I love putting hotels to the test and one of the sneakiest ways is to change the date of arrival. I know it’s not fair but it’s the perfect way to get a true reflection of what a regular business executive or couple can expect without any special treatment set up for a pre-planned visit by a travel writer.
The downside is that the property might not have a room available but I was fortunate that a packed three-day conference in Bahrain had just concluded and the arrival of scores of weekend visitors and F1 early-birds was yet to happen.
It’s all about timing, so I showed up at reception straight from a busy day in the office, chasing stories around the island, attending meetings and trying to get my head around our deadline-looming special eight-page grand prix supplement. I arranged to meet Kathryn after she had dropped our teenage son at his friend’s house for a sleepover.
It’s all about the planning too.
The Crowne Plaza fortunately is in the Diplomatic Area, just a short drive from our head office on Exhibitions Avenue. I parked in the multi-storey car park on the first floor knowing it was only a few steps straight to the entrance of the hotel.
Walking to the reception area, I was greeted with warm smiles and immediate attention by front-of-house duo Pretti and Adnan. As Adnan dealt with another new arrival, Pretti, confident and efficient, carried out the checking-in procedure with politeness and professionalism. At the same time another member of the team handed me a refreshing fruit juice.
Little touches like that make all the difference. You can spend as much money as you like on a property but people are what matter and I was feeling happy and content already … and I hadn’t even stepped into the room.
With just my trendy ‘man bag’ over my shoulder I walked a short distance and opened the door of my room with the touch of an electronic key. Wow, it was called a suite, it was more like a trendy, comfortable apartment.
It was home.
I threw off my jacket on one chair, sat down in another by the side-table and put on the TV news. No complications, a simple press of the remote control button, a welcome message and an easy menu to follow. I so love big-screen interactive smart televisions, and noticed there was another in the bedroom.
Busy guests can also settle down on soft seating by a new workstation with media hub and built-in reading lamps.
I had at least half-an-hour to get ready before Kathryn arrived which gave me an opportunity to jump in the shower. Now, the reason I mention this, is because I’ve been really looking forward to trying it out.
The walk-in bathroom has a sleek, clean design and comes complete with German company Hansgrohe’s latest state-of-the-art iBox universal thermostatic solutions installed. General manager Gilles Nicolas, had told me a few weeks earlier that it was the ‘first of its kind’ in Bahrain.
Gilles stressed that the aim of the comprehensive renovation of the hotel rooms was necessary to keep pace with the market and the strong competition, especially with the entry of new hotels to the sector.
This was a determined bid by the management of the property to maintain its status as one of the leading five-star hotels in Bahrain.
He added that the world of work is changing and so too is the hotel’s guest. Today’s modern business traveller, he believes, craves a hotel experience that blends ‘work and restoration’. They want to ‘boost their productivity and feel inspired’.
“We are excited to welcome guests to our refreshed product as we continue to redefine true hospitality with a touch of Bahraini warmth,” he added, saying the hotel recognises the need of tech-savvy travellers to connect in real time. As a result all guestrooms are equipped with complimentary in-room Wi-Fi access for more than one device, smart TV and a media hub to stay connected.
So, you may be asking ‘what does a state-of-the-art iBox universal thermostatic solution’ have to do with it? The answer is simple, it’s brilliant. A little box, a push button and out drops the rain from the shower at the perfect temperature.
Gone are the days of freezing or scolding the skin off your back. Refreshed, reinvigorated I was ready … for food. Fortunately Kathryn had WhatsApped me moments earlier to say she’d arrived.
Now, there was method in my madness too because I knew the Crowne Plaza Bahrain’s La Mosaique restaurant plays host to its popular Steak Night every Wednesday and I love my steak.
I’m not the only one, the restaurant is currently running a competition to see who can devour a steak dish in record time with a leader board for those who have competed for a prize of several free steak-night nights for the winner.
Although I’m sure I could have risen to the challenge, I prefer, however, to slowly savour the flavour of my steaks.
And the rib-eye and beef tenderloin I chose, cooked to perfection by Senior Sous Chef Suseno, was too good to rush.
Full and content we retired to our suite and soon sunk into the luxuriously large bed. To ensure guests have a perfect night’s sleep the hotel even offers a choice of pillows, synthetic or ergonomic, which is another masterstroke of added value.
Morning came too soon but after a run on the treadmill in the gym, and another perfect revitalising shower, we were ready for breakfast, exclusively available to Executive Suite and King Club Room guests in the all-new Club Lounge.
This is a popular meeting venue in the evenings with hot snacks and numerous beverages available but the comfort and smart surroundings make it a perfect place to gather together in the morning.
One of my favourite kitchen kings in the kingdom and dedicated F1 follower, Executive Chef David Miras, (he predicts Ferrari’s iceman Kimi Raikkonen will win in Bahrain but Mercedes Lewis Hamilton will go on to retain his drivers crown at the end of the season) conjured up a fabulous selection of hot and cold breakfast fare.
I sampled the perfect bowl of porridge followed by poached eggs on toast as Kathryn went posh and ordered the Eggs Benedict, which in my opinion, is little different to poached eggs on toast.
We debated the subject over coffee in the comfortable surrounds as a small group of businessmen slipped into the adjoining Business Centre to secure some serious deal they had been working on. The early bird catches the worm, or so I’m told.
I was refreshed and ready for the day ahead. A perfect stop-over for the busy business executive visiting the kingdom … and for a couple wanting a luxurious night away from reality.
Room rates vary, to check on the best deal call 800100610 or visit www.cp-bahrain.com
Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
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