Last year, 12,388 visitors from the UAE spent 27,468 nights in Poland and Saudi Arabia supplied 6,129 visitors who stayed 15,094 nights.
Not content with these figures, Polish Tourism Organisation aims to increase visitors from the GCC to see more of what the country has to offer. TTN was invited to explore the Warsaw and the Northeast region of Warmia and Mazury.
Warsaw, Poland’s biggest city and the capital, is made of 18 districts, which means there is no real city centre. The city is filled with so much history and while they continue to restore different areas of Warsaw to its former glory, at the same time, new buildings are also being built as more domestic and international companies register in the city.
Situated in the centre of Praga district and constitutional square is the Palace of Culture and Science, Poland’s gift from Stalin. This post-war skyscraper can be seem from all over Praga and has been the backdrop of many photo shoots including one in Vogue.
Another interesting place to visit is Warsaw University Library, which includes a botanical garden on its rooftop. The garden, covering one hector, was designed by landscape architect Irenea Bajerska and it one of the largest rooftop gardens in Europe. It is freely accessible to the public and offers great views of the city.
There are many castles and palaces well worth a visit; two that I visited are Baths Palace and Wilandow Palace.
Situated in Lazienki Park, one of the city’s largest parks is the Palace on the Isle, also known as Baths Palace. This belonged to the Last King of Poland Stanisław II Augustus and spans over 70 hectares of beautiful gardens laced with statues and still has some of the original architecture.
On the other side of the city in Wilanow district is Wilanow Palace. This Palace survived both World Wars and so serves as a reminder of the culture of the Polish state as it was before the misfortunes of the 18th century. It looks very much like the Palace of Versailles. Inside you will see the bedrooms of the King and his wife as well as beautiful paintings and models of clothing worn throughout the ages. The gardens are stunning, and include a rose garden.
One of my favourite parts of the tour was Warsaw’s Old Town, which was destroyed after the invasion but was rebuilt after World War II. Old Town Market Place is the true heart of the Old Town, and until the end of the 18th century it was and still is the heart of Old Town (it is quite touristy but that too is part of the charm). Walking through its narrow streets is a must.
The banks of the Vistula, one of the longest and largest rivers in Poland, has become another part of the city that has been rejuvenated where young and old alike can walk, run, bike, skateboard or just hang out. A river cruise is also well worth a trip – especially at sunset.
There are many ways to get around the city from taxis, of course, buses, trams and the fairly new (1995) metro system. Bicycle sharing has become popular in many major cities as well as scooter sharing. However, there is also some tour companies (Adventure Warsaw, and Old Timers) that are offering vintage cars and minivans, which are a fun way to do some site seeing. The Pendolino high speed trains are excellent to get around all of Poland.
Warsaw has a number of malls with local and international brands and includes mid- to high-end designer shops. One unique shop we were able to visit is by the local designer Gosia Baczyńska. Gosia designed the dress Princess Kate wore during her state visit to Poland. You cannot buy anything off the rack at this shop as everything is made to order, bespoke items. Ideal for your high-end clients.
Gastronomy travel is a new trend and the culinary scene in Warsaw is full of some great venues from five-star international cuisine such as Concept 13 located on the top floor of a luxury shopping centre DH VITKAC where you have panoramic views of the city, to DOM WÓDKI where you can pair your meal with the local produced beverage.
STIXX Bar & Gril is a trendy place located in Europejki Square, one of Warsaw’s newest business districts. Flaming & Co, is a favourite spot for Polish celebrities and influencers.
Another trendy and casual site is Hala Koszyki, a restored old market hall where you will find 18 different restaurants concepts to choose from. MOD at Oleandrów Street is well known for the best Ramen noodles where the chef is Singaporean. They are also known for their doughnuts. Be aware, however, due to its popularity, you may have to wait.
Not to forget one of Poland’s renown chocolatiers Wedel Choclatier where you can not only enjoy a wide choice of chocolate, but a huge menu just for hot chocolate.
There are plenty of hotels in Warsaw, with more opening (Nobu is due to open in 2020). Situated in Praqa City Centre is Hotel Warszawa, part of the Likus Group that have hotels, restaurants and historic houses around Poland. Hotel Warsawa withstood the war and has been renovated to its current five-star glory. Conveniently located to shopping and tourist attractions like the Palace of Science and Culture, the hotel offers standard rooms, suites and a penthouse along with spa and conference facilities. The restaurants too are unique with one being underground and the other on the roof with panoramic views of the city. Raffles and the Bristol Hotel are two other luxury brands you may want to consider.
Less than a two-hour fast train journey from the Central Railway station, is the region of a 1,000 Lakes – the Warmia & Mzaury in the North East of Poland. Many activities are available from the Marina or along the lake into the countryside. Located on top of a hill, overlooking the lake is the Grand Hotel Tiffi, a 155 room and apartment luxury hotel. Grand Hotel Tiffi also houses the luxury Dharma Spa with 20 treatment rooms and a vast spa menu with qualified therapist from the Far East. The spa also has an indoor seawater swimming pool and Jacuzzi with views over the lake. There is a fitness centre and an offer of individual yoga and meditation sessions, run by a master from India.
I would suggest getting a car or a guided tour and driving around the area where you can find Elblag Canal, built to connect the Prussian Oberland with the Baltic sea in the 19th century. This canal uses a unique pully system to transport the boats over land into the next river channel.
For the golf enthusiast, The Sand Valley Golf & Country Club, the home of the Polish Open in 2013 and 2014 offers a 18-hole championship par 72 course designed as an inland links layout with great views around the valley. Within the club are luxury houses that can be rented for a stay and play package. The club has plans to add a spa and wellness centre in the very near future.
Not far from the golf course is Hotel SPA by Dr Irena Eris. This property belongs to the biggest Polish cosmetic company and is known to be one of the best spas in the country. It is situated in an unspoilt, picturesque park giving you a full sense of relaxation. This hotel would be an ideal spot to unwind from the hustle and bustle of city life or to rejuvenate and detox.
Just next door to Hotel Spa by Dr Irena Eris is a Stara Szkoła (The Old school) a guesthouse converted into an inn from a former school building in the late 19th century. This family-ran inn has five bedrooms, but can sleep up to 20 guest. The hosts are famous for the gastronomy including cheese that they make themselves on site, no preservatives added.
From this inn and Dr Irena’s Hotel, a number of activities are available from kayaking and biking in the summer to cross country skiing in the winter.
Located in a small village Motegi, another unique experience is a 50-room and suite 19th century palace Pałac Mortęgi Hotel and Spa. Newly renovated, this complex consists of a 14th century Palace, many grange buildings, a mini zoo where you can pet and feed the animals. A stable with a schooling ring and an English-style park, but best of all, is a ride in a horse and carriage. They have a beautifully appointed carriage for weddings too. There is a children’s supervised playroom while the parents relax either in the restaurants or the well-appointed spa.
* Discover more about Poland on stand EU1500
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.