When you have lived in a city for a long time and frequent some of the most popular establishments, be it in the retail, hospitality or service sector, you often know what to expect. The experience is often satisfactory and pleasant. There may not be many instances when you are blown away but happy with the familiar. And you may not even expect to be wowed. Yet, the Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel, manages to pleasantly surprise every time one returns.
We have done our fair share of staycations in the country (actually, even before staycation became an accepted term) and Al Bustan Palace hotel has been one of the properties in the city that we have gone back to for an overnighter or a weekend getaway. Just about every visit to the hotel has been memorable, even if it’s a meal, and staycations are no different. And like all good things, the experiences are often understated and classy. Like our most recent staycation at Al Bustan Palace hotel.
With travel being crossed off the list of things to do, a staycation was on the cards. We headed to the Al Bustan Palace hotel one weekend for some much-needed R&R. (It was also to get away from making one’s own bed, cooking, and more importantly, the home office!) On arriving, the check-in was as smooth and quick as one would expect at Al Bustan Palace hotel.
As it was lunch time, we decided to head to the Beach Pavilion Bar & Grill. This is where we experienced the first instance of being pleasantly surprised. Beach Pavilion Bar & Grill had introduced a refreshed menu, under the helm of culinary masters Executive Chef Anoob Ashraf and Chef de Cuisine, Nikhith Varghese. A melange of colours, textures and tastes were presented at lunch during which the freshest of seafood delicacies held court. Our decadent lunch menu included grilled lobster, fresh oysters, prawn salad and ended on a sweet note with desserts that Chef Nikhith had generously sent over to our table.
After the absolutely delightful lunch, we headed to the room to unpack and rest for a bit. The room assigned to us was the Junior Suite, which had been enhanced when the hotel underwent refurbishment two years ago. Spacious and refreshed, the Junior Suite includes a king-size bed, sitting area, work station, walk-in closet, and separate bath and shower spaces. The room is large enough to accommodate an extra rollaway bed. A personalized welcome tray of sweet treats and a box of dates had been set up for us in the room.
We had visited the property shortly after the hotels in the city had opened up for guests. The Covid-19 protocol and practices in place at Al Bustan Palace is impressive and reassuring. Any apprehension we had about indulging in a staycation during the current situation dissipated within a short span of arriving at the hotel. The room was also equipped with a hygiene kit comprising of sanitiser, disinfecting wet wipes and gloves. We were absolutely delighted by the care taken to ensure everything was in order.
Al Bustan Palace hotel has one of the best beaches in the city and that’s where most of the evening was spent. We later headed down to BLU, the pool bar, for a couple of sundowners. We were thrilled to learn that China Mood, arguably one of the best restaurants for Chinese cuisine in the country, had reopened. A few rounds of brisk walking in the property and along the beach later, we were headed to China Mood. It’s highly unlikely that anyone with a penchant for Chinese cuisine would not have dined at China Mood. (Yet, if you happen to fall in that miniscule group then a visit to this award-winning restaurant is a must!) Among the absolute must have delicacies on the menu crafted by Chef Sam Peong, Chef de Cuisine at China Moodinclude Peking Duck that is carved right at the table, dim sums, scallops and Yangzhou-style fried rice. The refined and authentic menu is complemented by the excellent service by the team at China Mood. A perfect ending to the night.
The ladies and gentlemen of Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel, have always made every experience at the property memorable. Even during the times of ‘new normal’, the team has ensured to provide the same warmth and proficiency that would be expected from the Palace!