SWISSÔTEL AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

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Swissotel Amsterdam is a four-star boutique hotel located by Dam Square, in the heart of Amsterdam’s historic city centre and a short walk from Amsterdam Central Station. The hotel is surrounded by shops, museums and restaurants and is a 20-minute drive from Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport.

Check-in at the Swissotel was a breeze. The front office agent was very welcoming and recognised me as a Swissotel Circle member and immediately upgraded me to a swiss-select room with a nice view over the square. It was a corner room with a small staircase going up to the bedroom. Nice clean room with electric curtains and a comfortable large bed. There was a working desk, a minibar and a Nespresso machine. The bathroom was small but the shower was large with a hand shower or a rain shower to choose from. The bathroom was layed out in grey stone and looked very chic. The hotel had a small gym and an outsourced restaurant called Royal 89. The restaurant looked nice and fresh but I did not try it. I checked out within 2 minutes and the same friendly front office staff member offered me a bottle of water to take with me on the way out.

My stay at the Swissotel was a pleasant experience and the best thing about the hotel is its location on Dam Square, right in the city centre and  just minutes walk from the main train station. Verdict: good standard hotel with reasonable rates during the off season.

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https://www.swissotel.com/hotels/amsterdam

CASTILLO HOTEL SON VIDA, PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN

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The Castillo Hotel Son Vida was built in the 13th century and is a member of The Luxury Collection of the Starwood/Marriott Hotels Group. Son Vida is a small village located above Palma de Mallorca, the main city on the island where the business centre, the airport and the shipping terminal are located. The hotel offers incomparable views of the Bay of Palma and has a large terrace which is often called “The Balcony of Palma”.

I stayed in a deluxe room on the 8th floor (highest floor) with a splendid view. The room was oversized with a charming wooden ceiling decoration, warm colours and all amenities that you could wish for. The room had a large bathroom with separate shower and bathtub.

The hotel’s occupancy was not high as it was low season, but the bar and 1 of the 2 restaurants were open and all the food that I tasted was excellent. There were friendly staff everywhere and beautiful decorations all over the hotel. The Spa was closed for renovation but a gym was available with a small heated pool/jacuzzi.

I enjoyed my stay at the Castillo Hotel Son Vida very much and would come back to this beautiful castle any time. All round it was a very pleasant experience.

 

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http://www.castillosonvidamallorca.com/en

GRAND HYATT DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

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The Grand Hyatt Dubai is a huge resort style hotel located between Dubai airport and Dubai downtown. There is a large airy lobby with plenty of plants and other decorations. It seems like a small jungle in the desert. The hotel has numerous restaurants and bars, a hair salon, a pharmacy, a jewellery shop and some excursion desks.

I booked a room with club level access on the 14th floor. The room was nicely decorated with a comfortable bed, a working desk and a small separate wardrobe. The bathroom had a separate shower, bathtub and toilet.

The club lounge was very large with a great view over the hotel gardens. You could see the 3 pools, the children’s play area and the event venue. The lounge food offerings were breakfast (a nice extensive choice), coffee and tea as well as soft drinks all day.

Happy hour consisted of cocktails and wines, and the food was more like a small dinner buffet rather than only a snack choice. Hot and cold items, as well as salads and desserts, were available. It seemed to me that many guests used this as their place to have dinner so seating was almost always full, but due to the size of the lounge it was still pleasant. There was also a separate section for families with children.

The hotel has a gym, 3 outdoor swimming pools, sports facilities which include a heated indoor pool and a gym. All the staff members that I met were friendly and nice. There is no scheduled turn-down service but it is available on request and given the large size of the hotel, the housekeeping department was quick in response, efficient and fast.

If you are looking for a hotel which is away from the beach, and still not too far from the city centre or the airport, the Grand Hyatt Dubai is a good choice.

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https://dubai.grand.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html

JW MARRIOTT DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

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Located just minutes away from Dubai International Airport this hotel is a top standard business class hotel with several high class restaurants such as JW Steakhouse, Cucina, Hofbräuhaus, Vienna Cafe, Champion Sports Bar and Bamboo Lounge which are very popular among locals as well as hotel guests.

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http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/dxbae-jw-marriott-hotel-dubai/

THE RITZ-CARLTON, LANGKAWI, MALAYSIA

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I arrived at the Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi a few days after their official opening. Although there were some teething problems which were to be expected, I had a very pleasant stay. I stayed in a Rainforest Deluxe Room which was a generous 75 sq. metres in size, with a living area, a balcony and an oversized bathroom. The decoration is tasteful and fits well in a remote jungle setting.

Upon arrival, I was checked-in at the arrival lounge and then taken by electric buggy to the Dahlia building which hosted 9 suites.

