Super hotel, very relaxing, very sumptuous. We chose this hotel because it seemed to have some old world charm in a glitzy, shiny, sterile city. We were right on this much, it was a wonderful oasis amidst the 'my tower's bigger than yours' environment of Dubai.
We arrived early in the morning and the accommodating staff were happy to prepare our room within half an hour. We were over the the left, ground floor, terrace opening out to an inlet of the lake. Not much of a view, but not a building site either. We'd asked for a lake or burgh view, and we got a little of the lake, so that was fine.
Before we left, I had been in communication with the hotel as we wanted to entertain/dine a business client on our first night, and I wanted to know which dining set-up would be best. Note that Virgin had sold the hotel on its website as having three fabulous restaurants, so with our half board upgrade that we chose, we expected to be able to dine at any of the three. I was told by the hotel that this could not be so. Half board is only in the buffet restaurant, Ewaan, apparently. I asked if we might upgrade, pay a supplement etc, I was told no, this was not possible.
After checking in etc, we met our Virgin Rep who tried to get them to allow us to upgrade; we were told that this was not possible.
Finally, the next day, after much email correspondence, some emails involving me thanking them for the beautiful job they made of turndown (rose petals, towel swans, a bath run and covered with petals, etc), I was informed that we could, as a special measure, pay to upgrade if we wished to.
Armed with this information, we'd already by then eaten at the buffet and been really impressed with the variety of choice available, so although we considered the upgrade, my husband wasn't keen enough on Thai food to try Tipthara and the Steakhouse we thought we coudl get elsewhere, ie, in the mall where we had visited the Cheescake factory at lunch and paid less for that than we would have to pay for upgrades at the hotel. We decided if we wished to have a different kind of meal, we would have lunch in Ewaan and eat out at night.
One thing I had read about was the Wednesday night Ewaan meal where there was entertainment on offer, traditional dancing etc. At no point were we told that this would be an extra cost - and remember, we were told we were meant to eat at Ewaan ... - but on checking out, there was a supplement to pay for this meal as it was a 'special'. It wasn't a vast amount, but we did feel that there was a bit of a principle to be held here - also, given that they rate lunch as cheaper than evening buffet anyway, and we'd taken lunch instead one day, they weren't prepared to offset this against the extra cost of the Wednesday experience! This, at checkout, left a somewhat sour taste in our mouths at 7am in the morning after a truly wonderful stay otherwise ... for this reason, I toyed with taking my rating down to 4*, but thought that wouldn't be fair on the whole experience
So what else to add;
Staff were generally really great - the spa ladies were lovely, the chaps who did our turndowns were fab; housekeeping was very efficient, and two of the chaps on concierge went above and beyond my expectations.
We had taken a cab out to the Spice souk as I wanted some saffron and vanilla (annoyingly, I got ripped off, not understanding the rules of bartering ... go in at half apparently, and be prepared to go up to about 2/3, but it was an experience, somewhat challenging being blonde and blue-eyed, glad I wasn't without my 6'1" dark husband at that moment). On the way from the taxi dropping us at the hotel and getting to our bedroom, I managed to lose it.
I didn't realise this until the next morning (I know, blonde in more ways than one!) so asked lovely Kenneth at Concierge if a bag of spices had been handed in. He called security who asked if there was a taxi receipt. There was, luckily my husband keep track of these things while we are on hols! So I dropped that in and thought no more of it. When we got back to the hotel after a day of work appointments, we learned that the spices had been tracked down ... hurrah! I was so grateful as this saved me another trip to the souk for spice shopping ... I would have had to have gone without my husband so wouldn't have felt very safe anyway!
These staff members couldn't do enough for you.
The surroundings were lovely in the hotel, much more suited to an arabian experience than many of the other modern looking hotels - we visited crowne plaza for a meal and Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel for a conference - and much more welcoming for that. The pool was good enough - the setting looking out to the Burj Khaliffa was stunning and the attendants there were great - one even lending me his own goggles as I forgot to pack mine! There are lots of Indian/Keralan/Phillippinno staff who were so kind to us and very smiley when we chatted with them - they really make the place. The reception desk ladies were a little more officious as you can see from our dining quibbles at check in and out ...
Overall though, we would definitely choose to stay here again. Perhaps not with young kids, as it's a serene haven of calm, which would be spoiled for others ... but as ours are getting older, they'd certainly enjoy the amazing buffets at Ewaan (really, outstanding choice of foodstuff, we never tired over 4 breakfasts and three evening meals, great choices of meats, salads, one offs etc). I'd take teens, but not under 10s.
And oh, yes, the scent they use there is wonderful - you can buy a reed diffuser, with the special sandalwood scent which they pump out in the hotel areas, from the spa ... it would certainly take you back to a calm and happy place!
Our room was nice and quiet. Rooms away from the fireworks side are quieter, which is where we were...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.