Sheraton Khalidiya Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Last week of November, I had a meeting in Abu Dhabi. This is my 2nd time to visit Abu Dhabi, and I have to say that I didn’t explore anything there at all when I went there for the first time. We were offered a couple of decent corporate rates for other hotels, but I’ve decided to stick to my Starwood Preferred Guest Program and give this property a visit. I was given a good rate for a Preferred room which included a breakfast buffet, internet access at your room during the stay, access to the executive lounge for drinks and snacks and round-trip airport transportation. The hotel is located around 45 minutes away from AUH airport depending on the traffic in the city. The hotel is inconveniently located at a traffic light and the parking space is very limited, so for those who wish to rent a car and stay at this hotel, watch out. The area around the hotel is commercial, meaning the availability of all kinds of services and food outlets. You can walk around and explore it, but be careful of the traffic. People drive like madmen in the Gulf region, not excluding UAE. The reception of the hotel is located at the mezzanine level and I had a breezy check-in. I have requested express laundry service for ironing and pressing and the gentleman at the reception desk explained that the hotel doesn’t have laundry service and it’s outsourced. That was inconvenient for me, and he tried to fix it by sending in an ironing board and a steam iron. I was given a room was pretty far away from the lifts and I hate the trip to reach it.

The following shots are of the Preferred Guest room

The room furnishing was good and up to standards. I’ve checked the room service menu and like other properties of Starwood, the rates are a bit high for regular items such as sandwiches and finger food. I think Starwood should re-evaluate their pricing. What I didn’t like about the room was the bathroom. It was not up to standards at all. No shower box and the structure of the bathroom is old. The wired connection for internet didn’t work so I had to go wireless, which was fast enough though the signal was weak. I would recommend this hotel only for business travelers staying for a night or two at maximum. Otherwise, there are other hotels which are comfortably located next to malls and shopping centers.

Plaza Premium Lounge, MCT

During my last trip to Oman in early August, I’ve visited this lounge on our trip back to KWI. There are only two lounges in MCT airport and they are Oman Air Lounge and Plaza Premium Lounge. Both lounges are located right past the immigration check point. Since me and my buddy are holders of Priory Pass card, we were allowed in. The lounge had a private isolated section for smoking, which was what we wanted. The lounge was empty, except of two travelers and a bar tender who didn’t seem interested in servicing. The lounge is very spacious and aside from the seating areas as seen below, there’s a private section in the back with sleeper seats to doze off a bit before boarding your flight.  Showers were available next to the bathrooms, but they were locked for no obvious reason.

The food buffet was good. It had some Indian hot dishes including chicken curry, white rice and some vegetarian items as well. A salad bar was available and I enjoyed it the most, since I don’t tend to eat spicy food before boarding a flight. Potato Chip snacks and cookies were offered as well. Overall, this is pretty decent lounge and has a good capacity of seating as well as the general atmosphere.

Gulf Air Lounge, DXB

Getting ready to board my flight after leaving my hotel, I’ve decided to visit The Gulf Air Lounge in DXB Terminal 1 since I’m a holder of a business class ticket. It’s located at gate 122, where it’s the regular gate for Gulf Air flights. Admittance is for Gulf Air Golden Falcon ticket holders or Gold/Silver members of Gulf Air or its partners. More info is available at Lounge Guide.

This is the entrance of lounge

As you can see, Gulf Air lounges in BAH and DXB share the same aspect of having a tent-like seating area for a taste of originality.

Gulf Air serves Hot and Cold dishes on their buffet bar, which is a lot better than those big global airlines with lousy lounges (Lufthansa), aside from hot and cold drinks as well as you can from the far right side here

The lounge was pretty quiet when I have arrived. Mainly three travelers beside me. The reading materials were limited to newspapers and business/finance magazines. They had a shower room with towels for those who like to refresh. The space is very limited here, and it did get a bit crowded after 4:30 PM.

This is a 49 seconds low resolution recording of the lounge by my old Sony Ericsson W890i

 

 

My latest Hobby!

OK, since early November I’ve started this new hobby which I’ve been trying to establish for a while but didn’t seem to have the enough resources for it. I’ve started to collect miniature airplane models scale 1:600.

I’ve gotten these from KWI Duty Free market. Each model went for 3.5 KDs. They have other airlines as well, but I really liked the Gulf Air Blue and Gold models. I need to find some Asian airlines as well.

Is there any specialty store in Kuwait for this scale of models?

