Our First Weekend Getaway for 2017

Last New Year’s eve, we took some time off with the family after months of being busy (with work and studies). Moments like these are important to us since it is our alone time away from our rigorous schedules… where we sleep together in one bed, cuddle and play with each other, enjoy the scenery or simply just take a plunge at the pool – those things we don’t usually do – and which we chose to do in style once in a while.

After a long discussion and comparison, we decided to set-aside having a formal New Year’s Eve dinner for an overnight stay in a hotel. While it’s definitely a festive night, I knew I won’t be getting my money’s worth for dinner alone since neither my wife nor my son is a heavy diner. So we just chose a hotel and decided to have a simple dinner at any restaurants nearby and still enjoy other freebies like complimentary breakfast and use of the hotel’s facility. Quite smart, right?

Though we won’t be having a grand New Year’s Eve celebration that we initially wanted for the kids to experience, I knew I needed to spice things up a bit. With the help of a little creativity, we still managed to get the same excitement while watching the real-time Dubai Countdown and Fireworks on TV which is an hour-earlier than Qatar (watch a short clip here). With matching colored balloons and party hats to add to our get-up, we had an exclusive party while enjoying the different fireworks and celebrations all over the world at the comfort of our hotel bed.

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Our New Year’s  Eve Celebration

Curious about Curio?

We checked-in at a brand new hotel near the Mall of Qatar. It is located about 10 minutes from Qatar Foundation, and adjacent to the Amiri Guard on Dukhan road – AlRayyan Hotel Doha, Curio Collection by Hilton – is one of the global set of more than 20 hand-picked upscale and luxury hotels that meet independent-minded travelers’ needs for local discovery and authentic experiences and is a  part of Hilton Worldwide’s portfolio.

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Grand Lobby

Considering it was New Year’s Eve, it was not as busy as we expected and so we really enjoyed the sense of privacy and exclusivity. Like what we usually do after settling down our things in the room, we checked out the hotel’s amenities which are all located at the top level of the 6-storey hotel: the mini kids play area, the fitness room and the outdoor swimming pool. At that time, it was as if we had it all for ourselves to enjoy.

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Guest Room
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Swimming Pool

The grand lobby with its imposing atrium is very elegant. The hotel design even took us by surprise by opting for an enclosed elevator than a glass one. The Mezzo restaurant at the Ground floor is the only restaurant that is operating as of the moment and is directly connected to the Mall of Qatar.

Few observations: We had some check-in issues that were not arranged properly but were sorted out later on after several calls. We also thought that we entered another room by mistake since the welcome note on the TV monitor showed another name – apparently due to systems error which was not updated… and was not updated til we checked-out. Aside from these very minor glitches, everything else was just fantastic. The staffs were very courteous and we will definitely come back sometime soon since we heard that they’re prepping up for their Grand Opening by the 1st Quarter of 2017. (http://news.curio.com/index.cfm/property/detail/9047)

What’s the fuzz about The Cheesecake Factory?

Part of the plan is to have our “New Year’s Eve dinner” close-by the hotel and being adjacent to the newly opened Mall of Qatar is definitely an advantage. While there are several restaurants in the mall, our eyes are glued at The Cheesecake Factory and we are set on something that many diners usually fail to eat – the cheesecakes!

We were seated only after 15 minutes which still allowed us some shopping time. Thanks to their prompt restaurant pager, we were saved from spending on many items “ON SALE” everywhere. Though we would have wanted a table inside, the first one available was at the open atrium of the mall’s Oasis. It was just perfect since we were treated to a live acrobatic show right in front of us after our meal.

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The Cheesecake Factory – Mall of Qatar
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Chicken Katsu – Johann loved it!
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Chicken Madeira – highly recommended!
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Kid’s Meal
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Hershey’s Chocolate Bar Cheesecake
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Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake

Few suggestions:  Come prepared with what you want to eat at The Cheesecake Factory (if you’ve eaten there already, you know that most of their “SPECIALTIES” include a wide variety of Chicken dishes). If you are clueless of the menu, you can otherwise ask help from the waiting staff. Their spiral-bound multi-page menu could simply overwhelm you. If you are not a heavy diner, their servings are good for sharing, too.  Order just enough and do not take your indignation out on the bread basket or you won’t have room for the much celebrated cheesecakes this restaurant is known for.

Welcome 2017

From watching the Dubai Countdown the night before (11pm Doha Time) to watching the Ball Drop at Times Square in New York (at 8am Doha Time), we were able to watch the New Year revelries in different parts of the world on TV.

And as if we’ve not had enough during our plunge at the pool on New Year’s eve, my daughter and I did not waste the time after breakfast and headed out to the pool for the second time –  or should we say, our first for the year.

The mall that is connected to the hotel definitely made staying a lot more enjoyable (possibly ideal for long/weekend stays). As if it’s like an extended amenity of the hotel to provide the needed shopping, dining and entertainment for its guests, the huge Mall of Qatar is surely a wonderful treat.

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The view from our window at 5:15am of January 1, 2017

As the brand new year brings new hope and more opportunities, may each of us meet it with great expectation and a positive attitude. Let’s make 2017 another milestone year!

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