If you've ever wondered, what on earth is that strange looking, tilted, building at the far end of Abu Dhabi? You are not alone! I thought the exact same thing a couple of years, just after it was built! Until I found out it was a hotel, and not just any hotel but a Hyatt property .... "Hyatt Capital Gate" to be precise. And ever since, I've been dying to see what it looked like on the inside.
Hyatt Capital Gate is no ordinary hotel. It holds the Guinness world record for being the furthest leaning made made tower with an inclination of 18 degrees. Just before you enter the building, you see this little board at the entrance saying just that. I felt a little proud to be staying in a building that holds a world record!
And although you enter from the ground flower, its not until the 18th floor that you'll see the lobby ... an eye catching one that too with bubble sorta things hanging from the ceiling! We were greeted by Shazia who quickly checked us in and Abhishek who escorted us to our room on the 22nd floor.
The interior of the hotel is equally impressive. After passing through a criss-cross foyer, we reached our room. I dunno about you, however for me, when I enter a hotel room I check two things - View and bathroom! And let me tell you, I was more than impressed. For the first time in my life, I saw a freestanding bathtub! Okay, I've seen it in movies and all, but now, I'd actually be able to sit in one! This one had a view too! Of course, there was a stand up shower as well. But this, this was spectacular!
The room was super spacious with a work station, safe, fully stocked mini bar and an Illy coffee machine! This coffee machine was probably what impressed Mr. D the most. He loves his fresh coffee! Everything about the room was so organized. The only issue we found here was that the AC vents faced directly on one side of the bed. Guess, who slept there ;) The internet worked a bit slow as well, even though we were just browsing. This is something the hotel could improve on.
Our room had ceiling to floor windows with a view of the city and well as the sea! And here's how we were welcomed ! Hyatt Capital Gate... you've definitely got style!
With regards to Rayana Spa, I got to try out one of their signature massages called the "Rayana Renewal Massage" ... which is a combination of Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage. If you've slept through any of your massages, you can be sure that the therapist did an excellent job! That's exactly what happened to me when Petronella gave me a massage! It super relaxing. Thankfully, I didn't snore ... or I think I didn't! I loved that I was able to choose my own oil for the massage. There were 3 oils to choose from and I went for something citrus-y and refreshing. The massage rooms and lounge area are super clean and tidy. The lounge actually looked like a little cafe with a kitchen! Steam and Sauna were also available. My massage room had its own shower and tub, although I wasn't informed about it until I entered the massage room. So, i ended up using the common one instead.
With the exception of the pool bar, I tried out two restaurants at the hotel. The first one was 18 Degrees. I had both dinner and brekkie here. 18 Degrees has a beautiful view of Abu Dhabi and I made sure I got a nice table during the day. They have an alfresco seating arrangement too, but given the current weather scene in Abu Dhabi, it was a clear NO from me! The restaurant has a Mediterranean inspired cuisine and had a open kitchen concept. You can see the chefs whip up your food. Dinner was a-la-carte which I absolutely love. Buffets confuse me whereas in a-la-carte, chefs give their undivided attention to one dish! Mr. D and I both had a pretty big dinner, and tried to get a taste of everything. What I recommend trying out is the Gambas Al Ajillo (garlic-y prawn kinda thing) and Costine de manzo (beef short rib). If you're feeling experimental, try out the chicken livers too. They are really good. The food at 18 degrees is meant for sharing, so the portions might appear a bit less. However, I think they're worth the price. I was very disappointed when carpaccio wasn't available, even though it was listed on the menu. In my opinion, if something isn't available, it shouldn't be shown on the menu!
Brekkie at 18 Degrees had a mix of items. We saw beautiful flower shaped idlis, fresh juices, an assortment of pastries and cereals, live egg station, waffle/pancake station and lots more. The salad selection was a bit less, however, it didn't affect us much.
We even got to try out the popular Afternoon Tea at Hyatt Capital Gate's other restaurant known as Lounge. The three tier afternoon tea set came with a selection of items from sandwiches to scones, cakes to macarons, and more. It was a perfect balance of sweet and savory. And nothing overly sweet. Personally, I liked the chicken-spinach bread and the macarons. We got to choose from 12 different kinds of tea. Lounge also offers alcoholic options if you're interested.
The hotel boasts of a full fledged gym as well and a pool which had sweeping views of Abu Dhabi. I visited the gym only to take pictures. Yes, I'm not ashamed to say that!
However, I did spend some time at the pool. Although it wasn't very big, I liked it for its unique design and views.
Hyatt Capital Gate is definitely not located within the city centre, and you might need atleast 20 minutes to actually reach Abu Dhabi downtown. However, I don't think this would be a problem as there as taxis readily available. Although some of Abu Dhabi's popular attractions such as the ADNEC, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and the Abu Dhabi airport are located not too far away.
All in all, we loved our stay at Hyatt Capital Gate. The service is top-notch just like everything else. And it has even opened our minds to the possibility of staying at Hyatt properties around the world during our travels!
I have to admit, its been ages since I last stayed at a hotel in Dubai ... so much so, that I cant even remember when I did last! Last weekend, I was excited to stay at the Avani Deira Dubai Hotel ... a hotel that I pretty much didn't know existed until 2 months ago. Avani Deira Dubai Hotel is centrally located luxury hotel. It is more of a city hotel and is perfect for business travelers and visitors alike.
CHECK IN/CHECK OUT
Check in was super quick. We were greeted by the friendly front desk staff who we even managed to have a little chit chat with. Check out was equally quick. Thankfully we were the only ones during both check in & check out!.
We stayed in an AVANI room & were given access to the executive lounge as well. Our spacious room had a view of old Dubai's busy streets. Believe it or not ... we saw an airplane pass over us every 5 minutes! However, it didn't disturb us. Our room was also equipped with a work table, safe, seating area, ironing facility,fully stocked mini bar and fridge. And of course, a super comfy bed!
I absolutely loved how the hotel welcomed us - the moment we entered, we saw a plate decorated with choco-starberries and gigantic chocolate bars. In addition to that, we were given our very own mason jars. They also put a nice, welcome note in there. Talk about attention to detaill!
I liked the bathroom because it had a rain shower. Personally, I am a big fan of hotels with rain showers rather than regular showers. However, I was rather surprised when there wasn't any hand-washing soap. When we called housekeeping and asked them for soap. they brought us shower gel (something which was already placed in the room)! Naturally, we assumed that hand soap wasn't available. However, while checking out, we got to know that they had forgotten to place the handwash in our room. The rest of the bathroom amenities including plush bathrobes and slippers were all available.
Some of the benefits as an executive guest included - full access to the executive lounge (breakfast, afternoon tea, light dinner), airport transfers to Dubai airport, suit pressing, and access to Oceana Beach Club.
AVANI Deira Dubai Hotel is located in the older part of Dubai (which is Deira) and is very convenient to visit some of Dubai's most popular attractions like the Gold & Spice Souqs, Dubai Creek, etc. Even the airport is a mere 4 kms. away! If you want to venture into the newer part of Dubai, there's a metro station located just 2 minutes away from the hotel. Hop on the metro, and you can visit other popular attractions like the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall etc. If you use a car/taxi, there are chances that you can might get stuck in traffic, and believe me, thats the last thing you'd want! I'd definitely recommend sticking to public transport.
The hotel has its own gym and a swimming pool.
But the best part is, we had access to one of Dubai's best beach clubs "Oceana Beach Club" located on the Palm Jumeirah. From the beachclub, you can get a magnificent view of Dubai's every changing skyline from a ginormous infinity pool or a private beach. Yup! Thats once fancy beachclub. Lets not discuss how packed it was though, it looked like the whole of Palm Jumeirah was there that weekend!
Even though the selection of food was limited in the lounge, I absolutely loved it! The choice of items there were excellent. During tea time, we enjoyed sandwiches and during dinner, delicious canapes. I personally felt that a lot of thinking went into choosing the right items. And the cheese selection was fantastic! The good part is, in the evening you can enjoy happy hours.
We even had a sneak peek of the breakfast at the lounge (sneak peek because we already had breakfast at the hotel's Jigsaw Restaurant). And I loved the breakfast selection too. Plus, they allowed us to take away hot beverages.
Besides a pool bar, the hotel has a 2 other restaurants and a sports bar. I had an opportunity to dine in one of them for breakfast i.e "Jigsaw". Breakfast was buffet style, with a live egg station, selection of juices, and a variety of Asian, Indian, Arabic and International cuisine. In my opinion, the choice of items were just average. The hotel could definitely improve on the selection as well as presentation ... maybe make it a bit more appealing. As I mentioned earlier, I had a sneak peek of breakfast at the lounge and immediately regretted not choosing to dine there.
One thing that I absolutely loved during my stay here was the staff. They went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. Everyone, from the valet to the front desk, housekeeping to the lounge were all so warm and friendly. It definitely made my stay at lot better.
Last weekend, Mr. D & I were invited to stay at yet another Rotana property - Centro Capital Centre, a 3-stay hotel apartment located in the business hub of Abu Dhabi. This hotel is good for business and leisure travelers alike who are looking for an chic yet affordable place to stay.
ABOUT THE HOTEL
When we entered the lobby, our first impression was that of simplicity and minimalism. Dressed in hues of dark brown and yellow, which in my opinion is a very rare colour combination, it certainly did catch our attention. I even liked the rows of plant pots at the entrance. It brought in a bit of the great outdoors, indoor.
We're all about views and would have certainly loved to stay in a sea-facing room (yes, there's a side that faces the blue!), however, we were allotted a room that had a view of the city. Just like its sister property "Centro Sharjah" that we stayed in 2 years ago, this room was also spacious. On one side was a kitchenette, and on the other was a plush couch + a bed.
