RESTAURANT REVIEW: CHEMISTRY101, MUMBAI

RESTAURANT REVIEW: CHEMISTRY101, MUMBAI

    Monday Munchies: A Culinary Journey of Exploration

     

    I recently enjoyed a truly fun evening with friends at a newly opened restaurant called Chemistry101 in the Kamala Mills area of Mumbai. I had heard the buzz surrounding this new gastro bar offering molecular gastronomy and was quite intrigued as to what that could possibly mean. With an award winning Welsh chef designing a menu of Indian and European fusion dishes, with a magical array of bubbles, clouds, and aromas it sounded like the perfect place to share a meal with a couple of fellow expats who were also open to new experiences.

     

    “With the right infusion of flavors and imagination food could, and should, be magical” Chemistry101 Facebook

    The restaurant is set on the ground floor of one of the corporate buildings within the Kamala Mills complex. Nothing fancy to report on the décor, just plenty of dark wood and glass topped tables. Perhaps the lack of theatrics with the décor allows the diners to concentrate on the elaborate feast they are about to enjoy. I noticed a few test tubes and chemistry-like equipment pieces dotted around on shelves, possibly designed to evoke the sentiment of food experimentation. The television on the wall seemed slightly out of place to me, a little distracting, and somewhat unnecessary considering the ‘show’ taking place on the tables. There are two levels to the restaurant, the lower being set out as a traditional restaurant and I’m told that upstairs will be more of a dance/function type space with bar and tapas style menu (upstairs was not open when I visited).

     

    As the restaurant was newly opened they were not operating a full menu so our servers brought us a steady stream of dishes to sample. Each dish arrived with a fanfare of waiters to serve, to explain the concept of the dish, and to answer our many questions as it was just fascinating trying to work out what was being served. We tried a variety of veg and non veg dishes. I’ve shared a  video on this blog so you can get more of a true feel of our experience.

     

    Click on bottom right corner to make video full screen

     

     

     

    I would describe this restaurant as much more than just a place to enjoy a somewhat unusual meal but as a culinary journey that will make you smile (or laugh and giggle as we did all evening long). Go with an open mind and an inquisitive palate and you will not be disappointed.

     

    The Fact Sheet

     

    Address: Times Tower, Kamala Mills, Mumbai

    Phone: 02224967272/ 24969292

    Hours: Daily: Noon to 3pm, 7pm to 1am
    Chemistry 101 - Gastro Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Happy Dining

    RESTAURANT REVIEW: CHEMISTRY101, MUMBAI

      MUMBAI – FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD

      MUMBAI – FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD

        I have been eating my way around Mumbai this week. Let me assure you that there is much more to this fascinating city than just curry. Take a look at my YouTube video to see my weeks adventure.

         

        Click on bottom right corner to make full screen

         

        Follow this weeks food adventure in a city that has far more than just curry on offer (although that is delicious too). I visited a new restaurant called Chemistry101 offering molecular gastronomy, a local food market, and watched the entrepreneurs of the street food scene.

        NoFixedAbodeForSue is a look at the life of a world traveling, foodie,and lover of anything luxurious. A Day in the Life Series of Vlogs gives you a taste of my adventures in the many cities I visit and the 3 I call home. Please click like and subscribe to follow along with my adventures. Weekly vlog posted on a Friday.

         

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          MUMBAI TRAVEL VLOG

          MUMBAI TRAVEL VLOG

            I am back in Mumbai and thought you might like to see what life as an expat is really like. This week I have taken my camera out and about with me during my weeks activities so come and explore the busy streets of Mumbai with me.

            Click on bottom right corner of video to make full screen

             

             

            NoFixedAbodeForSue is a look at the life of a world traveling, foodie,and lover of anything luxurious. A Day in the Life Series of Vlogs gives you a taste of my adventures in the many cities I visit and the 3 I call home.

            Please subscribe to follow along with my adventures.

             

            Check out all my Social Media Channels

             

            Suscribe to YouTube

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            Vlog Music Credits

             

            Intro Music – original music by Carl Culley
            https://www.youtube.com/user/TheCarlCulley

            Additional Music https://soundcloud.com

              RESTAURANT REVIEW: ENO, CHICAGO

              RESTAURANT REVIEW: ENO, CHICAGO

                I have visited this restaurant so many times so it’s hard to believe I have neglected to write a restaurant review for Eno in Chicago. I discovered this little gem a few years ago when I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel and didn’t want to venture out into the cold Chicago winters night; and thus the infatuation began. The casual and inviting ambiance combined with the wine and bubbly tasting flights, cheese and meat platters, and handmade chocolate and truffles make this a perfect option for a fun evening whenever I visit Chicago.

