Last week our Senior Events Manager, Rebecca Dare, was lucky enough to be invited to a Private MICE to Dubai and familiarisation visit in Abu Dhabi by Meetings & Incentive Forums. A week of luxury interspersed with networking and team building events helped Rebecca to compile the best of the best in luxury event opportunities to share with you.
First stop – Al Habtoor City
Al Habtoor City is Dubai’s first-ever integrated urban resort. Having left a somewhat cold and drizzly London, the sunshine reminded me why Dubai is such a popular resort all year round and has grown year-on-year in popularity as a corporate event destination too.
The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City hosted two mornings of networking and was our base in Dubai. The 1,425 sqm Al Joud Ballroom is great for both work and private functions and the hotel can accommodate 1,200 guests within a range of meeting spaces including the ballroom.
You have no option but to eat well at the Westin Dubai with six dining options to choose from. The Seasonal Tastes restaurant was our favourite with a choice of international cuisines served buffet-style and so many stations there was never a need to queue – impressive considering the number of guests to cater for at breakfast!
An evening at the beach
Nikki Beach Dubai boasts panoramic views of Downtown Dubai and the cityscape, including the Burj Khalifa. Stunning enough in the day, this amazing venue is also open two nights a week – Thursdays and Fridays – and that’s when we were taken for dinner.
There’s an oversized leisure pool, swim-up bar, ultimate VIP cabanas, 4-tier shisha terrace and Nikki Privé, a lounge on the first floor. If you want to throw a lavish party, this venue should be on your go-to list.
A hard day’s networking… sort of
After our second morning of networking we visited the St. Regis Dubai for lunch in their ballroom. The hotel’s interiors are influenced by the beaux-arts architecture of the original St. Regis in New York, and accentuated by bespoke elements such as the grand staircase and carefully selected artworks dotted across the hotel. Yet another luxury venue to impress clients or private party guests, this hotel’s maximum group capacity for functions is 1,000.
The networking continued through to the evening at another St. Regis location, the St. Regis Dubai Polo Resort & Club, the brand’s first ever equestrian-inspired resort. This beautiful, Andalusian-style site has everything you’d expect – 800 sqm of banqueting space, meeting rooms, a ballroom for 220 guests, and spa – plus 25 residential villas and a polo academy. Our dinner and staff service was exceptional – something we had come to expect from the venues in Dubai.
Abu Dhabi beckons
Overlooking the Arabian Gulf and with breathtaking views of the cityscape, we based ourselves at the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island. All their function rooms and two ballrooms have been thoughtfully designed to bring in natural light and are open to the waterfront. If we thought the service levels were impressive in Dubai, the Four Seasons’ service took an unbelievable step up!
If you’re looking for the ultimate in corporate events and team-building activities, then Abu Dhabi gives you the opportunity to work hard and play hard! We recommend the rock climbing and world’s fastest rollercoaster at Ferrari World, and the driving experiences at Yas Marina Circuit – the final circuit of the Grand Prix season.
Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Resort and Emirates Palace can cater for groups of up to 1,000 making them ideal for large-scale luxury conventions. At the Yas Viceroy, you can watch races and practices on a daily basis whereas the Emirates Palace is the place to stay if you want to stay in the same hotel as many of the world’s royal families!
And, if you want to take some time out from the excitement, Saadiyat Beach Club, nestled away on the island of Saadiyat, celebrates health and wellness in natural surroundings. Although, don’t stay too late unless you are feeling revitalised, the relaxing beach club transforms into a lively club venue.
Our final evening saved the best cultural experience until last. The Arabian Nights Village is in the heart of the Abu Dhabi desert. A must-see for intrepid travellers, family visitors and corporate guests alike, the traditional welcome of fresh cardamom-spiced Arabic coffee, dates and the fragrance of Bakhoor is blended seamlessly with the modern convenience of a concierge and Abu Dhabi-level service. We recommend a traditional camel trek or the more up-to-date quad biking experience through the desert dunes.
Be sure to behave yourself
Both locations have strict laws and crime levels are minimal, this does also mean that visitors must mind their behaviour – no lager louts and definitely no heavy (or even light) petting in public. This does mean you can put your bag down in a hotel without the fear of it being stolen – in fact, at the Four Seasons, our bags were given their own stools!