Review: Le Meridien Abu Dhabi

Introduction
Review: Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco Airport
Review: Cathay Pacific First Class 777 San Francisco To Hong Kong
Review: Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong Airport
Review: Grand Hyatt Hong Kong Grand Suite
Review: Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge Hong Kong Airport
Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class A330 Hong Kong To Kuala Lumpur
Review: Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur
Review: Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge Kuala Lumpur Airport
Review: Malaysia Airlines Business Class 737 Kuala Lumpur To Bali
Review: St. Regis Bali Pool Suite
Review: St. Regis Bali Lagoon Villa
Review: St. Regis Bali Restaurants & Activities
Review: Premier Lounge Bali Denpasar Airport
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class 777 Bali To Doha
Review: St. Regis Doha
Review: Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge Doha Airport
Review: Qatar Airways First Class 777 Doha To Abu Dhabi
Review: Le Meridien Abu Dhabi
Review: Rosewood Abu Dhabi
Interlude: 30 Hours In Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad US Pre-Clearance Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport
Review: Etihad First Class A380 Abu Dhabi To New York
Review: Le Parker Meridien New York


I’m trying to review as many of the Hyatt & Starwood hotel options in Abu Dhabi as possible, as there are quite a few. When it comes to Hyatt, I’ve reviewed the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island and Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, both of which I quite like.

For Starwood I’ve reviewed the St. Regis Abu Dhabi Saadiyat IslandSt. Regis Abu Dhabi, and Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa. They’re all great options, depending on what you’re hoping to do (Saadiyat Island is more of a beach/relaxation destination, the St. Regis in the city has a good location for sightseeing, and the Westin is quite close to the airport).

I had always noted that Abu Dhabi also has two Le Meridien properties — Le Meridien Abu Dhabi and Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi. I decided to book the former for two nights, at the rate of 449AED (~$120) per night, which is quite a good rate.

I took a taxi from the airport to Le Meridien, which took about 30 minutes. The hotel is located in the northeast corner of the city, basically about halfway between Emirates Palace and Saadiyat Island. So it’s a pretty central location to be in, as you won’t be more than a 15 minute taxi ride to most places you’d want to go.

Le Meridien has been around for more than 35 years, and is one of the oldest upscale hotels in the city (well, at least it was upscale when it opened). Interestingly the hotel was going to be torn down as recently as a few years ago, as part of a construction project connecting areas of Abu Dhabi.

All of this is to say that you can tell the hotel has been around for 35+ years, including from the outside. 😉

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi exterior

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi exterior

The doors to the hotel have rather unique floral patterns, and upon entering the hotel I was greeted by a friendly bellman and directed to check-in, which was located inside the lobby and to the left.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi entrance

Speaking of the lobby, the design was clearly intended to be true to the area, but in the end looks more kitschy than anything, in my opinion.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi lobby

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi lobby

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi lobby

I was assisted by a friendly associate, who quickly checked me in and gave me a letter informing me of all the privileges I’d get as a club guest, which include:

  • Complimentary breakfast in Latest Recipe from 6AM until 11AM
  • Tea and coffee in the club lounge from 7AM until 5PM
  • Cocktail hour in the club lounge from 6PM until 8PM

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club guest welcome letter

I was directed to the elevators, which were located on the opposite side of the lobby of reception.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi lobby

I took the elevator up to the fifth floor, where my room was located. The elevator let out across from the club lounge, so I turned right and took the walkway towards my room. The initial walkway was pretty cool, and featured an atrium view of sorts.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi hallway

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi atrium view

However, upon turning left I found a hallway which was… well… from a different era.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi hallway

I was assigned room 588, which was a corner suite with a massive terrace.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi room entrance

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi floorplan

This was a “full” suite, in the sense that there was a door between the living room and bedroom. The living room featured a seating area with a couch and two chairs facing a coffee table and TV, as well as a desk closer to the entrance.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite living room

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite living room

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite living room

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite living room TV

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite living room desk

On the chest across from the desk was some complimentary water, as well as teabags and instant coffee packs.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi in-room coffee & tea

Waiting on the coffee table was one of the most well intentioned but bizarre welcome amenities I’ve ever received. There was a tasty cake with my name and SPG number on it. I think it’s great they’re trying to personalize the experience as much as possible, but writing someone’s SPG number in icing is an odd touch.

I wasn’t the only guest to receive such a cake. As I was walking down the hallway I saw a staff member with a cart which had several such cakes on it… each with the member’s name and SPG number.

