Friday, 1 November 2013

Living the high life in the Middle East .. Part 2 Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi was never on my list of places to go.  I knew nothing about the place and although I had heard of it, I had no real concept of where it was. It's just over an hour's drive south from Dubai and is the capital of the UAE. It is smaller (population under a million) and less ostentatious on the surface but don't be fooled, this place drips in gold.

We stayed at the InterContinental Hotel situated within 5 minutes drive from the Marina Mall and has it's own beach which was in redevelopment while we were there.  It has great views of downtown Abu Dhabi, and you can watch the sunset from the pool or various levels in the hotel. 

Our first afternoon was spent having high tea at the Emirates Palace a wonderful hotel complex which
has the appearance of having been around for a long time.  In fact it's less than 10 years old!

Emirates Palace
The building was designed by architect, John Elliott RIBA, who was Senior Vice President at Wimberly, Allison, Tong and Goo, an international firm specialising in Luxury Hotels. It opened in November 2005 but certain restaurants and spas did not open until 2006. The hotel was built by and is owned by the Abu Dhabi government, and is currently managed by the Kempinski Group.
The costs to build the hotel were 3.9 billion GBP or 11.02 billion AED or about 6 billion USD. The Emirates Palace occupies 850,000m² of floor space. Underground parking allows housing for 2,500 vehicles. There are two swimming pools and spas. The hotel has its own marina and helipad. The Emirates Palace is the second most expensive hotel ever built, only surpassed by Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Prepare to spend at least 2 hours enjoying the food (and the cappuccino with the edible gold sprinkles) all beautifully presented. There was so much we couldn't finish it all so opted for a doggie bag at the end!  We took a walk around the complex .. the beach is private so we weren't able to go there but it would be a fabulous place to stay if you could afford to!
They even have a gold vending machine in the lobby if you feel so inclined to buy some.

We took a Big Bus tour around the city on day 2.  It's a great way to see and learn about the city and another architectural beauty is the Sheikh Zayed Mosque which also looks like it may have been around for a while but it too is only a few years old.  We also went to Saadyat Island and had lunch. This will be an amazing place when the development is completed.  The Louvre and Guggenheim galleries are under construction as well as many other attractions.  The bus tour also offered a shuttle service to visit Yas Island which is home to Formula 1 racing and Ferrari World, but we didn't have the time to go on this occasion. There's always next time!


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