Interview with Stuart Birkwood. General Manager at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi.

Le Meridien Abu Dhabi is a 4-star resort hotel conveniently located in the tourist club area of Abu Dhabi. It is a few minutes’ walk from the city’s business district, shopping malls, historical areas and exhibition centres but still enjoys the luxury of a resort getaway, with lush gardens, a private beach and spa.

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Private Beach at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi

Le Meridien Abu Dhabi is situated within the ‘Le Meridien Village’, an exclusive scenic garden with picturesque walkways along with indoor and outdoor seating. The relaxed and enjoyable surroundings offer a unique mix of restaurants, representing various cuisines from around the world; Greek, Thai, Italian, English, American and ‘Latest Recipe’ – a Le Meridien staple.

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Deluxe Suite at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi

Stuart Birkwood is the General Manager at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi, with over 20 years of hospitality experience, he has a wealth of experience in running hotels.

Q. Hi Stuart, can you tell me a little bit about your background and what brought you to Abu Dhabi?

Stuart: Hi Richard – I’m originally from the North of England, Newcastle, in the UK to be precise, but my journey to Abu Dhabi came via an eclectic mix of locations; London, Martha’s Vineyard, Edinburgh, Warsaw, Helsinki and Riyadh.

Q. The perception of some people is that the only thing to do in the United Arab Emirates is to go shopping in modern air-conditioned malls. As an expat who has lived in Abu Dhabi for almost 2 years can you suggest some things that visitors could do whilst staying at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi? 

Stuart: Abu Dhabi has a very diverse outlook for visitors. You can relax by the beach, and go the ‘many’ malls, but we also have the awe-inspiring Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Yas Marina F1 circuit (which you can cycle or run twice weekly), Ferrari World Theme Park, Heritage Village and very soon the Louvre and Guggenheim opening.

Q. Le Meridien Abu Dhabi is known for its Le Meridien Village and private beach. This is a great feature. Is it very popular with your guests as well as locals?

Stuart: Our Village is unique in Abu Dhabi, and probably the whole of the UAE. It’s a relaxed centre garden surrounded by 15 F&B venues, including bars, restaurants and clubs. We also have our own pub, sports bar and beach lounge.

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Captain’s Arm Pub at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi

Q. Fifteen F&B venues certainly provides plenty of options for your guests and visitors. On my recent stay at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi I had what was probably the best Pad Thai outside of Thailand at Le Meridien’s Talay Restaurant!

Stuart: Talay at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi was formerly a restaurant that specialised in Thai cuisine, but has recently reopened its doors with a fresh new concept. Talay continues to offer wonderful Thai cuisine but has also expanded the menu to Southeast Asian cuisine, offering dishes from Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. Talay has been awarded “Best South East Asian restaurant” by Time Out Abu Dhabi, and “Best Thai Cuisine” by What’s On.

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Beachside Dining at Talay Restaurant

Q. Those are some great accolades, you must have a very talented Chef?

Stuart: Yes, our Chef is originally from Bangkok, Thailand and he is very talented. His instincts for traditional Thai gastronomy and his appreciation of modern flavors make all his dishes unique and tasty.

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Turquoiz Beach Restaurant & Lounge at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

Q. Le Meridien Abu Dhabi certainly has some wonderful restaurants, but if I want to try some local delicacies, do you have any hidden gems you can share?

Stuart: Turquoiz Beach Bar and Lounge at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort is a beach restaurant with a large sunset terrace. It’s a fabulous setting to watch the sun go down whilst enjoying great food and a glass of something chilled.

Q. Are there many things for children to do in Abu Dhabi?

Stuart: Abu Dhabi is a very family friendly place to live. There are many community and sporting activities that the kids can get involved with, from Aquathlon and Triathlon to football, kayaking and cycling. With fabulous weather for 8 months of the year there’s no excuse not to be outside, enjoying the opportunity to play, or have fun!

Q. Is it easy to combine a trip to Abu Dhabi with Dubai?

Stuart: Very easy! 60 minutes by car is all it takes, and once the famed Elon Musk Hyperloop opens, then it will be a swift 12 minutes! Right in the middle of both cities is the new Dubai Parks – 4 theme parks in one including Legoland.

Thank you Stuart. Please see here for more information Le Meridien Abu Dhabi.

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