While Dubai might have started the United Arab Emirates hospitality arms-race, Abu Dhabi is now seeing its patient approach bear fruit.
Last year the destination welcomed the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi to rave reviews, while a series of further investments are planned for 2018.
Yas Island, in many ways where it all began for Abu Dhabi, also continues to shine, recently recognised as the World’s Leading Tourism Development Project by the World Travel Awards.
Initially launched in 2006 by Aldar Properties, Yas Island has the goal of turning the location into a leading destination for tourists and business travellers from around the world.
More than $40 billion has been invested to develop the island, which is set to complete an additional phase of construction in 2018.
Each year it holds the Etihad Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix and welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests throughout the year to its many attractions.
At its heart is Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, a temple to the Italian manufacturers passion, heritage, excellence, innovation and performance.
Jesse Vargas, general manager, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, explains: “We love transforming Ferrari World Abu Dhabi throughout the year to mark important days and festive celebrations, and the winter season is the most dramatic.
“Winterfest has always been a favourite for our guests from all over the world.
“Our team has put great efforts in creating a vivid contrast between a serene snowy scene, and the Park’s fiery red Ferrari theme, making for a unique celebratory setting for our guests to enjoy each other’s company during the most magical month of the year.”
True to his word, the experience was everything I hoped when we visited.
The fifth edition of Winterfest brings to the park, for the very first time, the magic Fairytales on Ice show.
A group of award winning international ice skaters will enchant guests to a fairy-tale world throughout their different acts which include Adagio, Hula Hoop, Flying Kites and Soloist & High Skaters.
And, bigger and better than ever, Bjorn, the polar bear, is back along with an epic snow play area, a magical interactive elf school for the little ones, a candy cane hunt, and tons more.
All this is, of course, offered alongside Ferrari World Abu Dhabi’s thrilling rides.
Each area and attraction in the park brings to life a different part of the Ferrari story, from Cinema Maranello, with its film about Enzo Ferrari, to Formula Rossa, capturing the speed, power and freedom of an F1 car.
When I arrived, we realised it is a place to go where every member of the family will get to enjoy because of the variety of rides and activities that cater to all ages.
My nine-year-old son had a great time at Fiorani GT Challenge and Tyre Twist.
Here you can release your competitive streak and race friends on twisting parallel tracks in a Ferrari F430 Spider.
The circuit is based on real GT racecourses, so brace yourself for furious hairpin turns and exhilarating straights as you reach speeds of up to 95km/h.
His endurance and climbing agility were also tested at the Junior Training Camp.
He came out of the camp with more confidence after braving the heights of the wall he climbed.
My four-year-old daughter had her own share of exciting experiences at the Bell’Italia as she drove around and explored miniature Italy with mum at the passenger seat.
Younger ones can enjoy a leisurely change of speed and explore miniature Italy in a small-scale Ferrari 250 California, circa 1958.
From breath-taking cityscapes to famous landmarks and racing venues, tour the picturesque Portofino and the Amalfi Coast, Monza Racetrack, the Colosseum di Roma, Venezia, and of course, Maranello.
For mum and dad, breath-stopping experiences like the Turbo Truck, Flying Ace, and Formula Rossa are “must-try rides”.
These rides would definitely make one scream from start to finish, an experience worth sharing to friends.
The family had fun together at the Speed of Magic and Benno’s Great Race.
Made at Maranello is also a must try to those who have an insatiable curiosity about the manufacturing car process.
The attraction allows you to go on an in-depth tour of the Ferrari factory and discover how a Ferrari GT is made.
Previously a privilege reserved only Ferrari owners, you’ll gain an exclusive insight into the entire manufacturing process – from the early design stages, to the machining of engine parts and painting, right to the final hand assembly and testing on Ferrari’s Fiorano Circuit.
It will give a full insight of the Ferrari car making the process of designing, painting, and actual testing.
Of course, one day is not enough to see it all – so we’ll certainly be heading back.
Take a look at a series of images from Ferrari World Abu Dhabi here.