Al Dhabi Lounge, AUH

IMG_0473This is this updated lounge of the Airport Hotel Lounge in AUH, which I have blogged about in 2011.

This lounge went through major revamp and furnishing to reach the true magnificent level of service and recognition that Abu Dhabi is reaching for to represent its image to the world of travelers.

Access to this lounge can be through association of major frequent flyer programs, priority pass and I believe some credit card programs as well. This lounge is still located at Terminal 1 of Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), right after the e-gate and immigration desks.

Shower facilities, Computer access area, kids area and smoking lounges were added in order to provide the best service and accommodation to AUH patrons. The seating, decoration, furnishing have all been renewed and improved to a level that it surprised me in comparison to the previous set-up of its old version.

I have to add that the choices for the buffet need some improvement, yet it still beats any premium lounges in Europe, where hot food and in almost unlimited portions are as rare as water in the Arabian desert!

While traveling to Abu Dhabi, I would suggest visiting this lounge to experience comfort before taking off on your flight!

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Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi

IMG_1002I’ve been only once to this hotel, but I have to admit that it is worth blogging about.

Due to my work commitment, we have decided to conduct a meeting at Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan Hotel, a Rotana property in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

This hotel combines three living quarters in one place. I believe that the hotel is one-third of them, while the other buildings are private apartments, if I am correct to assume so.

The location of the hotel is opposite the Abu Dhabi Marina mall and the Emirates Palace hotel on the corniche.

The hotel is reputable for its family friendliness and the provided swimming pools for the kids and families to enjoy. Its nearness to the mall and the corniche is convenient in distance, yet I don’t recommend to cut it through walking since it involves going through traffic and packed streets, which is not safe and the distance is not convenient during summer heat.

As for the hotel, it has to be noted that it is a dry hotel, i.e. no alcohol is provided nor allowed on its premises. So, for all thirsty travelers, I would suggest to look somewhere else.

The lobby and the reception of the hotel is spacious and convenient. The reception and the hotel staff are courteous and available upon need.

I had one major issue with one of the reception desk staff, who provided me with the wrong information regarding using the local line for making an 800 number call within the UAE. I had assumed that it was chargeable by the hotel, but the desk receptionist insisted that it was free. I called twice to inquire about it and on both calls, the reply was that I can go ahead since this call, using the hotel line is free and no charges would be placed on my bill.

I went ahead and place my call on the 800 number to conduct a conference call for an hour with business partners in the states. Upon checking out the next day, I found out that I was charged with almost 75 AED for using the local line to conduct the same call. Upon discussing the same with the reception desk staff and clarifying the issue with the manager, I provided them with the name of the hotel staff who answered me and provided me with the wrong information. The charges were dropped but I think he didn’t get away with his fault!

This hotel is part of the Rotana Rewards program and I would suggest to join the said program to enjoy its rewards. I will review their hotel frequent guest program in an upcoming post!

I would like to emphasize on the size and comfort of this hotel through the following snaps of the deluxe room at this property.

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Rotana Beach, Abu Dhabi

Back to business! Well, I have stayed in this hotel for numerous times and it prompts me to review it. I have patronized this establishment in the last two years due to my business trips to Abu Dhabi. The selection was for obvious reasons. The hotel is connected to Abu Dhabi Mall, one of the three big malls in the area. For a change, you can go window shopping, eating and to enjoy the available establishments at the mall. Also, Rotana Beach has some of the finest restaurants in the Abu Dhabi. I’ve always found this hotel full with patrons during daytime and evening as well. Of course, my favorite spot is Trader’s Vic where it is the main place for nightlife in the hotel. Good drinks, good food and good music, nothing more to ask for!

The staff is pretty friendly and accommodating to all needs. I have never faced any problems in Rotana Beach, except when it comes to being placed in the 7th floor and the Wi-Fi reception gets weaker to the point that you can’t connect to it. I have communicated that to the management and they positively replied that they would be looking into it and address it accordingly. Another comment was that Wi-Fi is still chargeable in Rotana Beach and other Rotana establishments and this is being common in Abu Dhabi and we have provided numerous feedback on this issue.

Please note that Rotana Beach has different configuration for accommodations, from its other establishments in the GCC region. Rotana Beach has (if I remember correctly) three towers and each has a specialized accommodation level. The pics below from the main the building where it overlooks the restaurants and main body. I’ve stayed once in another tower, where it holds the premium and larger rooms. The third tower hold the serviced apartments.

Here are pics from the regular classic room. The room size if pretty decent for business traveler, although I may note that it’s a bit clustered for me.

Another good thing in Rotana Beach is their Zen the Spa. I have tried it! It is located in the basement of the hotel and it has a very unique atmosphere, where a one can enjoy a good rub and relax after multiple meetings. I highly recommend giving it a shot! I may add that Rotana Hotel Chain in general has one of the finest room service menus. You have to try it once (go for the burgers and the Club sandwiches)! Aside from that, I can’t deny my passion for their vegetable soap bars which they supplement in their rooms. It smells and fells nice and smooth. I would always come back to Rotana Beach for their outstanding customer service and moderate prices, as well its location.

Airport Hotel Lounge, AUH

OK, I was supposed to write about this since last December but it just slipped my mind. On my last trip to Abu Dhabi, upon departing from AUH, me and my Omani friends decided to get refreshed at The Airport Hotel Lounge in AUH, right after the immigration in Terminal 1. To Access it, there’s stairs and a lift. After admission, I was shocked to see how small it was. I mean it was really small. The left side of it was occupied by (I think) a store or two selling some Duty-Free products. The food buffet bar was like the smallest I’ve seen around. I tried to find something to try, but then it was so limited that I’ve ended with Cucumber slices, Hummus and a slice of bread.

The far right side is where a couple of PCs are located for access. The seating area was pretty limited and I have to admit that we’ve faced a problem in finding a seat for the three of us. I couldn’t bear the rudeness of some travelers who would occupy a whole couch to themselves and lay their carry-on’s on it to maximize the place all to their selves. What’s surprising about this lounge is that next to the entrance there’s a mini hotel inside this lounge, and that’s why its called Airport Hotel Lounge. There are rooms that you can rent and rest/sleep in all to yourself. I would recommend going somewhere else than this lounge since there are two other lounges which need to be checked next time I’m there.

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.