Was this going to be a good fam?
It was 6.20am, it was early and I was a little tired after only four hours sleep as I arrived at the Etihad desk at Manchester airport, looking out for Julie from Ashfield and Louise from Incentivise. It was at that point I thought to myself th
at perhaps red carnations all round would have been a good idea. I had also been secretly hoping that they would be nice people, not too loud but not too shy either. Was this going to be a good fam trip?
The Yas Viceroy
The fam trip was hosted by Etihad, Viceroy Hotels and local DMC Gulf Dunes. The trip then ran into GIBTM itself. After this one trip I definitely feel like I know Abu Dhabi well and can now promote it as a conference destination. Staying at the Yas Viceroy was excellent. I had a large bedroom, with a slightly funky design leading on to a balcony with a view of Yas Marina. The Yas Viceroy is an iconic building in Abu Dhabi and synonymous with Formula 1, as the hotel actually straddles the track. Other stand-outs are the two rooftop pools, the rooftop bar where we sampled some of the local beverages as well as an on property nightclub, Rush.
Hectic but worth it!
Our schedule was hectic, but worth it. It was an early-ish start on the Saturday morning with Hot Laps booked on the F1 circuit. This involved being driven round half the F1 circuit in a two-seater modified Formula 3000 car at speeds up to 160 miles an hour and reaching 60 miles an hour in under three seconds.
After one lap my driver gave me the thumbs up sign, I responded with the same, and he seemed to speed up. I was glad I’d heeded Peter from Viceroy’s advice to have a light breakfast.
Next on the itinerary was a Sea Plane trip, which gave us aerial views of the F1 track, Ferrari World, The Mangroves, the coastline, the Port, downtown, Saadiyat Island and Emirates Palace. Another real wow and it was only just lunchtime.
Hotel show round and presentation from the DMC ensued followed by our Desert Safari. Dune bashing, sand boarding, champagne sunset, shisha, camels, local music, belly dancers and randomly a guy dressed as a doctor and fish fingers on the buffet all contributed to an amazing afternoon.
It was back to the hotel then for some additional networking as everyone sampled Rush, the on-site club back at Yas Viceroy.
Sunday morning included a trip to the Monte Carlo beach Club – which is stunning – on Saadiyat Island where I sampled both the sea and pool.
During the afternoon we took in some culture including the amazing Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque followed by drinks hosted by St Regis Hotel. Wow! And GIBTM hadn’t even started. The itinerary really did show off the best of the world’s wealthiest city and I am sold on it as a fantastic meeting destination.
11 new friends
The most amazing thing about this fam trip though has to be the people I met. Twelve completely different individuals, of all ages, who just got on from the word go like a big happy family. Northern soul dancing, fabulous suits, catchphrases, piano playing, jiving and non-stop laughter made this the most fun fam trip ever, from which I am leaving with eleven new true friends.
Ian Taylor is managing director of events agency Team Spirit