The kitchenette is very useful for guests staying here on a long term basis. I'm certain that people at some point of time prefer to whip up something in their room rather than eating out. There's also a mini refrigerator and coffee/tea making facilities.
As with the lobby, the plush couch also had the colour scheme of brown and yellow. It was large and super comfy. I secretly wished that I had one of those at home!
The room had a nice queen sized bed which we found it rather comfy and 3 super soft pillows. We were so tempted to sleepy in all day!
The bathroom was basic and wasn't too big. It had a separate stand up shower area, and toiletries very readily available.
The room also has a safe, hair dryer and ironing facilities. We were pretty self-sufficient considering this was a 3 star hotel.
There are a lot of options when it comes to dining at Centro Capital Centre. The hotel itself has 3 of them - C. Taste, C.Mondo and C.Deli. C.Mondo is a bar (yup, a bar in a 3 star hotel!) whereas C. Deli functions as a shop, where you can grab anything and take it to your room. C. Mondo sells everything from food and medicines to electronic stuff and even detergents! There are also restaurants in the hotel's sister property "Capital Centre Arjaan" which is literally attached to this hotel. During our stay, we dined at C.Taste in Centro Capital Centre and Tamarind in Capital Centre Arjaan.
When we visited C. Taste for lunch, it was St. Paddy's Day and the restaurant had pimped up their menu a bit by giving it an Irish twist. We tried out the Friday brunch and absolutely it ... especially two dishes on the menu - Irish stew and Roast Beef. Personally, we found the salad to be a bit basic ... this was something that the hotel could improve on. For this brunch, we could opt for either the alcoholic or non-alcoholic package.
Breakfast at C.Taste was simple, however, it had everything you could expect from a breakfast. There was a live egg and pancake station and a fantastic selection of breads as well.
It was our second visit to Tamarind and it sure didn't disappoint. They have a small menu, however, whatever you choose is cooked to perfection. The menu had certainly changed since the last time we visited. This time, we tried out Shrimp Caesar Salad, Braised Lamb Fasolia with Arabic Spices and the Chocolate Bundt Cake. The Braised Lamb Fasolia which came with a helping of a fragrant cinnamon rice was the most delicious thing I'd eaten in a while. Clearly, Mr. D and I underestimated the food portion, and each of us struggled to finish our own Lamb Fasolia. The bundt cake was amazing too. We tried it out the last time we were there, so we knew what to expect.
The hotel has a gym as well as the swimming pool. Both the gym and pool boast of a view of the sea & city. I found the gym rather small, however, it had a number of treadmills all facing the sea. Getting fit here certainly didn't seem boring!
When we visited the swimming pool, there were barely 4 people in it ... which was good. Or else it would have been too crowded. I loved the view of the buildings from the pool.
Centro Capital Centre is located right next to ADNEC, making it very convenient for people attending events at the exhibition centre. The popular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a mere 10 minute ride away. Even the airport is a 20 minute ride away.
I wouldn't say that this hotel is very close to the city centre, however, you would be able to reach the city centre in about 20 minutes or so. The hotel even offers complimentary transfers to the biggest mall in Abu Dhabi which is Yas Mall, as well as the city centre.
Another good thing is that, there's a pharmacy and supermarket located within walking distance of the hotel.
I must admit, some of the staff here went out of their way to help us. The housekeeping staff and the restaurant manager at C. Taste in particular very friendly towards us.
If you're heading to Abu Dhabi, and looking for a place to stay thats away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you could consider staying here. Its certainly very affordable. The only negative point in my opinion, was having to purchase everything (even an adapter, just incase you left it at home). However, this is an apartment style property, so that's probably the way they function. Other than that, everything else was perfect!
For more information, visit www.rotana.com.
Don't forget to follow them on :
Facebook : CentroCapitalCentre
Twitter : CentroCapCentre
Instagram : Centrocapcentre
Disclaimer : I was a guest of Centro Capital Centre, Abu Dhabi. As always, all opinions are my own
Hotel Review :: 5 Reasons why you should choose Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi for your next stay
To say that I've enjoyed staying at every hotel during my travels would mean that I'm only lying. The only part that I've enjoyed was my bed at night. We have stayed at many nice hotels during our escapades around the world, however, we are always running around exploring the country leaving no time to see whats in the hotel. Last weekend, we had an opportunity to stay at Al Maha Arjaan - a luxury apart-hotel in Abu Dhabi which is a part of the popular Rotana Hotel chain. And for a change, there was no running around. This was a staycation in my own city and the best part was that ... it was a mere 2 minute walk away from my house!
So ... why did we like the hotel?
1. Artsy Furnishings - The hotel had an uplift just recently, and we had an opportunity to stay in one of their pimped up rooms. I've never visited the hotel before to do a BEFORE/AFTER comparison, however, but from I could see now, I can say it looks pretty damn fine! Everything from the fancy chandeliers at the lobby to the minimalist wallpieces in our room totally impressed me. In addition to it being visually appealing, our room was spacious with a well stocked bar, toiletries, tea/coffee supplies, slippers, etc. Some of the bigger rooms even have a fully equipped kitchen. It certainly felt like home ...
