Autumn Moser, Senior Corporate Consultant at The Travel Authority Resource in Fremantle, recently returned from an educational trip to Abu Dhabi, flying from Sydney on Etihad Airways—the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates.
Over the course of five days, Autumn saw Abu Dhabi’s main attractions, headed out into the desert and inspected a range of hotels.
A half-day city tour provided an ideal orientation, and included a visit to Abu Dhabi’s astonishing Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque—the architectural icon of Abu Dhabi. With a capacity for a remarkable 40,000 worshippers, the mosque is epic in scale and delightful in detail evident in semi-precious stone inlays set in dazzling-white marble.
“We did about a 30-minute self-guided tour through the Mosque which was incredible. The artwork and intricacy of this mosque is beautiful and a must-see for anyone visiting Abu Dhabi”, says Autumn.
Autumn also visited Emirates Palace, one of the most luxurious hotels ever built. Emirates Palace exudes extravagance at every level, from its design—the main hotel building stretches over a kilometre from wing to wing, to the 24 karat gold flakes sprinkled on everything from cappuccinos to the hotel’s signature camel burger.
“Our site inspection and lunch at Emirates Palace was incredible. The hotel is exquisite, and the majority of the rooms are furnished in gold and marble. By rights, Emirates Palace should have six or even seven stars”, adds Autumn.
One evening was spent on a 4WD desert safari.
“This was my first ‘dune bashing’ experience, and it was exhilarating! We were then driven to an well-appointed encampment camp for a local BBQ dinner, entertainment and ‘shisha’. All-up, an absolute must-do activity!”, reports Autumn.
From there the pace slowed somewhat with visits to the remarkable Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital which is a door into the noble local tradition of falconry. Guided tours of this award-winning specialist hospital take visitors through waiting rooms and wards where the birds undergo general check-ups, are x-rayed, or simply pick up some new flight feathers.
“We watched a minor surgical procedure, and also held a falcon. These magnificent birds signify wealth and status in Abu Dhabi. We were informed there were some very expensive birds in-house”, says Autumn.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first museum of its kind in the Arab world. Opened on Saadiyat Island in late 2017, the galleries are laid out as a ‘museum city’ beneath a vast dome some 180 metres in diameter.
Neighbouring Yas Island is home to great shopping, and family attractions like indoor theme-parks Ferrari World and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi. The island is also home to the Yas Marina Circuit and the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix. And being in close proximity to Abu Dhabi Airport, Yas island’s hotels are super convenient for stopovers and families looking to make the most of Yas’ attractions.
Autumn stayed at:
- Radisson Blu Yas Island: A great value 4-star hotel close to Yas Mall, Yas Beach, and all of Yas Island’s leisure attractions.
- Rosewood Abu Dhabi: A sophisticated 5-star luxury property located on Al Maryah Island at the core of Abu Dhabi’s new International Financial Center.
- Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas: A 5-star beach-side resort on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island.
In addition to experiencing these hotels on overnight stays, Autumn also inspected these Abu Dhabi properties:
- Fairmont Bab Al Bahr: A modern 5-star luxury property located mid-way between Abu Dhabi Airport and downtown Abu Dhabi city. This beach-side hotel enjoys stunning views of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque across the water.
- Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara: The luxury hotel has a unique mangrove setting on the edge of the city, and an award-winning Anantara Spa with Turkish hammam.
Autumn was invited to visit the Etihad Innovation Center where the airline’s pilots and flight attendants undertake their training.
“This was fascinating. The Innovation Center has mock Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 cabins set up, and we also inspected Etihad’s renowned ‘The Residence’. Designed for two people travelling together, The Residence comprises a living room, separate bedroom and en-suite shower room.
“It costs about $30,000 each way, between Sydney and London. I did note that The Residence was occupied on my flight back to Sydney. It’s an incredible product to have aboard a commercial aircraft”, adds Autumn.
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