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Old Aug 10, 14, 2:12 am   #1
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: California, Istanbul, Doha
Programs: UA 1K, QR Pt, EK Au, TK E+, CX Ag, SPG Pt, IC Pt/RA, Hyatt Dia, Shang Dia, Marr Au, Hilt Ag
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Le Meridien and Westin Bahrain at City Center Mall

These are new members of SPG, having been re-flagged from Kempinski very recently.

(They were known as Grand and Ixir -- for the current Westin and LM, respectively, I think. They were not open very long as Kempinskis; I would like to know the story of why they changed.)

I just got back from the Le Meridien side. I had stayed in the Kempinski Grand, now the Westin side, about two years ago, when it was new. These are two separate hotels attached to the City Center Mall. There must be a way to travel from one to the other without going through the mall, though I didn't see it.

The rooms are very nice here. I was upgraded to a junior suite, with a sofa and coffee table, modern decor and artwork, and overall solid amenities. The bathroom has two showers, one a bathtub also, and separate W/C. There is glass separating the bathtub from the bedroom, with an electronically-operated shade for privacy. (In the other hotel, at least when it was Kempinski, there is a system whereby you press a button and the glass becomes opaque -- something I had never seen in a hotel room before or since. I liked it.)

Public areas are very austere and modern -- a different experience from the aging Arabic decor that the Sheraton and InterContinental, and most other major chain hotels in Manama, feature. I didn't visit any F&B because it didn't look interesting, but is also advertised as chic and contemporary. (There was no place on the LM side open for lunch when I arrived on Saturday; they directed me to the Westin.)

The prices were high; total rate was BHD 103 (around USD 280) after the service charge and taxes. I remember the Westin was more when I was booking. Seemed like a lot for a summer weekend, especially with the downturn in Bahrain, but there must still be a shortage of five-star hotels compared to market demand since most of the competition was in the same price range.

The only other comment I have is that the front desk service was atrocious. I came at normal check-in/-out time on a weekend, i.e., peak time, and only two desks were open. The line was moderate and it took way too long for each transaction including mine. The guy greeted me with, "welcome to the Kempinski." Among other problems, he never told me about Platinum benefits (there is apparently a club lounge on the 11th floor of LM). On checking out, the guy asked how my stay was, and I said, poor, because there was no hot water in the shower either last night or today. He barely even acknowledged my comment and continued the check-out, which also took too long.

I doubt that I would stay here again, but the facilities provide an upscale, contemporary feel that is not matched anywhere else in Bahrain besides the Ritz-Carlton and perhaps the Gulf Hotel. (I haven't seem the guest rooms at The Domain, but it may be in a similar league.) There is a Four Seasons, among others, on the way, however.
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