2. Never a dull moment - Whether you wanna swim, get fit or pamper yourself, Bodylines Fitness and Wellness Club (the hotel's health club) has it all. The pool is small, basically very apartment style sized, however, it served the purpose. Luckily, we had it all to ourselves. I even liked the fact that they had a Jacuzzi, cabanas & a pretty awesome pool menu.
Mr. D & I even enjoyed a relaxing massage at the hotel's spa during our stay ... something that we both haven't had in a loooong time!
The hotel boasts of a full fledged gym with a panoramic views of the city. Although we didn't use the gym, I went in to take some pictures and show you what it looks like ;). I'm nice like that :)
3. The very "Instagrammable" Cafe 302 - I do not use the word "Instagrammable" for a lot of cafes in the capital. To be honest, I don't think I've used it on any so far. However, Cafe 302 is an exception. We had brekkie here and I simple cannot forget how pretty it looked. Potted plants on the wall, knick knacks thrown in here, a bookshelf and some pretty awesome wall art certainly made it eye candy. Breakfast was minimal and it was buffet style. In particular, I enjoyed the frittata and sausage which kinda reminded me of a chorizo. There's was a bit of Arabic & Indian in there too. If you don't fancy buffet, you can also opt for a-la-carte.
This cafe/restaurant, which is the hotel's only restaurant also serves as a retail shop ... meaning you can buy everything from fresh fruits to kitchen tools! You can totally buy all your stuff from there and cook in your hotel room.
4. Centrally Located - If you looking for a grocery, restaurant, supermarket, shopping mall, exchange centre or hospital ... you'll find them all within or less than a 20 minute walk away from the hotel. It cannot get more central than this!
5. Friendly Staff - The last thing anyone ever wants to see is a grumpy face. We didn't really face that problem during our stay. From the bell boys to Imran at the front desk, from the housekeeping staff to the bubbly cafe manger Dragana, everyone greeted us with a smile. The staff at this hotel and very hospitable.
Two things that really touched me in particular were - the welcome sign with my name on the TV and the plate of munchies that were awaiting me in my room.
If you are here for work or leisure, and looking for a place thats charming, simple & located in the heart of the city - Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana is for you.
Disclaimer : I was a guest of Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi. As always, all opinions are my own.
For more information, visit Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana.
Don't forget to follow them on their social media platforms:
Mr. D and I are very loyal to certain hotel brands. Whenever we travel, we do make it a point to stay at these hotels so that we accumulate points and stay free somewhere, someday. The Marriott hotels were a recent addition to our favourite brands. Earlier this year, we stayed at the JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai Marriott Harbour & Suites and just last week ... the Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi. And now with the Marriott & Starwood merger, our options have become even wider.
This post is about my recent stay at the Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi. If I cannot be on vacation every single day of the year, I might as well take a staycation!
Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi is Abu Dhabi's newest & first Marriott Hotel. It opened its door to the public about a month ago. The hotel has 315 guestrooms including 32 suites, 1500 square metres of flexible meeting space including 21 conference room & a 522square meter Grand Ballroom, variety of restaurants and bars, spa with six treatment rooms, fitness centre, healthclub and a rooftop swimming pool.
The hotel is centrally located and forms an ideal base to explore Abu Dhabi. Many of the attractions can be reached within 20 minutes. Some of these include:
Al Wahda mall - 5 minutes (walk)
Fishmarket - 10 minutes
Heritage Village - 15 minutes
Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre - 15 minutes
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - 20 minutes
Louvre Abu Dhabi - 20 minutes
Mr. D and I stayed in an executive room. The first thing that caught my attention was the size of the room. It was spacious with plenty of room for movement. The next thing that caught my attention were the ceiling to floor windows. If there's anything that I like in a hotel, its this. I loving watching the world go by. Did I mention that our bed was super comfy too?
Our room was simple, yet it had a contemporary feel to it. The view from our window was amazing! We could literally see the far end of Abu Dhabi city from up there. The room was equipped with a mini bar, coffee/tea maker, refrigerator, ironing board and a safe. If you are a business traveler, there's a large desk with wired internet.
Our bathroom was pretty impressive too. It featured a large bathtub, a hand-shower as well as a rain-shower. We had bathrobes, dryer, slippers, toiletries all at our disposal. I liked one thing about the bathroom in particular - it had this full length mirror with a marble stand ... sort of like a dressing table. As a lady, I found it very convenient to just place my cosmetics over that stand while doing my makeup. There's a full length mirror outside the bathroom as well.
The folks at Marriott definitely know how to throw a surprise. Here's what I ran into upon entering my room.
