We were running late, but of course that’s nothing new. With a last minute pooping and consequent diaper changing session, a tantrum for settling into the car seat and another for the radio that was naively playing the wrong song, we finally set out for our staycation in Abu Dhabi. Park Rotana had kindly invited the FoodKissed family, and while we drove to the hotel diligently following the GPS directions, our only prayer was to let there be a child’s pool!
Let’s just say the prayers were abundantly answered. It was 4.30pm as we gave our car for valet parking. The lady at the reception collected our details and guided us to the elevators with the bell boy and our luggage in tow. We were checked in to one of the Club Rooms, which immediately made us feel quite posh and important – if it didn’t, THAT would have been surprising!
The floor was covered in thick, plush carpet. My fit flops made unlady-like squishy sounds on the naked area immediately in front of the lift, so yes, I was thankful for the carpets that immensely reduced my embarrassment. The door opened to reveal a classy room with floor to ceiling windows letting in bright sunshine. My eyes shot to the arrangement on the table – a welcome of one helluva kind! Macarons of 4 different colors and flavors were laid out with the words “Welcome to #ParkRotana @Neenu_Sajin” written in melted chocolate and my logo printed out on fondant! I knew somebody did their PR/media homework well and I couldn’t be happier about it! They had me bowled over- my ego was soaring and yes, it was a good start to the stay.
I managed to get some quick pics of the welcome before my little girl pounced on the macarons. There was no balcony. I checked out the bathroom and stood smiling at the L’Occitane bath products. No tub, but a shower cubicle with a swanky rain shower made up for it.
A glance outside our window curtains gave us the cue that it is time to hit the pool. Picking up all the required toddler paraphernalia (which included a banana incase hunger strikes, waterproof diapers, sun screen lotion and water bottle), we headed out. The pool was located on the backside of the hotel and the doors opened to reveal a perfect outdoor setting. One section of the “backyard” had lush lawn with swings and see-saws, bouncy castles and reclining chairs. Adjacent was a tennis court on one side and the swimming pools and pool bar on the other side.
The adult pool had handful of swimmers as it was a Thursday evening. We were to find out the next day that the place does get crowded on weekends. Mehreen splashed around in the baby pool, while her dad did the adult version of the act in the temperature-controlled waters of the adult pool. A lovely evening that got us hungry for the dinner to follow.
The buffet dinner was set in Ginger, the all day dining spot in the hotel. Seafood was serious business here, as platters of clams, shrimps, mussels and crab welcomed us at the entrance. There was Seafood bisque in the soups, and Fish Harra, Seafood Monterey, Fried Fish Fingers, Goan Fish Curry and Pan Seared Cream Dory in the main courses. They probably didn’t wish to leave much for imagination- there was a live grill station too with fresh fish to choose from. The grilled lobsters and tiger prawns looked good even as the carving station boasted of Roasted Hammour with Chimichurri sauce. By the time I pecked my way through the sushis and salads, the delicious roasted chicken, seafood Monterey and the lovely lasagna, I had no willpower to try the lobsters. Though I must say the roasted hammour was tad bland for my taste and the tiger prawns were cooked a bit too longer for my absolute approval.
Moving on to the desserts, it was a blend of nations. From mango pannacotta to fruit trifle, from beautiful profiteroles to decadent chocolate tarts and from Umm Ali to warm, crispy jilebis, the dessert section was ablaze with a good variety of cakes and puds.
Gluttony has its negatives. We dragged ourselves out of the chairs and up to the room. Undressing was not even an option. Hitting the pillow hard, I remember remarking how hotels in Middle East have such amazingly squishy pillows and duvets that literally caress its guests to sleep. And then the snoring began.
Next morning started late (duh!). Since we had the option of having breakfast at the Club Lounge, we decided to give it a go, keeping the trek to the massive breakfast buffet downstairs to the next day.
Club Lounge had a very mini version of the regular breakfast. The essentials were in place, and that is all. While I enjoyed the mango yoghurt, the sautéed mushrooms, the muffins and the Danish, the Eggs benedict was just about average and failed to look appealing. Without trying to find replacements, we thought it best to keep it light, considering the lunch that was soon approaching.
It was Friday Roast theme for the brunch at Ginger that day. My family was overcome with profound happiness upon spotting a Clown and a balloon corner at the entrance to the restaurant. That meant a good 15 minutes we could focus ONLY on food while little Mehreen was occupied and enthralled with balloons and its many shapes! Oh, the little joys of parenthood!!
Needless to say. a siesta was much needed to pay respects to such a feast. That done, we made our way to the pool once again. One hiccup faced- our swimwear from last day had failed to dry up in the absence of a balcony. This meant we had to wear the wet clothes again all the way to the pool.
We had our dinner reservations made at Teatro and honestly, we had no idea what awaited us in terms of food nor ambience. The experience was so near to perfection that it calls for a blogpost on its own and that is what I will be doing. So allow me a few days to bring you up close on that front!
After the breakfast at Ginger the next day, which consisted of the usual mandatory eggs station and pastry stands and nothing remarkably different, it was time to pack the bags and bid a tearful good bye to the staycation in general and Park Rotana in specific. If I wasn’t already feeling the guilt of two days’ extravagance, I might have considered indulging in one of the cakes at display in the ParKafe lobby lounge. Being a strong believer of good fortune and its power to take us places, I walked out the double doors of Park Rotana with a gentle “until next time” smile on my face.