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Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea
Ranked #1 of 9 Hotels in Sweimah
Reviewed December 10, 2008

Very nice hotel, beautifully designed and nestled into the shores of the dead sea. In particular the Ishtar Villas are very nice. A few let downs on the service in particular the breakfast place for Ishtar guest, which is the upmarket side. Despite a good choice and quality of food, the venue is more like a high school cafeteria, with absolutely no soundproofing - if a fork falls down in the kitchen, the entire place can enjoy it. A shame given the pristine location and great view from that place. Food at the Codes restaurant was very good. The room would have needed a few fixes: Several broken light bulbs, screen door with plenty of gaping holes to the the flies in, who came in abundance; the entrance door had to be slammed to be closed, which was surely appreciated by the neighbors...still, we enjoyed the atmosphere by the sea and had a nice stay, however, given the category of the hotel, some issues would need to be shaped up.

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank DerCardinal_am_Platz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,274 - 2,280 of 2,810 reviews

Reviewed December 9, 2008

The first impression of the resort is good: greetings with a scented towel and a glass of fruit juice, friendly reception staff, buggy to the room, large property with water cascades and flowers built on several levels.

The rooms are large, decorated rather cheaply and show signs of wear. The turndown service has deteriorated. Nice bathroom (but no hand rail in the bath).

The food varies from very good (breakfast buffet) to bland and expensive (pool restaurants). Service in the restaurants has gone down since my last visits and is generally slow and unattentive or even chaotic in the morning.

The resort has many pools but only one is properly heated (round infinity pool), which offers few options in the cooler months. Even though it was 26 degrees, it was nearly impossible to use the other pools.

The new spa is claimed to be one of the largest in the Middle East but it has many flaws: the building feels disconnected from the hotel, most of the spa is taken up by treatment rooms, the saunas (dry and wet) are rather small and there is no cold plunge pool, the relaxation area is small and not quiet enough, I did not see a spa bar or restaurant, the design of the wet area lacks style. The spa is also uniquely expensive: 30 Jordanian dinars + taxes just to use the wet area, even for hotel guests (presumably because the spa is run by Anantara, not by Kempinski). The fitness room is in the main building of the hotel: good equipment but no connection between the machines and the large TV screens.

Most of the guests were Russian tourists and well to do locals, many with large (and often noisy) families. The few non smoking prescriptions at the hotel tended to be ignored by the guests, especially the locals.

The Kempinski is still the best option on the Dead Sea, both in Jordan and Israel (I have stayed at several hotels on both sides), but it is going downhill, service is generally poor and it is no great value at around 300 euro per night.

  • Stayed: December 2008
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1  Thank topsmed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 24, 2008

We have just returned from an 8 night stay at the Kempinski. This was our second visit to the Dead Sea, we previously stayed at the Movenpick in Sept 2001.

The hotel architecture is stunning and impressive though it does feel in the main reception areas that design is more important than function. The hotel was quite quiet during our stay and the main lobby bar felt huge and uninviting. The views from the Terrace at sunset are spectacular, we took afternoon tea on the terrace (though you won't find this advertised anywhere in the hotel) though it is quite disappointing for a 5 star hotel to serve the tea in cups with teabags - surely at these prices they could afford teapots.

Staff were on the whole quite friendly but not very attentive, apart from the bell boys and golf cart drivers who were excellent.

The rooms were very good, bathrooms excellent but again the service let the hotel down. Each day our bath towels were removed and not replaced and each evening we had to phone to request replacements. The same with face cloths and toilet rolls.
We also asked for the feather pillows to be replaced with foam ones (these are advertised on their pillow menu) but the following day one of them was removed from the room with no explanation. Also the floors in the bedroom were not vacuumed or mopped in the whole 8 days....

Breakfast was OK but certainly not 5 star standard. Again lack of teapots, juice glasses, tea strainers. Staff not overly attentive. Compared to breakfast at the Movenpick this was quite poor.

We ate in the Obelisk buffet restaurant on our first full day. The food was excellent but the restaurant feels more like a canteen in an office block rather than the flagship restaurant of a 5 star hotel. We didn't eat outside because of a fly infestation that took several days for the hotel to get under control.

For the remaining evenings we ate at the Movenpick in their buffet restaurant (excellent), Italian (good) and at the Marriott buffett (Very good), Sports Bar (Very good). Both the Movenpick and Marriott were cheaper too and the service far superior. We were recognised by several staff members at the Movenpick after 7 years.

One of the main reasons for chosing the Kempinski was the childrens facilities. These are not as advertised. There is a play room but you need to stay with your child and this is not well equipped. It was also full of fumes for several days as they fumigated the restaurant next door. The childrens play area consisted of an uncovered sandpit and 2 small slides. Also there was a small childrens pool (unshaded). The lazy river only had the jets working on Friday (local weekend) so was not used.

The SPA advertised as the largest in the Middle East opened shortly before our arrival. Again design over function would be an appropriate description. You have to reach the spa via quite a lots of steps and there are no handrails.... My wife and I are both spa junkies and we normally book 4 or 5 treatments each over the space of a week. We booked a couples Hammam treatment this cost JD140 each including tax (approx £135). The treatment was adequate but the hot plinth was far to hot and they didn't appear to be able to control this. The treatment lasted 1 hour and we were shown to a shower area to get dressed. There was no shower gel or shampoo (we had just been covered head to toe in mud). There was no relaxation area - after being roasted for an hour it's normal practice to be shown to a relaxation area for refreshements and too cool down before showering and getting dressed. We asked if we could use the spa pools and although there was some confusion we were allowed a quick dip to cool off. Though the main hydrotherapy pool requires the user to be over 6ft!! We were approached by a member of staff who told us that there was a small extra charge for using the spa area (JD40 each plus tax) approx £50 each.... We declined and left. A similar treatment at the Movenpick was JD100 + tax and if you spent over JD100 per day you got free use of the SPA pools. At the Kempinski It would have cost us £370 for an hours hammam treatment and access to the SPA area - this would pay for a 2 night visit to Stobo Castle in Scotland inclusive of treatments!! I think the prices are well over inflated. We decided not to book any further treatments as we didn't feel it was worth it.

Although we had a good holiday I would not return to the Kempinski. The standard of service and food is far superior at the Movenpick and the SPA treatments are more affordable. I would also consider the Marriott as the service in the restaurants was friendly and attentive and for the price charged the food was very good.

  • Stayed: November 2008, traveled with family
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1  Thank HJMoore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

  • Stayed: November 2008, traveled with family
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Thank andyconda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

  • Stayed: November 2008, traveled solo
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1  Thank MiddleEastTraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

  • Stayed: November 2008, traveled on business
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Thank JiminVA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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!

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank claretandblueirons
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

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 On the Beach Hotel in Sweimah
#1 Spa Hotel in Sweimah
#1 Luxury Hotel in Sweimah
#1 Business Hotel in Sweimah
Price Range: $175 - $348 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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