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“Mixed feelings, tatty pool area and rude staff left me feeling dissapointed.”

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The Empire Hotel & Country Club
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 13, 2009

I've stayed at the Empire for 3 years in a row, but was dissapointed with the carnival laid on as part of the Sultan's birthday celebrations. It had the feeling of a cheap village fete and wasn't what I expected from a luxury hotel. I tried to enjoy the loud music but the tannoy announcements were just plain annoying. When the club music started I couldn't relax and decided to walk round the stalls. A manager asked me if I was enjoying myself and I asked very politely if there was any chance of turning the music down. He very rudely said in a northern English accent "Get used to it"!!

Well guess what I won't be going there ever again.

It's a beautiful hotel so it's a shame. But in the last few years it's been getting a bit tatty around the pool area, lots of the mosaic tiles are coming off and if you sit on the pool edge the grout stains your swimmers. Also the area around the jacuzzi is a mess with a tatty looking turtle pond. I was surprised to see a plastic children's slide toy in the lagoon beach. The new loungers were beautiful last year but this year they are broken and some were held together with bits of string.

Stayed: July 2009, traveled with friends
1  Thank GraceSilverlight
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 9, 2009

The most luxurious, clean, yet casual hotel around. Out of this world, the staff, rooms, service, facilities all surpass expectations. If you had to pick one fault there wouldn't be one. We will be going back again & again.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Kazangsd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 3, 2009

