Few places promise a better winter-sun escape than the UAE, its shores drenched in sunshine year-round, but with the added bonus of far more agreeable weather from October through to April. While the region has lived in AC under some kind of human-induced hibernation throughout summer, we emerge to face the new season with vigour, ready for beach days, sun-kissed staycations and al fresco adventures.
And whilst many people’s visions of the holiday season may feature more snow in Lapland than sand in the Middle East, the UAE is renowned for celebrating the festive season as avidly as its own holidays. Heroing the importance of family and togetherness, festivities here focus on everyone regardless of age, so small kids and big kids at heart are invited to embrace the magic.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay over the holiday season, make sure Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers is top of your list. It positions itself majestically at the north end of the Corniche, towering over the shoreline with spectacular views from its 74th-floor observation deck the best in the city. Its prime location means guests are central to the capital’s action, with the Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace just 10 minutes away, and Marina Mall, Marina Eye, The Founders Memorial, Emirates Heritage Village and the Louvre Abu Dhabi all within easy reach. Plus, in Avenue at Etihad Towers in the adjoining building, bringing world-class luxury brands, from Bvlgari, Hermès and Cartier to the capital, with a special service that means your purchases will be wrapped, packed and delivered directly to your room. It’s the perfect spot for any last-minute shopping, or perhaps for adding one last luxury to your wish-list...
Inside, Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers’ double-height lobby is striking in its vastness, with light flooding in from panoramic windows that seemingly stretch all the way to the sky. It’s the perfect place for a Christmas Tree, and one thing the hotel doesn’t do is shy away from making an impact! Decked out in reds and golds, topped with a glittering star, the annual Christmas Tree is something of legend in Abu Dhabi. Elegant, eye-catching and refined in its design. To kickstart the festive season, and to witness the tree in all its glam-slam glory, you’re invited for a special Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 8 at 7pm, where you’ll be treated to live performances from the hotel’s house choir, festive canapés to nibble on and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus.
With the festive season now in full swing, it really is the season to be jolly. Put your glad-rags on and reserve a table either in the Lobby Lounge or at Observation Deck at 300 for a Festive Afternoon Tea with a difference from December 9 to January 9. Specially crafted by Executive Pastry Chef Sumeda Palihakkara, the indulgent event will mark this special time of year with seasonal sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and a selection of delicate sweet and savoury patisseries. Sit under the beautiful bows of the Christmas tree in the lobby for a really immersive festive experience, of enjoy your scones with a side order of spectacular views of the city, with an afternoon tea in the clouds.
When Christmas Eve rolls around you’ve got plenty to pick from to ensure your celebrations are as spectacular as your stay. At Nahaam, you can feast on a British-themed menu with its ‘Pardon My Brunch’ event, with a charming and refined evening at this chic poolside restaurant, complete with live music to keep you company. You can nibble on light bites such as octopus carpaccio and beef cecina from ‘The Royal Platter’, freshly-made breads and premium cold cuts at ‘White Chapel’, to really capture the spirit of Christmas in London.
If you’re more of a meat-eater, book in at Ray’s Grill, with a menu curated by Daniel Irvine served at this sophisticated 63rd floor hideaway, renowned for being one of the most impressive and lavish spots in the city. To celebrate Christmas Eve, you can enjoy a beautiful three-course set menu for dinner centred around the best meat cuts in the capital.
For those after a more adults-only affair, reserve a table at VaKaVa for its Adults Christmas Eve Brunch, where you’re invited to gather your amigos and amigas for a night of Latin American celebrations, from the menu to the music. Vibrant, colourful and filled with fabulous flavours from Latin America, the ambience is served with a unique and refreshing Peruvian twist on the plate. There will be uplifting tribal beats, expertly-crafted dishes and artful mixology concoctions from 2-7pm.
When the ‘Big Day’ arrives, you’ll have your pick or parties once again. If you’re feasting en masse, the Nahaam and Sole Christmas Brunch is perfect for the whole family. Set within the bright and welcoming ambience of Nahaam and the chic interiors of city hotspot Sole, you’ll be able to eat and be entertained from 1-4pm.
One for the grown-ups, VaKaVa Christmas Day Brunch promises a day to remember with its adults-only brunch from 2-7pm. You’ll be whisked away to Peru for the day, with a colourful Christmas party fuelled by Central American cuisine, free-flowing drinks and lively Latino vibes. A break with tradition, this will definitely be one for the memory.
If you’re saving your celebrations until after dark, Ray’s Grill will treat you to an opulent Christmas Day dinner from 6.30-11pm, presenting a flawless combination of breathtaking views from the 63rd floor, decadent and expertly curated dishes and premium wines selected from only the world’s finest vineyards. The three-course menu spans premium cut quality meats, spectacular interactive dishes prepared directly at each table and decadent desserts that will immerse you in blissful sweet euphoria.
When you’ve recovered from your festive merriment and New Year’s Eve appears asking if you’re ready for more, make sure the answer is yes! Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers ramps things up even further to help guests bid adieu to 2022. There’s a New Year’s Eve Brunch at Nahaam and Sole, with pizza, pasta, fresh seafood and succulent grilled meats, with upbeat entertainment courtesy of a live band through to midnight.
At Ray’s Grill, you can ring in the New Year watching fireworks over the Abu Dhabi skyline, whilst you fancy the night away at the highest party pad in the city. And VaKaVa, you can turn the page of 2022 with a glass of bubbles, followed by a divine four-course dinner and selection of dishes curated especially for the occasion by VaKaVa’s head chef, Eber Villalobos.
All this celebrating means you’ll need a comfortable bed to retire to once the last drink’s drunk and the music’s switched off. Every room will offer respite from the revelry, whether you choose a King Club Room - Level 45 or a King Premier Family Room With Sea View. If you’re celebrating as a family, the 241sqm Sky Suite With Sea View sleeps five, and has plenty of space to spread out across its warm and contemporary interiors. However, the piece-de-resistance for partying is the Royal Etihad Suite With Sea View. It features four bedroom over 972sqm, meaning eight guests can enjoy a magnificent stay. Beyond the bedrooms, all with unique décor, you’ll find four stylish bathrooms – two with whirlpool baths – two living rooms, a pantry, dining area and incredible panoramic city views.
Once you’ve navigated where to bed down, you can explore the rest of the hotel. To clear your head after a night of celebrating, head to the gym, which is fully-kitted out with TechnoGym equipment, to reward your body with a workout. Take things a little slower with either lengths or lounging by one of the hotel’s three outdoor pools, or amble along 2,200sqm of pristine coastline to breathe in the best of Abu Dhabi’s ocean air.
If you don’t want the festive season indulgence to end quite there, book yourself in for some all-over spoiling at the Conrad Spa. Spread across 1,465sqm, serenity is around every corner – probably just what you need after party season. The menu meanders from private spa rituals to body scrubs, wraps and facials all at the hands of the spa’s intuitive staff.
For the body, book a Thai massage to stretch out any aches and pains, and leave your body relieved and energised, or try a Hot Stone Massage, which places heated stones on specific acupuncture points to help melt away knots, tension and stress.
Choose from a pearl, diamond or platinum signature Amra Hammam to illuminate, hydrate and rejuvenate, or venture on an Amra Pearl Skin Purifier Journey, for an indulgent 150 minutes of body wash, massage and facial. From Christmas Tree lighting to lavish festive brunches to after-dark soirees and sensuous spa journeys, it’s time to make Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers your home for the holidays.
WHAT: Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, UAE