I arrived back from Abu Dhabi just a few weeks ago and I don’t think my heart rate has returned to normal yet.

What a time we all had!

This was our first event in the Middle East and as such we were welcoming a considerable amount of new faces into the Connections family — so there was a lot to plan and so many new people to meet.

I was particularly nervous about my entrance on Monday morning. For those of you who didn’t manage to make it last week, I decided to begin my opening keynote by walking slowly into the Yas Viceroy ballroom with a stunning Falcon on my arm.

I mean a real Falcon — named Farran.

My daughters still can’t believe it, despite photographic evidence to the contrary! My youngest wondered if our photographer Jack had ‘photoshopped’ the Falcon on to my arm!

That majestic bird was just one of the variety of experiences we had arranged for our buyers and suppliers to enjoy together.

I loved every moment of Connections Luxury Abu Dhabi. I truly did.

I arrived on the Thursday beforehand to help organise and setup. Some of the team had flown out from London a few days ahead of me to look after things like sign printing, table plans and final visits to the various external activities we’d arranged.

It was so exciting to see our buyers and suppliers begin to arrive throughout the Saturday and Sunday — and then as we whisked them off to the gorgeous Cipriani restaurant on the other side of the Marina, I remember thinking, “And here we go again as I stepped up to the microphone to welcome everyone.”

I knew the days were about to compress into a blur. And so they did! One moment I was striding into the Viceroy ballroom with Farran on my arm and then… woosh, like a music interlude from a hit movie, I’m continually reliving a series of memorable scenes from the event.

Here’s just a few:

– Walking into the Yas Viceroy on Sunday and realising the team from Etihad Airways had actually brought a full size mock-up of their Residence apartment from their A380. It was simply brilliant — and that’s where they did their meetings during the event.

– Seeing videos of our delegates working together in teams to beat the clock to change the wheels of a Formula 1 car on the pit lane at the Yas Marina circuit.

– Watching the sea of white chef hats bobbing up and down during the cook-your-own-lunch group experience in the Viceroy’s Rush nightclub.

– Drawing the curtains back in the opulent Emirates Palace ballroom to surprise everyone with the tables laid out on the stage!

– Witnessing Rob from Amadeus show off his country ‘skillz’ catching chickens in the desert at the Bedouin Camp.
– Looking up to the giant scRob Sinclair - Barnes - Amadeusreens in the Yas Viceroy ballroom to momentarily find a shot of me, mouth agape, holding on for dear life as I was being driven around the Yas Marina circuit in a ‘drift taxi’. Oh, the adrenalin I felt after that! (Here’s that photo!)

Oh… and the ‘dronie’ video shot by Greg from Travizeo. Have you seen it? It’s on Instagram right now.

Of course the best memories are of meeting the delegates. It was a total delight to welcome back now familiar friends and a real joy to meet so many new luxury industry professionals. Thanks again to Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, we couldn’t have done it without you!

After almost three days of continual networking, it was actually quite a relief to jump on the Etihad flight back to London. We’ve allowed ourselves a few days to taking things easy … but that’s it, now the focus must shift to our next event: Beijing, in just a few weeks time.

If you’d like to find out more about Connections Luxury Beijing, our upcoming Connections Luxury events or perhaps our all new Connections Meeting event (this December in the Algarve) please don’t be a stranger: Drop me an email at [email protected] or pick up the phone and I will be delighted to discuss.

I’m off to plan for Beijing!

Before I go… check out our event gallery on Flickr.

And of course, here’s the amazing Travizeo Dronie: