REVIEW: Anantara Eastern Mangroves
No doubt about it, when it comes to veritable staycations spots, the UAE delivers in spades. They’re almost always under a two hour drive away, offer a welcome sanctuary from your own homes when needed, and a healthy number come at a surprisingly good price - particularly at summertime with residents frightened to move further than a 15metres radius from their kitchen freezers. That said, among the infinity pools, lavish breakfast buffets and Egyptian cotton bed linen -finding somewhere that makes you temporarily forget you’re in the Middle East is a harder charge. And it this particularly unique characteristic that sets Anantara Eastern Mangroves apart from its equally plush contemporaries. Located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, this particular arm of the luxury Thai hotel chain is nestled at the waterfront of a sprawling mangrove park – with the capital’s skyscrapers just about visible as vague outlines beyond.
Being so far removed from the archetypal regional backdrop, it serves to inspire an environment redolent of the Florida backwaters or African national parks. With all that in front of you, the only choice that remains is how to use it. Those in the market for a mangrove excursion of sorts can hire kayaks from posts along the hotel’s waterfront promenade. Giving you the chance to lazily meander round the entirety of this densely-shrubbed island – stopping off where you wish.
If however, you’d rather enjoy this unique lagoon setting on-land, the Anantara’s Pool Deck and Ingredients restaurant provide the perfect eating and drinking spot to do so. While the former pool-side haunt proposes a well-considered blend of casual classics (from tasty Arabic fare to delicately cooked fresh seafood), Ingredients is home to the resort's Friday brunch. As those who have eaten any of the Anantara’s restaurants will attest, (given the heritage of the brand) their speciality may be Thai – but there is a uniform quality throughout all of their cuisine offerings. Fortunately, despite not being a la carte, this dedication to quality is harnessed in their brunch, with an almost unending range of international cuisine, all of a superb quality.
It’s also worth noting that between now and Ramadan (and then again after October), the Anantara are offering ‘The Big Brunch’ package that includes a night’s stay and Friday brunch thrown in, starting from AED 1,200.
If you do want an extended sampling of the Anatara’s specialist south-east Asian gastronomy though, we’d advise penciling in a booking at Pachaylen – the excellent resident Thai eatery.
After which, you can postpone your evening at the hotel’s rooftop lounge, Impressions or in suitably relaxed style on the balcony of your beautifully comfortable living quarters.
The only downside of this seductive setting is you’ll feel so far removed from your UAE home, (only a mere few miles away) the prospect of work on Sunday will seem an even worse proposition than it usually is when venturing away for the weekend.