As part of our Asia-Tour-2009 holiday we had earlier stayed in the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia and we have now flown on with Royal Brunei from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei International Airport ( Bandar Seri Begawan ) in a proud 20 min. flight! A wow experience to behold, Folks! A Flyers delight! After our arrival at the airport and getting through immigration and our luggage we had been immeditatly greeted by our driver/greeter from the Empire Hotel and Country Club Brunei Darussalam located at Jerudong - around 35 min. away from the airport on the South China Sea. ( The transportation was from us pre-arranged with the hotel via e-mail at a cost one-way 35 Brunei Dollars which equals 35 Singapore Dollars ). We had the choice of Mercedes, Mini-van or Saloon - which it was in our case a large Mitsubishi Limousine! The Check-in at the hotel was fast and efficient and was somewhat impatient on the part of the check-in lady. However the Lobby in itself is just stunning soaring 53 meters high into the Brunei sky! Golden glory all the way with a fine respect for craftmanship and hotel design. It was literally gold, yellow, creme, Brunei flags and blue upholstered chairs all the way in the atrium. Stunning, Folks! We were driven by buggy to our upgraded accomodation at the Sea View Wing which is located at a different location at this stately super luxury resort! We had received a Ocean View King room no. 4402 on the 4th floor out of seven floors with magnificent South China Sea views - which were completely unobstructed and wonderful from the large balcony which came fully furnished as well. Our room had a superb size of 62m2 in lay-out with every imaginable luxury possible at this category of hotel, it is 6 star nevertheless! We had the following in our room incl. superlarge comfortable king-size bed with white linen, italian and french furniture incl. large sofa, tables, large writing desk plus Empire paper and pen, complimentary mini-bar, plush carpets from New Zealand and a large TV from Sony which offered malay TV, Brunei TV, CNN, BBC World News and many others. We also had superlarge storage spaces and a superlarge wardrobe to go with plus 10 hangers, safe, 24 h room-service, hotel map and on and on! Our bathroom was a room in itself at many other hotels and incl. superlarge bathtub, double sink, separate shower, separate toilet and bidet all laid out in the finest marble and gold plated appliances to go with and a complete Empire branded amenity kit for 2 people plus bathrobes and hair dryer and weighing scale! The room overall was one of the finest and largest we had ever had at a hotel so far! Free fruits had also been provided. In our Sea View Wing Building we had also free Internet access stations and a floor to ceiling Atrium built in plus a concierge which only works so to speak for guests of this particular wing of the Empire Hotel and Country Club. Writing further about this hotel we should note the following observations incl. 22 km of walkways ( there are buggies available with driver everywhere you might want to go at this sprawling resort! ), we found however you can never get lost for real here, which we found nice - but the walkways look short, in reality they are quite a way to go from one end to the other! The pool landscape are large and served by beach boys and towel boys at all times and the hotel has 8 swimming pools plus indoor swimming pool and do not forget the self-contained Empire Spa and Golf Village which are located in a very different part of this massive resort which is owned by the Sultan of Brunei and was originally envisioned by his brother ( now infamous ) Prince Jefri Bolkiah! The hotel is a billed 6 star hotel and has also many restaurants, a large shopping arcade, Limousine service, Cinema, Theatre, The Grand Hall, Dignitary plus Celebrity Visitor Photo Gallery, unending supply of marble walkways through the buildings, fountains, gardeners, a lake and some cats who are roaming this superb and world beating property which must be on the to stay list of hotel lovers around the world! The Hotel was a member in earlier years of the Leading Hotels of the World but now it is a member of the Worldhotels - Deluxe Collection of Hotels! The Hotel life however plays out in the large Atrium building of the hotel which houses the majority of Restaurants incl. the Atrium Cafe for our breakfast, lunch, dinner and the world famous Spaghettini Restaurant plus all the Services of the Lobby Lounge incl. the hand made chocolates ( pralines ) for sale from the Empire kitchens - all hand made to choose on demand by the customer! We have tried 8 of them which were all sooooo goooood! You could also choose different sizes until 98 pieces in a box selected! They even send the chocolates around the world for you and us! Wow! As we all know the Country and the hotel are DRY but for us it has not mattered at all we can safely tell you - with all the choice of other healthier options available here! So no problemo, Folks! Our food adventures at the famous Empire incl. the following incl. in-room dinning incl. penne bolognaise ( sized for two! ), bak mee goreng ( sized for one! ), empire signature cake, one peach melba mocktail, 1 ginger melon health drink ( wow! ), one pink lady twist mocktail ( they know a lady! )! Further we had during our 2 nights / 3 days stay incl. breakfast at the massive Atrium Cafe incl. coffee, orange juice, apple juices, fruit selection, yoghurt selection, steamed vegetables, chicken sausages with chili sauce, fried sweet sour eggs, green beans and chilli, hash browns, rice, milk selection, cereals selection, pan cakes with condiments are on offer plus many many more! At the famous Spaghettini Restaurant on the 6th floor of the massive atrium building with stunning views inside the lobby going-ons ( we had pre-booked our table a day before from our room! with the one-touch does it all button on offer! Wow! ). At the Spaghettini we had the following gourmet experience cuisine incl. 2x local water from Brunei, 1x mediterreanean salad which we shared ( thank god for that! remember the size! ), 1x gourmet gnocchi with fabulous gorgonzola sauce and walnut and pear ( simply Wow! ), 1x red snapper with red pepper sauce and rice on the side ( mmmmhhhhh! more! ), 1x praline crunch parfait ( delish! mooorrreee! ), 1x panna cotta - the traditional way! ( suuuperb! ), 1x Empire Delight signature Mocktail plus 1x signature Ginger and Watermelon health drink to go with it all! Cost in Euros around 70! Wow tooo! We also have visited the Lobby Lounge on two occassions and we had incl. coconut and mango bomb mocktail, watermelon and ginger drink plus local water and we also enjoyed the wonderful teh tarik! Wow! One of us ( my better half ) has enjoyed a wonderful Spa treatment at the Empire Spa which was named simply as back, neck and shoulder massage for 45min. and incl. also tea before and after the treatment in stately surroundings and she was even picked up right away after booking her treatment with a buggy and driver! Wow, Folks! We had also a quick look into the Empire Cinema with the new Harry Potter movie and others on offer on 3 screens in also stately surroundings like the rest of the hotel plus merchandise from many movies were also on offer! The Bowling Alley is also located in the same building as the Cinema! By the massive entrance on both sides there are two Mercedes Benz showrooms which had been showcasing two very expensive special models on each side of the entrance as well behind a massive glass wall! Wow, too that! We had also enjoyed, Folks, a highly recommended trip to Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of the Sultanate of Brunei which is also the only large urban city of Brunei. We had taken a limousine from the Empire with driver and his Mercedes E-Class to the middle of Bandar ( as the locals call it! ) to the Yayasan Hassanal Bolkiah Complex comprising shopping and many embassies and more in the heart of the capital. We have seen incl. the Royal Barge, the Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque which looks spectacular as seen from the site before the royal barge which can be however under water at times! Beware! We had taken two photos from here and could not go further because of high waters which were literally overflowing from the lake surrounding the mosque! But it was very well worth it! The Majesties birthday was also only a few days before our visit to Brunei on the 15th of July 2009 - which was the Sultans 63rd birthday celebration! We had seen many pictures of the Sultan of the many higher downtown buildings which also included many birthday wishes from individual businesses as well. The Downtown area of Bandar was decorated in the colours of Brunei mostly in black and yellow and red like the flag of Brunei! We also visited the Sheraton Utama Hotel, ( see our visitor review to the lobby lounge and the t-shirt which helps gather funds for Unicef at our profile at Tripadvisor! Thanks! ) the only western managed Luxury Hotel in Brunei, which is located to the north of the Royal Regalia building in the heart of Bandar! It can get very hot especially around noon to 2pm in the afternoon, so be prepared for it! The City itself was quiet as expected as the rest of Brunei and dignified toward the Sultan of Brunei. One thing we noticed however was the crossing of the rather big streets in the capital - which was not that easy when using traffic lights the proper way here! - because they give you the crossing time with the green light which was only 10 seconds on a 4 lane road way and there was also a small green man which runs faster and faster when the time was nearly up! We literally have been running in downtown Bandar Seri Begawan! What an olympic experience it was! Never thought of that! We had also done a bit of shopping in the Yayasan Hassanal Bolkiah Complex ( named after the current Sultan of Brunei! ) where we bought incl. a I LOVE BRUNEI T-SHIRT by Giordano, local cosmetic from Asia and they have fantastic looking sales assistents! ( do not tell your better half! ). After that we were back to our Limousine and Driver and his E-Class Mercedes to the Empire and on the way we spotted also the new mosque built by the current Sultan of Brunei ( which should be even bigger and better than the mosque of his father! we had seen earlier! ) and we spotted also the telecommunications tower which looks other worldly! And by the way the Finance ministry ( the current Sultan of Brunei is also the current Finance Minsiter! ) which is co-incidently the highest building on the whole of Borneo - which we have sadly not seen yet! However in our good fortune we had earlier stayed in Kota Kinabalu in the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu ( see our ASIA-TOUR-2009 REVIEW! on Tripadvisor - just go to our profile and enjoy! ) we have actually visited the Menara Tun Mustapha building - which is the second highest building of Borneo and the highest building in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, Malaysia! This should be on your itinary as well! ( We have the building described in depth in our review of the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu! ). The Sultans private Palace is also near Bandar Seri Begawan located which is the largest private owned residence in the world and has at last count at least 1788 rooms on offer and houses also a massive car collection owned by the Sultan of Brunei! The Residence can' t be just visited however, there are ways to see the palace from the road side and water side ( by water taxi of the Brunei river ) which are the only points to see this palace - all others are obstructed for security reasons! There is one way to visit for real however the Sultan at the end of Ramadan visitors incl. Foreigners ( Farangs! ) are allowed into the palatial grounds of the palace and have the chance after massive waiting times to actually meet the Sultan of Brunei, the world' s richest man plus the world' s most respected and peaceful man! We hope in the future to return to the Abode of peace and see the palace for real in any way possible! Bandar Seri Begawan is around 30 min. away from the Empire Hotel and Country Club and is well worth the visit! The Limousine cost was 60 Brunei Dollars/ 60 Singapore Dollars / 35 Euros - return!
Our time was fast as always on our tour to Asia and we were off with Air Asia ( which was 2 hours delayed! ) to Kuala Lumpur, the proud capital of Malaysia for a short visit to continue our ASIA-TOUR-2009! Thanks for reading our Tripadvisor Review and we sincerely hope that we could help you with making the decision to visit BRUNEI DARUSSALAM, THE ABODE OF PEACE! ( BTW. for readers of our Hyatt Regency Kinabalu review the hangers in the wardrobe in our room no. 425 were 14 hangers! For people who follow our travel patterns and reviews this could be important stuff to know! Thanks, Folks! ) So do not forget to FLY!STAY!EXPLORE! MORE! and see the world with open eyes, open mind and open character to learn much more than you and we had even imagined! Thanks again!

