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“Design over function”

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Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea
Ranked #1 of 9 Hotels in Sweimah
London
Level Contributor
35 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Design over function”
Reviewed November 22, 2008

We stayed in the Kempinski for one night as part of a touring holiday in Jordan.

We managed to check in early (1pm) with no problems. The room was large and tastefully furnished with nice lighting, two TVs, and free minibar. The bathroom was massive, with a wide bath and walk-in shower.

As we were only staying for one night, we headed straight for the Dead Sea. The hotel provides free pots of smelly sulphuric mud for you to coat yourself with, before heading out into the sea to wash it off. Floating in the Dead Sea is a novelty - you float so high up in the water that swimming is not easy! Flip flops are a good idea, as the rocks and pebbles on the sea bed are coated in rough salt crystals which are not kind on the feet.

The new spa was busy but we my girlfriend managed to book a treatment in the evening, and both of us used the hydrotherapy pools. The massage was (apparently) excellent, but both of us felt the spa was poorly designed in some ways, even though it was stunning to look at.

Between swimming in the Dead Sea and visiting the spa, we lounged around by the infinity pool overlooking the sea. The pool is beautiful, and is a great place to watch the sunset

In the evening, we ate at the Thai restaurant - good food, great views, and away from the flies that hang around the waters edge. The waiters in this restaurant were very attentive and helpful, probably because the restaurant was relatively empty. For some reason, the garish, noisy and expensive (30JD + tax) buffet restaurant seemed far more popular with guests.

This hotel is impressive in many ways, but several aspects disappointed me

First, there are no signs anywhere! The hotel looks great in a minimalist way, but is frustrating if you're only staying for one night and don't know where anything is.

The new spa building is huge and is amazing to look at, and feels like a lot of money has been spent, but some of the design details let it down. There's no clock, so not much good if you're waiting to go for a treatment after using the pool. The pool is surrounded by slippery marble floors. The water jets in the hydrotherapy pool are uncomfortably powerful - surely these have a variable power control? In the changing rooms, there are no bins or wet towel storage areas. And irritatingly, there is no link to the main hotel - you have to walk a long way to get from one to the other. I may be nitpicking, but for a brand new spa building, charging JD30 just to use the pool, I had high expectations.

There are flies everywhere, but I guess this goes with the territory of a beachfront resort.

The shiny new expensive-feeling gym only has four running machines, two static bikes and one rowing machine, which not enough for a luxury hotel of this size.

The prices charged are very steep e.g. JD14 for a *glass* of Jacobs Creek wine! The hotel has a captive audience, and is taking advantage of this in its pricing.

Overall, this is a visually stunning hotel with great facilities, which just needs a bit of fine tuning to make it great.

  • Liked — Beautiful views over the dead sea
  • Disliked — Overpriced food and services
  • Stayed November 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank andyconda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Middle East
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed November 16, 2008

I just spent two days at the Kempinski Dead Sea and was extremely disappointed. As I say above, you cannot claim to be a 5 star hotel -- charging premium prices -- when your service is 2 star -- at the most. The problem with this hotel is it is simply too big -- and there is an absence of professionally trained staff to support its premium designation. Check in was slow and disorganized. My room was not cleaned until 4 pm -- and only until I called to request the service. The mini bar was not refilled. The cleaner left products (including toilet brush) in the bathroom and simply did not return. The dining room cannot handle the number of guests present for breakfast and the staff possess neither the professional training nor the requisite sense of customer service to respond to the most minimum of needs. I served my own coffee. The tables were not properly set and the chairs were filthy. The room was swarming with flies -- although I imagine there is little that can be done about this.

This is simply a small selection of what went wrong during my stay. I would say that the staff at the Italian restaurant are superb: attentive, polite and service oriented. Unfortunately, they appear to be the exception.

For the prices charged, a guest at the Kempinski should expect "oustanding service" as the absolute minimum. In my experience, this unfortuately was not the case.

I would strongly suggest anyone contemplating the Kempinski give serious consideration to the Movenpick or the Marriot.

  • Liked — great style
  • Disliked — terrible service
  • Stayed November 2008, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank MiddleEastTraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arlington, Virginia
Level Contributor
50 reviews
39 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed November 6, 2008

Simply gorgeous new resort at a fascinating location. Breathtakingly beautiful, great pools, wonderful amenities, free minibar and Internet access, helpful staff.

  • Liked — spectacular rooms, ambience
  • Stayed November 2008, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank JiminVA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gloucester
Level Contributor
13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed November 4, 2008

A great luxury setting to round off a hectic tour of Jordan. Great location, staff were fantastic and amenities were first class. Upgraded to villa accommodation by Front Office Manager as our allocated room was not ready upon arrival at 15:00. Our villa was adjacent to the infinity pool overlooking the Dead Sea. Loved every moment of our stay!

  • Liked — 5 Star luxury and the friendly staff
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank claretandblueirons
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Luxembourg
Level Contributor
116 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 116 helpful votes
Reviewed October 25, 2008

This hotel is almost there. My girlfriend used to manage a Michelin star restaurant and a good friend of mine runs one of the UK's top hotels, so we feel qualified to review the Kempinski. The public areas and the pools are superb, the rooms (deluxe in the village) were big, well finished with great bathrooms and extremely comfortable beds. Floating in the Dead Sea is a great experience and just adds to the whole experience.

As always the service is excellent, all the staff are polite and friendly. Breakfast is very good as are the pizzas at the Pool Grill. The spa (which just opened) is world class.

We stayed for 3 nights at the end of an epic tour of Egypt and Jordan and it really was a great way to finish our break.

Little gripes (because this is a review and I feel obliged, although they didn't really distract from our overall experience):

If you stayed longer than 3 nights you'd be bored of the food. We ate at all 3 restaurants and the choice wasn't varied enough

My girflriend had a pedicure at the spa, which had just opened and she felt rushed. The hotel refused to take the cost off the bill, citing that the spa was a different company (do I care!). Hopefully this will be ironed out, and I am yet to hear from the hotel with their feedback.

There are quite a few flies (not really the hotel's fault).

It's expensive (we spent 1700 Euros in 3 days and my girlfiriend wasn't drinking as she pregnant).

Overall it didn't get 5 stars because of the issue with the pedicure and also I had to ask for the (free) mini bar to be stocked twice even when it should be done automatically.

Other than that good hotel, thoughtfully constructed.

  • Liked — Great serivce, rooms and location
  • Disliked — issue with spa
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank GlobalStu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
International
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed October 9, 2008

Great looking hotel. Service was extremely slow. Staff needs training.

Stayed October 2008
Helpful?
1 Thank AmExpat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
usa
Level Contributor
69 reviews
60 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
Reviewed September 29, 2008

Hotel is stunning, the architecture is amazing, looks like a palace, beautiful pools and gorgeous grounds. Landscaping is striking and breathtaking. Rooms are very big with huge terraces. The most comfortable beds and finest Italian linens and duvets. I went home to USA and bought these linens.
Food was very fresh and made to order. Service was great. Best of all was the Dead Sea right at the hotel, just total relaxation, private beach, not too crowded and lots of changing facilities. Great spa.
Best place to stay at the Dead Sea.

  • Liked — Dead Sea
  • Disliked — Everything was Great
  • Stayed September 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank TandLtravel
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 Business Hotel in Sweimah
#1 Spa Hotel in Sweimah
#1 Luxury Hotel in Sweimah
#1 On the Beach 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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