Jordan Travel Guide
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Though Amman, the bustling, sprawling capital of Jordan, has plenty to offer in the way of sightseeing, cafes, outdoor markets, and shops, it's never exactly dazzled in the hotel department. Sure, a few upscale options exist (Le Royal Amman, InterContinental Amman, Four Seasons Amman), but many are outdated and have difficulty attracting a younger, more discerning clientele.
But that might be about to change, with the announcement yesterday of a 280-room W Amman, set to open in 2016.
According to HotelierMiddleEast, work is scheduled to begin soon on the 36-storey, mixed-use tower. While the exact location in Amman is unknown, we're told the hotel will sit above eight levels of offices and high-end retail outlets.
Oh, and another detail? Outside of the US, W tends to get a little more adventurous with the design of their hotels (see: W Barcelona, W Shanghai The Bund, opening in 2014), and W Amman will be no exception. Paying homage to Jordan's most popular tourist attraction, the design of W Amman will in fact be inspired by the city of Petra. No easy feat, considering the ancient site dates back over 2,000 years, and was built into sheer rock face!
Recognized in 1994 as the country's first government-protected natural site, the Dana Biosphere Reserve is one of Jordan's most scenic, and sought-after, desert hideaways. And when it comes to lodging, you can't do much better than the Dana Guest House, located right in the heart of Dana village, overlooking Wadi Dana.
Though it's finishing up renovations that will double the number of available rooms, there are currently only nine rooms that make up the entire hotel.
Small, simple rooms with wrought-iron bed frames, a vanity, and a nightstand. But taking in the view at sunset from one of the private balconies allotted to each room has to be one of the most satisfying features about the place.
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Le Royal Amman, which happens to be the second-tallest building in the whole city, has been catering to the wealthy and well-to-do of Jordan's capital since it opened in 2002. From the lobby, a 3-story boutique retail outlet, 3 cinemas, and 10 restaurants provide plenty of distraction, but there's also some stuff worth seeing inside the rooms.
Like this decadent bathroom feature, found in one of the hotel's two Royal Suites.
One of the higher-end hotels located in Jordan's most-visited destination, the Petra Guest House has a few key amenities that keep tourists filing back year after year: private chalets, air conditioning and, of course, proximity to the ancient site itself.
But adjacent to the lobby sits Cave Bar, which claims to be the oldest bar in the world.
Sorry Vegas, in a few years, no one will be holding their Star Trek conventions in your town anymore. No, instead they will beam themselves to the new Star Trek Theme Resort being built in Jordan.
Hotels Mag reports that construction on the $1.5 billion theme park and resort will start early next year and when it's completed in 2014 will include four hotels. Four! Details are scant on what else the project, known as the Red Sea Astrarium, will include but there is mention of a Star Trek-themed "space-flight adventure."
Also King Abdullah II is apparently a Trekkie, having made a cameo appearance on “Star Trek: Voyager” in 1995. Ahh...so that's what it's going to take to get our idea for the Battlestar Gallatica adults-only resort off the ground.
Well, we'll still keep our fingers crossed (or open Spock-style?) that the Star Trek resort actually gets built.
Changed over from a standard Mercure, the hotel is now more roomy and luxurious with standard rooms even granted their own sitting room and balcony.
Pushed into the modern world, internet is in every room, yet representing its deep roots in the area, a Mosque is attached to the hotel. Don't worry however, there is still a hotel bar in this intermixing of old and new. What remains constant however, is the hot water spring bath as the main attraction. Two natural baths one of 120 degrees and another slightly cooler along with a regular pool should satisfy the neediest of water lovers. Including spa treatments with the pools is the idea here and there is a full menu of massages and the likes.
Back in the hotel room, it sounds as if the spa continues according the Times reviewer's description:
big attraction. Large, tiled in ceramic and marble, and stage-lighted by recessed pinpoint lights. Ours had a walk-in shower and a soaking tub, each big enough for two.
The location is well below sea level and a hike away from the Dead Sea, the mineral baths give it reason, and the hotel upgrade makes it worth the trip. Plus after your stay you can claim to have soaked in the same bath as King Herod the Great who is perhaps best known for--well we're not sure.
The latest Kempinski Hotel has opened on the Dead Sea.
Guests can now flock to the lowest point on the face of the earth and stay at the Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea which is:
Designed in affectionate tribute to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, [and] is a creation of local stone, tiles and glass set amidst gardens of olive trees and palms, dotted with lagoons, waterfalls and private pools.
The 114 Ishtar Villas actually opened on May 1 but 201 more rooms and suites will open early in 2007, along with an entertainment center that will have a bowling alley, movie theater, meeting and sports facilities.
The hotel's keystone is the Anantara spa which is 2-acres big--one of the world's largest with more than 20 treatment rooms, 28 spa suites, Jacuzzis, Asian therapies, steam rooms, saunas and a Hammam.
For the high rollers and royalty, the 20,000-square foot Ishtar Royal Villa is also available and has three bedrooms, a private infinity pool, a private butler and its own series of gardens and beach chalets.
But whether or not you get a standard room or the Royal Villa, every room and suite faces the Dead Sea, so no views of the parking lot or brick walls here.
· Kempinski's latest jewel opens on the shores of the Dead Sea in Egypt [Travel Video TV News]
A wedding ended in tragedy last night at the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, Jordan when a suicide bomber believed to be linked to Al Qaeda attacked, killing at least 56 people, including the fathers of both the bride and the groom and at least one American.
Two other hotels, the Grand Hyatt Amman and Days Inn Amman, also suffered attacks. In a sick correlation, the attacks happened on November 9, a date written in the Middle East as 9/11, since the day is written before the month.
While Jordanians are stunned at the attacks by Muslims on fellow Muslims, Jordan is one of the United States' closest allies in the Middle East. According to CNN, a statement was posted on an Al Qaeda website declaring:
"After studying the targets and watching, we chose the places to carry the mission on some of the hotels, which the Jordanian dictator turned into a backyard for the enemies of faith -- the Jews and the Crusaders."
This is a sad reminder that it's still necessary to exercise caution when traveling in the Middle East, American or not.