They say, “You don’t always get what you wish for.
You get what you work for!”
Our premium partners Etihad Airways ran a promotion for TCIL staff from January to April 2016. You sell, you win! Tejal Deo, Deepti Satam, Ram Mhaske and myself (Rajesh Malkani) from the Corporate Travel team were determined to make the most of this opportunity. The hard work paid off, and to our delight we won an all-expenses paid trip to the capital of the UAE – Abu Dhabi. They certainly got what they worked for!
For our outward journey we were on an Airbus A321 aircraft — very comfortable seating, very hospitable crew and great on-board entertainment. For the return flight we got a chance to experience the Airbus A380, the double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner.
We were welcomed at the Hotel Hilton with a glass of iced tea, before being taken to our rooms overlooking the beach club and the city. We had a packed schedule the next day, which we began by fortifying ourselves with organic date muffins– the Chef’s Special– which were delicious!
Shiva (the SNTTA representative), our guide for the day, took us on a city tour, showing us the Emirates palace, Heritage Village, Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, is considered the key site of worship in the city. Constructed from 1996 to 2007, it is the largest mosque in the UAE, large enough to accommodate approxomately 40000 visitors/worshippers. Its design and construction “unite the world’’ as artisans from India, UK, Pakistan, Iran, China were involved in its construction. It is a place of superlatives! The courtyard, with its floral design is considered the largest example of marble mosaic in the world. The carpet in the main prayer hall is reputed to be the world’s largest carpet (fabric-wool and weighs 35 tons) made by Iran’s Carpet Company, and designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi. The walls feature traditional Kufic calligraphy, and the mosque has 7 imported chandeliers from Germany incorporated with Swarovski crystals.
Our next stop was Ferrari World which is an amusement park located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It is the first and only Ferrari-branded theme park and has the record for the largest space frame structure ever built. Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, is also located here. We had a great time experiencing all the attractions at this theme park, including – ‘Made in Maranello– Tour of Ferrari History’, ‘Bell’ Italia- Tour of miniature Italy’ and ‘Flying Aces- the World’s Tallest Non-inverting Loop’. We also had a chance to witness the Tyre Change Show, and purchase some cool Ferrari merchandise!
The next day it was ‘good bye’ to Abu Dhabi and ‘hello’ to Dubai. Our thanks to Maria who again ensured we had a seamless check-out .
The Howard Johnson in Bur Dubai was our home for the next 3 days. Our time in this exciting city was filled with interesting events. An evening Dhow Cruise with dinner, was followed by a half day city tour the next day, the Deira Dubai. This took us to the old part of the city, incorporating the Grand Mosque, Jumeirah Palm, Jumeirah Beach and the imposing Atlantis. Our guide showed us the famous gold souks (Mina Bazaar), but decided not to stop as he feared that the ladies would spent the entire day there! In the afternoon, we were in for some adventure with the Dessert Safari, followed by the renowned belly dancing and fire shows. We were also treated to a delicious barbeque dinner.
No trip to Dubai is complete without a visit to the Dubai Mall, with its fascinating Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo (with King Croc as a special attraction).
The Musical Fountain was a delight. But the highlight was seeing the iconic Burj Khalifa. It is the tallest structure in the world, standing at 829.8 mts. Its construction began in 2004, with the exterior completed in 2009. An outdoor observation deck, named At the Top, opened on 5th January 2010 on the 124th. floor, followed by the 148th. floor Sky level at 555 m. A total of 57 elevators and 8 escalators are installed.We were told that the elevator would take us to the 124th. floor in 60 secs and then onward to the Sky level in 23 seconds! Awesome.
Before we knew it, the trip had come to an end. It was time to go return home! We returned with a bagful of memories, happy experiences, and a feeling of gratitude.
We would like to thank the entire LT team, Avantika/Ratan/Shabbir, for their wonderful support in planning this trip for us, and ensuring that we had a whale of a time. Khurshid Jussawala too deserves special mention, for without her involvement, this wouldn’t have been such a seamless experience.
Yes, at Thomas Cook, we definitely go further to make dreams come true. But this time it was not only for the customers. Our hard work and perseverance made our own dreams come true too!
Corporate Travel Manager
TCS Implant -Vikhroli