Four Seasons Hotel – Beirut

Posted by Mark

I was in Beirut over the weekend and on this trip I ended up staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Downtown Beirut. The hotel is located in what I think is one of the nicest looking towers in Beirut, right in front of the very popular Zaituna Bay and so I was really looking forward to staying there.

Right from the moment I stepped out of my rental I knew I was going to be enjoying my stay at the hotel. The customer service at the hotel was just better then any other I had previously stayed in before and I’ve stayed at many. The feeling I kept getting is that every single employee wanted to help make your stay better, and by every single employee I don’t mean just the reception staff or managers, I mean everyone from the valet guys, to the housekeepers to the waiters. I think its the words they use but you just get this feeling that you can ask them for whatever you want and they’d love to do it and that made me super comfortable in asking them for stuff which I tend not to do.

Other than the excellent service my room was also very comfortable. I had overpacked on this trip but there was more than enough closest space and drawers to accomodate all my stuff. The room wasn’t that big but the bathroom was with a large sink area, tub, shower room, toilet room and a makeup table. The room had a balcony that was big enough to fit a table and two chairs and finally there was free wifi in the room and the whole hotel. My favorite part of the hotel though would have to be the roof. During the day the roof is a cool place to swim and tan but at night it’s an open air lounge overlooking the Mediterranean sea and Beirut.

I do have two minor complaints though. The first issue the hotel really can’t do much about but the view from my room could have been better if there wasn’t a large sand lot right outside. I live in Kuwait so I would rather not see sand lots when I travel. Even though the hotel is right in front of Zaituna Bay, my room was more on the side and I could only see the marina if I was on the balcony looking left which was disappointing. The other issue I had was with their breakfast. It’s not a breakfast buffet and one of the things I look forward to the most in hotels is their breakfast buffets. At the Four Seasons they have a dried fruit, fresh fruit and cereal buffet but if you want any hot dishes you have to order them. The advantage obviously is your breakfast is made for you and so is fresh, but the disadvantage is it takes time to make and you also can’t just fill up your plate with whatever looks good like you would do at a regular buffet.

In the end though I had a really good time at the hotel. I generally don’t tend to spend much time at hotels but on this trip I was having all my friends come over so we could just chill out on the roof. The incredibly friendly service and the lounge on the roof made me really love my stay. I’d most likely stay there again once I’m done reviewing other hotels in Beirut.

Here is the link to their [Website]

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Jumeirah public beach

Posted by Mark

I’m not a fan of Dubai but it’s really getting difficult not to appreciate what they’re doing there. This weekend I ended up going to the Jumeirah public beach and was left extremely impressed. The beach was huge, super clean and the water was crystal clear. There were a ton of sailboats, kite surfers and everyone was just minding their own business. I loved it.

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Kuwait Airport long term parking on weekends

Posted by Mark

The long term parking at the airport is so small that on weekends it’s usually closed with a sign saying that it’s full and you’re basically forced to park in the short term parking and pay an exuberant price or park outside the cargo terminal for free but have to take the long walk back to the airport. Since I’ve been traveling a lot I kinda developed a routine which was working pretty well for me until this past weekend.

What I do now is get to the airport early like I usually do but I park in the short term parking. I then checkin to my flight and once I get the boarding pass I get back to my car and just park it outside the long term parking entrance and I sit and wait for someone to leave so that security will let me in. Usually it takes 15 to 30 minutes and it’s became a routine that works for me.

So this past Thursday, 30 minutes had passed and no one had left but since I had already checked in and still had around an hour for boarding I was doing ok. Then a car pulled up behind me and a Kuwaiti guy got out and came up to my window. I rolled it down and told him parking was full and I was waiting. The guy then goes to the security office and a few minutes later comes back with a Kuwaiti security guy who comes up to me and is like I am going to let the guy in because he wants to try his luck and look for a spot. I told the security guy I had been waiting here for 30 minutes now why can’t I go in to “try my luck”? Then the Kuwaiti guy came and told me to move my car so he could go in. I was like no, I was here first and I have been here for 30 minutes and I am not moving. The security told the guy in Arabic that I was a westerner and you know how stubborn they can be. The Kuwaiti guy kept trying to get me to move and telling the security he had his whole family in the car and his flight would be taking off soon etc.. etc..

Finally around 10 minutes later a passenger comes into the long term parking and was leaving. I tell the security guard I should be let in first to park and then you can let the other guy go in and try his luck. Of course he didn’t listen and let both of us in. I ended up driving the wrong way to get to the parking spot first to park.

So much drama just for parking. We definitely need more long term parking spots. My temporary fix would be to combine both the short and long term parking spots into one and then develop a pricing plan that would work for both. Until then it’s going to be like this every weekend.