As an executive room guest, we benefited from the use of the executive lounge. This massive lounge is spread over half the floor and offers best views of Abu Dhabi. There's a business centre and a little meeting room in there as well. If a guest intends to call for a meeting, the first 2 hours are free of charge.
The food offered at the lounge is far from boring. Some of the dishes included tuna tartare, fried shrimp, eggplant parmigiana and a great selection of cheese as well. It felt more like a proper restaurant than a lounge. Besides this, it is open 24 hours so you can grab a drink in the middle of the night as well.
I was pretty impressed by the entire setup of the swimming pool. Although they say its outdoor, I'd consider it a mix of outdoor and indoor as it features of both. It is located on the rooftop which partially opens up to the sky and is surrounded by these long glasses. Pretty unique in my opinion. The only thing that I had trouble with was the water temperature. It was cold & needs to be regulated a bit. There's a little children's pool as well beside it and a pool bar.
I had a peek into the gym too ... just a peek. It has all the necessary equipment needed for a traveler to keep fit. And the view from up there was amazing. Even if I was a lazy bum, that view would have made me jump on a threadmill! The hotel also offers yearly gym memberships.
Weary travelers can also pamper themselves at the hotel's "Saray Spa". This spa is due to be opened by the end of the year.
If you are a foodie, Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi has a variety of dining options to suit every taste-bud. There's an all day dining restaurant, steakhouse, coffee shop, pool bar and a bar. Mr.D and I visited two of them during our stay.
Velocity Bar & Lounge is the newest addition to Abu Dhabi's nightlife scene. Its a sports bar spread over 2 floors with large screens, a DJ and some delicious bites. This bar is open during the day as well, for dine in. The menu is not very complex and they specialize in 3 main things besides a selection of drinks of course - chicken wings, lobster and burgers. I personally do not know of any bar in Abu Dhabi serving lobster.
We enjoyed an assortment of chicken wings, grilled lobster, lobster chorizo and pulled beef sandwich. I loved everything we ordered, however, that pulled beef sandwich was AAAhmazing! Lobster chorizo went very well with our drinks. By the way, Velocity has happy hour everyday from 12pm until 12am, where they offer selected beverages for only Dhs. 18. The menu in general is pretty affordable.
We had brekkie at the hotel's all day dining restaurant - Kuzbara. There were 3 things that stood out in the breakfast menu - coffee to go, an option of having fresh fruit juice and a noodle soup station. Noodle soup is a very Asian concept and something I've never heard of in UAE hotels (atleast during breakfast). I liked the idea of selecting my favorite ingredients and handing it over to the chef to whip up a hearty soup.
Not many restaurants offer blue cheese as part of their egg station, however, this one did. Mr. D freaked out, however, I enjoyed my omelet smothered in blue cheese. There was a great selection of Indian food as well. Here is a restaurant that has a perfect balance of various cuisines, basically catering to every guest's needs. P.S. Don't miss their butterscotch waffle! Have two if you can!
Oh well ... what can I say. As we left the hotel, Mr. D and I were discussing about how we never encountered a single grumpy face. From the moment we checked into the hotel, we were greeted by a bunch of friendly faces. From the porters to the front desk, waiters to the housekeeping staff, everyone just smiled. The last thing you'd want to see at the end of a long day is an unhappy face! Two people who that stood during our entire stay were Lion and Johncarlos. The staff at the hotel went all out of their way to make us feel comfortable.
Disclaimer : I was a guest of Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi. As always, all opinions are my own.
For more information, click here.
Don't forget to follow them on their social media platforms:
What's your favourite cinema snack?
Well .... mine is Lobster Tacos!
UAE never fails to amaze me. They bring snow into a sandpit, Lamborghini as police cars and now fine-dining to a cinema! VOX Cinemas in partnership with Michelin star chef Gary Rhodes have just launched what is better known as "a luxury cinematic experience". And yours truly got a chance to be one of the first ones to try it out.
So what exactly happens here?
1) You step into an exclusive lounge,
2) Order a drink from the bar,
3) Get one of their well dressed servers to take your food order,
4) Head into the cinema hall, and
The choice of non-alcoholic drinks is endless! They've got everything from shakes to ice teas, daiquiris to smoothies, floats to mojitos! There's something for everyone.
The food is divided into three sections ... just like a three course meal in a restaurant. At THEATRE by Rhodes, they call it - THE PREVIEW, THE MAIN MOVIE and THE CREDITS! You get to choose from delectable dishes such as Lobster & Chicken Caesar Tacos, 'Rhodes' Foie Gras Panini, Upside Down Strawberry Cheesecake Mousse and more. In addition to that, you can have as many drinks as as you wait. ( You might have noticed how I've stressed only on "Lobster Tacos" all over this post ... this is something that you should consider trying out )
I cannot even begin to explain how comfy these seats were. You get to dine in VOX Gold Class cinema. The seats are wide, they recline, you've got your own little table and your own pillow and blanket. With seats like these and good food, you're a step away from a good sleep! Thankfully there's coffee and hot chocolate to keep you awake!
