> WHEN YOU GO:
Get there: I flew Etihad Airways (Etihad.com), which boasts inflight chefs in business class. There is direct service from Toronto to Abu Dhabi three times a week.
Get around: Taxis are clean, safe, cheap and easy to find outside hotels and malls. It takes about 30 minutes from Yas Island to the city centre and costs about $20. The airport run is about $6. There is a bike share program and free shuttle to the mall, golf course, Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and the beach.
Stay: The five-star Viceroy Yas Abu Dhabi (viceroyhotelsandresorts.com) is a stunning building that reminded me of the Beijing Olympics’ Bird’s Nest National Stadium. It sits partially over the swimming pool-blue lanes of the F1 Yas Marina Circuit racetrack. There are 11 restaurants, including massive Origins international breakfast buffet. It is very close to the airport and jets take off and land roundthe-clock. It’s a cab ride to downtown.
Visit the desert: Etihad’s excursions arm, Hala (etihad.com/en-us/halaabu-dhabi), has desert safaris starting at $68 (U.S.) per adult, including overnight, full and half day and sun- rise and sunset options, plus other day trips including a falcon tour.
Booking a stopover: Fly on an Etihad Airways economy class ticket connecting through Abu Dhabi and you can add a two-night stay in the city. Stopovers are arranged when you book your ticket, either going over or returning home. Hala hosts a variety of tours to add on. Don’t have two days? A $44 package gets travellers with a six-to-12-hour layover either nine holes and club rental at par 3 Yas Links golf course or a day pool pass.
Do your research: visitabudhabi.ae