Katie Daw - 19 Dec 2016
Earlier this month I was lucky enough to attend a familiarisation trip to Abu Dhabi, which was hosted by Air Partner’s Travel department, Etihad Airways, Yas Viceroy Hotel and Gulf Dunes (represented by Five Star Filler). The aim of the trip was to show the eight event agencies what a great option the city is for conferences and incentive travel.
We were only in Abu Dhabi for four days but we had an absolutely jam-packed schedule, designed to illustrate the sheer range of activities on offer. On the first day we took to the seas on a Belevari catamaran, which is the biggest in the city – talk about kicking off the trip in style! Relaxing on the bean bags at the front was certainly a great way to unwind, and the views of the skyline were incredible too. After this we were whisked out to the desert for dune bashing and camel riding: I must admit that the latter is not the most comfortable experience but it is certainly an extremely memorable one! As the sun set we were treated to dinner and traditional Middle Eastern entertainment, hosted for us by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority at Arabian Night Village, a stunning luxury campsite. If you fancy a night as a desert dweller, I would definitely recommend their authentic Arabic suites.
After such an action-packed first day, the next day was rather more laidback. We were taken on a tour of Manarat Al Saadiyat, which is a vast arts and culture centre, before visiting the luxurious Saadiyat Beach Club, the first of its kind on Saadiyat Island. You couldn’t find a more perfect place to while away a few hours, whether it’s sipping a glass of wine by the pool or taking a dip in the sea. The food is absolutely sublime so make sure you book in for a meal while you’re there – we had a full three courses. From here we then took a seaplane over the city, which is a truly incredible (and novel) way to sightsee.
Once back on firm land, we went for cocktails at Yas Viceroy’s stunning rooftop bar before being given a guided tour of the entire hotel. There are great views of the F1 track - meaning it’s definitely one for car fanatics – and the pool and other facilities are exceptional as well. We were even treated to drinks in the presidential suite – all I can say is wow! And as if this wasn’t enough, we ended the evening with a delicious dinner in the hotel’s Angar restaurant, followed by a nightcap in the buzzy Skylite rooftop lounge.
I really couldn’t fault anything about Yas Viceroy: the location, facilities, food and drink are all first class. It also has an abundance of meeting space so it’s perfect for the conference and incentive market. In terms of travel, we couldn’t have had a better experience with Etihad airways – the service was second to none and the food was certainly a step above your normal airplane fare! What’s more, the enhanced technology on board meant that the tech addicts among us could charge our phones and laptops during the journey. For those looking to incorporate Abu Dhabi into a larger trip, Etihad also offers great connections to other destinations further afield. For ideas of activities whilst you’re travelling in the area, the destination management company DMC Gulf Dunes should be your first port of call, whether you want to see the turquoise waters of Oman or Dubai’s glittering skyscrapers.
All in all, the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would recommend to anyone. There really is something for everyone, whether you are looking for adventure or just some downtime. And with Air Partner Travel taking care of your scheduled group flights, you can rest assured that the organisational process will be stress free too. With the 24/7 Operations Department (“Ops24”) overseeing all the flights and dedicated account managers ready to deal with any issues that arise, Air Partner are on hand to make the journey as smooth as possible. We can even wave you off at the airport!