Abu Dhabi is the home of affordable luxury and hospitality staff that work to the ethos that anything is possible. Thank you to PureArabia DMC, DMC Advantage, Marriott and Etihad Airways for making this outstanding trip possible. After receiving the service that I did during my all too short time in Abu Dhabi, I feel excited to return with clients in the future.
Marriot did a brilliant job of showcasing varied properties, which enables us as event planners to tailor a proposal to the unique requirements of each client. It’s really important to show clients you understand their event and their guests, from matching a venue to the message of the event to considering things like the age/gender demographic of the delegates. The W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island is modern, exciting and has the ‘wow factor’ from the moment you see the property in the distance as you approach. With huge bedrooms, roof top pool, large conference spaces, top quality on-site restaurants and a stylish lobby and bar, this hotel ticks all the boxes and can cater for large conference groups as well as smaller incentive programmes. But what makes this property stand out as special is the Yas Marina Circuit. Having a huge F1 circuit as your back garden and being able to watch the cars right under your nose from your balcony is a pretty memorable experience and not something many people are lucky enough to experience. When organising events for large groups, it is important to remember you are never going to please absolutely everyone with every single aspect, and while some people may prefer a sea view to a F1 circuit view, what this hotel can offer is unique and memorable and this is something Insynq always strives for. That being said, I am by no means knocking a sea view and the St Regis has a pretty spectacular one. I had no idea that Abu Dhabi was home to stretching white sand beaches and turquoise seas! It was such a joy to be continually surprised by this destination throughout the entire trip. We enjoyed an incredible lunch at their Thai Restaurant Sontaya and marvelled at how stunning the surroundings were. We had the pleasure of spending our final night at The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi and I absolutely fell in love with this utterly luxurious and surprisingly affordable property. Upon arrival into the hotel’s own Venetian Village filled with bars and restaurants on the water’s edge, we were met by a whole team of staff who genuinely couldn’t do enough for us, we were made to feel so welcome and important to them, and for me, that is something that makes a hotel stand out as special. Golf buggies took us to reception and we were mesmerised by the property at every moment until our all too soon departure the following morning. The conferences facilities are huge and well designed for large groups and the bedrooms, pool and restaurants guarantee a relaxing and comfortable stay.
As I mentioned before, the ethos in Abu Dhabi is that anything is possible and that an event held here would be one unlike any other previously attended by delegates. As we stood in the heart of the desert with a glass of bubbly watching the sunset over the sand dunes, Eslam from Pure Arabia DMC explained the incredible ways in which activities, Gala Dinners and overnight stays can be done in the desert and I have to say, it gave me goose bumps. The transfer time to reach the desert was approximately 45 minutes, which is longer than Insynq ideally like to incorporate into a programme, however I would make an exception for this and recommend it to clients... There are some things that are worth an extra 20 minutes in a car for. Following our desert adventure, our dinner was at Al Mabeet Campsite where we enjoyed a buffet of wonderful, traditional Arabic food along with traditional entertainment. The setting was as well received as the food and really set the atmosphere for a wonderful evening.
Prior to the trip, I had assumed the religious nature of Abu Dhabi would mean limitations in terms of alcohol. Now, while it is crucial to respect the culture of a place you are visiting and it is the unique culture in Abu Dhabi which makes it so interesting, when planning MICE events you have to remember that delegates will have certain expectations from social and networking opportunities and this often includes alcohol. I wondered to what extent this would be an issue for clients when considering Abu Dhabi… My tiredness and fuzzy head Saturday morning is proof enough for me that there are plenty of bars and clubs that can cater for large groups. Yes you may be unlikely to wander down the road and find an Irish pub like in many other destinations, but a cocktail is never hard to find and the right DMC will have a whole list of venues perfect for your for guests.
We seemed to fit in about a week’s worth of activities into Saturday. This was all down to Eslam’s ability to plan an effective programme and also the ease of transport in Abu Dhabi. We all commented on the non-existent traffic during the whole trip. This may not sound like a big thing in comparison to 5* hotels and once in a lifetime experiences, but nobody enjoys sitting in a coach stuck in traffic for an hour on their way to a Gala Dinner…somewhat kills the mood. On the subject of ease of transport, the Etihad flights between London and Abu Dhabi are at very sociable times and are easy and convenient. This is something that is really important to consider,especially for a longer flight. I was worried that a 7-hour flight for only a 3 night trip would make the weekend a bit of an endurance test but I was pleasantly surprised.
We started the day off with a tour around the Yas Marina Circuit and their pristine conference facilities followed by a brilliant go-karting experience on the tracks. Let’s hope my event organising skills are better than my driving because I came dead last out of the group… Don’t think Lewis Hamilton has too much to worry about when it comes to me! I think an activity like this would be great for team-building amongst colleagues: It’s competitive, gets the heart racing (pardon the pun) and can be quite funny when the cocky one out in front takes a corner too quickly and is stuck on the side waiting for the rest of you to zoom past!
Our next amazing experience was a Sea Plane, which is something I have never done before and is something I feel lucky to have experienced. Taking off from water is one thing, but the science behind managing to land a plane completely smoothly onto water baffles me. The views of Abu Dhabi and the gorgeous turquoise water that surrounds it were stunning – not something I will be forgetting any time soon.
Next, we headed to Qasr Al Watan where we were lucky enough to meet, talk to and ask any questions we had to Sheikh Nasif Kayed. His charisma and flare for public speaking were evident as he discussed his country, his religion and his culture. We were captivated by every word he said and there was a real feeling within the room of wanting to make the most of every second with him. Something which Abu Dhabi has which makes it stand out as a destination is the strength of its culture and it would be a waste for MICE events to not make the most of this. I would certainly suggest him as a guest speaker at a conference for a thoroughly thought provoking way to engage your guests and spark conversation.
So next on the agenda was to get the minibus to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where we were staying that night. But for the first time that weekend, we did not manage to stick to plan. Instead of the minibus, we ended up spending 2 hours on a luxury yacht to get to the hotel…what a shame. Not only did I feel thoroughly spoiled, which is something I will always strive for guests on an Insynq trip to feel, but being on the top deck, looking out at the water and the incredible venues we had visited that day, it gave me the time to reflect on the experiences I had had and the memories I had made on this trip. While it’s really important to keep your guests busy with all the amazing things that a destination can offer, I think it’s also important to give them a moment to take it all in, before getting back to the busy-ness of work and home life.
As I’m sure is evident, I was hugely impressed with every aspect of this trip. From the services provided, to the individuals and businesses providing them, absolutely everything was 5*. I haven’t been able to include everything I wanted to in this blog post as it was becoming a little bit War and Peace-esq so please feel free to get in touch if you would like to learn more about this wonderful destination!