Hotel review: Yas Viceroy, Abu Dhabi
I stayed a solitary night at the Yas Viceroy. What could one learn in such a short space of time? Well quite a lot actually and I really wished I could have stayed longer to experience more of its magic.
There are few things one has to realise when evaluating the Yas Viceroy. Its edge-of-town, island location is ideal for its signature race track and associated events (at Yas Marina circuit) but it can be a drawback when meeting clients and holding events. Due to the choking traffic it can take 20-45 minutes or so to get there from the middle of town. The locals don’t embrace such car journeys. That said, I like the ambition and vision of the owners and their drive to exploit the race track for health and fitness activity – something which is in its infancy in this part of the world.
The architecture is stunning. The ‘Gridshell’ design is world renowned with a 219 metre expanse of swirling steel enveloping the structure and 5,096 diamond shaped panels providing a ‘veil’ that drapes over the two hotel towers. A bridge links both towers and crosses the Yas Marina Circuit, so you revel in the surreal experience of F1 cars racing below as you pass between both structures.
The rooms maintain that organic flow with built in technology encased in sweeping walls with glass, porcelain and Carrara marble contrasting with the softness of leather and Egyptian linen. Contemporary meets complete comfort.
The focus on health and diversity can be seen in the varied menu choices in the restaurants. Executive Chef Michel Jost refers to this initiative as ‘using farm fresh ingredients and proper cooking techniques, with simple presentation focusing on taste’. I personally enjoyed the simplicity of Head Chef Andrea Pastore’s rustic, regional Italian dishes at ‘Amici’ and the light airiness of the Yas Lounge for pastries, sandwiches and terrines. Breakfast is a must in the modern, light, white environs of ‘Origins’ with its International buffet. One cannot forget to mention the chilled atmosphere of Skylite, with its incredible rooftop views – perfect for a nightcap.
The hotel really goes up a notch in the subtle but meaningful Viceroy touches – think boutique Californian chic while maintaining a modern Middle-Eastern sensibility. There’s an open, expansive and welcoming lobby area. This has helped foster a relaxed, sociable environment with a gentle ebb and flow of guests and visitors and a genuine, easy going interaction with staff.
The vision for the hotel doesn’t stop there. There is a programme of events designed to utilise the track for a range of sporting activities around health and well-being. It’s now used for cycling and jogging and an events programme is planned around health awareness issues, something that certainly needs to be addressed in Abu Dhabi.
Many argue the whole Yas Island project is the future of Abu Dhabi. Its modernist, futuristic feel and international service levels certainly supports that view. It also boasts Ferrari World Abu Dhabi (the world’s largest indoor theme park), Yas Links Abu Dhabi – an 18 hole Championship golf course, a VIP marina, Yas Marina & Yacht Club, a water park and Yas Mall, a dynamic retail experience (opening 2014). That makes the option of a stay at Yas Viceroy that much more enticing.