Nestled in Khalifa City, getting to Marriott Al Forsan can be a tiring and expensive if you take public transport from Dubai; it is almost thirty minutes from the Abu Dhabi bus station. By car, it takes just around 90 minutes from Business Bay if you have a talented yet safe driver, which I did. Located within Al Forsan International Sports Resort, the sports vibe is not overwhelming or intimidating for the casual vacationer.
The hotel had its official grand opening in March and features diverse food and beverage venues, an Olympic-length pool (one of the very few in the UAE), an equestrian centre and a polo field.
The vast lobby has light streaming in from almost every side and the exit into the gardens outside is on the other end. The lobby also has a tea, coffee and light bites station for people having meetings in the well set-out lounge.
But first, let’s brunch
As we had taken quite a bit of time getting there, food was first on our agenda. Khayal, located on the ground floor, has an extravagant buffet setting for Friday brunch which features breads and cheeses, salads, fresh fruit and juices, Indian and Middle Eastern food, a Japanese section and a live pasta station. The restaurant is family-friendly and the view from inside is of the terrace seating and water fountains splashing down in the garden. The brunch also features live music and is a great place to hang out with family and friends.
Date and timing Every Friday from 12.30pm to 3.45pm Cost Dh199 per person (soft beverages included) Dh299 per person (house beverages) Dh499 (Bubbly package) Dh75 for children (6 to 13 years old) and free for kids younger than 6.
There are 400 rooms in the property and ours was a deluxe room. Quite spacious and intelligently designed to make the most of its 452 sq feet, the room featured a resort view (ours looked out over the pool), an oversized chair and desk, lounge sofas, a king-size bed and a multi-functional alarm box. One of the walls of the bathroom is clear glass (envision watching television while in the tub) and a remote controlled shutter can give you privacy if needed. Some of the higher-end suites come with balconies if that’s something you’d want.
Having stayed and dined in Dubai, the in-room dining menu of Abu Dhabi hotels look incredibly budget-friendly. We recommend the crispy chicken fingers or the Buffalo wings snack meal if you aren’t too hungry; especially if you’ve had brunch. My favourite thing on the menu was the Indian thali dinner — good value for money.
After a restful night and a breakfast buffet at Khayal, I made my way towards the spa. The Saray Spa and Health Club includes the 50-metre long pool, kids’ zone and the spa facilities. At the spa that’s open to both men and women, I sipped on my lemon water as I was checked in for my treatment. The lockers and changing rooms lead to the pre or post-treatment area including a sauna, steam cabin and a Jacuzzi. There is also a relaxation lounge. The treatment itself, a Balinese massage, was very relaxing and the hour passed too quickly for my liking.
What we recommend
The Friday brunch at Khayal should definitely be on your list of brunches to try if you’re in Abu Dhabi. The buffet features so many diverse cuisines and options that no one will be left out. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, this one is worth a try.
Location Marriott Al Forsan, Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi Cost Dh175 onwards (including breakfast) depending on the room chosen Rooms 400 Facilities Olympic length pool, polo field, equestrian centre and other sports facilities Restaurants Khayal (interactive dining and multiple cuisines) , Grill (contemporary cuisine with an open kitchen), Appaloosa (bar with trendy music and light bites), Couture (lounge) and Splash (open air poolside venue)