                 

                RESTAURANT REVIEW: ENO, CHICAGO

                 

                Located on Michigan Avenue, but also with an entrance inside the Intercontinental Hotel, the cozy wine cellar like restaurant offers a comfy setting to enjoy a wide range of wines from around the globe. Eno is a firm favorite of mine as I can enjoy the bubbly tasting flight, giving me 3 separate tastes to sample. My husband usually goes for one of the red wine flights and my daughter Rebecca (a recent enthusiast) usually joins me with the bubbly flight.

                 

                RESTAURANT REVIEW: ENO, CHICAGO

                RESTAURANT REVIEW: ENO, CHICAGO

                 

                To accompany our drinks we typically order a few food items to share. Eno does seem popular as a place to pop in for a drink alone but we find that the food platters make an ideal accompaniment to the wines. Our favorites are the cheese platters, the bruschetta, and the pizza. It’s also hard to resist the handmade chocolates that provide a mouthwatering temptation in the display cabinet as you first enter the restaurant. As with the wine flights, the food platters are delivered with a card detailing more information about the food offered so it’s kind of an educational experience to boot.

                 

                RESTAURANT REVIEW: ENO, CHICAGO

                RESTAURANT REVIEW: ENO, CHICAGO

                On my most recent visit the restaurant was quite busy, which is quite unusual so perhaps the word is out about this somewhat hidden gem. Service was friendly and sufficiently attentive. I would recommend you visit Eno on your next Chicago adventure, but be warned it can be addictive J

                 

                 

                 

                The Fact Sheet

                 

                Address: 505 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago (Inside the Intercontinental Hotel)

                Telephone: 312 321 8738

                Hours: Mon-Thurs: 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat: 1pm-1am, Sun: 1pm-10pm (Patio opened seasonally)

                Other info: Wine tastings and classes available

                Website: http://www.enowinerooms.com/hotspots/intercontinental-chicago

                 

                ENO Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                Happy Dining

                RESTAURANT REVIEW: ENO, CHICAGO

                 

                  LONDON VLOG – HIGHLIGHTS FROM A WEEK IN SUNNY LONDON

                  LONDON VLOG – HIGHLIGHTS FROM A WEEK IN SUNNY LONDON

                    My week in London went so quickly. Here are a few highlights from my busy week. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep traveling with me around the globe.

                     

                    Click on bottom right corner of video to make full screen

                     

                     

                    NoFixedAbodeForSue is a look at the life of a world traveling, foodie,and lover of anything luxurious. A Day in the Life Series of Vlogs gives you a taste of my adventures in the many cities I visit and the 3 I call home. Please subscribe to follow along with my adventures.

                     

                    Check out all my Social Media Channels

                     

                    Suscribe to YouTube

                    Instagram

                    Twitter

                    Facebook

                    Zomato

                     

                    Vlog Music Credits

                     

                    Intro Music – original music by Carl Culley
                    https://www.youtube.com/user/TheCarlCulley

                    Music Kronicle https://soundcloud.com/the-chemist-10

                     

                      RESTAURANT REVIEW: ROOFTOP DINING IN CHICAGO

                      RESTAURANT REVIEW: ROOFTOP DINING IN CHICAGO

                        I recently enjoyed a weeklong stay in the windy city, Chicago. With my daughter living in this fun city it doesn’t take much to tempt me to visit. There is so much to see, do, and eat and I try to pack as much as possible into my visits. Take a look at my Vlog I made from this trip to see some of the many things I enjoyed.

                         

                        With the weather finally feeling a little more like spring we took advantage of the al fresco dining options and tried out 5 rooftop bars.

                        RESTAURANT REVIEW: ROOFTOP DINING IN CHICAGO
                        Photo Image: Vertigo Facebook Photo Gallery

                         

                        Vertigo, 16th floor of Dana Hotel

                         

                        This is just a short stroll from my daughter’s apartment in the River North area of downtown. We  stopped by for a drink on our way out to dinner one evening. As it was early evening, the atmosphere was quite subdued but I gather things are quite different later in the evening when there is a DJ and a fire pit to keep you warm in the winter or an ice bar for the warmer summer months.

                         

                        The outside seating area is quite small and while it does have a view, it’s not the most inspiring Chicago skyline I have ever seen. A rather gruff bouncer checked our ID upon entering the hotel but once up in the bar the super friendly bar staff made it worth the visit.

                         

                        There is a dress code later in the day but during our visit at around 6.30pm there were quite a few guests in gym clothes adding to the casual atmosphere during daylight hours.