Furthermore, you’d think that welcome amenities are designed so that pictures can be shared through social media (after all, that’s cheap publicity), but that shouldn’t be done when your loyalty program number is visible.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi welcome amenity

There was also a customized card with my picture on it. Okay, again I appreciate the intent (even if I don’t need a picture of myself), but what I found strange was that below the picture of me was my name, address, phone number, email address, and SPG number. Talk about an extremely well intentioned welcome gift which just isn’t very well thought out.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi welcome amenity

Anyway…

The bedroom was separated from the living room by a door, and it had a king size bed, chair with side table by the window, along with a desk and TV. I thought the decor was nicer in the bedroom than in the living room.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite bedroom

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite bedroom

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite bedroom

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite bedroom desk & TV

The bathroom was quite large, though not especially functionally designed. It featured a single sink, a shower/tub combo, and then a rather small walk-in shower.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite bathroom

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite bathroom toilet & bidet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite tub

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite shower

Toiletries were Cinq Mondes branded, and were nice enough. While Sheraton consistently has bad bath amenities, Le Meridien seems to have no consistency when it comes to what they offer. That’s probably a good thing, as these were actually quite nice.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite toiletries

The highlight of the room was probably the terrace, which looked out over the resort and surrounding area. It featured panoramic views and quite a bit of furniture, including a dining table as well as some lounge chairs. Unfortunately the furniture was covered in a thick coat of dirt, presumably due to the nearby construction.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite view

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite terrace

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite terrace

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite terrace

I also had a view of the construction, which was initially what was going to close down Le Meridien.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi suite view

Back by the elevator on the fifth floor was the club lounge. It was a fairly densely furnished lounge, and it didn’t seem like it was properly staffed during the day. While it didn’t seem to be very busy, it would make sense to at least have someone come by every so often to clear the tables.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club lounge

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club lounge

In the corner was a comfy sofa area.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club lounge seating

Next to it was a business center.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club lounge business center

Then there was also a good size terrace with views overlooking the resort.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club lounge terrace

The club lounge didn’t serve breakfast (instead all club guests get breakfast in the restaurant), though they still had some croissants, danishes, and fresh fruit available early in the day.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club lounge morning spread

There was also an illy espresso machine along with cookies available all day. It looked cool, though I never did manage to figure out how to use the machine, unfortunately.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club lounge espresso & cookies

There were also complimentary soft drinks and water available all day, which is perhaps my single favorite feature of a club lounge.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club lounge all-day drinks

In the evenings there was supposed to be a drink and appetizer spread. I went there the second night of my stay and saw they had alcohol available, though there wasn’t a single snack in sight.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club lounge evening drinks

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi club lounge evening drinks

As far as breakfast goes, it was served in Latest Recipe, which is located just off the lobby. The restaurant itself is quite nice and has plenty of seating on the surface, though it was extremely crowded both mornings I was there.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Recipe Restaurant

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Recipe Restaurant

The restaurant also had a nice outdoor terrace, where I sat one of the mornings.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Recipe Restaurant terrace

The buffet spread was quite good, though the restaurant was just so crowded both mornings. The servers were friendly but clearly way overworked, so it was 20 minutes before I was offered any coffee both mornings (and that was even with trying to signal them).

I’ll let the pictures of the buffet speak for themselves otherwise.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Latest Restaurant breakfast buffet

Across from Latest Recipe was an all day coffee shop, which I quite appreciated as a caffeine-powered person.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Al Finjan lobby lounge

One of the things this hotel really has going for it are the restaurants and bars on the premises, which are popular with locals. I have friends who live in Abu Dhabi who come to Le Meridien all the time, given the surrounding restaurants. There was even a beer garden setup of sorts when I was there.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi restaurants

The hotel also has a large pool area. There’s a smaller pool as you enter.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi pool

And then past that is the main pool.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi pool

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi pool

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi pool

There’s no shortage of lounge chairs either.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi lounge chairs by pool

In order to enter the pool you have to go through the spa. I’m not sure if there’s a faster way to get there which I missed, but I had to walk around the entire perimeter of the resort and then enter through Eden Spa.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi walkway to Eden Spa

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi entrance to Eden Spa

There you had to sign in and were then given towels for the pool.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Eden Spa

In addition to the pools, where was a pretty cool indoor bath, as well as a relaxation room.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Eden Spa relaxation room

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Eden Spa pool

I decided to have a massage the second afternoon I was there. While the setting was rather no frills, the massage was excellent.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi Eden Spa massage room

There’s also a decent size gym in Eden Spa, even if the architecture is a bit… unique.

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi gym

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi gym

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Le Meridien Abu Dhabi gym

Le Meridien Abu Dhabi bottom line

This hotel seemed to be very well intentioned. All the staff I interacted with were friendly and meant well, even if they seemed to be spread a bit thin.

As far as the decor goes, the hotel is desperately in need of a renovation. I guess I understand why that hasn’t yet happened based on the fact that it was supposed to be torn down a few years ago. I got the sense, however, that:

  • Many of the hotel’s guests had booked through some kind of vacation packages/through consolidators, and weren’t necessarily booking specifically because this was a Le Meridien property, or because it was part of SPG
  • The restaurants on the hotel’s premises are probably what do best for this hotel, as it’s a popular hotel with locals

So would I return? No, unless the hotel is renovated, I can’t imagine I would. But I also don’t have any hard feelings towards the hotel, as I’m guessing they’ve run the numbers and decided there wouldn’t be an ROI on a renovation at this point.

