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“close but no cigar !”

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Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea
Ranked #1 of 9 Hotels in Sweimah
Certificate of Excellence
Dublin, Ireland
1 review
“close but no cigar !”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 5, 2008

We stayed here in march 2008 for 5 days, check in was fine despite the tiny reception desk which was miniscule in comparison to the cavernous lobby area, the room was very well designed with a huge bathroom and a dressing area with a great view over the complex and sea. This hotel is huge, to get to the beach / dead sea we had to take 3 lifts / elevators and do quite a bit of walking, this was not a problem for us but anyone with a mobility issue should avoid this hotel. Service was patchy and could be very very slow, it was necessary to be quite assertive at times in order to place and actually receive food and drink orders. However the quality of the food coming from the kitchens was Excellent and worth the wait. Room service was was very good value and well presented and was relatively prompt. Breakfast tended to be the most challenging meal of the day, dishes and juices etc were not replenished and we had to request for this to be done, when ordering any item from the egg chef do not stray too far or you will find your omelette etc being delivered to some one else's table.
You will definitely need your hotel map which is placed in your room to navigate your way around this hotel, the hotel is architecturally stunning and will probably receive many awards for its design, however the design of the hotel does tend to dwarf the actual guests.
Staff were friendly and keen however may I suggest you request staff to repeat your order back to you as the staff have varying levels of competency in english.
This area consists of a strip of several international hotels, there are no local restaurants etc around, however there is a shuttle service operating between the hotels so you can compare them all. I also made use of the shuttle service to go to the spa in the Marriott next door as despite my best efforts i was unable to get an appointment for the spa in this hotel, apparently there are plans to build the largest spa in the region here in the near future.
The hotel provides vats of dead sea mud with which to plaster yourself, do try this as it's great fun, then wash it off in the dead sea as you bob around.
We would definitely go to the dead sea again, but we would not stay at this hotel, it lacks ambience, service is patchy and the scale of the complex does not lend itself to a relaxing break.

  • Stayed March 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank northsiders
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (501)
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English first
Hanoi, Vietnam
Level Contributor
597 reviews
97 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 443 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 4, 2008

This has to be one of the best hotel experiences I ever had ..

Let me list the things that enticed me most:

The room: spacious, fantastically designed (with separate area for the ladies to get their paint on, which I would have transformed to papa's computer corner, if the internet plug had been located there) .. In fact . So beautiful that I did a video walk through. The bed was super comfortable. The bathroom is a work of beauty .. Big, marble, a tub that fits the whole family, several compartments for everything.

Impeccable service, free fruit basket upon arrival, over-the-top quality control (order a bucket of ice and you get check-up calls every 5 minutes if the bucket has arrived .. Talk to a staff member in the elevator and they ask if everything is ok), beautiful space in general, the location, the beach, the mud, the sheer number of pools, the quick response to a bleeding foot ..

I could probably go on 10 pages about the things I liked and enjoyed .. But I know that readers here (and the hotel management) thrive on the little things that did not go so well .. So, I go into the nitty gritty (again, all the things I liked outweigh the things I was less happy with, but this is one hotel I totally want to come back to and very much recommend to everyone!)

- the food .. I was not super impressed .. I felt they are trying hard with what they can get .. But it did not live up to the standard according to everything else .. The monkfish at 'the codes' can easily replicated at home with some fish sticks and thai hot chili sauce, they thai beef salad was so so ... Food was also expensive (compared to what else we had in Jordan), there was no real 'Jordanian food' besides the typical appetizers and the nights we were there, there were only 2 buffet and 1 a la carte option. The angus beef burger was pretty much the best thing we had .. But you need to order extra onion slices, as the advertised tomato/onion jam is something the GM does not like to see (so we were told) and so it is not being served with it. .. On a different note, the breakfast buffet was great, including salmon and Italian prosecco .. Though the refill on that one bottle appeared to be sluggish to non existing (so .. Get up early)

- the website and the brochure says something about a VIP special pack for children .. And I am very curious to hear what other people with kids got .. But for us it did not come automatically, I had to request it .. And what we got in the end was every parents' nightmare .. A mini piano (the cheapest you can get from China, it sounded mistuned from the beginning, we left it in the room when we departed) .. Obviously, whoever assigns those gifts has no children...

- the grounds are beautiful, but vast .. You better pack everything before you go to the beach .. Otherwise it is a 15 minutes walk back to your room (if you stay in the main building) or you book a room in the Ishtar village (closer to the shore) .. The vastness also gives the place a deserted feel at night (while reception keeps saying they are fully booked) ... While all the pools look very beautiful, not many of them are actually used .. There is no jakuzzi kinda pool and the kid's pool could use a slide (like the one left to the compound that appears to belong to hotel still being built).