                         

                        The Fact Sheet

                         

                        Address: Inside the Dana Hotel, 2 West Erie Street

                        Phone: 312 202 6060

                        Hours: Mon-Fri: 4pm-2am, Sat: 2pm-3am, Sun 2pm-2am Patio closes at 12am on weekends and 11pm on weekdays

                        RESTAURANT REVIEW: ROOFTOP DINING IN CHICAGO

                         

                        Cindy’s – 13th floor of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

                         

                        While I cannot say that I’m a fan of the overpriced limited food offering, the view gets a 10 out of 10 so it is well worth a visit – although do as many of my fellow diners did and just enjoy a cocktail on the outside terrace. The picnic tables in the greenhouse like glass roofed inside section of the restaurant can be reserved but everything else is first come first served. The picnic table benches did not have backs, nor did the heavy stools that were dotted around counters so don’t expect to be too comfortable. There were a couple of sofa settings but a group had grabbed them for the entire duration of our stay.

                         

                        Outside is the real gem of this location though with fantastic views, a fire pit, and thankfully enough flow of people to ensure that you can get your turn at getting a good photo at the front of the section.

                         

                        The food selections are designed to be shared, although some of the dishes are offered in half sizes if you prefer to dine alone (or just not a fan of sharing your food). I thought $60 for a piece of salmon was on the steep side but $13 for a glass of champagne is par for the course in downtown Chicago. I would visit again, but not to eat, just to enjoy a drink on the terrace.

                         

                        The Fact Sheet

                         

                        Address: 12 S Michigan Avenue

                        Phone: 844 312 2221

                        Hours: Mon-Fri: 3pm-2am, Sat: 3pm-3am, Sun: 3pm-midnight

                        RESTAURANT REVIEW: ROOFTOP DINING IN CHICAGO

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         

                         

                        trump terrace

                         

                        The Terrace at Trump – Trump Hotel

                         

                        Quite a huge terrace, seating for 200 evidently – but then again Trump does everything big 🙂  Most seating is on a first come first served basis although you can reserve the ‘premium tables’ for $100 (which does not include any food or drink evidently). The Terrace offers comfy seating in a contemporary setting with mesmerizing fire pits that are lit once it begins to get dark (or if you need a little additional heat). Prices are on the high side, but the view is unbeatable. We had a very friendly server and were happy to get some amazing photos of downtown Chicago so I would recommend a visit.

                        The Fact Sheet

                         

                        Address: 401 North Wabash Avenue

                        Phone: 312.588.8000

                        Hours: Not listed on website so call for info

                         

                        But I had a couple of fails due to inclement weather

                         

                        RESTAURANT REVIEW: ROOFTOP DINING IN CHICAGO
                        Photo Image: Ivy Website

                        Ivy Sky Terrace – 16th floor The Ivy Hotel

                         

                        During my recent visit I stayed two nights at the Ivy Boutique Hotel located just off Michigan Avenue. I was looking forward to trying out the hotels rooftop bar but sadly due to the weather the opening had been postponed. Maybe next time as the photos looked so nice.

                         

                        The Fact Sheet

                         

                        Address: 233 E Ontario Street

                        Phone: 312 335 5444

                        Hours: Mon-Fri: 4pm-10pm, Fri-Sat: 2pm-Midnight, Sun: 2pm-10pm

                         

                         

                         

                        RESTAURANT REVIEW: ROOFTOP DINING IN CHICAGO
                        Photo Image: Peninsular Hotel Website

                         

                        Shanghai Terrace at the Peninsular Hotel

                         

                        This hotel is just a short stroll from my daughters apartment so I pass it many times whenever I visit. The doormen are always so friendly and actually one gave me a flower on Mothers Day when I walked past. I was very happy to see that there is an outside dining area to enjoy the great views of Chicago but as the weather had been somewhat wet on this recent visit I called to check if the terrace was open. I was told yes, not once, but twice when the gentleman put me on hold to check. Imagine my disappointment when I turned up and it was closed! Another time perhaps…

                        The Fact Sheet

                         

                        Address: 108 East Superior Street

                        Phone: +1 312 573 6695

                        Hours: Call as it seems to vary!

                        Do you have a favorite rooftop terrace in Chicago? Please share your ideas as I will be returning to Chicago again soon and would love to add to my wish list.

                        Happy Dining

                         

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                          RESTAURANT REVIEW: HOBBIT CAFE, HOUSTON

                          RESTAURANT REVIEW: HOBBIT CAFE, HOUSTON

                            With my vegetarian daughter visiting Houston for the week I searched on Zomato for some fun dining options and came across The Hobbit Café. This restaurant opened back in 1972 as purely vegetarian but gradually added to their offerings over the years and now has quite an extensive and eclectic menu.

                             

                            While you don’t have to be a Hobbit fan to dine here, if you are, I’m sure you will enjoy the memorabilia dotted around the various rooms of the café. Gollum staring down from a perch on the wall was a little disconcerting when we first walked in but if you find that too off putting then I suggest you take advantage of the outdoor seating area that was very pretty (despite being in a parking lot and having plastic chairs).

                             

                            RESTAURANT REVIEW: HOBBIT CAFE, HOUSTON

                             

                            Be warned, the Hobbit Café is not the easiest place to find as it’s somewhat hidden in the corner of a parking lot that seems to serve a number of restaurants, plus the signage is not that huge, but persevere as it is worth the trouble.

