If you live in the UAE, the Park Rotana may at first slip your attention as you are busy ogling the Grand Mosque on your drive over the Sheikh Zayed Bridge. Nestled in Khor Al Maqtaa next to Khalifa Park its part of a complex of buildings you come across immediately after crossing on to Abu Dhabi island. Its proximity to places like twofour54 free zone, the Ministries Complex and ADNEC make it a popular business choice, but this image changes on weekends to a more resort feel with some family-friendly touches.
Our Globetrotters spent a weekend at Park Rotana Abu Dhabi to see what they had on offer for family staycationers like us, as well as those looking to visit Abu Dhabi longer term.
The Rooms at Park Rotana
The hotel complex is actually made up of several buildings with the main hotel, a short-term apartment complex and a self-furnishing complex “The Residences” on the same site.
We stayed in the main hotel building with two interconnecting Club Rotana Rooms which comfortably fit all 5 of us (and extra bonus points, they actually had the beds in the right configuration AND the cot ready and set up when we arrived!).
Another great option for family groups is the Classic Suite, we could have easily fit our three small children into the lounge area of this room. At the top of the line, there are the Club Rotana Suites which come with access to the exclusive Club Rotana lounge on the 9th floor. These rooms are popular with big family groups, you have a bedroom and living area, as well as the possibility to add an interconnecting double room too.
Next door to the main hotel is the Park Arjaan by Rotana. This is separate to the main hotel and made for longer stay customers with studios, one, two and three bed fully furnished apartments. They come with all the necessary amenities a family needs like, fully fitted kitchens, a washer/dryer, two (or even three!) bathrooms. We did not visit inside the Residences as these are privately let and self-furnished. Families staying here have access to additional amenities as well as the hotel.
There are two brunching options at Park Rotana. We went with the Ginger Family Brunch for the kid-friendly buffet option, kids entertainment (face painting, a visit from Winnie the Pooh, kids movie area, kids colouring packs) as well as access to the pool, playground and a bouncy castle. We were really impressed with the kid’s buffet selection, not simply nuggets and chips (though they were there, or course!) but some healthier snack options too, lovely hand cooked fish fingers and little burgers. (See our list of top family brunches in Abu Dhabi)
I absolutely loved the dessert buffet as well – so tempted to jump straight in to this on arrival. Not just the usual chocolate fountain but an amazing array of delicious deserts – the dark cherry was to die for… And the main carvery was very nice as well, it included a whole lamb that just fell off the bone; very satisfied customers!
Immediately adjacent in the Park Arjaan is Coopers, an English pub that runs a Friday Brunch carvery (children are welcome in here until 6pm). They don’t have the same family entertainment options but its certainly a boozier affair popular with the adult crowd in Abu Dhabi. I must confess we felt slightly awkward in the family brunch at Ginger that we seemed to be the only ones with an alcoholic drink in front of us… we will go back again to try the Coopers experience for sure, especially if the foods half as good as that roast lamb!
For other casual dining options there is the Aquarius Bar outside where the lovely friendly staff were happy to entertain and chat to the children, and in the hotel foyer there is Parkafe for all day dining options if the kids get peckish outside of meal times.
One of the foodie highlights for us though was dinner in Teatro. With children welcome in this international cuisine restaurant until 9pm we took an early booking. We are always quite nervous dining anywhere ‘classy’ with the kids as we know the mini-wave of destruction that can follow us, but the staff kindly accepted us and kids were kept happy and quiet throughout the meal with colouring. They thoughtfully put a rush on their meals, as well as bringing bread and prawn crackers to keep them happy while we waited.
There is an amazingly broad selection of delicious foods here (once Mr Globetrotter pointed out to me how to properly open the menu, duh!) and a lovely ambient setting. Sometimes when they say “East meets West fusion food” I roll my eyes and groan at the mish-mash of options but it seemed to fit together here perfectly. This is another one we look forward to returning for to thoroughly work through their cocktail list in the beautiful Japanese inspired bar, and an amazing wine cellar.
So is Park Rotana family friendly?
For the weekend staycation & short term visitors
From the outside, it might come across quite business like, but inside there’s a really nice feeling of being comfortable with your family in a 5-star setting. They make a great effort to try and transform themselves for a different crowd, with little extras for the family like the bouncing castle and Ginger buffet.
Currently, they are running a fabulous weekend escape package which would really suit family groups. It includes a one night stay, 50% off a second room, brunch at Ginger, vouchers to use for other meals, and early check-in/late check-out to maximize your short stay. (Correct as at February 2016)
Being somewhat nit-picky with small children, we noted that children are not allowed in Coopers bar after 6pm (even if we ordered dinner earlier), yet the restaurant buffet doesn’t open until 7pm. They did offer an a-la-carte service in Ginger restaurant in the interim but still, the food did not appear until after 7pm anyway. We noted this timing gap with management and the importance of being able to fill young bellies in a hurry at witching hour! They have taken this feedback on board.
Also due to the time of year we visited (February) it was really quite cold around the pool as its in shade for a large part of the day, enveloped by the surrounding buildings. Given its only cool for a few months a year this will actually be a rather redeeming feature for summer visitors particularly but did make it quite chilly for the winter.
For the medium term stay
The Arjaan by Park Rotana is a very popular choice with companies hiring expats for short term placements, either while waiting for visas or when hired on short to medium term contracts. There is something lovely about staying in a place with such beautiful creature comforts, access to the pool and playground and the beautiful Khalifa Park next door. What is lacking though is any sort of supermarket within easy walking distance. Taxis are however easy to catch to nearby malls but I know the convenience of being able to quickly grab essential items with a young family can be paramount.
It may not look the most exciting from the outside and there’s no over extraordinary features about the pool and relaxation area, but our time here was definitely enjoyable. It is good value for money for both staycation customers and overseas visitors and you get all those wonderful 5-star touches but without the exorbitant price tag some neighbouring hotels have.
We are already making plans for meals and reasons to be back at Park Rotana again, it’s conveniently located, modern, friendly staff, lovely food and has a great ambience about it.
Oh, and did we mention or welcoming gift? I never thought I’d see the day where we became our very own confectionery product ; ) The Macarons were lovely but I’m afraid Miss Z didn’t give me a look in on the beautiful tempered white chocolate logo…
Disclaimer: We were provided with complimentary accommodation and meals from Park Rotana for the purpose of providing an honest review. As always all views are our own.
© Our Globetrotters. Exterior hotel images courtesy of Park Rotana