You would be forgiven for thinking you’ve taken a wrong, albeit fortuitous, turn and ended up in the Maldives. You haven’t, but Zaya Nurai Island is about as close as paradise gets this far from the Indian Ocean.
The resort’s welcome centre is on the Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, a 60-minute drive from Downtown Dubai and a 30-minute drive from Abu Dhabi airport. Get there half an hour before the boat departs for the island – they leave on the hour, every hour - to give yourself time to enjoy complimentary refreshments at the bar.
A ten-minute speedboat ride delivers you to the secluded sanctuary where each of the 32 villas is dotted along with the beachfront meaning guests not only have access to their own private pool but a little slice of sandy barefoot luxury all to themselves too.
The one-bedroom villas are ideal for couples, but other, even more, spacious options perfect for families and groups, are available too.
Designed to blend discretely into the landscape, the floor-to-ceiling glass walls provide mesmerising Arabian Gulf views from the cosy living room and the enormous bathroom – where a huge marble bath takes centre stage – plus the bed is strategically placed to make the most of the sea vistas as the sun rises in the morning.
Whilst it may be tempting, and to be honest, perfectly understandable to want to hole up in this private refuge, the island is calling out to be explored. A pair of vintage cream bicycles - complete with baskets labeled with their respective villa numbers - are parked just outside the front door, ready to embark on a journey of discovery down wide, paved, palm-fringed paths where Insta-worthy shots – including a sea swing and a huge illuminated ‘LOVE’ sign – can be found around every corner.
A slew of water-based activities are on offer at the on-site sports centre – think kayaking, banana rides, jet-skiing and snorkelling – but equally, for those in more of a chilled out state of mind, both of the main pools are surrounded by inviting daybeds, perfect to while away a tranquil afternoon.
Zaya Nurai Island is a haven for families too with a newly-opened splash park, adventure playground and surf pool, plus dedicated children’s menus and breakfast buffet.
Zaya Nurai Island Restaurant
A variety of cuisine is on appetising offer across the hotel’s five restaurants - each of which supports a food-to-fork philosophy.
From tacos and fajitas at Mexican eatery Dusk to the freshest of seafood cooked up with a Levantine twist at Hooked, an all-day dining venue Frangipani that specialises in international fare, every palate will be satiated.
For the ultimate in rejuvenation head to the blissful Nurai Spa - where treatments are expertly carried out in over-sea rooms to the sound of waves lapping at the shore – bliss!
And if an overnight stay is out of the question, day passes can be picked up at the welcome centre for Dhs480, of which Dhs420 is redeemable against money spent once on the island.
Mission accomplished: paradise – right on your doorstep - found.
From Dhs6,500 a night; zayanuraiisland.com