                             

                            RESTAURANT REVIEW: HOBBIT CAFE, HOUSTON

                             

                            We arrived for a late lunch and after a hectic morning we were both starving so quickly ordered a starter of black bean nachos while we read through the very extensive menu. When our huge plate of nachos arrived at our table we were a little sorry that we had ordered entrees as halfway through eating we both felt pretty full. Our plate of nachos was topped with black beans, jack cheese, pico de gallo, jalapeno peppers and sour cream plus we had been tempted with the sound of adding guacamole. A delicious dish and perfect for sharing.

                             

                            RESTAURANT REVIEW: HOBBIT CAFE, HOUSTON

                             

                            My daughter’s entrée was the Black Bean burger with a side of sweet potato fries. The burger was quite gigantic and proved a little difficult to get your mouth around (well at least in a ladylike way).

                            I ordered the Protein plate. My options were tuna, egg, chicken, or chicken curry salad and either one or two scoops. Thank goodness I only ordered one, as that was large enough, does anyone really need two scoops? Needless to say we both left the restaurant with most of our entrees to go and so enjoyed them later for dinner.

                            RESTAURANT REVIEW: HOBBIT CAFE, HOUSTON

                             

                            There were a few negatives from our visit. Service was very friendly but our waiter seemed to disappear towards the end of our meal and left us waiting for quite a long time before taking our payment. Parking could be an issue when visiting at peak hours as it is rather limited and the gravel parking lot is not great to navigate when wearing high heels. The ladies bathroom was rather dated with only two toilets (one was out of order) and the other behind a curtain shower rather than in an actual cubicle.

                             

                            RESTAURANT REVIEW: HOBBIT CAFE, HOUSTON

                             

                            Overall though I would give this restaurant a thumbs up as it is not at all like most ‘themed’ restaurants that usually concentrate on distracting you with the surroundings rather than wowing you with the food. I would have liked to have tried more dishes from the large menu but will return to this restaurant again with the knowledge that sharing dishes is the way to go.

                             

                            The Fact Sheet

                             

                            Address: 2243 Richmond Avenue, Houston, TX 77098

                            Telephone: 713 526 5460

                            Hours: Mon-Thurs: 11am-9.30pm, Fri: 11am-10.30pm, Sat: 10.30am-10.30pm, Sun: 10.30am-9pm

                             

                            RESTAURANT REVIEW: HOBBIT CAFE, HOUSTON

                             

                            Happy Dining

                            RESTAURANT REVIEW: HOBBIT CAFE, HOUSTON

                              RESTAURANT REVIEW: SHADE, THE HEIGHTS, HOUSTON

                              RESTAURANT REVIEW: SHADE, THE HEIGHTS, HOUSTON

                                 Monday Munchies: Enjoying the Shade in the Heights

                                 

                                The Heights neighborhood in Houston is such a great area to explore. There are a vast assortment of eclectic shops selling all manner of items, plenty of restaurants that cater to all tastes and budgets, and a fast changing residential area with old and new architecture sitting side by side. As one of my girlfriends has just moved to this area I now have a good excuse to go and visit and each time I do I realize there is so much to see, do, and eat that it keeps me going back for more.

                                 

                                Restaurant Review Shade in The Heights, Houston

                                 

                                As with many of the restaurants and shops in the Heights the small frontage is somewhat misleading, as once through the front door of Shade you will see that it is actually quite a large space. White chairs and walls and lack of wall art combined with high ceilings with low hanging pendant lights gives a very airy, contemporary feeling. But don’t read that description as cold as the restaurant has a welcoming, cozy feel about it that draws you in and makes you want to stay.

                                 

                                We began our lunch with a pitcher of blood red orange mimosas that were so refreshing with just that perfect hint of sweetness. The menu is surprisingly small which is quite a refreshing change from many establishments. We decided to order 3 dishes and eat family style so that we could all sample a good variety. I must admit that we were encouraged to save a little space after looking at the dessert options as we were keen to sample a couple.

                                 

                                We asked our waiter what he recommended and were told that the quiche is a very popular choice as is the Cuban but sadly the later was off the menu. We had arrived after 1pm, which is quite late for a Houston lunch, so maybe too many other diners had taken up his recommendation. We decided on the quiche, the Korean burrito, and the composed salad (another recommendation).

                                 

                                Restaurant Review Shade in The Heights, Houston

                                 

                                The quiche was a firm favorite of our group. The creamy flavor of the eggs combined with the sundried tomatoes, spinach and cheese worked perfectly with a light pastry base that reminded me of my mother’s quiches eaten during my childhood. The quiche came with a side of potatoes and colorful salad with chunks of orange that would have made it a very hearty serving for one but perfect for sharing.

