A compact natural island retreat wherever barefoot luxury is the name of the sport. Zaya Nurai Island is that the sole resort within the capital that needs guests to arrive on board a powerboat and boasts thirty-four villas and a formidable choice of restaurants. Guests start their journey on a 20-seater speedboat from the resort’s welcome center on Saadiyat Island, a 10-minute drive from the city center and just over an hour from Downtown Dubai.
Traversing the entirety of the island takes about an hour on foot. Over the past three years, the resort has become an antidote to city life for many. Aside from the welcoming rustic, sandy landscape, considerable thought has been put into creating Instagram-worthy spots for social media marketing. Modern inclusions like the Book Cellar and tee-pee style beach tents add to the appeal, while the high ceilings, sharp lines, and natural design approach in the villas make for a sophisticated relaxed vibe.
Staff is consistently pleasant, and no request is a problem, although when enquiring about the best spot for a sunset drink I am told beach bar Ginger is it, but upon arrival, I am informed that service had been halted for 15 minutes. An Aperol Spritz costs AED 87 (£18). From a facilities point of view the outdoor movie space is great for those cooler evenings under the stars, while the wave pool caters to all ages – each guest gets an hour free between 9 am and 10 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; thereafter it’s up to AED 625 (£130) an hour.
Those keen to explore will appreciate the free bikes, while the overwater floor-to-ceiling glass spa suites are great for a unique experience. One-bedroom dry land villas a customary and are available with non-public pool, unrestricted layouts, large beds, soaking tubs and walk-in rain showers. The lounge area is comfortable and functional and has a Bose entertainment system. There’s a private garden with a temperature-controlled pool, large day bed, and sitting area.
The Molten Brown bath products are fitting for space, but there are no fluffy slippers (there are flip flops) and the main door doesn’t have a peephole. The remote-controlled curtains and heavy sliding doors were a problem, too. The six restaurants/bars elevate the resort experience.
Whether you’re a fan of seafood, Mexican fare or woodfired pizza, there are plenty of good quality food options to choose from. The vibe at Mexican restaurant Dusk great as is the Nachos Con Queso (AED 81/£17). Dishes start from AED 62 (£13), while a margarita costs AED 92 (£19). Hooked is the seafood restaurant and has perhaps the best view of the coastline, but it isn’t open again until September.
Starters here cost from AED 38 (£8). Frangipani hosts a Friday brunch (AED 812/£165) and is where breakfast is served for AED 150 (£30) per person. Although compact, the buffet is comprehensive – there’s a cheese case, an extensive pastry selection, fruit station, fresh juices, a pancake/waffle area, and kids’ corner.
Smoking Pineapple and Ginger are the more casual pool/beachside snack outlets where you can get a pizza from AED 81 (£17). You can get shisha in your room for AED 251 (£52).