Friday, January 21, 2011

the Ritz Carlton Bahrain

I went to Bahrain yesterday to get some logistics of the upcoming TARA conference worked out and enjoy a little time sans-abaya. After almost 5 hours of TARA planning, Sandra and I were more than ready for a movie. We wandered around a mall for a bit and went to see Life as We Know It (unedited, I think!).

After the movie, unwilling to go back to the Kingdom yet, we decided to try to find the Ritz Carlton and have a glass of wine. You see, they do have alcohol in Bahrain, but you have to go to a hotel or a bar to find it. We had heard from some local colleagues that Trader Vic's in the Ritz Carlton was a great place for a glass of wine, so we thought we'd give it a shot.

After a good half an hour/45 minutes of being lost trying to find the hotel, we finally arrived. The hotel is amazing! The whole ambiance is so opulent and fancy. We wandered around the lobby and looked at some of the gift shops, clothing shops, wedding shops, and spa. Eventually we found a security guard (the place was crawling with security guards!) and asked where Trader Vic's was. He directed us back across the lobby to the other side of the hotel and said we would find the restaurant "on the right."

We went across the lobby to the other side of the hotel and found a Lebanese restaurant and an Indian restaurant on the left, a French buffet and an American restaurant on the right, and what can only be described as a smoking parlor at the end of the hall. No Trader Vic's.

So we headed back toward the lobby and asked the hostess at the French restaurant where we could find Trader Vic's.

"Are you staying at the hotel ma'am?


"Ok, you just go back out to the lobby, turn right and stay straight."

It wasn't until we were in the middle of our first glass of wine that we realized she had told us to leave the hotel. Turning right in the lobby and staying straight would take us out the front door. She could have just told us that Trader Vic's was only for hotel guests, but we didn't get the hint with this set of politely rude directions.

Of course, we hadn't realized the was telling us to get the heck out. So we went right in the lobby and bypassed the front door, only to find the hotel prayer room and administrative offices next to the elevators. Luckily a hotel staff member saw the quizzical looks on our faces and took pity on us. He escorted us back toward the French restaurant, but stopped just before at a set of sliding glass doors that didn't slide open. I saw a little sign that said something along the lines of "Use your hotel key to open doors."

You'd think we'd get the hint then, but we didn't! Our escort called over a security guard who kindly used his key card and led us to the beautifully lit path that took us to Trader Vic's. By now we'd figured out that this place was just for hotel guests, but we decided that we'd come this far, we might as well have a glass of wine to celebrate.

The restaurant is amazing. The atmosphere is so hip and romantic. The bar overlooks a lagoon that leads to the sea. There were candles and house music and couches. It was very upscale and trendy. I could see why they wouldn't want rif-raff coming in from the street to soil their snob appeal.

The service was awful--we had to hunt down a waitress to get us a menu, then hunt her down again to take our order, then hunt her down again to ask for the bill--but the food was great and you just couldn't beat the view. At one point I commented to Sandra that this was the most romantic date I'd had in a long time!

I will definitely make the Ritz Carlton a romantic staycation for me and the Mister before we leave Saudi. Maybe then they'll treat us like Ritzy society people.

Vicariously yours,

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate your fortitude in getting that glass of wine.