                                 

                                Restaurant Review Shade in The Heights, Houston

                                 

                                The Korean burrito had a really tasty cabbage slaw and cucumber salad that made the dish far lighter than it could have been. The chunks of shaved beef were tasty but not at all spicy, as I had imaged. Probably one of the smallest serving sizes I have seen of late in Houston and I say that as a compliment not at all to detract from this well presented dish.

                                 

                                Restaurant Review Shade in The Heights, Houston

                                 

                                The composed salad was a perfect accompaniment to our selection with crisp lettuce, mixed with shredded chicken, walnuts, blue cheese, apple, and topped with a few slices of avocado. Great presentation.

                                 

                                Restaurant Review Shade in The Heights, Houston

                                 

                                For dessert we decided to try the coconut cream pie and the chocolate banana bread pudding – don’t they just sound so yummy! Both were absolutely delish and went perfectly with our cup of coffee. The coconut dish was the favorite with its crisp pastry shell and shavings of coconut topping. The chocolate banana bread pudding was a little crisp for my liking but the ice cream softened the taste. The presentation of both dishes was very pleasing to the eye. Don’t they say you eat with your eyes first?

                                 

                                Restaurant Review Shade in The Heights, Houston

                                 

                                Service was extremely friendly and greatly enhanced the cozy, neighborhood feel of this restaurant. By 2.30pm we were the only diners remaining in the restaurant and so quickly checked Zomato as we didn’t realize that the restaurant closed at 3pm. That said, we were not rushed at all to finish or given the feeling that staff wanted us to go.

                                 

                                We really enjoyed our relaxing lunch at Shade and would certainly return to sample more of their carefully crafted dishes. This restaurant has been a staple in the Heights for over a decade now. The use of fresh, high quality ingredients combined with New American cooking with the hearty home-style flare seems to be a winning combination.

                                 

                                 

                                The Fact Sheet

                                 

                                Address: 250 West 19th Street, Houston, 77008

                                Telephone: 713 863 7500

                                Email: info@shadeheights.com

                                Hours: Breakfast Mon-Fri 6.30-11am, Lunch 11am-3pm, Brunch (Sat & Sun) 9am-3pm, Dinner Sun & Mon 5pm-9pm, Tues-Thurs 5pm-10pm, Fri & Sat 5pm-10.30pm.

                                Download a menu at the website
                                Shade Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

                                 

                                Happy Dining

                                Restaurant Review Shade in The Heights, Houston

                                  RESORT REVIEW: JA MANAFARU, THE MALDIVES

                                  RESORT REVIEW: JA MANAFARU, THE MALDIVES

                                    Before I begin my resort review for JA Manafaru in the Maldives let me give you some important background information. When my husband began the planning for our fourth visit to the Maldives (yes we are very greedy and love this little paradise on earth) we made the decision to try a different resort from our beloved Constance Moofushi. A risky strategy but until Constance we had never returned to the same place more than twice. We set our criteria to decide where to go as follows:

                                     

                                    5 Star Ratings – well this is a luxury blog so would you expect anything less from me? This criteria didn’t narrow our search that much as to be honest I’m not sure you can do the Maldives on a budget (although some other bloggers beg to differ on this point).

                                     

                                    All Inclusive – this is a major point as the prices at resorts are the craziest I have ever seen and when on vacation I do not want to be thinking about being fleeced because I’m a captive audience on an island without any options. Surprisingly, this restriction did narrow down the search quite considerably.

                                     

                                    Excellent ReviewsTripAdvisor, Expedia, and of course luxury bloggers are all great sources of information when planning a vacation. A word of caution though as reviews can be a little misleading so you need to look somewhat behind the reviewer to understand their motivation, personal needs, and level of expectation.

                                     

                                    So how did our vacation go? Well I will try to write this review without constant comparison to Constance Moofushi although that was probably our biggest issue with the vacation.

                                     

                                    Arrival at Male

                                     

                                    Once you have gone through customs and have been reunited with your bags you walk through to the outdoor arrivals area and find your resorts representative. There is a sea of men holding cards with resort names on but thankfully we soon found our man. This area is quite a bottleneck as arriving passengers attempt to transfer to their island resorts either by seaplane or boat. Suitcases need to be rechecked and hand luggage assessed for weight if flying and we were very happy when another resort rep whisked us away to the lounge to await our next flight.

                                     

                                    The lounge at the airport where we needed to wait an hour or two for our seaplane is a typical airport lounge, nothing fancy but adequate for a short stopover with access to wifi, snack food, and beverages. The resort rep did tell us that they are building a more luxurious purpose built lounge at the dock area so this step will hopefully be improved in the coming months. Many arriving passengers have flown internationally and the toll of the journey is beginning to show as they struggle to stay awake at this point.

