My wife and I had planned to utilise our remaining free nights with the Shangri-la Golden Circle loyalty programme, and then ditch both our membership accounts with a loyalty programme that had repeatedly left us very disappointed and frustrated. Things however did not go according to plan.
We stayed in the executive suite, which was pretty much the “template” Shangri-la suite, just like what we had seen on previous trips. There was however a big difference elsewhere—the service level in the Horizon Club lounge.
From the moment we checked in until the moment we checked out, the team at the Horizon Club were wonderful. They were very hospitable, helpful and friendly. On top of offering assistance to make our stay in the hotel comfortable, we were also offered very useful advice on where to visit in the city and how to get there etc.
Something that left a deep impression on me was when we offered a tip, we were actually declined. This is probably the first time I have ever encountered a situation when I had wanted to tip a service staff and the tip was declined. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. In the end, we bought a pack of chocolates from the nearby grocery store and gave it to the team as a gift, in lieu of the tip.
Every staff member in the Horizon Club tried very hard to ensure a comfortable stay for the guests. Despite having to work for what we observed to be rather long hours, they always had a ready smile for everyone, and were always obliging with requests. When they had a little time for a breather, they would be chatting with guests and trying to make everyone feel welcome. It felt almost like we were visiting friends at their home rather than staying at a hotel. That was the level of hospitability we experienced. I would say that it was the team at this hotel’s Horizon Club which made us re-consider our decision to ditch our memberships, and to perhaps give Shangri-la another chance.
The service members at the other parts of the hotel were also great. There was a gentleman who went around the beach and pool area offering to clean the guests’ sunglasses, although we declined his offer. There was also a lady stationed at the infinity pool who was very helpful, and who offered help with little favours like offering to help with pictures without even being asked.
Although individually, almost every staff member we came across tried hard to perform his or her duty well, we however observed that the hotel was probably short of manpower. Whether in the Horizon Club or elsewhere, like in the restaurants, we sometimes faced difficulty trying to attract the attention of the service staff as all of them were simply too busy.
There was also an incident which got me rather upset. We understand that valet staff at locations like these get bored driving the guests’ bulky 4x4s day in and day out, and when a somewhat exotic car comes along, they might get excited. However, I thought it was very unprofessional when I saw that the valet gentleman who helped to retrieve my car accelerated heavily, turned the bend sharply and braked very abruptly right in front of me. And he wasn’t in a hurry that morning, because I was the only person waiting at the porch for my car at that moment.
Facilities/amenities wise, this hotel was fine. It was pretty much the usual Shangri-la stuff. The gym was, however, considerably small compared with what we had seen in the other Shangri-la properties, and the spa (and its staff) also did not look too impressive, and we decided to drop the idea after having walked over. It did however have a nice souk in the adjacent building which offered souvenirs at surprisingly affordable prices, compared with what we had seen in the city centre. We ended up filling up an entire luggage bag with souvenirs from the souk. The boat service between the hotel and the souk however faced the same problem of inadequate resources, and after it passed us thrice without having any room left for us to board, we gave up trying to wait, but walked back to the hotel lugging the bags of souvenirs we had bought.
Overall, this is a good place to stay in as the service personnel do try their best to make sure guests are comfortable, especially during the less busy periods when they are not overwhelmed, I guess. However, for people who want to be close to the city centre, there will be some travelling involved, as the hotel is some distance away from the city centre, and transport might be a little of a hassle if you do not drive, even though the hotel provides a shuttle service (it takes about an hour to do a round trip with the hotel shuttle, which runs at limited timings).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located on a one-kilometre stretch of private beach overlooking the strait that separates Abu Dhabi Island from the mainland, the hotel is situated ten minutes drive from the city's international airport, five minutes from the golf course and the new Convention Centre and 15 minutes from the Corniche and the city centre. Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, features 213 luxurious rooms and suites, all furnished to the highest standards in a modern Arabic style. Each room also has a balcony or a terrace providing an ideal setting for viewing striking ocean sunsets and traditional Arabic domes and minarets. Accommodation choices also include six spectacular villas comprising four bedrooms and a private swimming pool. Regarded as an ideal hotel in Abu Dhabi for longer stays, the Shangri-La Residences include 161 spacious serviced apartments ranging from studios to four-bedroom units.The 8.5 Hectare hotel complex provides a wide range of facilities and services for the discerning traveller. These include the signature CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, and a dedicated well-being zone comprising two gymnasiums, a swimming pool and a yoga room. In addition, there are four swimming pools within the grounds. The Souk traditional Arabian market built in a modern setting offers a variety of shops under one roof which are connected by a waterway featuring Arabic gondolas, or abras, which slowly meander through this unique architecture lush garden scenery. Supreme waterfront lifestyle enhanced with Shangri-La hospitality. Designed with luxury and comfort in mind, the Shangri-La Residences has all the features of the hotel at their doorstep. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi Hotel Abu Dhabi