system. We also use greywater for landscaping.”

Faithful+Gould was appointed in 2013 by Al Diya Hospitality Investment as the project’s pre- and post-contract cost consultant. A Kier-Ali & Son joint venture was brought on as the main contractor, Depa as the interior contractor, Verger as the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) contractor, Gulf Landscape as the landscape contractor, LMS International as the landscape consultant, KCA International as the interior designer, and Khatib & Alami as the engineering consultant.

Home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the planned Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the 2,700ha Saadiyat Island already hosts a number of luxury hospitality properties, but Al Nowais is clearly undaunted, noting that the UAE hospitality market is “very promising” and that Saadiyat Rotana “has it all”.

With a beachfront extending 300m and a gross floor area covering 39,500m2, the property comprises 291 guestrooms and 36 suites, as well as 13 villas, each with a swimming pool and a terrace facing the sea. It also boasts tennis courts, a mini-golf course, a beach club, and seven dining outlets, including the first Italian restaurant on Saadiyat Island, a ‘gastropub’, a rooftop grill restaurant, and pool and beach bars.

Moreover, the property has a kids club called Aladdin’s Cave. Featuring a lazy river, a splash pool, a cinema zone, and water slide, it will be among the top attractions at Saadiyat Rotana, says Al Nowais.

“We tried as much as we could to support local talent, so all the paintings you can see [in the hotel] are done by the Emirati artist Ashwaq Abdulla,” she adds. “And we have commissioned FBMI, [which is] an initiative by HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mohammed Bin Zayed [that seeks] to support underprivileged Afghan women [through the production and sale of carpets].”

The lobby of the G+5 hotel also has on display seven glass boxes containing sand from all seven emirates of the UAE, while 20 centuries-old olive trees imported from Italy have been planted around the resort.

With only a few tweaks and snags now being addressed on the five-star property, Saadiyat Rotana is practically complete and even welcomed its first paying guest on 20 March, the date of its soft opening.