A Week in the Gulf: QR J, EK J, Qatar, Oman, and the UAE
- Introduction, Planning, and Booking
- Qatar Airways JFK Check-in and British Airways Galleries Lounge Review
- Qatar Airways A350 Business Class JFK-DOH
- 24 Hours in Doha
- DOH oneworld Business Class Lounge and Qatar Airways Economy Class DOH-MCT
- Grand Hyatt Muscat Review
- MCT Priority Pass Lounge and Emirates Business Class MCT-DXB
- Aloft Abu Dhabi
- Abu Dhabi Observation Deck at 300 and Cyacle Bikeshare
- Le Méridien Fairway Dubai
- Emirates Business Class Lounge, DXB Concourse A
- The Electronics Ban
- Emirates A380 Business Class DXB-JFK
As with my stay in Abu Dhabi, I wanted to sample one of Starwood’s more economically-priced properties in Dubai, as the higher-end hotels have been extensively covered by others. The Le Méridien Fairway in Dubai had a very reasonable prepaid, nonrefundable rate of 189 AED (~$52 USD) for the night that I stayed. Dubai is considerably larger and more spread out than Abu Dhabi, and there are several areas of town where the large chain hotels are clustered. Rather than being in one of those areas, the Le Méridien Fairway is located right next to the airport in the Al Garhoud district, north of Dubai Creek. On the basis of location alone, the property is convenient but not great for first-timers or business travelers, as there’s not much of interest nearby. For those, however, who have a short overnight and don’t have any interest in venturing into the city (which in my opinion would be a shame…), the location is convenient and walkable to/from the GGICO Metro stop on the Red Line, only one stop from DXB Terminal 1 and two stops from the Emirates terminal (T3). The property is located in a strip mall-like area and is not particularly attractive from the outside.
Lobby and Check-in
The lobby, as well, is not very pretty or inviting. Despite being of a decent size, it was dimly light and felt cramped. The hotel is only three floors and I was given a standard “Deluxe” room on the second floor (which is actually the first floor containing rooms). I asked the associate if I, as an SPG Gold, would be able to get anything either on a higher floor or of a larger size, and was told that there was a room on the third floor identical to the one I had been assigned. Rather than assigning me to that room, she went to the back to talk to the another employee who may or may not have been a manager; all of this was in my direct view, as the door to the back room was open. After conferring for 2-3 minutes in what sounded to me like Thai, the second employee came out and told me that the hotel was fully booked and that they couldn’t put me into any other room. I was taken aback by this, given what the other employee had just told me, and gently expressed my surprise. The second agent responded that he would call the manager and get back to me later on whether or not it’d be possible to move rooms (they never did). I’m not quite sure what happened and while in the grand scheme of things this wasn’t a huge deal, I was a bit disappointed by this poor customer service encounter.
A little salty from my interaction at the front desk, I made my way to my room. Because I had plans in the city, I quickly dropped my things off and did just a brief look-over of the room. My first impressions (which ultimately didn’t change) were that the room, while large, was poorly lit and in dire need of a refresh. The bathroom was one of the most cramped I’ve seen in a long time, and the furniture in the room was far beyond just being past its prime. While the standard Le Méridien Malin and Goetz toiletries were nice, there was not a single other nice thing about the room that I could find. In the ~15 minutes I spent in the room before leaving, I noticed a dirty duvet cover, some pretty bad paint peeling at the windows that were also quite dirty from the outside, and a very old and not clean carpet. I generally have a high tolerance for “bad” living conditions and a high threshold before complaining about issues when I travel, but there was just an intangible “dirty” feeling I had about the room and the property in general. I also noticed a constant rushing/whooshing sound in the room, but chalked it up to the AC and didn’t dwell on it. As I discuss below, I should have probed that sound further before heading out.
I returned to my room in the evening and, within a few minutes of settling in, noticed that the whooshing sound I had noticed previously was not going away, even when the AC wasn’t actively on. After a couple minutes of looking around, I realized that the sound was actually of traffic on the E11/Sheikh Zayed Road, which is located just beyond the parking lot of the hotel. As it turns out, the origin of the sound was one of the windows, which did not actually close all the way. Pretty exhausted from all the running around I had done earlier, I tried for about 20 minutes to ignore the sound and go to sleep, but the noise proved too disruptive. Despite remembering the check-in agent’s earlier claim that the hotel was fully booked, I dragged myself downstairs to speak to someone about the window. After a lengthy exchange that involved no apologies from the front desk staff and no fewer than 30 minutes of waiting, I was escorted by the bellman to a new room. As we walked through the halls to get to my new room, I heard sound coming from behind the door of almost every other room we passed; not only are the rooms in bad shape at this property, the doors are apparently quite thin and un-soundproof as well.
Deluxe Room, Part Two
The second room I was given was marginally better than my previous room. At the very least, the windows closed fully and blocked out sound from outside. Of note, there was a water heater that had to be turned on ~15 minutes before showering, but unsurprisingly the heater’s on/off light was not working; this took a technician about ten additional minutes to figure out. Rather than facing the street, this second room overlooked the hotel pool, which looked less-than-appealing. The bathroom was just as cramped as in the other room, and the furniture and carpet looked just as tired and dull. Rather than upset myself by exploring the room more, I let myself drift off to sleep.
Breakfast and Hotel Restaurant
There’s a restaurant in the hotel. I didn’t bother (but for those curious, it wasn’t completely empty in the morning).
Check-out and Service Recovery
During check-out, I was finally able to speak to a manager — despite the multiple issues I had during my stay, I was unable to get ahold of one the entire time I was at the property until check-out. We spoke extensively about the problems I experienced, and the manager simply offered a cursory apology without anything else. I pressed for some kind of compensation and he stated he wasn’t able to give any sort of a credit/refund because I was staying on a prepaid rate (other SPG properties in the past have never had issues doing so on prepaid rates). When pressed further, he said he would possibly be able to give me “some points” but that he would first have to “check with someone” before he could know how many points he’d be able to offer. This, as well, sounded fishy, as my understanding is that managers are certainly empowered enough to make customers happy with a pretty standard gesture of offering bonus points. Several weeks after my stay and after multiple email back-and-forths with the manager, I found a paltry 1100 SPG bonus points in my account.
Ultimately, this was one of the more disappointing hotel stays I’ve had, and I would recommend against staying at this property. Even for budget-conscious travelers, there are a number of other solid properties throughout Dubai that are only marginally more costly. The hotel is dimly lit, dirty, and frankly in a pretty bad state. It’s certainly not befitting of the upscale Le Méridien brand, and until some substantial changes are made, I won’t be back.