We had finally decided we needed to take some time out, as a family. We had a rough year, Layla’s first year had not gone as planned, hence, time out was important – recharge the batteries. So, we looked for 5 main things when picking a holiday destination,
- Easy to get too.
- Somewhere we could ‘relax’.
- A place that wasn’t going to break the bank.
- Warm weather.
- A wide range of things to do.
Our choice, Abu Dhabi.
- Etihad fly direct from almost every destination to Abu Dhabi, however searching for flights from Pula airport was a challenge in March, during the summer extra flights are allocated and travel is a breeze. Our flight — total travel time was 11 hours, Pula-Zagreb-Frankfurt-Abu Dhabi, with 1 hours stop overs (probably not the best idea with a toddler who wants to walk and explore, but we managed). Regardless, the flight times to Frankfurt were short, and the main flight was 5.5 hours.
- If we knew how much we would have relaxed here, we would have spent an extra 10 days. This place, from start to finish was so accommodating. We landed and right outside every gate were pram’s to place your child in. Every single security officer and customs agent gave priority to families with children, so exiting the airport was a breeze and then at the baggage carousel staff take your ticket, collect your bags and take it to either your taxi or car. We rented a car so they showed us where to pick it up, waited for us to pick it up and placed the luggage in the car, we literally did not lift a finger. (Payment of 20 Dirham, but the service was extraordinary). The hotel, has staff outside the entry, to open car doors, order taxis and take your car, park it and retrieve it when you need it again. Once again we didn’t touch our luggage, it was taken up to our room. I loved the fact, that everything just felt easy, stress free, it made going places a breeze.
- We stayed at the Raddison Blu @ Yas Island. A 4.5 star hotel. We stayed in a Deluxe sea view suite, 74m2 that consisted of separate lounge, 2 bathrooms, a bedroom and huge balcony overlooking the hotel pool, golf course and beach. The room came with VIP access to a business suite where only adults were allowed, so it didn’t quiet work for us. But regardless the hotel offered many amenities, breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, live music, a salon, spa, beautiful pools, kid pools, playgrounds and nanny services. Right across the street was a hair salon, barber and nail salon. The staff members were amazing and everyone who seen Layla would engage with her; which she loved. We unfortunately didn’t try the nanny services as we had no time in-between going places, swimming and Layla’s sleep.
- Ahhh the weather, I had been to Abu Dhabi once before and it was extremely humid and hot. I knew this going into it but I was actually pleasantly surprised, the weather was perfect, 30-35 degrees everyday but it wasn’t humid, it was airy, with a beautiful breeze
- Abu Dhabi does it all, the resort feeling, the beach, the city, the shopping, the theme parks and anything you can think of.
Why we chose YAS Island.
The first time I went to Abu Dhabi I spent it smack bang in the middle of the city centre. It was easy to commute, you can do so without a car and even if you needed a ride taxis are everywhere and the fare is reasonable. Plenty of sights to see, sky scrapers, malls and close to Corniche beach. However, it was packed, people, cars, shops everything. It wasn’t what we were hoping for on a ‘relaxing’ holiday. However right before I was supposed to leave Abu Dhabi, literally the last 2 hours of my stay, I made a quick trip to Yas Mall and luckily I did.
Entering Yas Island itself was an experience on its own, clean, simple, quiet and beautiful, a world of difference from the city. It was full of parks, greenery, playgrounds and surrounded by the beach. The Man-Made Island was a resort in itself, however you do need a car to commute especially if you want to head into the centre, but if you’re planning to stay around Yas Island, taxi fares won’t be much as most of the good stuff for kids is on the Island.
THINGS TO DO:
The worlds largest indoor theme park that caters for groups of all ages, the layout is categorised into sections, “For Little Champions”, “Family Fun” and “Fast Fun” so it is easy to find where you belong. The centre also has plenty of restaurants and cafe’s to cater for everyone’s individual needs, which is good as they do not allow food or water into the park. During the time we were there they actually transformed the place into a winter wonderland. They had Disney on ice and figure skating shows, then held snowball tournaments for everyone to join in. My daughter was 16 months at the time and she absolutely loved it. The only con I would have to say is the fact that entry is paid separately 295 AED for adults, and 230 AED for juniors, children under 3 have free entry, but then inside there are many attractions that are excluded and require extra payment. One thing that we did was book our tickets online, you save 10% if you book 3 days prior!
Yas Water World
Again a park that caters for all age groups. Over 45 rides and a huge variety of foods. It also offers different pools sizes and activities based on age groups which is great. From the outside the park doesn’t look all that big but once inside there is a good 3-4 hours of things to do. A con is that they do not allow flip-flops on the rides so It’s not really practical to walk around in flip-flops from ride to ride, however without shoes the ground gets really hot and almost becomes unbearable to walk on, one of the shops sell water socks which help to not burn your feet. If you can definitely hire a cabana especially if you have children, when its full shade is tough to find, so a cabana provides a private area to relax, a safe to keep your things, sun-beds and towels to use. It also has a fridge full of cold drinks and flannels. A little luxury but well worth it.
A Private beach club that offers many amenities for kids and adults. Entry for the day was included in our hotel fare so we didn’t have to pay. I loved the fact everything was clean. It was also easy to keep our 16 month old entertained, there was a shaded splash pool with a waterfall, but the actual beach was fine for her too as it was fairly shallow and there are no waves. Once she got tired of the water staff give out shovels, buckets and anything kids need to play in the sand. There was a beautiful beach vibe with a on site DJ and bars for drinks and snacks.
Roaming outside of Yas island, my next favourite spot was Corniche beach. Extremely well maintained and beautiful views. The beach provides long walking paths, clear water, water activities, cafe’s, restaurants and plenty of playgrounds for the kids. The stretch of Corniche has all different sectors to cater for different groups, there is a section allocated for only families, private sections that belong to the hotels however can enter for a fee and the public section. Just across the road there is a parkland, consisting of a number of playgrounds all for different age groups, a splash play area and more food outlets.
Emirates park zoo Abu Dhabi Resort
I had been to plenty of Zoos before, but the only reason I am referring this one as its extremely hands on. I hadn’t been to any zoo that lets you feed giraffes, elephants even tigers, so it was an absolutely extraordinary experience in that aspect. The zoo itself isn’t large but is perfect for activity to kill some time and relax. There is a much larger zoo about half an hour away, Al Ain Zoo. For those who are wanting to see more animals, this one has over 4000.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The architectural beauty of this mosque is incredible — No matter how hot Abu Dhabi gets the marble floors will always
be cool for people to walk and pray on. The mosque is the third-largest in the world holding unto 40,000 people. There is no entry fee, but there is specific entry times for tourists. Men and women are expected to dress respectfully, but in the case you aren’t there is traditional clothing available at the entrance. Not much for kids to do, but my daughter was mesmerised by the water and marble floors.
This huge mall, I’ve put here for a few reasons, not only does it have a huge variety of stores from clothes, makeup to food but it also has amazing scenery. For the kids they provide cars to drive in, with the addition of an I pad, of-course. But the mall also has so many children stores – the Tryano store; which provides tables for colouring, seats and a merry go around that the staff members patiently play however many times, Toy Shop Hamley/Toy Shop Store; both of which do free activities for the kids and lastly, Fun Works; a huge indoor entertainment centre this place covers everything for kids, again all ages, from a soft play area for toddlers to huge slide’s for the older kids.
Oh, and I cannot forget, theres Nando’s too!