Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chilling Out at Meridien Mina Siyahi

With my mother-in-law, Kath, staying, it was decided that a day relaxing at a beach resort would be a great change from our apartment building's large but freezing swimming pool. 'Buy 1 get 1 free' voucher from The Entertainer in hand (Dhs 175 for both of us), we set off for our day of sun, sea and sand at the Meridien Mina Siyahi. The voucher was only valid Sunday-Wednesday which meant that Simon couldn't come, but I made sure to call him once we were lying on our loungers looking out to sea just so he wouldn't feel left out!

The Meridien has 2 swimming pools as well as a long beach, sadly one of the pools seems to have been permanently barricaded off since it lies within the Barasti Bar area. I think you can also use the pool at the adjoining sister property, The Westin, but we didn't investigate that. We spent the morning on the beach and the afternoon by the pool - although we wished we'd stayed down on the sand since the Meridien has a serious problem with crows around the pool. Crows are scavengers and they feed on rubbish and carrion...they are a very bad sign that there is a lack of cleanliness and it seems they are becoming more and more common in Dubai. These crows were not just huge ugly vicious-looking things, they weren't afraid of humans at all and one actually landed on Kath's head!! Apparently the Burj Al Arab has resident falcons that fly around the hotel to keep other birds away - the Meridien needs to do something like that because a line up of 10 black crows along the loungers next to me was not conducive to me relaxing in the slightest. One positive point was that the pool was heated to the perfect temperature for me and I was able to get in without it taking my breath away.

The beach along the front of the two resorts is huge and we saw hundreds of fish of varying sizes as we walked along the shore. As with all the Dubai coast, the natural beach has been lost and so it is all trucked-in sand which then creates a much harder surface - luckily the gradient drop down to the sea is not like the one we found on the public beach near Paul's though (earlier review)! I found the lounger mattresses quite thin and uncomfortable but that didn't stop me from being able to drop off to sleep for a good hour. Lying on the beach you look out onto the Palm Jumeirah and the Atlantis Hotel, gone are the days when a day on the beach meant seeing nothing but sea all the way to the horizon. We could have had an active day of banana boating, kayaking or water-skiing but that all sounded like too much hard work so we watched other people out on the water instead.

The beachside menu is the same as the poolside menu, and it was exactly the same menu as when I was last at the hotel...nine months ago. A revamp of the menu would certainly not go amiss. I felt sorry for the hotel guests because there wasn't a huge variety of options and if I was staying there for a week I wouldn't be impressed. Also, the prices were very high for a pool menu - Dhs 115 for seabass. Are they mad?? Kath ordered the mezze platter but this only came with Arabic bread and we had to pay extra for vegetable sticks to dip in the hummous, moutaboul and tabbouleh. I had grilled salmon served with sweet potato puree and a side salad, all very nice although the salad dressing was a little too strong on the mustard for my taste. I would have preferred a salad but the choice was limited and nothing appealed. Although it was a good lunch, I have had much better (and cheaper) at other hotels such as the Hilton Jumeirah Beach and the Meridien Al Aqah.

Simon and I are planning to spend Boxing Day at the Meridien Mina Siyahi because it is great value to feel like you're on holiday for the day, the pool is lovely and the sea is great. We'll just make sure to not sit on the pool loungers and we'll try to find somewhere else to eat our lunch.

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