We watched X -Men: Apocalypse that evening and the delicious food kept flowing it. I did notice two things though :-
1) It was a bit warm inside,
2) A dim lamp above each seat would be very helpful.
I could barely see what I eating and was scared of spilling food over me.
However, the experience on the whole was excellent. If I suddenly feel the urge to splurge on some fine food and watch a movie some day, I know where I have to go. We were also lucky enough to meeting Chef Gary Rhodes who spoke to us about the time he spent training the staff. He also went on to explain how he uses fresh ingredients to create simple yet delicious dishes. I was surprised when he mentioned that some of his dishes take about 5 hours to prepare! Plus, the menu will keep changing so movie enthusiasts will not get bored.
In Abu Dhabi, THEATRE by Rhodes is currently available at VOX Cinemas Yas Mall and Nation Towers.
Disclaimer : I was a guest of VOX Cinemas. As always, all opinions are my own.
I haven't had a massage in ages ....well, I wish I could say that. But no! Lately, I've been having massages quite often. However, I can definitely say that I haven't had a good massage in a long time ... that was until I stepped into Soma Spa.
Soma Spa, at the Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre has recently introduced two new products. The first one is Ainy ... a product made from plants that come right from the Amazon region of Ecuador and Peru. The second one is Phytomer. This one comes from France and is derived from the sea. Both these products are organic.
The spa offers a range of services using Ainy and Phytomer, some of which include facials, scrubs, massages and other body treatments for both men and women. It was tough to decide what exactly I wanted. But my therapist Pauline solved my problem. After receiving a brief description of the products from spa manager Claudia, Pauline guided me through a candlelit corridor to my room.
She suggested that I try out her signature treatment along with a bit of the shell massage. Yup! They use real shells in this massage. I have to admit that, the shell as well as the candle massage did catch my eye while I was browsing through their menu initially. Yet, I was unsure. I had choice between two oils - Nile Lotus from the Phytomer range and a Herbal oil from Ainy. I chose Ainy, because the oil smelt divine.
It was one hour of pure bliss. Pauline alternated between the shells and her hands. The shell massage was unique. It wasn't anything like a hot stone massage, which I initially thought it would be like. Ainy's treatments are no ordinary treatments. They are made with the knowledge of indigenous people of the Amazon. Hence, a percentage of the profits goes directly to them. They are more like rituals and are very gentle on the body. So, if you prefer something mild, this is for you.
After my treatment, I headed to the fit and spa lounge for tea dates. I opted out of steam and sauna that evening as I was short of time. I definitely recommend their treatments if you want to pamper yourself. I am looking forward to trying out their candle massage (which doesn't happen to be ear candling by the the way) and a facial!
Disclaimer : I was a guest of Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre. As always, all opinions are my own.
I just returned from a 2 week vacation in Japan, but for some reason it still feels like I haven't had one in ages. Maybe I'm just been fussy. Lets face it, we want to be on vacation all the time. Now ... if only that was possible. Being in UAE, we are not short of places to explore. If you cant get a vacation, you might as well go for the next best thing - A Staycation!
I have been living in Abu Dhabi for nearly 30 years now and havent fully had the opportunity to explore my city. Abu Dhabi to me starts from Yas Island and ends at Marina Mall ... yup, thats about it! Last week I visited Abu Dhabi's western region.
THE JOURNEY - Stocked up with 4 Chiquitas (the bananas of course) and a pack of Cheetos, we decided to make the big trip to Jebel Dhanna for a 2 day staycation at the luxurious Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort. Google Maps showed a little over 2.5 hours which was probably the longest roadtrip we'd ever have to undertake in UAE. After what seemed like a never ending journey with 2 caffeine breaks, 1 pee break and dodging multiple monster trucks, we finally reached the resort at 5.30pm ... a little later than expected because Mr. D thought he was smarter than Google Maps!
CHECK IN - Thankfully, this was quick. I was rather surprised when the guy at the front desk greeted me with a "Ms Dcosta?".I asked him how he guessed my name. Apparently I was one of those guests with a non-Arabic surname. We were offered a nice cold towel and a glass of fruit juice. It was such a relief from the heat and long drive.
ROOM #404 - I was pleasantly surprised by the size of our room, it was huge. But what impressed me more was the view. Our window faced the big, blue sea. I'm not too particular about views, but heck, if I get one I don't complain! If only we could have this view everyday, sigh. On the table, lay a bowl of fruits and sweet treats sure to bring a smile on any weary traveller's face :D.
Oh, and did I mention that they made this towel arrangement for us as well which I very cheekily placed on the bed ;)
Our room was equipped with a safe and coffee/tea making facilities. The bathroom was spacious and well stocked. The only problem we faced here was with the bath tub. It was pretty high and I almost fell off the first time the I got out. I got the hang of it later.
There were two things in particular that I liked about our room (besides the comfy bed of course), the first one was plants. There were real plants in the room including the bathroom. It certainly brought life to our space. The second one was that all the artwork in the room was about the sea.