                                     

                                    Resort Review for JA Manafaru in the Maldives

                                     

                                     

                                    The Transfer

                                     

                                    JA Manafaru is located on the HAA Alif Attol approximately 199 miles north of Male and is accessible via a 75-minute seaplane journey from the dock that is about a five-minute bus ride from Male International Airport. The seaplane journey is a real treat as it flies over the many other island resorts enroute to JA Manafaru giving great picture ops.

                                     

                                     4 Tips – air conditioning is somewhat basic and the seaplane ride can get very toasty so dress accordingly. 75 minutes on a hot plane can make you quite thirsty so take advantage of the bottled water in the lounge and keep a bottle handy for the journey. The flight is fairly noisy so ask the crew for earplugs if this bothers you. There is really no bad side to sit in the tiny aircraft and you will get fantastic photos all along the route so have your camera ready.

                                    Resort Review for JA Manafaru in the Maldives
                                    Image Source: JA Manafaru website

                                    Arrival at the Resort

                                     

                                    Our pilot circled over the resort as he prepared for landing giving his passengers a perfect view of our new home. The 35-acre private island with its beautiful white beaches and delightful huts over the clear turquoise colored water really is picture postcard perfect. As we deplaned onto the dock our personal concierge who would be looking after us for the duration of our stay greeted us. Jumping into a golf cart we were escorted straight to our room and given a tour of the island with a running commentary explaining all the features along the ride.

                                     

                                    Resort Review for JA Manafaru in the Maldives

                                     

                                    The Rooms

                                     

                                    Check in time at the resort is 2pm so I loved the fact that we could go straight to our room, The personal concierge program works really well as there is no need to visit reception to do any paperwork as this is all taken care of for you. This particular resort offers a variety of accommodations:

                                     

                                    Beach Bungalows – Offering spacious accommodation just steps away from the beach with private beach cabanas complete with a plunge pool. The surrounding tropical greenery makes this quite the private hideaway and perfect for families. Room for up to 3 adults plus 1 infant.

                                     

                                    Beach One Bedroomed Suite – A larger beach option that can accommodate up to 4 adults. A private deck area with infinity pool and an open-air bathroom are just a couple of the luxurious features of this class of accommodation. Room for up to 4 adults plus one child.

                                     

                                    Sunrise and Sunset Villas – As the name implies the villas are designed to offer you amazing views at the start or end of each day. The villas are set over the water and have a glass panel built into the floor so you can observe the marine wildlife without the need to venture outside of your air-conditioned sanctuary. The private deck with its infinity pool and comfy loungers is cleverly designed to offer privacy from your neighbors. Room for up to 3 adults plus 1 child.

                                     

                                    The Ultimate Luxury – There is 1 Grand Water Two Bedroomed Suite that can accommodate up to 5 adults plus 1 infant and 2 Royal Island Two Bedroomed Suites complete with a sauna, steam room, and spa treatment area that can accommodate up to 6 adults plus 2 infants.

                                     

                                    We had chosen a sunrise villa and loved the quality of furnishings, the beautiful setting, and the amount of privacy that the design afforded us. We probably spent around 75% of our time in the villa so this was a major selling point for this resort. The well-stocked fridge that meant we didn’t need to venture out other than at mealtimes or to visit the gym plus the stunning infinity pool and idyllic outdoor deck worked perfectly for our needs.

                                    Watch on YouTube: Resort Review: JA Manafaru, The Maldives

                                     

                                    The Dining Options

                                     

                                    As mentioned earlier we selected this resort due to the ability to book an all-inclusive package. However this became one of the little niggles that greatly annoyed us on this vacation. When a resort offers all-inclusive but than gives you lists of what’s not included it somewhat defeats the object of the exercise for me. It feels like penny pinching when you read a menu but notice a bunch of things that you cannot eat (without paying an upcharge). It also meant that at each meal we needed to sign a check detailing what we had eaten that seemed designed only to elicit a gratuity from us.

                                     

                                    There are a variety of restaurants and bar options on the island and despite the small number of guests at the resort you still need to ‘book a table’ each night. When I’m on vacation I don’t really want to decide at breakfast time what I’m going to eat for dinner but when I’m forced to decide but then told I can only dine at a certain time I’m really not that impressed. It also became farcical when we turned up and a table was not available or when we showed up late and were seated straightaway. I think there is a breakdown in the system with the only saving grace being the staff who really try their best to make things work.

                                     

                                    Resort Review for JA Manafaru in the Maldives

                                     

                                     

                                     

                                    Resort Review for JA Manafaru in the Maldives
                                    The breakfast egg station

                                    We loved the food at the White Orchid restaurant that offers an Asian fusion menu with a hibachi grill inside (making this area very steamy and popular for children to run around it seemed). The waiters move between the restaurants and soon get to know you and your preferences, which is a lovely personal touch that makes you feel very welcomed. The head chef stopped by our table one night to introduce himself and we soon found ourselves discussing British food and my husbands’ love of rice pudding. Much to our surprise he offered to make a dish just for us and low and behold the next evening at dinner we were served our very own rice pudding – this truly is a luxurious touch and one of the reasons this resort gleams such great reviews from guests.

