I have just returned from 5 nights at the Crowne Plaza resort in Salalah, Oman with my husband. It was not our first stay there as we previously spent a similar amount of time in one of their villas just over two years ago. Being our second visit, I can give a review that I am confident is pretty accurate. The hotel has a lot of promise and potential, but on the whole falls down on customer service and other easily rectified issues.
On this particular occasion, as it was just the two of us, we decided to book a junior suite on a half board basis. I booked through the priority rewards site, which was very simple and straightforward.
On arrival at Salalah airport the hotel bus met us. The ten-minute drive gives a glimpse of Salalah. On checking in, we were informed that our room was not yet available. That was not as issue as we had arrived before the official checking in time. Fortunately we were able to proceed with the checking in process and the girl who served us was polite enough. It would have been nice if there were complimentary refreshments on arrival or while waiting. We were however pleased to be shown to our room shortly before it was scheduled to be available.
Having visited the hotel before, thus being familiar with the hotel facilities, we were dismayed to learn that the designated restaurant for our evening meals was the Darbat restaurant where breakfast is also served (it is quite frankly a cafeteria, not a restaurant) and not the Dolphin restaurant outside, which has far more atmosphere. We asked if it would be possible to change the designated restaurant, which was refused, so we consequently asked if we could amend our booking to be bed and breakfast only, to enable us to eat at the other restaurant, but were told no as we had booked on line and not directly with the hotel. I thought that this was rather inflexible. It would have been helpful if the designated restaurant had been named on the web site at the time of booking. If the atmosphere and quality of your evening meal is important to you, I strongly recommend that you do not book half board.
We were eventually shown to our room. Having previously stayed in one of the hotel villas, which at that time was dirty and very run down, we weren’t sure what to expect from the junior suite, although hoped that it would be worth the extra money. We were however pleasantly surprised. The room was bright, large and with balcony and sea view. There were plenty of complimentary toiletries and slippers and bathrobes. The minibar was relatively well stocked to start with, although it was only (partially) restocked once. On other occasions we had to resort to room service, as used items had not been put back in the minibar. Room service was also rather slow considering it was only items such as cans of cola that we were ordering.
Other gripes involving the room are: there was no extractor fan in the bathroom; the turn down service was only done on one evening (either do it all the time or not at all!) and our daily paper (supposedly complimentary to priority card members) was only delivered on one occasion, and it was in Arabic.
The main issue that I had with the hotel during our stay was the service and dining facilities. The buffet style breakfast was served in the Darbat restaurant, which as I said earlier is more of a cafeteria. There is a wide selection of food, ranging from cereal to cheese, but unlike the Crowne Plaza in Muscat, there are no pork products. The cooked food is adequate: the best being items from the egg station, which are freshly prepared to order. There are one or two disinterested and unresponsive members of staff who serve the tea or coffee for time to time.
We ate lunch at the open air Dolphin restaurant, which overlooks the sandy beach. There is double the number of staff here, which during our visit took them to an average of about 3 tables to wait on per staff member. With such low customer / staff ratios, you would expect a high quality of service, however the waiters spent more time chatting amongst themselves than attending tables. The service was incredibly slow and orders were incorrect. As with the Darbat restaurant, we were not made to feel welcome in any way. The traditional meals, such as shish taouk, which should have been spot on, were passable; but nothing to rave about. The pizza was really nice however, and possibly the best value item on the menu.
Bearing in mind that my husband and I were on a romantic getaway, the evening meal was an important part of our holiday. Having initially been disappointed to learn that we would not be able to eat at the Dolphin restaurant, we nevertheless decided to make the most of it and sit on the balcony of the Darbat restaurant, which overlooks the floodlit pools, lawned areas and palm trees. Unfortunately, when we arrived we were told that we would not be able to sit outside since we did not have a reservation (this perhaps could have been recommended by the check in clerk when we had the conversation about restaurants earlier? Or perhaps she could have gone a step further and offered to make a reservation on our behalf). The frustrating thing was that there were in fact tables available, which remained the case until the point at which we had finished our meal. The way that the reservation system appears to work is that the table is kept reserved until the point at which the customer arrives. So even if a table is not booked until 8:30pm, you would not be able to arrive at say 6:45 and use the table until the time at which it is reserved. Needless to say we made sure to make reservations for the subsequent evenings, although on two occasions, having made the request on our departure from the previous evening, the reservation was not actually written down by the staff, which caused minor problems when we arrived the following night. On one occasion as we ate outside a gentleman made the mistake of sitting at a free table without a reservation, so he was duly turned away. As we were the only other customers at an outside table and the gentleman was accompanied by his young family so it was unlikely that they would be there for too long, this seemed ludicrous. Surely some common sense should have prevailed?
Internally the Darbat restaurant was not atmospheric in any way. The lighting was very bright and there were no tablecloths or candles on the inside tables. The food each evening was supposed to follow a particular theme, although it was hard to tell this from the food on display. The food quality was just about passable, and not once were we approached during the course of any of our meals by any of the waiters to ask how it was and if we would like more drinks. In fact more often than not we had to approach the staff ourselves to order drinks as they did not seem concerned with what was going on at individual tables.
We did make use of the pool bar on two occasions. It is a nice feature, and the barman was pleasant. However, the range of cocktails at the pool bar is severely limited compared to what you can get at the Dolphin restaurant, and they are also more expensive, which was surprising.
In summary, the location of this hotel is fabulous. The beach is lovely and each day the dolphins swim up and down the bay. There is a choice of restaurants, but the food is average and on the whole the service is terrible. There are a limited number of activities. However, although diving is advertised, it does not take place locally; you are driven an hour up the coast to where the Marriott is. We had an amazing holiday despite the shortcomings of the hotel, and urge the Crowne Plaza to review the areas where they could improve the stay for their guests.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Crowne Plaza Resort Salalah is situated in 45 acres of lush tropical garden, overlooking the Indian Ocean and on a long stretch of pristine white sandy beach. The resort enjoys an ideal location for Business Traveler's, Meeting & Events and for Families. Just 10 minutes drive from the Salalah International Airport, 8 minutes from the city center and 15 minutes from the Port of Salalah. All 153 rooms including 9 suites and the 19 three-bedroom family villas are stylishly well appointed and equipped with private bathroom, radio, International direct dial telephone, voice mail, interactive television including satellite channels, and mini-fridge. The Crowne Plaza Resort Salalah boasts of the only 'Green' 9 hole Par 3 Golf Course in Oman. The THREE meeting rooms at the Crowne Plaza Resort Salalah are tailored to meet the ever-changing requirements of the discerning travelers and meeting communities alike. The ballroom is equipped and caters to any social or business event, such as gala dinner, wedding, cocktails, meetings, seminars and conferences, product launches and more... ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Crowne Plaza Resort Salalah Hotel Salalah
- Crowne Plaza Salalah
- Crowne Plaza Hotel Salalah