BODY & SOUL RECREATION CLUB - Danat Resort has a well equipped gym which I obviously didn't use. I'm the last person to go to a gym when I'm on holiday. But yes, if you're a gym freak, this is for you. They also have a squash court, tennis court, sauna & steam rooms and indoor play area for kids. I, of course had plans of my own. I decided to pamper myself with an amazing rose scented almond oil massage! It was 45 minutes of pure bliss. They do not have a dedicated spa area but just a massage room with one or two therapists. They offer various treatments, so make sure you book in advance.
Beach & Pool - The beach at this hotel needs no explanation. It in untouched! The sand is pure and the water is pristine. We chose to just relax on one of their many beach chairs and imagine that we were in Maldives. If you're feeling adventurous, you can try out one of their many water sports like windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling, etc.
I loved their pool a lot, that's where Mr. D and I spent most of our time. Don't know whether it was because they had a pool bar? The water temperature was perfect. They even have a separate area for kids.
Playtime - As I mentioned earlier, the hotel has an indoor kids play area within their health club. They have an outdoor one as well. This is good for families with kids.
If you are a big kid (like me), you can try your hands at chess!
THE HOTEL IN GENERAL- They have a very eye-catching lobby. Basically everything revolves around the sea - the colours, paintings, arrangements. To me, blue is very pleasing to the eyes.
The hotel is green too. It isn't just a sandpit, but a tranquil green oasis with beautifully landscaped grounds. At times, I found some areas to be a bit secluded. Good for me though, as I generally prefer seclusion rather that crowds.
DINING - Well, they have 6 restaurants (pool bar included) and we had an opportunity to try 5 of them.
C-View - The lobby cafe that serves your favourite alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks and pastries. Watch out for the singer that comes there later in the evening. He's got some talent!
Tides - Brekkie was at Tides - their all day dining restaurant. I cannot say that it was a large spread, however, they did have different kinds of cuisine. There was sushi, pizza, muthabel and puri bhaji. There, you've already got 4 different kinds of cuisine. They had a live egg station too with a choice of egg benedict on the menu (which isn't a very common thing).
We also tried out the lunch at Tides, where they feature a live pasta and grills counter. I was not particularly fond of the grilled food, however, their salad and dessert selection were pretty good. Some of my favourites included fried sultan fish, hammour with saffron sauce and vegetable parmigiana.
Friday Beach BBQ - A perfect BBQ right by the beach. I especially loved the mac n cheese and lamb chops. Besides these, there were grilled veggies and salads as well. The food wasn't too bad but what could be improved on here is the setup. Summer has already set in the UAE and some of the tables were places directly under the sun without any sort of umbrella or anything. Luckily, we got a shaded table after we asked the staff to pull our table into the shade! No one there was willing to sit under the sun ... which is quite understandable.
Waves - The hotel's pool bar was fantastic. I had a tender coconut there and it looked something like this.
Couldn't figure out whether it was a mouse or what, but I liked the bartender's creativity!
Zaitoun - Read my review about the hotel's award-winning Italian restaurant here.
L'Attitude Bar & Restaurant - Read more about them here.
SERVICE - What can I say, expect for the fact that it was top notch. From Kushal at the front desk staff to Suchit my therapist, from Craig our server at Zaitoun to Ali at the pool bar. Everyone was warm, friendly and always willing to help. There was a smile on their faces everytime and it certainly made me feel like home.
THE VERDICT - If you are looking for a break from your 9-5 and prefer to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, or if you are a big group looking for some fun under the sun, this is your place. The journey is long but well worth it. Just incase, you do not feel like driving, the hotel also arranges transportation.
For more information, visit their website.
Disclaimer : I was a guest of Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort. As always, all opinions are my own.
We stayed at the Nassima Royal Hotel a week after we got back from our winter break. For those who might now know, Nassima Royal Hotel was previously known as Radisson Royal Hotel. The new name was given about three months ago.
We hadn't had a staycation in quite sometime, so this was pretty exciting. And it was good way to recover from the post holiday blues. On the day we checked in, the thing that caught my attention was the elegance and simplicity of the lobby. Not to forget the beautiful Christmas tree in the background. Since all the check in counters were full, we were taken directly to the 42nd floor for check in.
Check in was swift. From the 42nd floor, I could see Dubai from a pretty interesting angle. When the staff who checked us in told me that we would be staying on a higher floor, I was ecstatic and already began imagining my view!
The moment we entered the room, the curtains opened automatically to a breathtaking view of Dubai. Since our room was at a corner, we had a view of Sheikh Zayed Road as well as Jumeirah Beach. The ceiling to floor windows literally curved in from one end of the room to the other. Our room was spacious and to my surprise, I even spotted a spa discount voucher placed on the bed. I thought that this was a lovely gesture. There was a sheet on the table with a detailed description of the hotel's facilities and restaurants along with the opening and closing timings. Basically, it was all laid there on a plate for us!
