Thursday, October 20, 2011

HOTEL CHECK DUBAI, part 2, The Ritz-Carlton

Serene in the heart of the Dubai Marina, The Ritz-Carlton is a more intimate resort with only 138 rooms. Amidst its landscaped gardens, the hotel feels quiet and calm in a warm and positive way. The sandy beach and clear water are beautiful - possibly the nicest beach feeling in Dubai.

We arrived into a splendid lobby that is very classic and traditional. A harpist and violinist added to the sense of harmony, even at midday.

The rooms are traditional five star, with nice classic bathrooms.

Floors 5 & 6 are the club floors.

The Deluxe rooms on the club floors are the same as the other deluxe rooms. The only differences are:

• Access to club lounge
• Nespresso machine
• DVD player

The room categories are:

• Deluxe Room
• Deluxe Room Club Floor
• Executive Suite
• Club Suite (Executive suite on the club floor)
• On top of that they have 2 premium suites.

Four dining options include Italian and a Bedouin tent by the Gulf serving Arabic cuisine. There is also a Spa with sauna, steam room, hair and beauty salon, gym, four tennis courts, two squash courts, kid's club, and of course the pool area with three swimming pools including a swim-up bar and a children's pool.

Who should stay?
We recommend the Ritz-Carlton to couples and families who want a quieter and smaller resort, really nice beach and good outdoor pool area. The facilities are 5 star - not Dubai-style "six star" yet, but things will change with an ongoing construction project.

On the water just by the JBR Walk which is a fantastic location. When you walk straight out of the hotel, in front of you are many restaurants, cafes, shops and so on. This is a big advantage for most holiday-makers.

You should know
The hotel is constructing another wing so the hotel will go from 138 rooms to 301 rooms. The other wing will be completed June 2012. Once it is completed all the old rooms will be refurbished bringing up the deluxe standard of the hotel.

Though construction is going on, it does not seem like a problem. The heavy work is already done and there is not much noise or disturbance at all. The construction area is walled off.

We really like the location of this hotel. It is a big advantage to be able to step out of the door and have all the dining and other options. The beach is nice and the hotel is very traditional and classic. A solid product which will be truly great once the new wing is ready in June 2012.

Note: In usual blog style, our images are our own informal mobile phone snapshots taken during our visit.

HOTEL CHECK DUBAI, part 1, One&Only Royal Mirage

DUBAI. The city that reaches for the sky - always bigger and better, full of fantasy and excitement. But still a place to relax in the sun. We paid a visit to the Big Apple of the Middle East to check out our favourite properties and keep in touch with our special contacts at the hotels. Our first stop was our top seller One&Only Royal Mirage.

O&O Royal Mirage

With its Arabian Nights touches of arches, domes and courtyards, this hotel is a contrast to the skyscrapers of Dubai - it is low rise and extends through huge gardens, lush lawns and immaculate flower beds. It is a large resort consisting of 3 hotels, The Palace, Residence & Spa, Arabian Court.

We stayed in the Palace. We had a Superior Suite which is the second room category - a generous size and perfect for a couple who wants more space and a separate living room. Definitely to be recommended.

A new jetty and lounge have opened which is the best place for a sundowner drink, with a trendy atmosphere, music, fire and so on. From this jetty there is also a boat shuttle to One&Only The Palm which leaves a few times a day.

Who should stay
We recommend The Palace or Arabian Court for families and The Residence for couples. The atmosphere both in The Palace and Arabian Court is exuberant, with people and children enjoying themselves. This was most apparent around the pool and in the breakfast restaurants. Obviously this is really relaxing for families, who don't have to feel their kids are an intrusion.

On the water just by the bridge leading to The Palm. 20 minutes by car to Dubai Mall, 10 minutes to Mall of the Emirates, 10 minutes to Atlantis The Palm, 10 minutes to The Walk.

Nice outdoor pool area with green lawns, lots of palm trees. Spa, fitness centre, 4 swimming pools, tennis courts, Kids Club, watersports.

You should know
No WIFI in the hotel. For guests staying at The Palace - you can use the gym in The Residence which is bigger than the one at The Palace.

A big 5 star resort perfect for families. The fantastic thing is that all Select clients get a very special treatment. The sales department personally checks all the rooms prior to arrival for our guests to make sure there is a welcome card and so on.

Pool and bar area

Superior suite in the Palace

The Residence


Note: Pictures are informal snaphots by Select Collection during our stay

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

HOTEL CHECK MALDIVES, part 1, One&Only Reethi Rah

It is the one and only REETHI RAH - so loved that guests often try to book holidays years in advance.