- the game room for the kids was a mixed experience .. First of all .. It is really hard to find .. Then (while designed with a lot of care).. It is manned by one of the life guards (the website says something about animators) .. And the first time we went we only saw two life guards huddling over a computer game .. But later, when we spent more time there .. One of the life guards actually spent some quality time with our son, which was very nice.

- the atmosphere at the reception upon arrival was fairly hostile .. Maybe the reception is too small .. It is not a best first impression if you have 3 receptionists with a line of 3 - 4 each .. Guests who don't know the concept of lining up, people complaining .. On the positive side .. We arrived before check-in time but we still got a room right away ..

- My personal biggest gripe was the fridge (oh .. Free minibar .. That is pretty cool, but it comes down to 2 free beers .. The rest is soda, water and mixers, a bag of nuts and a mini pringles tube) .. But what good is a fridge if it is barely below room temperature? I waited until next morning .. Thinking maybe the fridge was just turned on .. But it was still luke warm .. An engineer came and checked and babbled something about '5 minutes' .. When I returned around lunch time it was still luke warm (and the room was not made yet) .. I called again (response to complaints is incredibly fast) and another engineer even hauled another fridge from a different room .. But in the end .. Even warmer than the other one (thus I called for ice buckets so often) .. Overall I can say they tried .. But the fridge thing might be a design error .. There are no vent openings in the closet the fridge is housed in .. So the air around it is too warm ..

Summary: I cannot wait to return to this place .. It is amazing .. We talked to friends who were at the nearby hotels and they did not have the 'whoa' experience that we had about the room .. I hope with reviews like this the place can even improve a bit .. And it is not there fault if the sushi bar only looks pretty, but nobody eats there .. They are trying and they are probably throwing out a lot of nice display fish .. (They even had Ikura!)

  • Liked — Pretty much everything ..
  • Disliked — food did not meet expectation
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank caipirina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 4, 2008

We stayed in the hotel for 10 days at the end of March, with two small children aged 3 and 5. It has been a miraculously relaxing holiday for us! I have read all the reviews before going but still I had some worries about the place as well as weather and temperature of the sea and the pools. It was perfect, very warm but breezy with a heated pool for kids and one for adults, although we preferred unheated infinity pool which was fantastically refreshing. You might need a cardigan in the evening otherwise it was real summer!

Now from the beginning: the check-in was long without any welcome drink or anything of the sort, which given our long travel and late arrival would have been welcome …the interconnected rooms which we booked were not available and they suggested that we spent one night in separate rooms… the proposal I angrily dismissed given the age of my children and the fact that they still woke up at night especially in a new place. So we were offered an upgrade for the night (rooms 2202/03). The next morning the reservations manager offered us to keep the rooms for the duration of the stay. These terrace rooms we ended up having were huge, nicely appointed, with high quality finish and accessories, comfy bed, pillows, linen etc. Fantastic bathrooms, large balconies and beautiful sea view. Rooms were just minutes away from everything, so we never had to use a club car. We found everything in the hotel very elegant, stylish and beautifully designed apart from Obelisk restaurant which we thought was a miss.

The breakfast was good although I agree with the other reviewer that something was missing (fruit and yogurt selection, no pancakes etc) to make it truly luxurious. But probably not all things are easily available in Jordan. Dinner buffet was very tasty. In other restaurants (grill and Italian) the food was tasty but there was no change in menu ever and service was unbearably slow. On one day there was no bread in the Italian restaurant at lunch, another day no napkins, no cappuccino etc…In fact the service is a problem throughout the hotel. Everything seemed a bit haphazard: e.g. at some point I was surprised to see a guy with fresh face towels at the poolside, as he appeared only once during our 10 days stay. Room cleaning was poor and I had to call every morning to make sure that the rooms were cleaned before we came back after lunch etc. The evening service in the rooms also only happened on a couple of occasions.

Having said all this, and despite all these little annoyances, we had a very nice stay, everything was easy, the grounds were clean and beautiful, especially 600+ years olive trees, Dead Sea views and air revitalising. The lifeguards at the kids’ pool were very good ( once we even left our 3 year old by herself while we floated in the sea), and overall staff was very friendly. The General Manager was around, talking to guests and he even organised a trip for us to Petra with his own driver. Many thanks again. The Spa treatments were very good.

It is a perfect place for an Easter holiday with kids, may be to combine with a couple of nights stay in the desert (with older kids, may be next year!).