What I found even more interesting was the bathroom. Well, even it had those long glass windows. Thankfully there were blinds as well. The bathroom was equipped with a bathtub as well as a rainshower. Generally, I do not both about the quality of bathing products hotels use, but I have to when its from "The White Company". Good quality products speaks volumes of a hotel.
As we sat in our room contemplating what to do next, our curtains just closed and opened up by themselves. This did happen a couple of time and did get quite annoying.
Our room also had a full stocked mini bar. A hotel that stocks hot chocolate always gets my vote! And this one did. After a while we went out exploring the hotel's facilities.
Getting to the outdoor pool and gym was quite a task. We had to go to 19th floor, get out and change the elevator. Once we reached the area, the wonderful aroma of Spa Zen drew us in. As we walked towards the other side, the first thing I spotted was the gym and then the pool. We didn't use the gym but it did look like a fully fledged gym. We hit the pool & nearby pool bar.
The pool wasn't too big, however I loved the entire setup. I didn't like the fact that the water wasn't warm. There was a Jacuzzi too and the water in the Jacuzzi seemed colder than the rest of the pool. We had to literally hold our breaths before entering the water. Later, while stepping into the pool from a different area I found the water to be more warmer.
Oh, and another thing - I think that I might have just found the best place to catch a sunset in Dubai!
Before heading for dinner, we thought we'd freshen up a bit. Personally, I loved the rain shower in our room. It had these different nozzles pointing perpendicular to your body sort of like having a massage. The wash basin though left me almost soaked each time I used it. It was probably because of how it was designed. Each time I opened the faucet, the water would touch the base and splash directly onto me.
Dinner that evening was at a traditional Italian restaurant called TRE (Read my review on TRE here).
Once we reached the room, the lights went off and there was no turning back. It had been a long day. Although I would have loved to check out the pool at night.
Next morning, we headed down to the mezzanine floor for breakfast. Celsius, a modern, upscale restaurant at Nassima Royal Hotel serves amazing buffets be it breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The spread was excellent. They had a selection of food from all over the world. I was surprised when I saw the traditional Gujarati specialty Dhokla there as well! There were plenty of salads, breads, cheese cold cuts and a live egg station too.
The best part of our stay was when the hotel allowed us to have a late check-out. That gaves us time to have a nice nap after brekkie and finally leave the hotel at 2pm.
Overall, we had a wonderful stay. The staff were warm, friendly and very accommodating. The hotel is at an excellent location and is ideal for business and leisure alike.
A few weeks ago, Mr. D and I decided to visit ESPA for a Swedish massage. Its been ages since we've had a massage ... so long that I cant even remember when we had one last. This time we opted to have it separately. So, this is my side of the story.
We got dropped off to ESPA via a golf cart as the walk was a bit too much for us. And then I realized how beautiful The Ritz Carlton really was. I've always visited them at night and never got a chance to see whats around me. The moment we reached ESPA, we were greeted with a lovely smile by members of the staff.
As we filled in the client massage questionnaire, we were offered a cup of the most delicious saffron tea I've ever tasted! ESPA has a very Arabian inspired interior. It was quite evident from the arched walkways and the light fixtures. As soon as we were done with questionnaire, the hubs was escorted to the gents side of the spa while me to the ladies side.
Before heading to the changing room, I was given a tour of ESPA. As a guest of ESPA, I could use their beautiful plunge pool and the beach. There's a secluded little corner on the beach for the spa guests. The beach was the only facility common to both men and women. There was a cold shower too (which I obviously wouldn't dare step into). After a quick tour, I was taken straight into the changing room and allowed to change.
After a while, Amy, my therapist from Thailand came along and took me to my luxurious massage suite which was located on a lower level. When I entered the room, I was given a choice of two oils - one of them smelt of citrus and the other mint. Being an fan of anything mint, I chose the peppermint oil. I personally loved the idea of choosing the oil. However, I wish we had an opportunity to choose the music too. Not that I didn't like what was playing, but people have their preferences.
Once my therapy started, I slowly drifted away into a different world with Amy's gentle touch. During the therapy, she repeatedly asked me whether her pressure was okay or not. To be honest, it was perfect! When I requested for "soft", she kept it soft. Hence, I didn't end up with a sore body after the treatment.
Once we were done, I had a choice to stay in one of the relaxation rooms downstairs or move up to where the plunge pool was. I chose upstairs. As I lay there amidst all the greenery and waterfall (yes they have a little waterfall there) around me, Amy offered me a cup of tea and cookies and bid me goodbye. I didn't get an opportunity to use to pool nor the beach and I had to attend a buffet soon after, although I would have loved too.
Overall, I had a wonderful and rejuvenating experience. The staff are professional and the spa is super clean. I wouldn't think twice about visiting them again.
I'M ON INSTAGRAM!
CONNECT WITH ME FACEBOOK!