Abu Dhabi: The luxury incentive retreat

Abu Dhabi, featuring superb hotels and venues along with golf and desert activities, making it a popular choice for groups of all sizes.

Image @istockphoto.com
Image @istockphoto.com

The luxury incentive retreat

Abu Dhabi's rising profile in the MICE industry owes plenty to its commitment to luxury. Like neighbouring Dubai, it has a proven record when it comes to slick service levels and genuinely high-end accommodation - which spells good news for upscale event organisers.

One standout option for an incentive retreat is the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, which includes 66 suites among its 206 rooms. The resort is surrounded by dunes around two hours' drive from Abu Dhabi City, so the feeling of being somewhere special is tangible. Sunset camel treks and desert yoga are among possible activities.

Remoteness and exclusivity of a different kind are on offer at one of the most notable hotel openings of recent times: Zaya Nurai Island, a private island resort comprising just 32 villas. It can be reached by a 12-minute private boat ride from Saadiyat Island, and its lawns and outdoor areas make it a good bet for an exclusive reception or product launch.

The emirate is now a fixture on the annual Formula One calendar, and planners looking to give an itinerary a boost can use its Grand Prix track - the Yas Marina Circuit - for incentive groups. The circuit offers a five-hour corporate experience for groups of between 10 and 60, including track time in an Aston Martin GT4, branded souvenirs, private dining and other perks.

For fine dining, meanwhile, two strong choices are Mezlai at Emirates Palace - a much-vaunted a la carte restaurant specialising in gourmet Emirati cuisine - and the stylish 55&5th, The Grill at the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, which has an impressive private dining area.

Also of note is the fact that Etihad Airways last year opened a vast new First Class Lounge & Spa at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

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