Top Travel News from Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi // Photo by Mohamed Somji

Jetting off to the Middle East any time soon? Here's what's making temperatures rise in Abu Dhabi this season.

Back in June, we noted the flurry of new luxury hotels arriving in the emirate. The latest to hit the scene is the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, which will open its doors in first quarter 2013. The sprawling property—channeling the European Renaissance period in its architecture—has vast facilities surrounded by gardens abutting a private beach. The “Venetian-inspired” resort has no less than 447 guest rooms; 85 private villas; nine F&B outlets including three signature restaurants designed by Super Potato; large-scale meeting facilities; and a 2,000 square meter spa by ESPA with 15 treatment rooms. The outdoor pool is kitted out with water features. From the front lawn, guests can gape at the shimmering Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the world’s third largest mosque and a must-visit while in Abu Dhabi.

Here's a suite worth exploring: The Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara in Abu Dhabi has opened the Royal Mangroves Residence, and it sounds like one of the most intriguing new penthouses to come on the scene in a while. Situated on the top two floors of the hotel (which is located along a mile-long stretch of protected mangrove reserves), the Royal Mangroves Residence has uninterrupted views over the mangroves and the city. What makes it special? It has a private infinity pool with its own private swim-up pool bar, as well as a private rooftop garden. It can have three to ten king-sized bedrooms (each with its own bathroom, of course) with the option to add interconnecting rooms or even a security room. There's a private entrance and elevator and (we love this best of all) a private chef, mixologist, limousine and driver all available whenever needed. We hear the architecture blends unique elements of Arabic design evident in mashrabiyas, intricate mosaics, solid timber and trellis work. Subtle and elegant touches of 18-carat gold are also used throughout the residence. We can't wait to see it for ourselves!

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Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is expanding its U.S. flight network. Currently Etihad flies nonstop routes from Abu Dhabi to New York and Chicago. Starting on March 31, 2013, the airline will launch its third U.S. route with daily non-stop flights between Washington D.C. and Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, and hub for Etihad. A three-class Airbus A340-500 aircraft will operate the flight. Since launching service to the U.S. market (NY in 2006, Chicago in 2009), Etihad Airways has flown nearly 1.5 million passengers on those routes.

AlArabiya.net is reporting that a consortium led by Dubai-based Arabtec Holding will build the Louvre Abu Dhabi art gallery for $654 million, the developers of the much-delayed project announced on Tuesday. Abu Dhabi Tourism Development and Investment Company said construction would start immediately with the aim of opening the museum in 2015, three years later than originally planned. The contract was awarded to an Arabtec-led joint venture with Spanish company Constructora San Jose SA and Oger Abu Dhabi LLC “following a competitive tendering process,” it said in a statement. Oil-rich Gulf emirate Abu Dhabi has paid around $1.3 billion to use the Louvre name for 30 years and to tap the renowned Paris museum for artworks and expertise during this period. The deal had stirred a debate in the French art world with critics saying the Louvre is selling its soul as they question Abu Dhabi’s treatment of dissidents and immigrant workers employed in the construction of the project.

 

 

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