Arriving at Male to check out both old and new resorts in the Maldives, our first stop was this wonderful resort, so loved by our top luxury clients. We did not even have to identify ourselves to the Reethi Rah team waiting in arrivals, they simply whisked us away to the waiting yacht. Easily the most special vessel in the harbour! High gloss mahogany and cream leather interiors, Espa products, cold towels, drinks and the attentive crew makes for a very comfortable 70 minute ride to the island. There is a sunbathing deck should the weather permit, although it is overcast and drizzling when we arrived, but still very warm.

A huge entourage awaits on the jetty for a welcome to paradise, including the Resort Manager: Warm greetings are exchanged between staff and arrivals: Happy Anniversary! Welcome back! Welcome to Reethi Rah! ‐ all very personal and sincere. A great first impression, despite the jet lag, and we have not even set foot on the island!

Embarking on a site inspection with Stephen, the Sales Executive, the sun appears by magic! We visit the dive centre, children’s club, spa, dining outlets, boutique, and finally when we arrive at our Beach Villa I am blown away…. The design is stunning ‐ high ceilings, dark Balinese woods, the sense of space and privacy is overwhelming. Outside there is dining space, sunloungers, a hammock and your own section of the beach. Totally secluded from neighbouring units; villas are at least 12 metres part.

We have had many clients deliberating about spending the extra on a villa with pool. You will not feel too deprived if you opt for just the beach villa. The feeling of the sand on your feet, proximity to the ocean and the total privacy is so special. The villa interior decoration is the same for all categories, with the overwater and additional bedroom options alternatively depending on the guest requirement.

The food is outstanding. We dined at Reethi, the main restaurant and experienced the Maldivian Buffet (weekly, Saturdays presently) which was varied, beautifully presented and of excellent quality. There is also the atmospheric Fanditha, for Middle Eastern influenced cuisine and Tapasake for Japanese which is exceptional quality, easily comparable to the finest London Japenese restaurants, although expensive.

Breakfast at Reethi, buffet or a la carte is an extravaganza, and the service all around the resort is impeccable. The GM and Resort Manager were ever present and approachable.

There is entertainment 6 nights per week with a resident band in the bar, traditional Bodu Beru dancing on Saturdays performed by some of the Maldivian resort staff. A truly fabulous top luxury resort. Dress up and be outgoing, or stay low key in your own piece of paradise at your villa.

For more relaxation - the spa provides natural healing therapies, Vitality Pools, Crystal Steam rooms, sauna, Lifestyle Showers, fitness centre and beauty salon. There are also 2 swimming pools, simulated grass tennis courts, motorized and non-motorized water sports, dive centre.

Dive Sites:

One can snorkel off the beach - but diving is the way to see the real underwater magic. From shallow reef dives to deep‐sea wrecks and shark dives, the Reethi Rah Dive Centre offers 29 different dives appealing to a variety of skill levels and areas of interest.

How to get to Reethi Rah:

70 minutes by luxury yacht from Male' International Airport

Final comment:

We simply loved it!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO MYKONOS, part 2, Mykonos Grace

You have to book far ahead for this chic boutique hotel located just north of trendy Mykonos town. With days still warm at the end of September, we found Mykonos Grace was a romantic spot for couples to relax in stunning surroundings. Yet in only 5 minutes, the hotel shuttle gets you down town to where it all happens.

We stayed in a deluxe room with plunge pool (most rooms at Mykonos Grace have plunge pools). The room was small but chic, and the view from the big furnished terrace was amazing (room 51). This is a blue and white world – gloriously Greece.

From the hotel you have only 2 minutes walk down to the sandy beach (ask in the reception for towels). Here you find several tavernas that serve typical Greek food.

The Restaurant in the Mykonos Grace also serves really delicious and exclusive food. The breakfast is a la carte so everything is very fresh.

We were really impressed with the exclusive dining that Mykonos had to offer – it’s hard to find anything better in the whole of Greece. Just to mention two of them.

Gola: Here you have a lounge atmosphere feeling with a nice view overlooking of Mykonos. The Mediterranean food is just fabulous. Gola is located between Hotel Grace and the Town.

Interni Ristorante: This deluxe Italian Restaurant is one of the 10 best restaurants in Greece. Interni is located in the heart of Mykonos Town. Your nightlife in Mykonos can easily start from here. And go on till dawn...

Interni fresh lobsters

Both restaurants are perfect for our top luxury Select Collection clients.

Back to the hotel. It also offers a big shared swimming pool and relaxing terrace with generous sunbeds and breathtaking view.

You even get wonderful views from the library - a big library with huge balcony where you can take a drink or just relax..

The hotel also has a small spa and a small small gym – with two people training it would feel really cramped!

We did try treatments at the spa and were really impressed. Though the spa is quite small, the steam room had plenty of space and it was pleasant to relax there before the treatment.

We really like Mykonos Grace and found the staff very friendly. Starting from the first moment when we were offered champagne at reception...

15 minutes by car from Mykonos International Airport. Complimentary minibus transfer