I do still find hotel branding to be a bit of a mystery… especially for Le Meridien, which I consider to be a brand which lacks an identity.

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Comments

  1. Le Royal Meridien in Abu Dhabi is a much much nicer property, though can be a pain to deal with locals coming to party at the rooftop bar at night.

  2. so the st. Regis Abu Dhabi would be the one if sightseeing is on the list?
    Trying to figure out where to stay for the short trip later in march

  3. We know who you are SPG Member # 007, just in case you post a bad review?

    Seriously that letter came across as creepy as hell, what did they do hire a former Stasi member to run membership services?

  4. looks like somewhere the genie from Aladdin would stay while on a business trip

    also Latest Recipe is the worst name for a restaurant I’ve ever heard

  5. A great review as always Ben, nice to see your face on a picture for a change! We need more selfies. I cannot believe how dated that hotel looks, but I suppose if they are going to knock it down there is no reason to update it. Thank you.

  6. As a frequent traveller to Abu Dhabi and SPG Plat, I’ve been to all SPG hotels in Abu Dhabi, and been to this particular hotel three times (and twice in le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi). I won’t stay here with that winter rate ($120), but twice I stayed as mattress run for promotion with their spring/summer rate (around $60-80 including tax) plus SPG BRG (2000 pt option). Then pretty good deal. 😉

    Reading this review gave ma a good laugh. Actually hotel facilities look nicer in Ben’s pics. 😉 Sure, this hotel is very old-fashioned with late 70ties/early 80ties Arabian(what was imagined as such at that time, I guess) style deco, gold-color framed giant mirror and lamps (lol..), pathetic style spa/pool/even lounge club etc. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t completely slash this hotel. Considering its age, it’s reasonably well-maintained hotel. Pros: generous upgrade to suite for Plat (I got same suite in the pics), very friendly front desk staffs & bellmen, full variety of / impressive breakfast of that calibre (actually I preferred breakfast & service here than that of le Royal Meridien although it’s depending on what you appreciate more in breakfast venue), reasonably new gym equipment and popular Irish pub in the garden area (but be aware of the crowd and possible band music noise during weekend nights). Btw latest recipe restaurant (breakfast venue) was completely renovated, so feel very clean and modern unlike the rest of the property. Ben might be right about package tourists guests. I couldn’t find much class or elegance in most of guests there (same in the club lounge).

    Regarding renovation, what I was told is that as the building has some sort of historical heritage importance (one of the first hotels in Abu Dhabi created by agreement(?) or for celebration(?) btw Queen Elizabeth & Sheikh Zayed, they are not considering to smash the entire building itself, rather to keep old deco (as part of historical heritage) but renovate room and facilities etc. Personally I support this direction of renovation.

    Give it a try to Aloft Abu Dhabi next time and would love to read your review on the hotel. I have been a sort of loyal guest to Hyatt Capital Gate (as Hyatt Diamond) but tried Aloft Abu Dhabi once and considering its darn good rate, I had such a pleasant stay (sure, I am still going back to Hyatt Capital for its elegance) but became a fan of Aloft. Looks like SPG is aggressively pushing Aloft brand across the whole UAE now, so look forward to more Aloft properties soon in the country.

  7. What, they didn’t post your driver’s license number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, bank account number, and social security info on the card?

  8. Our family is going to have an overnight connection in AUH (travelling US-Australia on EY F), we arrive at 8PM, departure at ~11AM next day. As I understand, EY does not give a comp. hotel for F pax, so we have to book a hotel. Is it worth to stay in the city ( I doubt we can see a city since we arrive about 8PM and leave early) or there are good options around/close by to airport?

  9. Lucky,

    When can we expect some more Marriott reviews? Many SPG loyalists will be able to earn and redeem points at these properties in the not-so-distant future. In particular I am interested in Ritz-Carlton, Edition, Autograph, Renaissance and JW Marriott reviews.

  10. The whole place looks depressing as hell. Honestly Ben, rather than having to kill time in god-awful places like this, don’t you ever wish you had a HOME to go to?

  11. “I do still find hotel branding to be a bit of a mystery… especially for Le Meridien, which I consider to be a brand which lacks an identity.” >>> check who is the owner of the hotel (same in the horrible Hilton Al Ain) and you will understand why they are still a Le Meridien and almost do what they want.

    This place is a nightmare but Starwood can’t complain regarding who are the owners, so they do what they want and sell this hotel in package with tour operator (mainly germans) and live on the reputation of the food court (super cheesy too in my opinion, but unique in abu dhabi).

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