                                     

                                    The extensive morning buffet was probably our favorite meal for a few reasons; we are early risers so had much of the restaurant to our self; there was no need to book so you could just turn up and find your own table, breakfast was included for all guests so there was no need to sign a check before you could leave, and there was a good variety of food on offer. However the negative was that even with an all-inclusive package there were items not included such as specialty juices (orange juice was ok but not watermelon!) As a stickler for rules I abided by this but I did wonder what they would have done if I had poured the wrong juice by mistake? Charge me I guess.

                                     

                                    Resort Review for JA Manafaru in the Maldives
                                    Image Source: JA Manafaru website

                                    The Amenities

                                     

                                    The resort offers a spa and wellness center but beware of sticker shock as a couples massage runs around $500. Living in Mumbai where I can get the same for less than $100 we decided not to indulge. The setting looked beautiful but always empty whenever we passed by.

                                     

                                    There is a CoolZone for the kids with clubs for 3-12 year olds and another for the teens. Babysitting is available at the resort plus a dedicated activity program for the little ones. This resort is very popular with families; in fact one look at any of the restaurants told you that as most tables were set for 4+ and was quite a contrast from our previous visits to the Maldives.

                                     

                                    The gym is open 24/7 with access granted via your electronic room key. Although not huge there was a good variety of equipment on offer and was usually empty when my husband visited for his daily workout. If you are feeling energetic then there are a variety of other sports on offer including tennis courts, table tennis, beach volleyball, and a pool table. There is a PADI dive center offering plenty of water sports including water skiing, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddling, catamaran sailing, speedboat excursions, wakeboarding, jet-skiing, mono-skiing, knee-boarding and fun tubing (motorized sports have additional charges).

                                     

                                    The resort also offers a variety of ‘special experiences’ such as Maldivian cooking classes, fishing trips, romantic beach dinners, and sunset boat cruises. I have friends who think there is nothing to do in the Maldives so I like to do my bit to dispel that myth.

                                     

                                    Resort Review for JA Manafaru in the Maldives

                                    What We Did Not Like

                                     

                                    Golf Carts – Guests can call for a member of staff to drive them via golf cart to any destination on the island but if you prefer to walk, as we do, then we found ourselves constantly needing to move out of the way for the carts to pass. The island is really not that big but I guess if you have small children or are just feeling lazy then this service could be to your liking.

                                    Seaplane Transfer – The day before our departure we were given our seaplane departure time and much to our disappointment the timing meant a 5 hour wait at the airport. initially we were told that nothing could be done but thankfully the management team were proactive with the seaplane charter company and managed to considerably reduce our wait time by scheduling a later flight. It was great that this accommodation was made but sad that it needed us to voice our displeasure before an obvious step was taken.

                                    All Inclusive Package – There is something wrong with this product as I felt like I had taken the ‘poor mans option’ by selecting to pay a considerable amount of money up front so as not to be concerned with ‘trivia’ while on vacation. A luxury resort should not offer such a small selection of wines ( only served by the glass) or school guests on only being allowed one appetizer, one main course, and one dessert when in reality at most meals I only ate one course anyway. I’m sure the resort has had its fair share of guests that over indulge but to label all guests as glutens just seems rude.

                                     

                                    Resort Review for JA Manafaru in the Maldives

                                     

                                    The Verdict

                                     

                                    If this had been my first visit to the Maldives then I think I would be far more glowing with my review and why I mention above about looking behind the headlines at the reviewers own expectations. If my children were younger (or when I have grandchildren) then this resort would be much higher on my must visit list but at this point in my life one of the main reasons I love the Maldives is for the peace and serenity this paradise offers (quite the contrast from life in Mumbai).

                                     

                                    Writing this review a few weeks after my return I find I have fonder memories of the resort than when I first departed as a number of small issues had annoyed us during our stay. I would like to end by congratulating the staff of this resort for doing their best to work through any issues and for the management for taking the time to listen to our concerns.

                                     

                                    The Fact Sheet

                                     

                                    For reservations, please call

                                    UAE: +971 481 455 77

                                    Maldives: +960 650 04 56

                                    e-mail reservations.manafaru@jaresorts.com

                                    Website JAResorts Hotels

                                     

                                     

                                    Happy Travels

                                    Resort Review for JA Manafaru in the Maldives

                                     

                                      HOTEL REVIEW: WALDORF ASTORIA, NYC

                                      HOTEL REVIEW: WALDORF ASTORIA, NYC

                                        I love visiting New York. I’m not sure I would ever want to live in this crazy city, but a visit is always such fun with so much to see and do.