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Flyers007Dublin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2009

We stayed here for 3 nights at the end of a 3 week holiday to Borneo. It is an amazing hotel - impossible to do it full justice with a brief description. It is truly the last word in opulence and covers a huge area. Our room was large with a huge bathroom clad in marble with a sunken bath overlooking the South China Sea. Facilities are outstanding from the cinema to the amazing country club and 8 lane state of the art bowling alley that we had all to ourselves. But where the hotel really shines is the swimming pools which are incredible. There are 8 in total including the amazing huge lagoon pool with fake sand and freshwater. You can sip mocktails in the pool bar inside the enormous wet edge pool.

Service was excellent, the only thing that was missing were other guests to share the hotel. It was only occupied around 20% so there was a feeling of emptiness. However even if it had been full it is so big that it would never feel full.

We did the Brunei by night tour which we would recommend. The rest of the time we relaxed by the pool with our non-alcoholic drinks. We did bring in our alcohol allowance which we declared at customs with no problems. We had read reviews from other guests that the hotel would allow you to drink a bottle of wine with a meal. Not on the night we went! We dined at Spaghettini (not that good) where they refused to open our bottle of wine which was disappointing as we had been led to believe it would not be a problem. The best meal was at Pantai and the pool does good snack meals during the day.

Brunei is an interesting country and everyone should stay at the Empire at least once!

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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1  Thank ashmorayw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2009

On the line of the Burj Al Arab, this property wants the gueat to remain suprised from the very first second.
I've stayed (too short in fact) in one of the Villas. My room was overlooking the golfcourse. Amazing inroom amenities, including a supersized inbath whirlpool.
Excellent food, but some problems with the service. I had to wait about 30 minutes to get a pick up heading me to the golf course.

