Rebecca Underwood sets off on an Arabian adventure.
The United Arab Emirates, a unification of seven sovereign sheikhdoms, was formed in 1971 following the British withdrawal from the Gulf area, and as a result of the bi-lateral friendship treaty signed on December 22, 1971 the UAE continues to maintain a close relationship with the United Kingdom.
Located at the head of a ‘T’ shaped island in the Arabian Gulf, the largest of the emirates covers an area of only 375 square miles but there is much to explore.
Mingle with the locals and visit one of Abu Dhabi’s most spectacular landmarks, the opulent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which features 80 towering domes, sparkling 24 carat gold chandeliers, more than a thousand columns, and the world’s largest hand woven carpet.
Constructed over a decade, the Mosque features natural materials including marble, stone, ceramics, gold and crystal and it covers an area of over 240,000 square feet providing ample space for 41,000 worshippers. The structure’s shimmering gold and white hues are flooded with sunshine during the day and floodlit at night by an impressive system
of lighting which reflects the phases of the moon and the reflective pools add to the overall beauty.
For weary travellers keen to reside in similarly lavish surroundings, the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal Hotel is directly opposite the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and provides the highest standards of comfort and service. This ultra stylish, Venetian-inspired property is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens and features a gorgeous private beach and an impressive outdoor pool covering 1600 square metres. Plump sun loungers ensure that occupants may dine in-situ and the hotel’s Al Fresco restaurant offers a wide range of lunch boxes which are promptly delivered by bicycle.
Accommodations include spacious deluxe rooms and suites, elegantly furnished with comfortable beds swathed in crisp white Egyptian linens. The chic bathrooms feature a spacious bath tub with a separate rejuvenating rain-forest shower and a generous supply of Asprey bathing products. Executive suites also feature private balconies, which is the ideal spot for a pre-dining tipple or two.
Or, if you are a dedicated water babe and deserve the ultimate treat, opt for a two bedroom villa with your very own plunge pool.
Ardent sailors will be eager to experience an exhilarating boat ride and to savour the spectacular water side view of Abu Dhabi’s skyline.
Hop on board the 60 or 90 minute Yellow Boat Tour, which departs from gate number three at the Emirates Palace Marina.
For those seeking their own luxurious residence and a true home from home living experience, the Marriott Executive Apartments, located right in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s downtown area, features fully serviced apartments with one, two or three bedrooms and provides the highest standards of comfort and service. We relaxed in a stylishly furnished two bedroom apartment measuring 132 square metres with enormous windows flooding the area with light. The spacious lounge with plump sofas and a huge flat screen television provided the perfect retreat after a busy day exploring the city and we took advantage of the fully equipped kitchen with every appliance including an oven, hob, refrigerator, dish washer and washer/dryer.
For an Arabian adventure of your very own explore Abu Dhabi, experience Emirati hospitality at its best and reflect on the words of Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger, the author of Arabian Sands; ‘I tasted freedom and a way of life from which there could be no recall’.
For more information on the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal and the Marriott Executive Apartments visit ritzcarlton.com and marriott.com and for Yellow Boats info visit the yellowboats.com
Bahrain ‘stop over’
For travellers considering a ‘stop over’ in Bahrain on route to Abu Dhabi, the Four Seasons Bahrain Bay is located on a private island and offers the ultimate levels of comfort and service.
Accommodations include a selection of sumptuously furnished rooms and suites reflecting the art deco style and the chic marble bathrooms feature over sized bathtubs with separate showers and an in-mirror television allowing guests to keep up with the latest news whilst bathing.
Hotel facilities include five swimming pools and the fabulous outdoor infinity pool, which measures 956 square metres, is surrounded by enormous parasols and comfortable, plump sun loungers, providing an ideal oasis for an afternoon snooze.
Abu Dhabi images courtesy of tcaabudhabi.ae
This first featured in the July edition of etc Magazine pick up your copy now.