                                         

                                        My last trip to NYC gave me the opportunity to try out a couple of hotels. I enjoyed my stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Times Square as I appreciate the style of accommodation and the quality of customer service offered by this hotel chain. For my second night I decided to go old school and look for something a little more iconic and so decided to try out the Waldorf Astoria located on the upscale Park Avenue.

                                         

                                        Waldorf Astoria, NYC – The Location

                                         

                                        New York Park Avenue is synonymous with style and luxury. This midtown Manhattan location has plenty to offer. Next door to the Waldorf Astoria is the famous St Bartholomew’s Church but other iconic attractions such as Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, and the Museum of Modern Art are just a short stroll away. The Theatre District with all the shops and restaurants are a few blocks walk but if you prefer a less energetic option then taxis are plentiful along Park Avenue plus the subway and bus stops are just a block away.

                                         

                                        Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria, NYC
                                        The newly renovated entrance lobby off Park Avenue.

                                         

                                        Waldorf Astoria, NYC – First Impressions

                                         

                                        The Waldorf Astoria opened its doors in this location in 1931 as the tallest and largest hotel in the world. You begin to appreciate just how huge this hotel is as soon as you enter and walk through lobby after lobby just to reach the reception desks. The German Renaissance style of the architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh is still very much on display with the crowning jewel being the Goldsmiths Clock sitting proudly in the center of the main lobby area.

                                         

                                         

                                        Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria, NYC
                                        Usually the lobby is packed with people but my jet lag ensured I was awake around 5am to take this photo.

                                         

                                        The lobby areas seem to be full of people coming and going at all times of the day and I greatly enjoyed my 10 minute people watching session as I sat on one of the sofas in the main entrance room. I read an interesting article about the restoration of this area and learned more about its original design.

                                         

                                         

                                        Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria, NYC
                                        Sadly our room didn’t look much like any of the rooms on the website

                                         

                                        Waldorf Astoria, NYC – The Rooms

                                         

                                        Sad to say that the restoration, while amazing in the lobby area, has not been completed in the rooms; or at least not in the one I stayed in on this visit. Space in NYC is always at a premium and the layout of the older hotels will give designers more than a few headaches when trying to update. The huge corridors, probably double the size of most modern hotels, only adds to the disappointment when you open the door to your space-squeezed hotel room.

                                         

                                        Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria, NYC
                                        The bathroom was in need of a major update plus a shower with hot fast running water would have been nice.

                                         

                                        There is something poetic about the fact that my photos (taken late at night) have a dingy yellow tone to them, kind of sums up my first impression. The carpet, drapes, and furniture plus the decaying bathroom fixtures did not make me think old world charm or luxury but simply boy this room needs an update. Also note that my photos look nothing like any of the room photos on the Waldorf Astoria website (shocking I know and why you need to read bloggers REAL reviews).

                                         

                                        Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria, NYC
                                        Not the most inspiring gym, but functional.

                                        Waldorf Astoria NYC – The Amenities

                                         

                                        As this was a very quick one night stopover I really didn’t get a chance to explore that much of the hotel. Of course my husband did get to use the gym (fee waived if a Silver, Gold or Diamond HiltonHonors reward member) and while certainly nothing spectacular, it was nice to have the option to get a quick workout in during our stay. The hotel offers a spa and extensive meeting facilities. Interestingly the hotels own website lists room service as one of its 4 top amenities, but isn’t that pretty standard in any hotel?

                                         

                                        Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria, NYC Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria, NYC Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria, NYC

                                         

                                         

                                         

                                         

                                         

                                         

                                        Waldorf Astoria NYC – The Dining Options

                                         

                                        We decided to order room service, as we were just too exhausted to venture outside on this particular evening. Service was prompt and delivered by a very friendly server but boy the sticker shock was crazy. A pizza, club sandwich, and two bottles of beer – with all the various taxes and tips was around $120 so be warned.

                                         

                                        Of course the hotel does offer a number of dining options, including their Peacock Alley with its signature busy carpeting and delicious cocktails. You can find out more by visiting their website although I would recommend visiting Zomato.com to read a few actual customer reviews.

                                         

                                        Waldorf Astoria NYC – The Verdict

                                         

                                        This hotel has been a part of the Manhattan skyline for so many decades I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to sample its hospitality. If the restoration of the public areas were continued to all the hotel rooms then I would surely keep this hotel on my recommended list. However, while my actual hotel room cost was quite comparable to other luxury hotels in the area, I cannot say that I left feeling impressed.

                                         

                                        The Fact Sheet

                                         

                                        Address: 301 Park Avenue, NY 10022

                                        Contact info: +! 212 355 3000

                                        Website: Waldorf Astoria

                                        Other Info: WiFi charged at $18.95 a day but free for HHonors Reward Members.

                                        Number of Guest Rooms: 1232

                                         

                                        Happy Travels

                                        Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria, NYC