Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur


Lydia and I had to spend a night in Kuala Lumpur on our recent trip back to Malaysia (full trip report coming!) to get your US visas renewed. Instead of staying at our usual Doubletree or Hilton Kuala Lumpur spots, we decided to stay at the Ritz Carlton due to a pretty good deal from booking with American Express Platinum Leading Hotels & Resorts program. As part of booking with Amex, we would be getting a room upgrade, complimentary breakfast and guaranteed late checkout till 4pm. On top of those perks, Amex offers a hotel specific perk like a free lunch or spa credit. In our case, it was a $100 USD dining credit per stay which was the kicker for us considering the room rate was $180 USD after taxes. A $80USD per night rate at a Ritz Carlton seems like a awesome deal!

Since we had a ton of luggage, we arrived at the Ritz from KLIA via taxi. A porter was on hand on greet us and help with the luggage. What was amazing was that the porter addressed me by name when he handed me the luggage stubs. I'm guessing the took a peek at our airline luggage tags to figure out our names - what great service to start.

They did manage to find a room ready even though we arrived earlier than the check-in time at around nine in the morning. The front desk agent than went over our perks as part of booking with Amex and we were caught surprised that instead of the $100 USD dining credit, we were offered a afternoon tea instead. I didn't make a big fuss about it then since we were given lounge access even though this was not an entitlement.

We did later found out that there was no afternoon tea available on the day we were at the Ritz which was really disappointing. Since it wasn't available, the front desk should have proactively swapped out the perk for something else. We eventually went back to the front desk to make a fuss about it and only after standing firm did the front desk manager "replaced" the afternoon tea with the $100USD dining credit.

It looked like we had been upgraded to a next category room from the cheapest room that we had booked. It wasn't terribly large but I found the room nicely furnished and functional. I liked the fact that the TV was both in front of the sofa and bed allowing me to either laze in bed or relax by the sofa and watch the TV.

The bathroom was huge and almost the same size as the bed room. It was stocked with high-end amenities and Ritz branded towels.

We also noticed what looked like last night's turn down amenity left behind and not cleaned up when we checked-in. This was definitely another no-no as a Ritz.

Last night's turn down amenity
Since we had arrived early, we managed to sample breakfast at both the lounge and the main restaurant. The breakfast at the lounge was disappointing in that it was very chaotic with not enough tables and the staff having a hard time keeping up with cleaning up the tables and taking orders. The selection in the lounge was as usual, less than the main restaurant but what was supposedly a more relaxed atmosphere was supposed to make up for it. Definitely not in this case.

Breakfast at the main restaurant the next day was a much more enjoyable experience. There was a good selection of cold cuts, fruits, yogurt and cereal as part of the buffet and a wide selection of made to order hot foods like nasi lemak, noodles, pancakes and truffle omelet.

Breakfast at the main restaurant
The lounge experience did somewhat recover during other parts of the day when there was less of a crowd. The lounge at the Ritz always has something to eat and drink throughout the day but we did not make the extra effort to try the different offerings during the day since we were either out or too full after enjoying much better local food outside of the hotel. We did swing by for a drink before dinner and the light nibbles and drinks were pretty good.

Club Lounge
We spent the $100 USD dining credit at the Ritz's Chinese restaurant which was supposedly a highly rated Chinese restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. It was definitely hard to order $100 USD worth of food for just the two of us so we ended up sharing a bowl of $70USD bird nest soup between both of us for dessert on top of the other stuff we ordered. The food was definitely good but not super outstanding.

We returned to the room that night to be pleasantly surprised by an extensive turn down amenity of a fruit plate and a ton of chocolate and truffles. 

We did have the chance to laze by the pool a couple of times after getting tired of shopping and eating. The hotel has two pools and we found the "second" pool by the spa area much more enjoyable since kids were not allowed and it was empty for most of the time we were there. The pool was also long enough if one wanted to do some lap. My biggest complain would be the lack of service around the pool area. There were no one around to help with towels or clean up towels/seats that were previously used.

The "main" pool
The Spa Pool
One thing we did enjoy as part of staying at the Ritz was its location in Kuala Lumpur's main shopping area. With the Ritz's connected walk way to the Starhill shopping mall and easy access to Pavilion mall, we did not have to take a cab or worry about transportation at all during this trip.

Pavilion all ready for Chinese New Year
For the most part, the stay was just OK and definitely not a truly luxury experience we expected at staying at a Ritz Carlton with all the hiccups we encountered. During check out, the front desk manager did wish to see us again and did clarify that the Amex website was wrong and it should have been an afternoon tea listed instead of the dining credit. We're definitely not in a rush to return on our next trip to Kuala Lumpur and might end up back at the Doubletree or Kuala Lumpur since the rates are often half what the Ritz are.

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