The ground services and FAM trip was hosted by Gulf Dunes represented by Pearl Representation in the UK.
We flew out on Thursday afternoon with Etihad Airways, it was the first time I had visited anywhere in the Middle East so it was very exciting. The flight was smooth and didn’t feel too long at all, the Etihad entertainment system was great with an iPad size TV screen. On the way home we were even lucky enough to be upgraded to business class, and I can confirm it is definitely something to experience at least once in your lifetime.
Arriving in Abu Dhabi the first thing that hit you was the intense heat, well over 30 degrees in the evening. We were staying at the Yas Viceroy, the hotel directly above the Yas Marina Grand Prix track and the first evening was a relaxing drinks reception on the roof terrace.
The Yas Viceroy Resort is situated on Yas Island and is Abu Dhabi’s premier hotel, with its 499 rooms and suites, 11 innovative dining and lounge venues and luxurious ESPA with exclusive treatments for men and women. For corporate events the hotel boasts six meeting rooms and four executive boardrooms as well as your usual business services and amenities.
Our first day was action-packed and set the tone for the rest of the trip. There is so much to see and do in Abu Dhabi, an incentive trip here really wouldn’t be short of things to do. In the morning, we visited the impressive theme park Ferrari World.
The theme park is housed beneath a gigantic and iconic red roof and has numerous high-adrenaline rides including the Flying Aces rollercoaster, that features the world's highest rollercoaster loop and Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest rollercoaster, with a top speed recorded at 250kmph in just 4.9 seconds. Add in state of the art simulators, go-karts, live shows and tonnes of Ferrari racing memorabilia and Ferrari World becomes a great attraction to add to any incentive travel event.
The afternoon saw us visit the very first beach club in the Saadiyat Beach District, the Saadiyat Beach Club. The world-class beach club has lots of amazing facilities to entertain delegates including jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas and plunge pools.
This is all in addition to the spectacular 650-square-metre outdoor swimming pool, fine selection of restaurants, large, impressive lawn and open lounge deck that would be perfect for hosting special events. I should mention here that the Saadiyat have the most amazing buffets, with everything you can think of including live cooking stations, massive shell fish selection, oriental, pasta, fish, noodles and even a chocolate fountain. It was definitely a wow moment!
To end the first day, we headed out into the desert for some dune bashing in 4x4’s. It is an experience not to be missed and a great way to experience the desert. The whole experience was topped off with dinner at the Arabian Nights Village. After returning to the hotel we finished the evening by going to Empire, the in-house nightclub at the Viceroy.
Our second day began with a few sore heads, but these were soon shaken off with a visit to the Mangroves for a Pearl Experience. Our tour guide took us over on a little boat while explaining how the locals farm oysters for their pearls. We then had the opportunity to open a few oysters and if were lucky enough we could keep the pearl inside.
We well and truly shook off what was left of our hangovers with a visit to the Yas Marina GP Circuit. The famous track hosts the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the opportunity to race round the same course as your F1 heroes is something you must do. Racing round in a choice of cars you can only imagine the speeds the F1 cars get up to, and the professional drivers taking you round make sure you have an experience as close to the real thing as you can get.
The need for speed activities continued in to the afternoon with a high-speed boat tour around the Emirates Palace. It is a great way to view the amazing Abu Dhabi skyline that you just can’t see walking around on land. We finished with an amazing day at The Emirates Palace. The iconic landmark is a sight to behold at night, with changing lighting effects highlighting the buildings impressive architecture.
The following morning there was still time to visit one last impressive building, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, one of the world’s largest mosques with capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers. The building features 82 domes, over a 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold chandeliers and one of the world’s largest chandeliers – an impressive 10 metres in diameter, 15 metres in height and weighing 12 tonnes!
Abu Dhabi as an incentive destination has so much to offer for groups of all sizes. There is so much to see and do there that it would be a truly memorable experience for anyone who has the opportunity to go.