Waking up at the crack of dawn to go on my first trip to Abu Dhabi last November was incredibly exciting, especially after the flurry of WTM earlier that week. Meeting my friends at Heathrow to board our flight, we were all looking forward to escaping the chilly UK to discover what this diverse emirate had to offer.
We stayed at The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi which wowed us with impeccable hospitality, beautiful facilities and views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: the must-see attraction in Abu Dhabi. The next few days saw us take in the sights, sounds and smells of the city, reaching high speeds at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and truly unwinding over beach front lunch at the St Regis on Saadiyat Island. Not all of us were brave enough to face Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest rollercoaster, at Ferrari World, which sounded like a jet taking off as it soared past us! Yas Waterworld was a great way to cool off afterwards, with a surf competition in full swing when we arrived showing off one of the waterpark’s many great rides.
Our three days in Abu Dhabi were the perfect way to showcase the city’s incredible resorts, each as breath taking as the last. Canals wound through the Shangri-La, with gondolas guiding guests through the resort right from bedroom to breakfast to beach. Emirates Palace lived up to every expectation, an enormously grand property boasting a vending machine that deposits gold bars and cappuccinos sprinkled with, you guessed it, more gold! Elsewhere, we found a tempting chocolatier, a luxurious Venetian-inspired villa complex, and DJs providing the soundtrack to an afternoon catching the rays on the beach. Sumptuous food kept us full from sunrise to sunset, as did some excellent cocktails, and the beautiful aroma of the local perfumes acted as a subtle reminder of Abu Dhabi’s rich Arabian culture.
On our final day, we visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – the pièce de résistance of Abu Dhabi. An architectural wonder, its glistening white marble walls and countless gold domes shone in the morning sun. While we were unable to take photos inside, it’s fair to say they would not have done the mosque justice anyway – providing yet another reason why this rapidly up-and-coming destination is best experienced first-hand.