Some tips: Don’t arrive on Thursday/Firday as it is the weekend in Jordan so the hotel is busy with locals, I would think the selection of the rooms is not the best. Bring the mosquito repellent and ask the hotel to supply the anti-mosquito device, as they have it but don’t just leave it in your room (which they should!). Also if you are with impatient kids, just go to the bar and ask for ice-cream to be served under you supervision as I ended up doing to avoid a half an hour wait!

  • Liked — Setting, hotel design, rooms, pools, atmosphere
  • Disliked — Inefficient service, cleaning of the rooms
  • Stayed March 2008, traveled with family
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank MatiLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 30, 2008

I've spend two nights in the Kempinski Ishtar Hotel et I really enjoyed my stay.

But I must agree with what was said in previous messages about flaws. In my case, the check-in desk made a serious blunder : on day on arrival a (very ill-mannered and angry) russian family entered in my room at 9:00 pm ! They were given an electronic key that gave them access to my room. I had to justify to them that the room was mine. Given the status of the hotel, I wrongly thought this kind of mistakes could not occur.

  • Stayed March 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank pfryd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, NY
Level Contributor
104 reviews
85 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 201 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 29, 2008

The Kempinski's room ranked at the very top among the world-class hotels at which I've had the good fortune of staying. The room was spacious, with a bathroom the size of a Manhattan studio apartment, fine linens, and no amenity short of luxurious. The architecture and design of the facilities were also superb.

But the service fell short. Many of the staff spoke only basic English, which made it a challenge to navigate the enormous property.

The restaurant food was good but fell short of expectations, and restaurant service was also subpar.

I would certainly recommend this property for anyone visiting the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, but taper your expectations, at least insofar as concerns service and food.

  • Liked — Incredible design and architecture
  • Disliked — Service was subpar for a hotel of this class
  • Stayed March 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank NYinTransit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle
Level Contributor
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 29, 2008

We stayed at the Kempinski for our last night of a small group tour of Israel/Jordon. We stayed in one of the villa rooms, looking out over the Dead Sea. Everything here was wonderful from the service provided by all of the employees, the room, gardens, and breakfast. The staff goes out of their way to be helpful. Even if you ask where the bathroom is, they don't just tell you but take you there. The room was very well decorated. The bathroom was exceptionally nice with travertine and seperate shower and tub. The balcony was large. The grounds of the hotel are very spread out and that could be the only downside for physically challenged or older travelers with mobility issues. However, all you need to do is dial 0 on the phone and they will come pick you up at your room in a golf cart and take you where ever you want to go. The buffet breakfast was excellent and you can eat on a third floor terrace overlooking the sea. It was a great end to a two week vacation. There are many pools and at least one infinity pool where we soaked and watched the sun go down....very relaxing. My only regret is that I didn't get a chance to use the spa which I had hoped to do. We only knew our arrival time the day before and when I called to make an appt, the were completely booked for the next 2-3 days......Maybe next time. We were thinking this would be a wonderful place to come and relax for a week or so to get away from it all. Too bad it's so far from Seattle. I would highly recommend this hotel.

  • Liked — layout, atmosphere, service
  • Disliked — spa was booked
  • Stayed March 2008
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank SeattleCLC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level Contributor
81 reviews
43 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 120 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 23, 2008

We stayed at the Kempinski for two nights in January. It is one of the most beautiful hotels we have ever stayed in. We were in an Ishtar Superior Room overlooking a pool and out over the Dead Sea.

Breakfast was delicious (someone complained here that it's not a "5 Star Breakfast" - I can't imagine what that means).

The one unfortunate thing is the music (which I think is only in the main building lobby and its terrace......mind numbingly boring music - with all the comments here you'd think management would pull the plug.

Lots of pictures on our blog

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/liz_and_richards_2008_adv/2008/02/dead-sea-bethan.html

  • Liked — beautifully appointed room
  • Disliked — music in main building
  • Stayed January 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank ElizabethS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea

Property: Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea
Address: Dead Sea Road | Dead Sea, Sweimah 11194, Jordan
Phone Number:
Location: Jordan > Dead Sea Region > Sweimah
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Luxury Hotel in Sweimah
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Sweimah
#1 Business Hotel in Sweimah
#1 Spa Hotel in Sweimah
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea 5*
Number of rooms: 345
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Kempinski Hotel Ishtar gives you the opportunity to enjoy its riches where Queen of Sheba and Cleopatra once strived to unravel mystery. Situated gracefully on the shores of the largest spa in the world the Dead Sea, unique for its ozone-rich air, mineral sea water and ultra-violet filtered sunshine. Surely there is no region on earth where nature and history have more wonderfully conspired, where so exciting drama has obtained a so beautiful theatre. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kempinski Hotel Amman
Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea Jordan

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