A restless soul and a wild heart is all you need to have your next great adventure. Laying down my roots in vibrant Dubai and absolutely loving it, one of my 2017 resolutions was to spend more time visiting the neighbouring emirates – especially beautiful Abu Dhabi (the capital of the UAE).
With that in mind, my wandering spirit led me to a modern day Arabian oasis. Located on the corniche in Abu Dhabi, the Bab Al Qasr hotel demands attention â its magnificent shiny copper hue exterior beckoned us in and completely floored us with sheer opulence on display â tasteful at that.
Upon checking into the luxurious deluxe suite on the 21st floor, you are treated to an unobstructed view of possibly (according to some experts), the most expensive presidential palace in the world. In-addition to that, part of our room also faced the Arabian Sea and the Abu Dhabi islands â making for a very pretty sunrise/sunset picture. Like they say, beauty everywhere, all you need is to open your eyes and take in the sights and sounds.
Now as some of you may know, one of the things that almost always puts a smile on my face when I travel or indulge in staycations, is the attention to detail and personalised bits of service that tend to elevate a good experience, into something stellar.
On this particular occasion, the very friendly hostess Marianna (dressed impeccably in traditional Moroccan garb), took it upon herself and organised a beautiful bouquet of red roses, delicious spread of Arabian sweets along with a personal congratulatory note. Yes, I nearly burst out in tears â tears of happiness, at this kind soul going to such lengths to congratulate me on making it to the Top 100 list of Influential Filipinos in the Gulf.
The room itself embodies the essence of Arabian hospitality – decorated in warm colours with a spacious lounge (featuring a captivating chandelier) and work area – it also comes with an exquisite marble laid bathroom (with rain-shower facilities) and bespoke amenities. On the bedside table, lies an iPad style console providing access to all creature comforts, at the tip of your fingertips. How cool is that?
Those who undertake the drive from Dubai, well you know when I say â it leaves you with a voracious appetite. Thankfully, lunch was sorted out at The Artisan Kitchen.Â Amidst a sea of magenta and crimson hues, across a score of hungry diners, I was pleasantly surprised at the wide array of cuisines on offer â be it Far Eastern encompassing Indonesian, Malay and Filipino, or European, Arabic as well as a smattering of Indian. You get the sense, that youâre truly spoilt for choice.
The hotel architecture in part, is influenced heavily by Emirati heritage â so much so that the exterior faÃ§ade, along with the roof and lighting gives one the illusion of a shell. This is a tribute to the UAEâs rich pearl diving history. There is also a hint of Moroccan influence â with intricate mosaic designs and delicate tile work at every nook and corner.
One of the things that stand out are these gorgeous luxe mirrors – handmade in Morocco by artisans of yester-lore, they adorn the walls in the hotel lobby as well as select suites. Same goes to the mother of pearl infused throne that I sit upon; or the wall crafted out of camel bones – design that makes you sit up and notice.
It’s not often that I come across an immersive story â one that artistically marries influences of Emirati and Moroccan cultures. Also featured in the hotel lobby is a mini majlis of sorts, complete with a hospitality tent and mummified date palms; to give it that authentic feels.
Case in point, are these beautiful tiles â made entirely out of compacted sand (living materials).
On a side note â whilst growing up, I was taught to worry less about fitting into glass slippers, instead to focus on shattering the glass ceiling. Create and star in your own fairy tale, like they say. So whilst at this magical oasis, I couldn’t help but be in complete awe with the majestic high arch ceiling – reminiscent of a timeless royal era. Design that borrows from tradition and Arabian lore, you get the sense that you’re in a midst of a modern Arabian fairy tale. Absolutely loved walking around, for I happened to discover handiwork’s that touched my heart.
For instance â these lovely Arabic motifs. Sometimes all it takes is a tiny shift of perspective to see something familiar in a totally new light.
And before you ask â yes, there is a gorgeous infinity pool just adjacent to the all-day dining restaurant. Ideal way to unwind and relax after walking the length and breadth of this massive property.
All in all, I ventured out hoping that my foray into this neighbouring emirate will present a keep sake memory. But loâbehold, I reckon I may have wished upon a star for I found something that has anchored me, something that has made me fall in love with it, and now look forward to it. Looks like I may have found that something special, a sense of warmth and genuineness right here at Bab Al Qasr.