Zaya Nurai Island – a slice of paradise in the UAE
I am going off on a bit of a tangent here as this post is not centred around the culinary aspect of travel, but a new resort in the UAE which has taken my breath away, so much so that it really warrants sharing. The food is still good, but the reason you will want to visit is to soak up the stunning design and serenity with only the calm, open sea as your view. I am talking about Zaya Nurai Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi – a mere 15 minute private boat ride from Saadiyat Island.
Nurai, whose name is derived from the Arabic word ‘nour’ meaning light, is an eight year-long project by the family behind The Farm in Al Barari and designed by the architect of the Nam Hai resort in Vietnam’s Hoi An. The fluid, zen design bears many similarities. Maldives-like water villas, but mammoth two-storey numbers perch out from one shoreline – however these residences are for sale. For us divas, there are 32 spacious beach retreats, each with its own, decent-sized private pool, sun deck and a beachfront with powdery, white sand.
If privacy isn’t your thing, there’s a large infinity swimming pool, right on the beach…and near the main, all-day restaurant, Nurai Terrace. In-room dining is encouraged though. The food is simple, yet well-executed fare focused on grills and peppered with Arabic appetisers. Breakfast is a la carte (shakshouka included!) and thankfully there’s no sign of a buffet in this resort. The menu is being refined though, so expect more of an identity soon. In the guest rooms, there’s a fresh fruit bowl customised to guest preferences (they may just stalk you on social media for research), Jing fresh leaf teas, plus jars brimming with nuts, dates and cookies.
The staff are super friendly and ready to strike up a conversation, which makes up for the odd lull in service. Nurai is in soft opening though, with the landscaping and spa not complete, so I would recommend visiting in March when the weather will also be at its prime…it is a tad chilly for your own personal barbeque at the moment. Yes that’s definitely on the menu. If your wallet doesn’t allow (note a special UAE residents offer below), you can of course just make a day trip for a spot of lunch and pool time. A barbeque brunch deal launches on the 13th February starting at AED450 rising to AED650 with champagne. There’s free Wi-Fi everywhere with perfect, uninterrupted connectivity.
Well I spent less than 24 hours at Nurai, and left feeling just as relaxed as with a four-day break in the Maldives. Perhaps next time though I should return for a digital detox instead. And now enough rambling, I am going to let my iPhone photos paint a picture 🙂
Where’s your favourite retreat in the UAE for a staycation?
Disclosure – I was a guest of Nurai. I may have been plied with a free night’s stay, but as always, the opinions expressed here are mine alone.