5 Days With A Toddler At Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl

Marsa Malaz Kempinski

From Gulf Times

This week my husband had one week off work for the Eid festival. We were thrilled as it meant we could have some family time out! We thought why not enjoy Doha? After having heard lots of positive reviews about Marsa Malaz Kempinski, a 5 star hotel in The Pearl, we decided to try it out with our two-year old. Marsa Malaz Kempinski is located on its own private island in The Pearl, with 150 metres of private beach. Amongst many other facilties, the hotel has several outdoor swimming pools, water sports facilities, tennis courts, a kid’s club, 11 food and beverage outlets, a spa with an indoor pool and 281 spacious rooms, among which some luxurious suites.

On arriving at the hotel, I was quite impressed with the décor; everything smelled of luxury: the extraordinary chandeliers, the unique furniture, the endless marble floors, the high ceilings with unique-designed cornices, the unique coloured roses and orchids. We were greeted by ever-smiling staff and everything was done to make sure we were at ease and enjoy our stay. When I looked at the pictures on the website, I had serious doubts about how the room we booked will look in reality. However I was agreeably surprised when I saw our room: it was way nicer than on the website! It was real luxury. Again, the cushiony carpet, the designer furniture, the unique chandeliers and lights, the Villeroy and Boch bathrooms, the paintings and the special attention (like the fruits and nuts, the flowers, the personalised welcome note). Everywhere I looked in the hotel, I had that impression of cleanliness, of luxury, of caring – or should I say opulence?

Marsa Malaz KempinskiMarsa Malaz Kempinski

An impressive blend of Arabian elegance and European grandeur […] The hotel hosts more than half a million pieces of mother of pearl: 330,000 decorating the walls and 280,000 hand carved into the furniture seen in most of the rooms. 
Another attraction includes the hand-made Murano glass oyster chandeliers from Italy, which took three weeks to assemble all the 44,000 pieces of oysters across four chandeliers exhibited within the hotel’s lobby.
 More than 3,000 pieces of handcrafted glasses and more than 9,000 pieces of handcrafted chinaware were made exclusively for the hotel. — Gulf Times

Spending 5 days in a hotel with a toddler can be challenging but here it seemed like 5 days stay is simply not enough. There are so many things I did with my daughter. We played a lot in the Kid’s Club; the two staff members are very caring and full of ideas to keep kids entertained. The first two Eid days had brunch for the kids with a wide selection of food and drinks. There are activities for all ages but also activities that the club plans as a group and which indeed keep the kids busy! Then, there are the different swimming pools which suit all ages. My two-year old had lots of fun in the very shallow one with other kids her age. We also spent some time at the beach where she made quite a few sand castles and destroyed all the ones my husband made; she enjoyed the warm Gulf Sea water, under the watchful eye of one of the many lifeguards (and mine too!). Although the Gulf Sea water is not the beautiful blue Mauritian sea water, it is still enjoyable.

The breakfast, tea and dinner experience was also exquisite. Each of the hotel’s restaurants has its own speciality; we ate mainly at ‘Sawa’ which I highly recommend. The staff are very caring and the food is one of the best I have eaten in a five star hotel. The breakfast buffet had food for different tastes and the international dinner buffet was sublime: we tasted some exquisite Japanese, Spanish, Indian, Chinese, American, Arabic cuisine with delicious and unique deserts. I’m not much of a desert person but I must admit I had so much desert that Im almost certain of having already put on some weight (and Im not joking!) It was great that the restaurant also has a Kid’s Menu although my toddler enjoyed the selection of food already offered; we also ordered some chips ‘just in case…’. The high tea at Café Murano was another treat to the palate with the exotic sandwiches, cakes, and scones, all served in designer tea sets, with view over the sea. The weather was so beautiful in the afternoon that the view from the huge window panes looked like a painting.

Marsa Malaz Kempinski attended to all our requests and also fixed any issues we had: a reflection of a real five-star hotel. Those were the positives. These are a few things that can still be improved:

  1. There was quite a few honking that could be heard at night, so it might be a good thing for the hotel to have some signs outside to discourage honking. It’s not very pleasant to hear these at night, particularly when you are already in bed!
  2. The Kid’s Club could provide more age-related books and games like for example, age-related wooden puzzles for under 3 years old, some playdough, etc. Maybe these little ones could have a dedicated area only for them, without the TV and the video games.
  3. Some of the staff members can be over zealous leading to some false assumptions on their part. They can surely remain professional without over-doing things.

The hotel is 12.5 km from Hamad International Airport and while you are there if you have some spare time, you could visit Katara Heritage Village (3 km) and/or the Museum of Islamic Arts (9 kms). Five days are over but we are almost certain that we will go back, with our toddler! There were so many other activities which we couldn’t do (some of the timings clashed with my daughter’s nap time); but, as my husband put it so well, “if we want to do everything then we would have to stay for a month at least!” – although I think one month in a hotel might be a bit too much, don’t you?


Life out of a Suitcase — 47 days and counting …

Life out of a suitcase

Who wouldn’t dream to stay in a hotel for…ever? Really? Well, staying in a hotel sounds so much fun and exciting, if the hotel’s name sounds like the five star St Regis or Marsa Malaz Kempinski. However it can be a completely different story when you have just moved to Doha, Qatar, you are surrounded by buildings, the temperature is almost always around 40 degrees Celcius, the hotel is a two star (?) and when you are so much used to seeing the blue sky of Perth and Mauritius!

