I have spent time at the Sheraton in Abu Dhabi previously, in the restaurants and the tavern pub, but hadn't stayed there before. The hotel is right near the city centre, at the start of the Corniche road, which runs along the esplanade of the city of Abu Dhabi. It is 37 kilometres from the Abu Dhabi Airport.
The hotel has been around for some years, but was completely remodelled in 2003, and is a deluxe 5 star hotel. I had accessed a 295 dirhams rate (about $81 US) through Metrostar.com, having also tried the sheraton.com Web site. I arrived at the hotel and the remodelling shone through. It was very impressive. Just inside the entrance I was approached by a bellhop who took custody of my bags. I was then directed to the reception, which consisted of three desks, where attendants were seated at each one. I was invited to take a seat opposite one of them, and my reservation was located and processed. It is customary in the Gulf countries for the hotel also to take a photocopy of your passport. In days gone by they would actually hold your passport, but times have changed. Even on arrival at the airport no visa was required (although this can vary depending on your nationality). I was given a key card to Room 310 and directed to the lift bank, which housed three quite large lifts. I was joined by the bellhop with my bags and soon after was exiting the lift and meandering down a fantastic hallway, luxuriously decorated in light orange, tans and browns. Wallpaperd walls, featured walls, mirrors on walls, and modern art prints, black and white photos in timber frames, lighted walls. We then entered Room 310, a plush, well designed and spacious room decked out in browns and tans, with a number of ornamentive features and a large modern print on the feature wall. There was a king size bed in the room, with a marvelous padded and patterned bedhead as a back-drop. The entrance hall was quite long, about five metres, with a a large mirror covered two-door robe, which housed a spacious hanging area, and a large chest of cupboards and drawers, and a safe. There were two bedside tables, with a shelf and a top drawer. There was a phone on one, and both had bedside control panels for the lighting in the room. Above each table fixed to the wall was a quaint Arabian style lightshade. There was also two downlights in the ceiling focused on the upper portion of the bed. There were four pillows and a cushion and a doona, all covered in white. Interestingly, the floor was varnished timber. There was an occasional table opposite the bed, made of marble, timber, and iron. Set just aside the end of the entrance hall was aa built-in open timber cabinet with a remote controlled TV at the top, a large section containing tea and coffee making facilities, and two bottles of complimentary mineral water, and below that a mini-bar, which was locked (and there was no key), and shelves containing glasses. There were two luxury armchairs each side of the table, each of a brown/burnt orange colour. In place of windows, there were two sliding glass doors facing the city, and the roof of the ground floor areas of the hotel. They opened onto a small balcony, and there was an insect screen which slid across to the main door when it was open.
The room then extended into a circular enclave which housed a study. This comprised a small desk, with a return (side table), telephone, lamp, data point, a drawer, local telephone books, and an office armchair on wheels. Entrance to the bathroom was by a sliding timber door which opened on to a vanity area with the vanity perched on a rich mahogany cabinet, which housed a large shelf. There was another glass shelf above the marble top vanity, and all-told there was sufficient space for toiletries. There was a nice timber framed mirror on the wall, and an easy-to-use hair dryer was fixed to the wall.
Moving on to another part-petitioned section was a full size bath, and opposite it a shower cubicle, which was quite large. Then into a third section of the bathroom was a toilet on one side and a bidet on the other.There was a set of scales between the two, and at opposite ends was a framed black and white photo, one of a camel, and the other a palm tree in the desert. On the wall was a phone. The entire bathroom area was done in marble tiles. Alongside the bath was a terrific patterned section.
There were no instructions re Internet access in the room so I headed down to the Business Centre. I had understood from a discussion with the receptionist when checling in that Internet access was available in the rooms via a local number, and the hotel could provide a password. It was also available in the Business Centre. I only needed a few minutes so I went to the Business Centre. I was put online immediately, and after ten minutes had finished. I was handed a docket to sign. The charges, it was explained were based on useage. 15 dirhams (about $4) for up to 15 minutes, 20 dirhams (up to 30 minutes) and 30 dirhams (up to 60 minutes).
I took a walk up to the first floor and out on to the promenade. There was a large pool, with a waterfall going down to another level and pool. There were deck chairs and lazy-boys everywhere, umbrellas, and of course guests taking in the sun. Out on to the area where I remembered the beach was though were a whole lot of screens. It appears there was major excavation going on, and filling in of the old beach area for new development. Whilst the white sand was still there the sea was gone (well moved back), and there was heavy construction going on. Anyway I wound my way around to the Health Club nearby. I looked in to see an array of exercise machines, weights, fitness studio areas, running machines and massage areas. Like the rest of the hotel it was well laid-out and housed the latest equipment.
It was late so rather than use the health club for exercise, I decided to head off to the Tavern Pub, out the front of the hotel and off to the side. I had been there on other occasions, and while it had been expanded and remodelled, it had similarities with the way it was. Beers included Stella, Fosters and Kronburg on tap. A pint was 10 dirhams, and a half pint 6 dirhams, when ordering from the bar. Table service half-pints cost 10 dirhams. The scene was lively with plenty of locals and ex-patriots in attendance. There was an area where a band was set up, and later in the night a duet was performing, with the sound relayed through the fairly large pub.
I decided to try one of the hotel restaurants. There were three restaurants. Il Paradiso or Beach Restaurant is at the far end of the resort next to the beach. The cuisine is Mediterranean seafood. Another is La Mamma, an Italian restaurant, which features typical Italian trattoria with an open kitchen, pizza oven and antipasti buffet. The restaurant claims to have a comprehensive menu from different Italian regions, featuring antipasti, minestre, carni and pesci, with all dishes prepared the "way they're prepared in Italy". The third restaurant, and my pick for the night was El Sombrero, of course Mexican. There was a full a la carte menu, together with a specials menu which I selected. Three courses for 95 dirhams. I opted for the Mexican soup, beef quesadilla, and chocolate pudding. All the food was produced in good time, was well presented, and delicious in taste. There was a duet dressed in Mexican garb, whether they were Mexicans or not I doubt, but they certainly sang and played as though they were.
The hotel is a true 5 star establishment with all the services and amenities you would expect, a very good choice of restaurants; there is shopping on-site too, and it is handy to the city, and the beach (when it's restored).
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