Having been a spoiled frequent guest of AccorHotels (Sofitel Manila, Pullman King Power Bangkok, Novotel Phuket) during my decade stint as a flight attendant, I was extremely excited to experience Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa.
Inquiry and Booking
We learned about Sofitel Bahrain’s latest offer through a travel show. We contacted the hotel reservations thru email for inquiries and they gave us a good deal for 3 different room types. The one that we booked was the Luxury Club Room.
The hotel is beautifully located in a quiet and secluded area in Zallaq, far away from the busy city. It is 30 minutes drive from Bahrain International Airport and 25 minutes from Manama Central Business District.
Upon arrival, the valet man opened the driver’s door, took our luggage out and parked the car for us. However, me and Rock Licker were puzzled as to why there was no bellman nor doorman in sight, just an employee in black suit with a name tag trying his best to ignore us. He helped me though, half-heartedly, when I said I needed help with my bag. Later on, we found out he's the hotel security manager.
During check-in, we were assisted by the gentleman at the front desk, Mr. Tariq. He is nice and friendly, and he gave us our requested room with a great view of the beach, garden and pool. After checking in, he escorted us to the lounge for a comfortable wait. Our room was not yet ready because we arrived around 10am and the standard check-in time is at 1pm.
The only downside is that Mr. Tariq overlooked the fact that we were booked in the Luxury Club Room which means that our check-in should be done at the Club Lounge, not in the front desk . A supposedly added comfort that we missed because of a basic information that the front desk staff ignored or probably cared less.
While waiting for our room key, we were served simple but delicious morning foods and healthy juices. With the small number of guests that stays and eats at the lounge, it's an ideal place for people who prefers exclusivity and privacy.
Aside from breakfast, the lounge also serves mid-day snacks, afternoon tea, light dinner and evening Arabic sweets for Club Millesime guests.
Immediately after getting our key, we proceeded to our Luxury Club Room, a well-appointed 43 sq.m Arabic-themed room with wide balcony overlooking the pool, beach and garden. It has one king size bed, 42" HDTV, Bose sound system, working desk, cordless phone, WIFI , tea/coffee, Nespresso coffeemaker and minibar. The bathroom has a single sink, Hermes amenities, a tub, rain & jet shower and toilet & bidet.
Welcome Fruits and Dates
Wifi in this hotel is free but the signal is too weak and almost non-existent not just in our room but in every part of the hotel. We reported it to guest services immediately on our first day. The one that spoke to us said there was a shortage of bandwidth and the management is still figuring out how to resolve it. The staff sounded a bit irate and no solution whatsoever was presented. We complained again the next day (our check-out day) and this time they gave us a mobile wifi. Well, it's too late!
We then found out from friends that they encountered the same problem during their stay in Sofitel Bahrain last year. We just hope that the hotel will fix it soon.
The Friday Brunch spans the main restaurant, plus the Italian and Asian Restaurants. We went down to the main restaurant early and spotted the staff having their pre-duty briefing. We decided to go outside and stroll the garden, and came back when everything was ready. When we returned to the main restaurant, we approached the staff and told him we reserved a table for two. He asked for our names and searched it in the reservation list. He guided us towards the table, which was at the farthest end corner of the Italian restaurant.
Guests in the Italian Restaurant were entertained with a mascot and a clown. In the main restaurant, there was a live music and everybody was enjoying singing and dancing.
The food was very good especially the seafoods. However, we think more improvement must be done with the service during busy hours.
We went to the lobby after brunch to walk around and to take photos. We bumped into Mr. Tariq and asked him if he could show us the Opera Suite. He told us to go to Club Millesime and look for the Filipina attendant there. He said she's not busy.
We went up to the lounge and looked for the Filipina attendant that Mr. Tariq mentioned but she was on lunch break. Luckily, there's another Filipino attendant, and he offered to show us the suite.
After viewing the Opera Suite, we headed outside for our late afternoon stroll and enjoyed the gorgeous view of the beach, garden and pool.
The hotel swimming pool was pure, clean and not too busy. The pool layout was simple yet functional with lots of lounge chairs and daybeds lined on the side and a nice swim-up pool bar in the middle.
The beach set up is good with golden sands and clear, calm water, perfect for water sports activities and weekenders who wish to spend some time away from the city’s stressful environment.
We loved the hotel's beautiful lush garden with rows of trees that lights up at night creating a romantic feel.
After our quick afternoon stroll, we visited the Kids Club which is located at the leftmost part of the beach. Inside the Kids Club, there's a playroom, computer stations, arts and craft area and a reading area. Outside, there's a kiddie pool.
We also got to see the hotel's Thalassa Spa. It has an area of 2000 sq.m with 14 treatment rooms. and boasts facilities and full services that include sauna, hammam, sports room, tennis and squash courts, seawater and freshwater swimming pool, hairdressing and beauty salon, yoga/pilates studio, meditation area and dietician. According to their therapist, all treatments, massages and thalasso cures are tailored according to their guest's desires and needs, and uses only the best marine products.
The fitness gym offers diverse cardiovascular equipment, fitness instructors, changing area and client area.
The beauty salon has a variety of services like manicure, pedicure, hairstyling, wax and eyelash extension.
Lobby at Night
Breakfast at Saraya
Breakfast served in the main restaurant, Saraya, was outstanding and has a good selection of fresh fruits, yoghurts, breads, various jams and spreads, cold cuts, cheese, and a selection of cooked breakfast. As we were enjoying our breakfast, me and Rock Licker can't help but notice this pleasant and hardworking guy who was very attentive to the guests, sincerely greeting them, responding to their requests and collecting their plates. When we look at his name tag, we saw his name is Skandar and he is the Restaurant Assistant Manager. Then, there's this other guy just standing either at the cashier or at the condiment station, pretending to be busy at times. He passed by our table and we looked at his name tag. We found out that he is the Restaurant Supervisor and his name is Jaiz. Me and Rock Licker just looked at each other, bewildered how lazy this supervisor is compared to his boss. We just observed that most of the restaurant supervisors from brunch and breakfast were not helping that much. The servers wearing apron were all hardworking but they were few.
Afternoon A la Francaise
Before checking out, we took a gander at all the food and wine booths set-up on the beach which was a promotional and advertising campaign for French products. The supermarket chains Aljazira, Alosra and Jawad, the French poultry group Doux, the company BMMI and PAUL Bakery & Patisserie participated in the event.
We did our check-out in the lounge and reported all our concerns to the lounge manager. She apologized to us and connected us to another manager who promised us a better experience next time.