Marhaba! The temperature is 41 degrees Celcius today and I’m in Doha; more exactly in Msheireb, also known as the heart of Doha. It is one of the cities having a make over in view of the FIFA World Cup 2022 at the estimated cost of 20 billion QR. The aim is to redevelop the city while at the same time conserving the historical downtown Doha. Im in a hotel with my family. It is officially rated 4 star but when you compare it to a Mauritian 4 star hotel or an Australian one it looks more like a two star! The apartment is not huge but spacious enough for the three of us: 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom suite, 1 toilet, kitchen with all decent amenities and a living area.The hotel being a 2 star (?), the state of the carpet can keep you wondering how many people have been here before.

When we relocated to Doha, we were given this hotel accommodation while waiting to get a ‘real’ one (accommodation NOT hotel) from the Ministry of Housing. The way the housing system works for expats here is quite difficult to understand at first (specially for a neo-Doha traveller like myself) and the process can be quite long. From my understanding so far: the family sponsor (in this case my husband) needs to go through a medical test, wait for the results, get his Qatari ID, sign his work contract and then submit it to the Department of Housing of the company. The rest of the family goes through the same process to get the Qatari ID. The Ministry of Housing has a long list of companies/institutions and a list of villas and apartments which it then distributes according to the number of people in the family, the company/institution where the sponsor works, and his ‘grade’ in the workplace. My family consists of 3 people so it is highly improbable that I will be allocated a villa with 4 or 6 bedrooms! If there are no 2 or 3 bedrooms apartments available, my family will stay on the waiting list a bit longer — which means back to living out of a suitcase for a few more days. Or months, who knows?

Life out of a Suitcase: The Fun Side

  • Don’t have to worry about changing the bedsheets, the towels, emptying the bins. It’s done everyday or as per request.
  • Don’t have to worry about cleaning or vacuuming, changing light bulbs or any maintenance.
  • The hotel apartment is a decent size so everything is accessible.
  • Its location is perfect! It’s close to mostly everything and we can easily drive to main shopping centres.
  • It has a gym, swimming pool, restaurant (although I haven’t had the chance to enjoy these facilities yet, my 2 year old keeping me fit and entertained during the day!)
  • Dont have to worry about paying bills (AC needed day and night) and there are so many satellite channels that I can watch two/three channels at the same time! And remember: it’s all free!
  • Free WIFI.
  • After a while, even your child will know that he/she lives in a hotel and he/she is waiting to get a ‘home’.
  • Your child will end up knowing all his/her books, toys, songs, many of the staff names and may even know how to count 1-20 before she turns two. He/she may even start to read some engineering books of the sponsor!

Life out of a Suitcase: The Down Side

  • I feel that I wear the same clothes all the time; even my husband asked me if I didn’t have other clothes (I do have about 5 dresses, a pair of jeans, 3 leggings and a few t-shirts with me).
  • We got our ‘boxes’ shipped last week and have put everything in the living room and the bedroom; suddenly the place is looking smaller and a bit crammed (surprising?)
  • Can be frustrating when you know you have all your stuff in the boxes but you don’t want to take everything out as anytime you can ‘get’ a ‘house’ and have to pack again to move there.
  • Cannot do anything outside because of the heat. It’s shopping centres or home/hotel.

I dont know how many more days we’ll be living out of our suitcases. It’s been fun till now. However living in continuous suspense can become tiring and frustrating after a while. Let’s hope we hear from ‘housing’ well before we reach that level or before my two-year old starts counting to 30 or 40! Who knows?

Qatar is Gearing Up for the 2022 World Cup.

The heat is almost unbearable as I walk through The Pearl, a unique artificial island spanning nearly four million square metres. The stunning view of the ocean with the huge yachts, the numerous modern buildings and hotels, the Rolls Royce and Maserati showrooms cannot but remind me of the unimaginable wealth of this oil rich country. It is only one of the major developments planned in the view of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar is having a full make over.

The infrastructural projects include the renovation of existing facilities and building of new ones such as stadiums, roads, railway network, hotels and malls. Billions of dollars are being injected in these works and how can it be otherwise when we look at the development plans? The construction works can be seen everywhere in Doha with cranes almost everywhere!

Amongst its plans, I was stunned to see the one about the construction of the billion dollar ‘Silver Pearl‘ hotel; a luxurious hotel built off Doha coast, resembling two half moons with stainless steel and glass exterior. The hotel will reflect the ocean and is meant to sparkle like a Pearl at night.

The hotel has been designed by a New York based firm and will have 1000 rooms. It will be accessible by a bridge, by yachts and even by helicopters. Obviously, the ‘Silver Pearl‘ will also have conference centres, restaurants as well as high end shops. I cannot wait to see such a jewel in front of me after seeing the plan.

I was also amazed at the zero-carbon emitting stadiums being built for the World Cup 2022, which will be also be air conditioned; although this doesn’t seem to be much of a problem after the announcement of the games being moved to winter (despite major uproar and huge upheaval to the European Leagues calendar). These stadiums will have a seating capacity ranging from about 45000 to 86000 spectators! Not talking about the building of Lusail city from scratch or the total renovation of Mushareib city, which will be the new Doha downtown. On top of these, there will be some more shopping malls among which the ‘Mall of Qatar’, adjacent to a host stadium for the World Cup 2022. Planned to be the biggest mall of Qatar, it will have over 500 stores, 7000 parking spaces and live entertainment throughout the year. It will be a definite must-see!

My day out with my family ended at the beautiful Katara where we enjoyed a chapati and a karak. As I sat there, I couldn’t help thinking of how much more lively and vibrant this whole place is going to be a few years from now. I don’t know if I will still be Qatar in 2022, will you?