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Nu Hotel – Milan

Posted by Mark

Last weekend I went to Milan and stayed at a trendy little hotel called Nu. It was actually my second choice since I had originally set my eyes on Hotel Straf, but Nu Hotel ended up coming in at half the price which made it the obvious choice.

The hotel is not located in the city center and is not walking distance to Duomo which is actually a good thing. Duomo is in the city center where all the cathedrals, department stores, franchises, luxury brands and ALL the tourist are. Many people actually want to be in Duomo which is fine by me but I would rather shop and stay in places with more locals than tourists. The hotel is located 5 minutes away from the Metro anyway which means a ride to any part of Milan will mostly take just under 20 minutes.

My room was pretty spacious for European standards but what probably helped the room look even more spacious was the super large window that occupied most of one wall. It brought in a lot of soft natural light into the room even on an overcast day. The room had all the regular amenities like free interent, mini bar, a safe and breakfast in bed should you choose. The customer service was fantastic, I was having minor issues with my AC since in typical person from Kuwait style I wanted it on all the time and at the coldest possible temperature and they were extremely helpful with sorting that issue out for me.

There wasn’t much going on around the hotel other than a happening bar across the street. Other than that everything on the street was usually closed by nightfall. If I ever go back to Milan I wouldn’t hesitate staying at Nu Hotel. Here is the link to their [Website]

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Basel World 2013

Posted by Mark

A few months back I was sitting with the owner of Tag Heur and Patek Philippe in Kuwait and we were discussing watches when he asked me if I would be interested to cover Basel World for my blog. Basel World is the worlds largest watch expo which takes place every year and this year was going to be a bit more special since it would be the first Basel World held in the newly renovated exhibition building. I was also told I could cover any watch brand and not just their own brands so here I am at Basel World.

This is easily the largest expo I have ever been to. The exhibition building is huge and the booths, they’re not even booths they’re gigantic structures, like mini buildings inside a bigger building. I am not sure my pictures below do justice to the place since you really have to be here to see how huge these booths are. The exhibition building is three floors and each floor has a super high ceiling with super high brand booths occupying a ridiculous amount of space. I spent all day yesterday just walking around quickly trying to at least see everything quickly and I thought I had until after I left I was checking the Basel World App on my phone and I realized I missed two exhibition halls completely.

To be able to enter the booths you need to be invited in (like if you’re a watch collector or a VIP) or you need to be one of their dealers. Since I am in good contact with the dealers in Kuwait I am getting access to most of the brands I want to see except for a couple. Below is the list, if you can help get me access to the ones I am having trouble with let me know.

Hublot – Have access
Tag Heur – Have access
Patek Philippe – Have access
Chopard – Have access
Rolex – Working on access
Brietling – Working on access
Casio – No access (help needed)
Harry Winston – Have access
Omega – Working on access
Citizen – No access (help needed)

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Airport Taxi New Prices

Posted by Mark

Below is a comparison between the old airport taxi prices and the recently updated ones. I tried to be as accurate as possible but they’ve divided up the areas in the new pricing system slightly so it was a bit confusing creating this list. For example Hawalli and Salmiya were both KD5 previously but now Hawalli is KD7 and Salmiya is KD8.

Aldajeej – Air Cargo
Old Price: KD6
New Price: KD4

Sabhan – Almagwa – Alfarwaniya – Jileeb Alshuyoukh – Khaitan – lshbeelia – ardhiya industrial – Alrabiya – Alrehab
Old Price: KD4
New Price: KD5

Alshuwaikh industria – Alodailiyah – Alrai – Alriggae – Alandalus – Gurnada – Alrawda – Alyarmouk – Qortuba – Alsurra – Aljabriya – Salwa – Almessilah – Bayan – Meshrif – Dahiyat Mubarak Abdulla Aljaber – sabah Alsalem – Alzahraa – Alsadeeq – Alsalam – Huteen – Alshohadaa
Old Price: KD5
New Price: KD6

Alshuwaikh Residential – Alshamiya – Alkhaldiya – Alfaiha – Kaifan – Alsulaibikhat – Alnuzha – Algadisiya – Aldaia – Al mansouriya –Aldasma – Midan Hawally – Hawally – Alnugra – Alrumaithiya –Algurean – Alqussor – Aladan – Mubarak Alkabeer – Jaber Alali – Aldaher – Abu Fatira – Al Funaitees
Old Price: KD5
New Price: KD7

