I arrived for a one night stay only 10 days after the hotel had opened, with less than 1/2 the rooms/suites ready for occupancy. I have, therefore, decided it is unfair to 'teddy rate' this hotel at this time, despite my memorably brilliant stay.
Sam is a 7 'teddy' GM, with an excellent management team in Abu Dhabi & I know this hotel will reach the 7 'teddy' score in time.
A First Class Welcome
Sam was waiting to welcome in a natty sports jacket, the new Four Seasons General Manager weekend look? Mr Casson was wearing something similar when I had a drink with him the week before.
Once in the lobby there was a welcome drink, a Four Seasons staff badge for Issy and a remote controlled jeep containing the latest member of the ‘gang’ Abu and a group of toy camels. This was incredible had to be a photo opportunity with the General Manager.
My 8th Floor Suite
Val took me up to my 8th floor suite explaining I was the first person to stay in this suite and, in fact, on that entire floor. She said they did not need a credit card from me, as Four Seasons know me so well, and was so much fun to chat with.
The suite had a 'new place' smell that was not all pleasant (eg new carpets, glue etc) but I was pleased to see the new ‘bright white’ Four Seasons linen again and there was a picture of Issy in sugar with mouthwatering chocolates.
I was already ‘late’ for lunch with some former colleagues and so had very little time to check it all out.
Dim Sum Lunch at the Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi
My colleagues had picked the Chinese restaurant in the Rosewood Hotel next door for our lunch. Val was in the lobby and got me a hotel car to take me there, to avoid Abu Dhabi’s afternoon heat.
I was unimpressed with my stay in the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas but this Rosewood Hotel seemed very different.
Dai Pai Dong does an all you can eat dim sum lunch and the food was good but the main idea was catch up with my Abu Dhabi based former colleagues. They had finished most of their lunch by the time I arrived at 2:10pm.
Lobby Lounge & Seeing Petra Again
Less than an hour later the hotel car was back to take me to the hotel to meet another former colleague for coffee. His children are now based in London and we agreed to meet up there next month.
After he left I got to chat to Petra from Four Seasons Doha. She used to be the Bar Manager there and I always love catching up with her. While we were chatting a member of staff I knew from the Four Seasons Jumeirah Beach pre-launch visit came to speak to me. What a small world Four Seasons is for www.sifrew.com.
Next I went down to the pool to relax. There were no slippers in my suite but a member of staff went to get me some.
There were Four Seasons Doha staff there and I was soon drinking Veuve Clicquot Rich for the first time. I tried it with cucumber, then fresh grapefruit & then orange zest. With grapefruit it tasted very topical and reminded me of my 6 years living in Bermuda. However, I still prefer regular Veuve Clicquot
I rejected the offer of free foot and shoulder massages and watched the sunset instead, bliss.
No Hot Water & ‘Interesting’ Flower Arrangements
Back at the suite I marvelled at the stunning, Toronto Four Seasons-style, bathroom with Bvlgari bath products but ended up having a cold shower, because I could not get the hot water to work.
In the sitting room of the suite I noticed a water bottle with my photo on. At the Baku Four Seasons it was a photo of a close friend on my water bottle, because the photo was badly tagged on Facebook, which gave me a laugh.
Then a flower arrangement of a teddy bear arrived, which made me think about the person who came with room service in Four Seasons Baku wearing a teddy bear outfit, along with a water bottle with Issy & Abu’s photo.
Zsa Zsa Bar
That evening I met one of the former colleagues from lunch, & his wife, in the hotel bar. It is a very white bar that opens directly to the lobby and was clearly in training mode with too many bartenders.
When my friends arrived we agreed 9 times married Beverly Hills policeman slapping Zsa Zsa Gabor was an odd person to name a Four Seasons bar after and we were not very keen on the space. I prefer a more intimate/dark bar.
There being nothing but olives to eat, despite several requests for nuts by one of my friends, did not help and one of my very dry Grey Goose martinis was partially spilt by the staff while serving it with no offer to top it up or replace it.
Dinner in Crust
Sam had previously told me two of the hotel restaurants would be closed and I was surprised to only find one restaurant open. Crust is the all day dining restaurant and was too bright, and empty, for dinner. However, we sat outside on the balcony and had a real laugh about retirement plans, meeting up in Chiswick etc.
I ordered truffles fries and was told my Wagyu burger came with fries. There was no offer to substitute and so we ended with far too many fries. However, they were the sort of thicker fries I would have expected to see when I ordered duck fat fries at Four Seasons DIFC.
Service was rather erratic but we all agreed the food was very good.
Back to the Bar
We went back to the bar but it was now busy with a ‘party crowd’ who did not look like typical Four Seasons customers. After one more drink we ‘cut our losses’ and said goodbye.
I woke early after a perfect night’s sleep in the high bed with the new Four Seasons linen.
I was all ready to order Eggs Benedict to photograph with the view but this option was not on the iPad. I ordered a bagel with scrambled eggs, cheese and black truffles instead and it was a dream dish.
Coffee with the General Manager
Next it was meeting Sam for a catch up chat. He had so much to tell me about UAE visa problems, the press finding unfair negative angles on the launch, pointed out all the incredible attention to detail (eg smelling cups on the tables), ordered ice creams to show how good they are and told me they (and Four Seasons DIFC) stocked Bvlgari bath products specially for me.
After hearing all this, I had even more respect for Sam and decided not to ‘teddy rate’ Sam’s hotel in its current stage of development.
Lobby Lounge Again
Next I met more friends I knew from my 9 years in Qatar. It was such fun to catch up with them but meant I did not have time to swim in the pool again or say a proper goodbye to the excellent staff there.
Friday Lunch in Crust
Next I met a family I know from my time in Qatar, and adore, for lunch. I met Sam the GM on my way there and he offered to have a water bottle made to mark the lunch, such a kind and thoughtful gesture.
Crust was a different place at lunchtime and lunch was everything I hoped it would be, including being bought Veuve Clicquot by my friends. However, at 2pm I had to rush back to my suite to do some final packing.
One Night is Not Enough
In the lobby Val checked me out herself and Sam was waiting to say goodbye. I had squeezed so much into my one night in Abu Dhabi but was so glad I made this part of the GCC Tour.
No ‘teddy score’ given as, having only been open for 10 days, the hotel is still dealing with the usual hotel ‘teething problems’. However, I am confident that it will become a 7 ‘teddy’ Four Seasons, like Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, in time.
I, certainly, intend to visit it again to experience it in its ‘full glory’ (eg variety of restaurants) and wonder if Four Seasons should be charging ‘soft launch’ prices at present for a hotel that is still such a work in progress.