It’s lousy to be away from home during Christmas! So, what’s the next best thing I can compensate myself? How about a hide-away in a luxury hotel, sit by the beach and pool and gorge myself silly on good food?
Decision made. Next, to look up a hotel. This is a no-brainer…I have a free Hotel Intercontinental Hotel voucher set to expire on Christmas Day itself..so the choice was unanimous – Hotel Intercontinental, Qatar. Date: 24 December 2009.
Hotel Intercontinental, Qatar is not the newest hotel in Qatar. In fact, it seems to have been around for a while. The outer facade does not look new, the rooms are well decorated and furnished but you can tell it’s slightly aging, and the restaurants does not serve exciting cuisine. However, it seems to be packed with expats and local alike – much more than some of the newer and grander hotels around.
I think the reason is simply this – once you step past the lobby of the hotel and enter past the pool area – you’re in a oasis of your own. The hotel has a grand pool, health and fitness club and beach area and while not exactly letting your hair down, you can relax and let go some of the inhibition you have while residing and living in conservative Qatar.
I like the fact that the health club has 2 squash courts. I have not played squash for a while and enjoy slamming away at the squash court. The courts are also used for ‘spinning’ – a sort of stationery bike aerobics group exercise – and a group of lady expatriates were cycling away to some hot and pulsating music.
The pool area is large with a swim-up bar. Alcohol is served and bikinis are in abundance. Deck chairs surround the pool and continue on to the large beach area. Once you sink into a deck chair, sip a beer, close your eyes, dig your feet into sand and listen to the waves, you’ll never imagine you’re in Qatar!
Hotel Intercontinental – as viewed from beach
Large Swimming pool area
Relax by the sandy beach
For those with children, there is a kid’s playground and a shallow wading pool. For those with older children, a beach club cater for kayaks, water-scooters and sailboats for rental.
And when hunger or thirst strikes, there are numerous restaurants dotting the pool area or within the hotel itself. There is a large international buffet restaurant, a cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant, a Mexican restaurant cum bar and a large Lebanese seafood restaurant.
I do have to admit that restaurant prices are on the high side, especially with the galore of Christmas meals, and I couldn’t have as many meals as I wanted in the hotel. Luckily, there are hourly shuttle bus service to the nearest shopping mall and I was able to settle a couple of meals at the mall and back without having to burn a hole in my wallet. Nor face the stress of driving in Doha’s traffic on my day off.
There is a spa at the health club but prices are a bit scary. There is also a Chinese massage and acupuncture clinic at the 2nd level but having visited their sister outlet at Sheraton hotel, I wasn’t too keen either. (Read here)
But you don’t really need a massage here to have a good time at the hotel. To be able to enjoy the sound of the waves and be able to drink the occasional beer had already made my day. I now understand why this hotel is a top favourite with expats despite being slightly out of the way and not being the newest nor the grandest!Tags: