New Year’s Eve at Abu Dhabi – as we could not really decide whether we should go for a city stay near the Corniche or a more shopping and relaxation orientated location around Yas Island (like the Crowne Plaza we stayed in before), my wife and I went for the middle – and we came up with the Marriott Al Forsan Hotel. I was looking forward to the stay quite much, especially as I do not have that much Marriott experience so far.
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan – Location
The hotel is located at the Western edge of Khalifa City, which is East of Abu Dhabi. The attraction in direct neighborhood is the Al Forsan Sports Complex. Despite the hotel itself may feel to be not too close to the key Abu Dhabi attractions, its location is not too bad, as it is not too far away from the city, from Yas Island or the Grand Mosque. If I am right, the hotel has opened in 2017.
You will typically access the hotel by car. The hotel offers complimentary valet parking. The distance to city center / Emirates Palace is some 30 km, while it takes you some 20 km to Yas Mall – Abu Dhabi is really huge.
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan – Rooms
We had prepaid a Superior Room with Resort View, which had a prepaid price of 5,700 AED, roughly 1,400 Euro, for one week. We have been assigned to a room with city view – honestly, I was not aware of the change in room until writing that review, so I cannot comment on it. The first impression of the room was really nice. It was spacious and had sufficient room for us, even though we were travelling with quite some luggage. The room also looked modern to us. There was a nice working desk which even featured a universal power plug. USB ports were just available at one side of the bed as part of an alarm clock, though. There was one bathrobe and one pair of slippers in that double room.
However, there were some details. Some fifteen minutes after we had boarded the room, we wanted to explore the balcony. However, the opening handle was completely broken and had been repaired in an absolutely amateur-alike and maybe even dangerous way. Even after this was fixed the next day (the maintenance service at the evening could not solve it), I asked myself why the handle was turning to the left, towards the wall, and not to the right, in the direction of opening the sliding door. You by the way have to be aware of that technical services and gardening people from time to time run across right at your balcony.
The light panels were very good, as they explicitly named the function of each switch. However, Sarah could not control the big light next to her side of the bed (but only the reading light), as the only control panel for that and other lights was on my side of the bed. Furthermore, the setup of the night light was ridiculous, as it was pointing right to one side of the bed and thus significantly influenced the sleep of the person at that place.
The bathroom with separate bathtub and shower was very nice and spacious, though. We absolutely loved the place and solely struggled a bit with the very thin Arabic toilet paper. There was only one bathrobe and one set of slippers for our entire stay. There were sufficient basic amenities. The hotel, however, did not provide q-tips or similar items.
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan – Breakfast / Food
In many of my U.A.E. postings, you will read how much I look forward to hotel breakfast in that country. The clash of culinary cultures is very often reflected in your start of the day – and the Marriott does a good job there. You can have Arabian mezze as well as Asian noodle soup or a croissant. The selection was really awesome – and even during our one week stay, I did not feel bored by it.
However, you have to notice that there were some lacks on the organizational side. During our stay, they changed from cloth napkins to thin paper ones, which were ridiculous. Having a teaspoon as part of your cutlery was a matter of luck. The quality and attitude of the waiters differed significantly. During our last breakfast, the waitress favored to have long chats with people at a table nearby, while the dishes piled up on our table.
We got a very similar impression of the restaurant services, while we took the Festive Afternoon Tea one day in the Lobby cafe. The quality of the afternoon tea was amazing, especially regarding the superb price (some 50 Euro for two persons, including unlimited refill on hot drinks). We loved the festive decoration, the sandwiches, pastries and scones were lovely. However, despite we reserved a table, we had to wait for more than half an hour for our first round of tea, the stagier with the afternoon tea items took some one hour – just too long, especially without prior notice.
Apart from the breakfast area, which is also serving as a buffet restaurant for lunch and dinner, and the cafe in the lobby lounge, the hotel also drives a steak house, which seems to be very well rated. We did not have the time to check out that one, though.
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan – Pool Area
One of the key arguments to go for the Marriot Al Forsan was the amazing pool. Linked to a recreational pool, they offer a 50 meter Olympic size pool. I absolutely loved that. Unfortunately, the pool is just straight on one side and a bit bent on the other one, which can be bothering while swimming. Also the Olympic size “swimming area” has a quite limited water depth, which attracts people to play play and relax in there. Sometimes, the pool attendant requested the people to stop it, sometimes you had to swim with balls flying over you. A clear concept would be helpful here.
There were just showers at one point of the pool area – which had the obvious effect that people enter the pool without cleaning themselves. Last but not least, you don’t have towel races at Marriott Al Forsan, but especially during weekends, the number of empty sunbeds just reserved by a towel by far exceeded the people in the pool or around the pool area. Don’t think that this is necessary and could be avoided by the staff. In general, the sunbed area is quite packed as well. This all might sound very negative, but overall, the area is very nice. There is a great pool bar and a pool for kids. Finally, it is just beautiful just to have walk and enjoy the lovely setup of the resort grounds.
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan – Gym & Other Facilities
The hotel features a large 24 hour gym. During daytime, you enter it through a door at the spa area. After 21:00 hrs, however, doors at the spa are closed and the walkway is blocked. As there is no alternative signposting, it took us quite long to understand that you first have to go out of the hotel building, towards the pool area, in order to re-enter through a side door. Call me picky, but that means that if I don’t know that in advance, I have to go outdoors with indoor shoes – not ideal.
Between the gym and the pool, there is a playground for children, which is quite nice for a hotel area. You may also play table tennis – unfortunately, it is likely hard to avoid that the heat causes bubbles on the table.
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan – Services
The welcoming of the staff and the meeting the employees on the aisles of the hotels was always super-friendly – the only deficits were in the restaurant area. The performance of the housekeeping, which was very precise and with a lot of love to detailed things (like positioning of the shoes etc.), was outstanding and one of the best I ever had. For New Year, we even found an elephant made out of towels in our room – loved that!
On the negative side, there was mainly the WiFi, which caused a lot of trouble to me the first day. After complaining, it was significantly better. My guess is that they gave us Premium Internet for free, which would usually be a 25 AED / 6 Euro daily charge (no discount for a weekly package). Parking was done by a valet service, which was comparably quick.
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan – My View
Marriott Al Forsan really gave me a tough task. On the one hand, it is a lovely place, good location and I met a lot of great people there. At breakfast and especially during the Afternoon Tea as well, the proofed how skilled they are. But, on the other side, there were too many organizational deficits, strange design decisions. Why? This place is just some three years old (if I am not wrong). Maybe time to improve things here and there. It has so much more potential.