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April 5, 2013

We’ve Got a Design Crush on Yas Viceroy Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Move over Dubai, Abu Dhabi is getting a branch of the Guggenheim and Louvre & boasts this killer, 21st-century hotel

By Nancy Staab

Feast your eyes on this desert fox, designed by world-famous architecture firm Asymptote. It has an ever-changing LED-lit carapace, hugs a Formula 1 racetrack and a marina, and is situated on a posh island. The five-star property was also recently taken over by the prestigious Viceroy Hotel Group. Here’s everything you need to know to check in and check it out.

Yas Viceroy Hotel in Abu Dhabi Yas Viceroy Hotel in Abu Dhabi

“Asymptote” is a fancy geometry term for a curve that approaches but does not become a line. And this is fitting, since the Yas Viceroy hotel was designed by NYC architecture firm Asymptote; and the hotel's design is nothing but a series of sweeping, stunning, sensuous curves. The hotel even won a 2011 Design Award from Travel and Leisure magazine, which cited: “This 499-room hotel has a brave-new-world bravado and future-is-now daring to spare: two 12-story steel-and-glass towers connected by a bridge, under which fantastically fast cars speed during Formula One races…”

Yes, you heard that right, the entire complex is built around a state of the art, circular, Formula One track in Abu Dhabi. The modern complex is also situated on a posh island and hugs the Yas marina. But most dramatic of all is the hotel’s LED-panelled  “canopy” that shifts colors from purple, to blue, to red, and is mirrored in the marina’s waters below. The pixilated grid-shell can also incorporate video, like a gigantic electronic billboard. Wallpaper magazine calls it a “shimmering metallic cloud.”

Whatever the metaphor, this futuristic Kubla Khan is truly an escapist fantasy with major design credentials. Recent new ownership by Viceroy Hotel Group (owner of chic boutique properties in Palm Springs, Anguilla, Miami, Maldives, Istanbul etc.) only ups its style ante. Sure, there are luxe, air-conditioned mega malls, old world souks, acres of verdant golf course, yachts for cruising, Ferarri World, and more attractions within easy reach of the hotel—Abu Dhabi is a 20-minute drive and Dubai is only 45 minutes away. But why leave Yas hotel, when the property boasts 13 restaurants and lounges, a pampering ESPA spa, and virtually every amenity at your fingertips? Even the rooms have cool features. There’s all the expected digital bells and whistles like high speed wireless Internet connections, but there’s also all-glass bathrooms with rain showers and soaking tubs, and a switch so you can custom-control the mood lighting.

For dining there’s a restaurant to suit nearly every whim: seafood, Japanese, Italian, Arabian,  Sushi, Thai or Tandoori-oven specialties and  tea and sweets in the lobby’s lounge. In the ESPA spa, try a mineral sea salts scrub, a rosehip exfoliation, or therapeutic massage. And for nightlife: check out the two pool bars; international DJ’s at the design-centric Rush Bar (from the team behind the Buddha Bars); or the stunning, high-fashion Skylite lounge on the atmospheric roof deck. Speed junkies should book their stay for Nov. 1-3 to catch the Formula One, Grand Prix Abu Dhabi race.


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