This was going to be a short night.
My flight from London was delayed, rather unusual for Etihad Airways, and by the time I got to the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi it was two in the morning. Nevertheless, Mohamed, the night manager welcomed me outside, under the futuristic blue-lit honeycomb shell with a friendly smile, taking me up through the empty lobby to my suite. The restaurants and retail units had already shut and most guests were asleep, so the corridors and hallways were eerily empty. Add the futuristic design and you feel like you are in a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. By the time we reached the suite I was ready to say, “Open the pod bay door, HAL.”
Whoever captained this space ship must have been a huge Formula 1 fan because he landed it right on top of the Yas Marina Circuit. The race course sweeps around the hotel and even passes under a second floor bridge connecting the two hotel buildings. You definitely can’t get any closer to a track, with views of it even from the spa treatment rooms.
This weekend, when the third annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place at the circuit, the quietness will be gone and the corridors will be full as the F1 circus takes over and the motorsport world will be watching as Sebastian Vettel rides his Red Bull around the track in a thrilling race en route to potentially his third consecutive championship. I saw him win here in 2009, when Abu Dhabi was the last race in the calendar and he claimed the victory in a dramatic finish, followed by a lavish party at the hotel. This year, there are two more races after this one, so when the F1 circus moves on to Austin, Texas, the spaceship that is the Viceroy Abu Dhabi will again touchdown for a quiet landing.
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