The hotel offers 3 food and beverage outlets. The high-end Chinese restaurant Hai Yan; the Langkawi Kitchen serving Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine; and the Beach Grill serving western and eastern dishes, mainly seafood. The menu choices at the Beach Grill were quite limited and comfort food (beach resort favourites) such as club sandwiches or spaghetti dishes etc. was unfortunately missing. However, all the food that I tasted at the resort was delicious.

The hotel had a nice private, clean, sandy beach with plenty of lounge chairs, all of which were unfortunately not equipped with sun umbrellas yet.The pool is beautifully situated overlooking the beach and the bay.

The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi opened during early October 2017 and all the staff members that I met were eager to please, charming and helpful.

The resort is set in an emerald jungle and its design is inspired by a Malay fishing village. The contemporary Ritz-Carlton SPA is offering various treatments in private settings which are shaped like local Bubu fish traps.

The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi offers luxury accommodation and the renowned Ritz-Carlton service. It’s a beautiful place in the Malaysian rainforest.

 

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http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/malaysia/langkawi#Hotel

SHARQ VILLAGE RESORT AND SPA, RITZ-CARLTON, DOHA, QATAR

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On my arrival at the Sharq Village & Spa resort, I was escorted directly to my room where the check-in procedure was completed efficiently. I was assigned a room in Villa 8 overlooking the main pool with good views over the resort which reminded me very much of a Morrocan village. The buildings were low rise and in oriental style, white and very different from typical big-city resorts. Everything was very clean and the resort grounds had beautifully manicured gardens.

The Sharq Village & Spa resort offers 2 swimming pools, a jacuzzi and 300 metres of private beach frontage.  The beach is taken care of by  an enthusiastic and helpful beach attendant. He keeps the beach impeccably clean at all times, ensures that guests always have enough towels and offers plenty of free ice-cold water to his guests. The main pool area has some waterfalls and a swim-up bar which is quite popular all day long. The staff at the pool are very attentive and  ensure that everyone feels always at ease, being with an excellent service, a chat or just checking back from time to time to see if everything is all right.

The room was spacious in oriental style with a large bathroom with bathtub, a rain shower and a toilet. The room also had a Nespresso coffee machine, a kettle for tea and plenty of drinking water. The bed was very comfy and the room lighting system was flexible. There was a working desk (with a multi-type electric power plug, which I greatly appreciated) and a nice balcony.

The hotel offers several food outlets including an award winning Persian restaurant, a shisha bar and a cigar lounge. All the food outlets I tried were  excellent. The food choice available was plentiful, everything tasted  delicious, and the service was attentive and friendly.

The resort has a fantastic Six Senses Spa which offers luxury spa treatments including massages and Turkish bath (hammam). A large gym is also available on site.

This hotel offers all that a resort style property needs to offer. Spacious rooms, nice swimming pools and a private beach. All the staff members that I met were warm, charming and attentive. They strive to make the guest feel at home and they do this with great success. I would recommend this hotel for a vacation style stay as well as for business people since the airport and downtown Doha are both not far away and easily reachable.

 

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http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/qatar/sharq-village

CROWN PLAZA HOTEL, PARIS CDG AIRPORT, FRANCE

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The former Relais Spa Hotel at Paris CDG Airport is now managed by Crown Plaza. It is a large hotel which caters for the crews of several Asian airlines. The rooms are a good size with a small kitchenette  including a microwave oven for warming food or drinks.

The hotel features all the normal amenities  that you would expect. There is a bar and a restaurant which never seem to be busy.  I had a meal at the restaurant and it was good and service was well done. There is a large Spa which has a sauna, massages and a heated indoor swimming pool. Computer stations are also available as well as free wifi. The area around the hotelcomprises other hotels and not much else. There has been a terrible robbery attack to a tourist group with gas sprays outside on the public street and they were all robbed. So better be careful.

Unfortunately, under the new hotel management, the hotel shuttle bus now stops at CDG Terminal 2 only and no longer stops at Terminal 1 and the Roissypole RER train station. In my view, this is a major oversight as Terminal 1 is served by many airlines, including all Star Alliance airlines, and the Roissypole RER train station is the gateway to downtown Paris and the Paris Metro system. Passengers travelling to Terminal 1, or the Roissypole RER train station, now need to take a taxi directly from the hotel, or travel via Terminal 2 and use CDG’s free CDGVAL train system. Both options are inefficient, as compared to direct transportation via hotel shuttle bus. The taxi option is an added expense and can be an uncomfortable experience as taxi drivers do not like the short trip to/from CDG airport.  I believe that management should address this oversight as soon as possible and update the hotel’s website with details of the shuttle bus arrangements.  UBER is another option. I used it and it was easy and cheaper than regular taxis.

Verdict: One of the many options at CDG, certainly not the highest standard but acceptable for 1 night.

 

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https://www.ihg.com/crowneplaza/hotels/us/en/roissy-en-france/parca/hoteldetail