With the opening of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, Havana got its first 5 star hotel. It is located prominently on Parque Central which is a lively square with a small park and plenty of old vintage limousines available to do a sightseeing tour of old and new Havana.
The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski offers 3 restaurants, a roof-top swimming pool and a state-of-the-art spa as well as gym on the top floor which offers a great view. The spa is very beautiful and offers a lot of space and many options which is fantastic. The infinity swimming pool is a perfect place to relax on a hot afternoon while enjoying a magnificent view over the rooftops of Havana.
The rooms are generous in size with an oversized shower and a separate toilet. The decor is very modern and timeless. Espresso-maker and other 5*star hotel amenities were also available. The famous Kempinski “lady-in-red” concierge service is available around-the-clock and is always helpful.
The reception lobby of the hotel is small, but there is a huge bar/lounge on the first floor. The Bar is open 24 hours and features live music including singers and a fantastic harp player which made the waiting time to go to the airport a very pleasant one. A cigar smoking lounge is also located on the first floor as well as another bar called Constante.
Breakfast was served in the Confluencias restaurant and offered a huge variety of breads, fresh fruit, cheese, cereals and muesli. Hot egg dishes such as eggs benedict were served at the table. I loved the breakfast very much as there were also smoothies and healthy juice options available. Good value for money here.
The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski is a beautiful new hotel with a solid service for a 5-star hotel but it was missing a “wow” effect such as a little treat for Discovery Members or a staff or management member who was available for chatting with guests or inquiring about their well-being.
HAVANA – ZURICH
I flew on an Edelweiss Airbus 330 with a configuration of 27 Business Class and 298 Economy Class seats.
There was a long check-in queue line for Economy Class passengers at Havana Airport but the Business Class counter was free and check-in was a breeze (There were only 11 Pax booked in C-class)
The Edelweiss Airbus 330 features the same Business Class seats as offered by SWISS/Austrian with a full flat sleeping option and the same layout as well.
I found the Edelweiss in-flight service very pleasant. There was a pre-dinner drink service followed by a first course, a main course and cheese and dessert. All return flight food items were catered in Zurich so the quality and taste was very good. After a good sleep a nice breakfast was served and the famous swiss Biberli (Biber cake) were handed out before landing.
I enjoyed the service from the Edelweiss crew a lot. They were attentive and charming and, of course, the flight being half empty made it a very comfortable experience.
FRANKFURT – HAVANA
Condor is a German airline with a long history. The airline used to be part of the Lufthansa Group but is now owned by Thomas Cook International. While the Condor aircraft tails carry the Thomas Cook heart on them, the airplanes show the Condor name on them and many things reminded me of the Lufthansa times. The crew uniforms are still LH-style, the menu cards and the service still show the signature of Lufthansa. Condor is also part of the Miles-and-More program. This makes it easy for collecting and spending miles and getting good connecting flights as well as a check-through bag arrangement.
My flight to Havana boarded from a bus gate at Terminal B in Frankfurt and when boarding the airplane through the aircraft steps a true holiday feeling came up because many passengers were taking pictures and everything was very relaxed.
The aircraft was a 21-year old Boeing 767-300. The Business Class seating was 18 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats were angle-flat but reclinable to 170 degrees. Economy seating was: 237 in 2-3-2 configuration.
After a welcome drink, menu cards and immigration forms were handed out. The purser took the menu choice and after take-off they served the first course right away. After the first course, the entire tray was cleared and the hot dish, cheese and dessert were served separately. Then duty free sales was done, followed by ice-cream and a rest period before another meal was served. The landing in Havana was on-time and after walking from the aircraft to the terminal building immigration was done in a matter of minutes.
I enjoyed my flight with Condor very much despite the lack of wifi and the rather “vintage” seating. The crew was very pleasant and I felt well being taken care of. Condor offers a solid product at very competitive fares.
I booked a suite at the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights through one of the big online booking platforms. The choice of hotels and rooms in Dubai is countless and special offers are always available. I have done a couple of reviews in Dubai already and with the recent opening of the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights at Dubai Healthcare City, I wanted to add another hotel of the Hyatt Group.
