In a destination world-famous for high end luxury, travellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to hotel bookings. ‘Nicer problems to have’, as the Lotto ads put it! Patsy Patterson from Oasis Travel in Ballyhackamore finds her personal oasis of calm in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is the capital, and the largest and richest, of the United Arab Emirates, situated on an island in the fabulous turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf (Arabian) Gulf. Fuelled by oil exports and bustling commerce, the city has seen massive growth of prosperity, evidenced in its dramatic skyline and stunning contemporary architecture.
Visitors will find a myriad of architectural treasures to explore here, notably the vast Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with its immense Persian carpet, crystal chandeliers and capacity for 41,000 worshipers … and, new in 2017, the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Shopping mega-centres such as Abu Dhabi and Marina Malls are air-conditioned magnets for visitors, attracted by the promise of year-round sunshine, a sparklingly clean contemporary environment, plenty to see and do plus supremely classy restaurants and hotels.
A seven hour flight will take you to this wonderful destination. I flew economy with Etihad Airways which hosted my visit with the Abu Dhabi Tourist Board. The flight was extremely comfortable with outstanding service but, having enjoyed a fact-finding visit to the Etihad Innovation Centre during my stay, I reckon I may save for Business Class next trip! I feel that level of luxury might suit my tastes!
If I strike lucky with the lottery I may even stretch to the new Etihad Residence Suite, an unbelievable three-roomed suite in the sky. It features a leather sofas, 32” flat screen TV, separate bedroom and en suite shower and (of course!) you have your own in-flight chef and butler and will enjoy luxury chauffeur transfers and private discreet check-ins. If only!
The 5* Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, with its beautiful private beach overlooking the Grand Canal, is set in immaculately manicured grounds. Inspired by renaissance architecture its facilities include marvellous rooms with every conceivable luxury, a beautiful outdoor pool, a gym and marvellous health spa and eight amazing restaurants. The hotel has all the legendary style inherent in the Ritz-Carlton name and boasts service which is truly second to none. A by-word for luxury!
Next door to one another are the 5* Shangri-La and 4* Traders, with a quirky little gondola boat linking the two. Both hotels have access to a lovely white sandy beach and boast great views of the Grand Mosque.
The Shangri-La is an exceptional hotel by almost any standards. Impact starts at the entrance to the grand golden-white main building whose image is reflected in the waters of its fab swimming pool and things just keep getting better as you make yourself comfortable in beautifully appointed rooms and take advantage of outstanding recreational amenities which include a relaxation room, a steam room, a spa and a hamam (that’s a Turkish Bath to you and I).
With a blend of super-contemporary (even slightly funky!) style and comfortable furnishings, Traders Hotel is a popular choice for business travellers but it is also a great option for the leisure market. Expect stylish décor, the excellent service which seems to prevail throughout Abu Dhabi, and some superb in-house eateries with cosmopolitan menus. Good facilities here too and a very pleasant atmosphere.
The 5* Fairmont Bab Al Bahr is instantly recognisable for its striking exterior constructed from sheer blue glass. The hotel features a mix of 369 wonderfully spacious rooms and suites and its key attractions include an outdoor, Olympic length swimming pool with a dedicated area for families and children, great Jacuzzi and pristine beach. World class dining, including the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill, completes the luxury experience … and let me recommend the Lobby Lounge where you will be treated to a truly dazzling selection of teas!
The 5* Dusit Thani is a beautiful hotel situated in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s elegant business centre and close to the Corniche – the elegant seaside walkway which is so perfect for an evening stroll. Its prominent glass tower sets the architectural agenda and, as you enter, you won’t be disappointed. Guests rooms or, if you prefer, fully furnished extended stay apartments, are gracious and decorated with more than a nod to Thai elegance. Excellent food and, throughout the hotel, you’ll find an admirable attention to detail. Here, customer really is King!
Viceroy Yas Island another 5* which almost defies the superlatives, with 499 impeccable rooms and suites, ten innovative dining and lounge venues, and a wonderful spa. Elegant and stylish, it also has its own great wow factor, thanks to a sparkling LED canopy which not only emits an ever-changing illuminated concert, but also embraces the exhilarating Yas Marina Formula 1™ Circuit, defining the hotel as a Yas Island landmark … and you can watch high-speed races and practices from the hotel almost every day!
The Centro Yas Island Hotel is a 3* value option, just a few minutes away from the Formula 1 racetrack, Yas Links Golf Club, Yas Marina, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld and Yas Beach, a 10-minute drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport, 20 minutes from the business district and 40 minutes from Dubai. What’s not to love?
This is a contemporary hotel with a youthful, contemporary vibe and a friendly atmosphere – 259 rooms combine finesse and functionality at reasonable rates, providing everything most travellers look for on a short stay. Those facilities include a shuttle bus with multiple trips per day to the main attractions on Yas Island, a great outdoor pool, fully equipped 24 hour gym and well-priced dining.
My absolute favourite and a hotel I would recommend to anyone and everyone is the 5* Emirates Palace, outstanding in a destination where high end luxury is almost (but not quite!) taken for granted. Even ‘meet and greet’ is something way out of the ordinary here for guests generally arrive at this extraordinary hotel by seaplane, boat, helicopter or limousine … and what a prospect upon arrival. ‘Breathtaking’ hardly says enough. This is a truly gorgeous, sumptuously appointed hotel where no expense has been spared in the pursuit of the sbsolute.
Service, food, décor, facilities, ambience … all are beyond anything I have experienced in any other hotel and my new ambition is to spend some time there, staying in its ultra-chic Palace Suite.
… and that is one of the great things about a trip to Abu Dhabi … it provides the perfect setting to live like a millionaire, even if it’s just for a few days.
Talk to me about livin’ the dream!