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dubai

This is my first post after two months of hiatus due to heavy involvement at work and at home. I do apologize for that. I’m writing today about my experience at Crowne Plaza Hotel  on Sheik Zayed Road in Dubai, UAE. I’ve stayed there for two nights during my last visit and since I’m a platinum member of Priority Club, I felt like giving it a try and see what’s it like down there. I’ve stored the location of the hotel on my Garmin manually in advance since it wouldn’t show on it and it was very easy to locate. I was surprised that the hotel is located within a shopping complex. Subway, McDonald’s and TGI Friday’s could easily be accessed since they were on the hotel’s perimeter. I was told by the valet parking staff that I could either surrender in the car or park it in the back lot. I went and parked it there and it’s to be noted that the parking space was limited since it was shared with other establishments as well. And no one was available to take in your luggage since the hotel is in the mezzanine level, and most of its staff are either there or on the front entrance only.

The regular check-in counters were packed. So I decided to flash my Priority Club Platinum card to get the needed attention and a nice lady greeted me and my buddy on a separate desk space. Me and my buddy were immediately upgraded from standard to club floor rooms. I have to advise that you should request a room away from the elevator because mine was like two doors down and the elevator rings are very audible at my room all day long.

I have to admit that the furniture was a bit old and the seats/TV cabinet were a bit inadequate for the hotel’s style of furnishing. The bathroom was OK, but not up to the typical club floor room standards. The hotel needs some improvement. The entrance light could not be switched off, since it didn’t have any switch and I had to spend the night annoyed by such a pale light. In the morning, I asked two staff members of the home keeping and none could resolve the issue, till a bright one showed up and asked me to remove the card from the electric slot. It went like this:

Me: If I remove the card from the slot, doesn’t that turn off the electricity?

Staff: Yes, but you want to turn off the lights and sleep, right?

Me: Yes, but what if I want to get up for a cup of water or decided to watch TV?

Staff: Then, you have to put it back! Don’t worry, AC will be still on!

Me: It’s not the AC, it’s the issue of getting up in the dark and finding the card to put it in so I can see around.

Staff: (no clue).

Anyway, I hope that this issue would be addressed as I left it in my remarks to the hotel survey card.

We didn’t try the room service since we went mall hopping all day long and then at night, decided to check out Vic’s Trader which is located in a very remote place inside the hotel, where you have to go through indoors and outdoors to reach it. Very inconvenient to reach. The place was packed and small. Upon ordering, we tried out hardest to get any attention for service but none was available. That’s when we decided to leave this place. And there’s a dance club called Zinc which is located at the ground floor of the building. Upon checking it out, we were notified it had a strict policy of ”Couples only”. That was very disappointing. We hit Harvester’s Pub, which was a nice place to watch sports and cool it down a bit. There was this fine girl playing Jazz on a karaoke program off her laptop and it sounded great.

I have to add in that the complex is frequented by escorts and such, and I wouldn’t recommend it for families or those who might be offended by such crowds.

I have two majors issues which I addressed the hotel via e-mail and it was disturbing for me. On Friday night, the taxis in the back of hotel created such a traffic jam picking up off patrons of Zinc and Vic’s trader, I swear there more than 50 taxis cars in total, all honking at the same time at 3 AM!! My room faced that parking lot and it was one hell of annoyance. The cops came in and started diverting traffic and working things out and it was one hell of a mess at early morning.

The 2nd issue was the parking lot. During our car trips in Dubai, I acquired a parking space voucher and placed it on the front shield as requested by the Dubai Police. I’ve forgotten about it and left it on there till the next day, where’s still valid until 12 PM. Me and my buddy check out and drag out luggage to the parking lot just to find a parking ticket placed on my car. The idiot cops of Dubai thought that this ticket belonged to this parking lot and according to the time, he ticketed me after the expiration time. He waiting for it to expire so he can ticket me. I was furious. This parking lot is designated for hotel and other establishments as well, what the hell I get a ticket for? Of course, I had to submit and pay the ticket for Avis  plus processing charges (stupid shit). The hotel’s reply in e-mail was that this parking lot is a public one and you have to get a parking voucher to park in. So I should thank God that the past two days I wasn’t ticketed as well. I replied back that because of the excellent services offered by your hotel, no one cared or offered to inquire about transpiration or any of that sort. So be advised, don’t get ticketed over there. Their cops are like predators, they would fish for extra charges on tourists and such.