  • Stayed: November 2007, traveled on business
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Thank ludwig1827
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 3, 2009

The Empire is certainly lavish, plush, opulent - you name it. A soaring atrium, gilt-covered decor, opulent furnishings, escalators between floors, enormous baths, all contribute to this hotel's over-the-top interpretation of luxury. The pool area is beautiful including a large sheltered salt water "lagoon" and the sunsets were spectacular. We took advantage of the sports center, marine center, bowling, and theater. However, throughout our stay we felt like we had to pry for information on services and the information we got was sometimes wrong (the marine center was not open one whole day). There was virtually no information for tourists about this unique and isolated country. There were few guests which gave the resort a dead feeling. There were no other vacationing families with teens or pre-teens while we were there. Other than at breakfast, most of the (few) people we saw using the amenities were clearly locals or resident expats.

The snorkeling nearby the resort was not interesting and the tours on offer were lengthy and very expensive. A massage at the spa was a good value. The food at the Italian restaurant was excellent. The seafood buffet by the pool was mediocre and over-priced. Breakfast buffet everyday was very good as was the poolside service. The cheap shuttle bus to the city was infrequent and took a very long, circuitous ride.

Overall, the Empire seemed more oriented to providing country club services for the local market rather than a resort experience for international travelers. Since it is a dry destination, it does not offer the same experience as other regional resort destinations that are more accessible. To compete, the Empire could do more to introduce international visitors to Brunei's unique culture, by offering more convenient shuttles to attractions and inexpensive tours, even just brochures in the rooms or tours of the hotel and grounds. The hotel should also highlight information about its design, decor, and furnishings which are absolutely superior.

It was a good one-off experience and we do not need to go again.

  • Stayed: March 2009, traveled with family
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2  Thank flamex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2009

If you are looking for one the best place to stay in Brunei and in South East Asia, The Empire is THE place to experiment. Actually I already staid at this property in 2005, 4 years ago and was impressed by its almost unique luxury and opulence.
Airport transfer was punctual but check-in in the splendid minaret style hotel lobby took at least 10 minutes, way too long especially at 9H30 PM and after letting the staff know about our room preferences when booking 2 months ago. Moreover, we were not given the room I expected and had to move to a higher floor the following day due to a clogged drain in the bathroom quickly transforming the shower into a lap pool !
The property, however, is relatively well maintained and I did not notice too much stains or torn and worn signs in such a huge resort in either guests rooms or in public parts of the hotel.
Following the recommendation of another Tripadvisor member who reported a cash theft in their room we carefully secured our valuable belongings in the in room safe whenever we were out of the room.

The only problem was the staff. Although always displaying some good will and a smile when dealing with you, their bad understanding of English combined with their inability to solve even a minor problem without reporting to too many supervisors make you wait for a long time for almost any enquiry, leading eventually to a distorted, inefficient response. Unfortunately I have experienced this kind of service throughout most South East Asia.

Food -breakfast and dinner- although served in beautiful restaurants featuring deluxe dishes and cutlery is far below to what I expected from a five star resort in terms of quality and variety. Also, be aware of waiters serving you drinks you don’t ask for.
Internet access was available but quite expensive.

Will stay there again if returning to Brunei

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled with friends
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2  Thank HOTELLMEMORE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Empire Hotel & Country Club

Address: Kampong Jerudong BG3122, Brunei Darussalam
Phone Number:
Location: Brunei Darussalam > Brunei-Muara District > Kampong Jerudong
Amenities:
Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Kampong Jerudong
Price Range: $203 - $291 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The Empire Hotel & Country Club 5*
Number of rooms: 518
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located on the north eastern tip of Borneo on the doorstep of one of Asia's oldest rainforests, The Empire Hotel & Country Club is Brunei’s most prestigious beach resort offering unsurpassed 5-star luxury.This palatial resort hotel, which astounds visitors with its spectacular 12 storey marble and gold lobby, is set in its own private 180-hectare (445 acres) estate of manicured gardens and an 18-hole, floodlit Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and Country Club. Each of the hotel’s 522 opulently appointed guest rooms, suites and private villas has a view of the ocean, lagoon, gardens or golf course, while standard throughout the hotel are Imperial king-sized beds made with the finest linens, and over-sized marble bathrooms with walk-in shower, deep soaking tub with gold taps and luxury amenities. The Empire Hotel & Country Club also extends the kingdom’s regal hospitality with an impressive range of international restaurants, spa, world-class golf and sporting activities, and international meeting facilities for top level MICE gatherings, making it a resort ideal for family, romantic or business vacations. The Empire Hotel & Country Club is a member of WORLDHOTELS and recipient of numerous prestigious international awards. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Empire Hotel And Country Club
Empire Hotel Brunei

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