Toronto Star



Get there: I flew Etihad Airways (, 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 (viceroyhot­elsandreso­ 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 (, 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: visitabudh­

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