Hadiya – Al Rigga – Al Fintas – Al Ogailah – Abuholaifa – Alsobahiya – Almahboula – Alahmadi – Al Mangaf – Al Fahaheel – Alqaser – Alnaseem – Alnaeem – taimaa – Aloyoon – Alwaha – Aldoha – Alshedadia – Amgarah – Kuwait City – Salmiya – Bneid Algar
Old Price: KD5
New Price: KD8

Almotlaa – kabd – Abdulla port – Alshuaibah lndustrial Area
Old Price: KD7
New Price: KD8

Um Al-Haiman
Old Price: KD8
New Price: KD10

Benaider Chalets – Aldhubaeiah
Old Price: KD10
New Price: KD12

Alzoor port – Alwafra – Alkhiran
Old Price: KD17
New Price: KD19

Alabdelli – Alsalmi – Alnuwaseeb – Alsabeya
Old Price: KD20
New Price: KD20

Photo above by Crazy in Kuwait
Old prices from [Here] and new prices from [Here]
Thanks Vineeth

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Good news for Canadians in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

Canadians no longer need to get visa on arrival anymore and everything is back to normal before UAE and Canada got into a dispute. Finally! [Link]

Picture taken by Patrick

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Two things to do in Prague

Posted by Mark

There are two things I did in Prague that I would highly recommend to everyone going there.

Hit the slopes

If you have the time and you’re there in winter then I’d highly recommend you hit the slopes. The cheapest option I found was around 75 Euros per person including travel to the resort from the city and including rental gear and slope passes. But, the resort was tiny and mostly made up of fake snow. I ended up going to Špindlerův Mlýn which cost considerably more but that’s due to the the location being around 2 hours away from the city. The resort was huge and there was lots of soft powder snow since it was snowing when I was there. I went midweek so the slopes were mostly empty which meant I never had to wait in line for the ski lifts or bother navigating hoards of skiers on the way down. The slopes are not all connected together but there was a free shuttle bus service to navigate from one slope to another. The whole experience cost me around KD90 but that included snowboard gear rental, a half day pass to the slopes and a personal driver for half a day as well.

While there I would highly recommend you rent a snowmobile as well. They rent for a minimum of 1 hour and you go off alone with just a black and white map that makes absolutely no sense. I think it was around KD20 for the hour, I don’t remember but I took the snowmobile and headed all the way up to a peak. It was snowing and foggy along the way and I froze my ass off but the trip was really beautiful and scenic.

Visit the psychiatric hospital

Ok I know this sounds weird and it is but it’s really worth the experience. I went and had lunch at the Psychiatrická léčebna Bohnice cafeteria. I had read on a forum online that the staff that work there are recovering patients and that the visitors are families visiting their loved ones at the hospital. Anyway the hospital grounds is huge, like a massive university campus. The buildings all looked like they had been built in the early 1900’s with beautiful but crumbling architecture and looks of interesting looking floor tiles. The cafeteria had a style that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shinning but don’t expect the food to be anything exquisit. Actually don’t expect to really eat there, maybe just a slice of cake and a RC Cola since the menu really didn’t have much food just microwaved sausages and croissant.

Still it was a different experience and one that doesn’t cost much to try. The trip from the city to the hospital by cab was KD7 and I think I paid like 800 fils for my lunch and desert.

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MOODs Hotel – Prague

Posted by Mark

Over the weekend I had a spontaneous trip to Prague and had like 30 minutes to book an airline ticket and hotel and I have to say I lucked out with my hotel. I ended up staying at MOODs Hotel which is a pretty trendy boutique hotel located around 15 minutes walking distance from the old Prague town and markets.

I had booked a superior room for 3 nights but on arrival I found out I had been upgraded to a deluxe room. Most likely it’s because I had booked less than 24 hours before arrival and so my first night stay was costing more than the other two nights combined. When I first got to the hotel I was really impressed with the way the lobby looked. They had some interesting textured walls, modern furniture and a trippy light show going on with their logo. The hotel receptionist were also young and sitting behind shiny iMacs so the hotel felt very stylish right from the get go.

My room was pretty spacious with lots of closet space, dark hardwood floors, a very cool looking bathroom as well as an LED mood light system running behind my bed which I could control the color and intensity of. I also had access to free fast wifi, a pretty good breakfast buffet and best of all they hooked me up with a great driver to take me to and from the ski slopes.

If you’re planning a trip to Prague then I’d recommend this place. If I ever go back I would stay there again without a doubt. They even have duplex suite for not that much more per night. Here is a link to their [Website]

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+1 Lufthansa

Posted by Mark

Last night while at the Kuwait Airport waiting for my Lufthansa flight I got the message above on my phone. They changed the departure gate after I checked in so Lufthansa sent me an SMS informing me of the gate change. I thought that was pretty cool.

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