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A week in the life of an international estate agent

publication date: May 21, 2007
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author/source: James Wyatt
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I regularly check-in to flights on-line the day before travelling. I can choose my seat, and it saves time at the airport so I can shave a few minutes from my driving time from home or office. Dangerous, as I found out the other day. There was a crash on the M25, and despite Gatwick being only 30 minutes from the office, I came perilously close to missing my flight. I was forced to park in the short term car park; running to the gate etc. In the past, I’ve joined the M25 at Heathrow, bound for Stansted, and found the motorway closed and had to drive all the way round the ‘wrong’ way via Dartford to catch the flight by a matter of two or three minutes.

If only I was sensible and looked forward to two or three hours of shopping at the airport rather than a maniac race to get there at the last moment. Even better would to be to be a VIP and have a limousine take me to the airport in complete calm; whisked through fast-track into my first class seat. Oh to be terribly important.

Tuesday

After four days in Excel at the London Golf Show exhibiting our foreign golf resort properties, I squeeze in a few hours at the office before catching the flight to Paphos in Cyprus. It takes four hours, so there’s time to watch a film (Hugh Grant in Music and Lyrics – brainless amusement, perfect for whiling away the time!)

Wednesday

After a night at the swish Intercontinental Hotel at Aphrodite Hills, I meet up with their director of property sales, Nicos. We are due to hold a promotional evening for the resort soon at our office, and I need to see what the resort is all about. It has a great golf course with views over the Mediterranean and dotted around are super villas with infinity pools – yours for just under a million pounds. There are decent sized apartments too from £235,000.

After stopping by the golf Clubhouse – staffed by Brits – I have to experience the spa. Now, I’m not really a spa kind of person. It’s all a bit girly for me, and spa prices make my eyes water. But this is strictly work, and it’s free. I get a full Swedish massage from Becki of Southend-on-Sea, and then try out the saunas, pool, Jacuzzi and so on. It’s packed with chattering ladies, who are all travel Agents also on a freebie.

Soon it’s time to go home. Cyprus is quite a way for one day, but it would be fine for a three day weekend.

Monday

I’m bound for Abu Dhabi today. Matters have improved and I’m in business class on Qatar Airways. The service is astonishing. There are huge 15 inch seat-back monitors. Video on demand means you can choose when to start, stop or pause from an enormous selection of films, TV shows and listen to an endless choice of music albums. There is even live TV. At Doha, limos line up for each first class passenger, luxury coaches with comfy sofa chairs for business passengers, and economy passengers crammed into the usual buses. There are 2 terminals – one for economy passengers, and one for business and first class passengers. This is VIP service gone mad!

I eventually arrive in Abu Dhabi and find my ordinary hotel and prepare for the exhibition – only to fine that there is no internet connection available.

Tuesday

ADNEC is a brand new exhibition facility. It took just 8 months to build. Not bad for 300,000 square feet. I park in the serf’s car park. The VIP car park is somewhat bigger which gives you an idea about Abu Dhabi. The VIP entrance into the building is very busy, so my non VIP paupers free ticket has some advantage in getting me through the gates quickly.

Abu Dhabi is starting a quite humungous building boom. The Emirate is very considerably richer than its next door neighbour Dubai. Some say 100 times richer. Dubai has its problems – the new skyscrapers are going up, new Islands being constructed – but someone forgot about the infrastructure. The result is unbelievable traffic chaos all day every day. Abu Dhabi has clearly watched Dubai and hopefully has learned lessons. 3 and 4 lane highways cross the city, and traffic is generally light.

The exhibition is a clear indication of how serious Abu Dhabi is about its new projects. Figures range from $400-600 billion under construction or about to be.

Wednesday

After a morning of meetings at the exhibition, a number of us are invited to have drinks at the Emirates Palace Hotel. Words cannot describe this place, but empty, cold and spooky come to mind. It is also out-of-this-world amazing as well. There are only about 350 bedrooms, but the public spaces are so vast that it really does feel almost empty. We’re given a bit of information about the place – most hotels have a Presidential Suite – this hotel has 16 of them, and they’re 7,500 square feet each.

VIP signs are everywhere. In fact, the hotel has two floors of entrance lobbies. One for the likes of me, and one for the posh lot. They get a separate car park too.

As I cross the city, heading back to my hotel, I’m struck by how green this city is. Beautiful lush green parks are everywhere and the main boulevards have thick grass verges and palm trees. Ridiculous really, considering this is desert, and it’s 40 degrees.

Thursday

On my way to the exhibition hall, I pick up a copy of the local daily newspaper, the Gulf News. It is the size of the Sunday Times, although at 25p a lot cheaper. Every day it has 200 pages of property advertising. Another reminder of this incredible boom market.

There are various Sheiks visiting today, always with numerous TV crews and cameramen following them around. I didn’t catch a single name because they are all so long, although I gather the current ruler has the catchy name of Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan!

It was noticeable that there are a large number of Brits working in Abu Dhabi. One of these is Ronald Barrott who is now Chief Operating Officer of Aldar who have just announced the building of a Ferrari Theme park. A bit different to office blocks in London.

Time to leave the land of the VIP. I head home at the back of the plane, transiting through the economy terminal at Doha. Definitely not a VIP.

James Wyatt MNAEA, MARLA, TRC, REALTOR ® Barton Wyatt International T:01344 843000 www.bartonwyatt.co.uk