The hotel is located mid-way between the city and the airport near the Dubai Creek and offers a hotel and a residence building and accommodations. The World-of-Hyatt priority counter was unoccupied so I checked-in at the regular reception desk. It was done quickly, although no upgrade or lounge level was offered.
The suite was large 69 sq m. with a separate living room, a guest toilet, a large bedroom with walk-in closet, and a large bathroom with a separate shower and bathtub. The window shade in the bathroom was broken and I could not open it. I requested it to be fixed two times during my 3 nights stay but they were not able to fix it for some reason. (I never actually saw anybody working on it or trying to fix it)
I found the service at the Hyatt Regency to be below average. There was no welcome greeting card, no welcome fruit or anything. There were a couple of free soft drinks in the minibar which were complimentary as well as a coffee maker but the capsules were not refilled on two days without requesting it from housekeeping. Housekeeping in general was held to a minimum. There was no daily turn down service and the bathroom amenities such as bottle water or shaver were never refilled during my stay. This is not the usual service that I expect at a Hyatt Regency hotel.
There are 3 food outlets in the hotel. A Mexican restaurant, a local/international mixed restaurant and a Deli plus a small ice cream shop in the lobby. I ordered a room service meal on the first night which was promptly delivered and tasted OK.
There is a huge gym which offers lots of good equipment including a separate fitness room for body building. There is a beauty parlour and a Spa available as well. Taxi and Uber Taxi are available 24 hours so it is easy to move about.
If traveling to Dubai there are endless possibilities where to stay and I would not recommend this hotel and not return to it. The hotel needs substantial service improvement and the touch of Hyatt Regency is totally missing.
I stayed in at the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel because I liked the idea of trying something different to the usual city hotels. London offers a great variety of hotels and accommodation so I found this a welcome change and was happy to try something new.
The Sunborn London Yacht Hotel has been stationed in the new London Docklands area since 2014 and has been operating as a hotel since then. It is frequently booked for weddings, anniversaries and other events. The Sunborn has its own bar and a restaurant.
I stayed in an Executive Suite with river view. It was a large hotel suite with a small balcony which had enough space for 2 chairs. The suite had a flatscreen TV, an espresso maker, kettle, a refrigerator with free mineral water, and all amenities a luxury room would normally offer. The bathroom was small but had a good layout and a heater for towels. The decoration of the suite was elegant with a lot of warm wood tones and I really appreciated the small balcony to let some fresh air in during the night. The bed was comfortable with plenty of pillows and I slept very well.
I had a drink at the upper deck bar and it was nice to sit there and see people move by and taking pictures. The restaurant made a good impression, it was nicely set up and small but good choice of food was available.
The entire Yacht is nicely decorated and my pictures show images from the suite, the restaurant and the hotel bar as well as the upper deck bar.
What I was not impressed about was the staff working there. They seemed to be more interested in chatting among themselves than taking care of their guests or giving information about the area or restaurants nearby. I also sent 2 e-mails with different inquiries to the hotel prior to my stay, but both of them were left unanswered. I find this behaviour very unprofessional and it does not give the guest a positive impression from the staff and management. Overall, it was a good stay but leaves lots of room for improvement to make their guests feel truly welcome.
Qatar airways sells its new business class under the slogan “First in Business” with a new concept called Quad suites. There are forward and backward facing suites which can be combined into a “family suite” when the TV panels are pushed away.
If used alone, there is a generously large suite waiting for you where you have a large TV monitor, a seat that turns into a full bed and a door to close for complete privacy. Various mood lighting and nice pillows are also waiting. The famous dining anytime service is available and is enhanced with “candle lights”, a choice or hot and cold towels and warm desserts. (pyjamas are also available)
I found the suites very private and comfortable, and I loved the setting with the private door. The service was excellent and the product offered to Qatar Airways business class passengers is considered First Class on other airlines.
In my opinion this is the best business class product on the market at the moment.