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THE RITZ CARLTON
 

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Extra Photo Gallery: Deluxe Room | Pool & Health Club | F&B Outlets | Spa Village

LOCATION:

The Ritz Carlton is located on Jalan Imbi at the fringe of the shopping district of Bukit Bintang. If you are driving, there are pretty much two major access points into the hotel parking zone, and both often require toiling in the massive traffic bottleneck of Jalan Bukit Bintang. The better of the two is by taking Jalan Bukit Bintang from Jalan Tun Razak (north or southbound) and make a left turn into the one-way street of Jalan Imbi. You will see the right-hand entrance into the hotel proper soon after. The official website for The Ritz Carlton in Kuala Lumpur seems to recommend using the tight left-hand entrance sandwiched between The Westin Hotel & Residences and J. W. Marriott Hotel, which more often than not, is clogged with traffic. Most patrons to The Ritz-Carlton arrive in their expensive imported cars or highly-securitised limos, but just in case somebody is asking, the closest KL Monorel access is at the Bukit Bintang station some 10 minutes away on foot.

DESCRIPTION:
Officially opened its door to the public on December 1st, 1997, The Ritz-Carlton was probably the most anticipated hotel chain to be introduced into the hospitality scene of Kuala Lumpur at that time. Introduced by no other than the innovative YTL Group which had successfully rejuvenated the Bukit Bintang shopping strip into one of the most-sought-after locations in Kuala Lumpur, The Ritz-Carlton aims to transplant its rich tradition of luxuries and unsurpassed service qualities onto the city streets. Rightly so, the hotel which unmistakably emulates various high-life credence of Anglo-Franco magnitude had since taken home a handful of accolades including "Top 5 Butlers Hotel in the World" – The Independent, United Kingdom (2005), Travel & Leisure 500: "The Greatest Hotels in the World"- Travel & Leisure (2004), "One of Top 30 Asian Hotels"- Conde Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Awards (2001), among others.

Upon closer inspection, one will notice a twin-building complex at The Ritz-Carlton. Actually the taller building structure hosts 114 private residences in 2- or 3-bedroom configurations. The hotel area is housed next to it in a 20-storey building just a few metres from Jalan Imbi itself. For this review, I shall relate to my experience with the hotel only, although I read that the interior arrangement of those private residences is pretty much similar with the hotel. As a quick snapshot, The Ritz-Carlton hosts 251 guest rooms including 30 suites that are extolled in a truly boutique and luxurious setting. The room/suite categories are Deluxe (40 sq metre), Executive Deluxe (46 sq metre), Executive Suite (70 sq metre) and Premier Suite (84 sq metre). This review shall cater mostly on my experience of staying in the Deluxe room category at The Ritz-Carlton, which in some way will satiate the minimum requirement for a total experience at the hotel.

For those who often read my hotel reviews will know which type of room and hotel design that I am partial to. Hence this review is written with an assumption that I am head-over-heel with the colonial English-French influence that emanates throughout the hotel. The Deluxe room, at 40 sq metre of built-up, is extremely spacious. It opens into a large walk-in cabinet which stores two bathrobes, a rare offering even in most five-star establishments. Moving into the living-cum-bedding area, one cannot help but be impressed with the extra-plush king-size bed that generously hosts at least 6 goose-down pillows (and should you need more, there are two extra pillows stored inside the entrance cabinet). I also like the placements of a recliner sofa and a microfibre ottoman, each in the middle of the room and at the leg of the king-size bed. While The Ritz-Carlton claims to emulate local ethnic artistry in its fitting selections, my observation is that the interior of the Deluxe room takes more on a neo-classical or old-world’s colonial themes such as dark solid wood furniture, earthy-tone wallpaper, brass inlays on mirrors and frames, and others. Despite the conservatively non-chic look, the Deluxe room is packed with modern paraphernalia such as an extra-wide HD flat panel TV, a DVD/VCD player, complimentary broadband internet (I was very impressed with the download speed), multi power outlets on the working desk for easy reach, an iPod adapter, dual-line IDD phones with speaker and an electronic safe. All in all, what the hotel intends to do is to create a warm and homely feel to each of its rooms and suites, and in all honesty, The Ritz-Carlton does that right to a tee.

Relative to the bedding area, the bathroom size can best be described as humongous as well. The bathroom entrance opens into a wide and large vanity on a marble counter top. Meticulously arranged within the wash basin confinement are bath items such as shampoo, conditioners, shower gel, hand soap, face towels and others. The bath tub is luxurious in terms of size and fittings, and if I am not mistaken, you may request for the butler to assist in preparing a full bath inside the tub. On the towel rack are 4 bath towels provided for the guests as opposed to only two in other hotels. Surely at this hotel, you are less likely to call for an extra bath towel or two (but if you do, you must be really kiasu!). A shower cubicle is placed within the bathroom area and it features a rain shower head. Honestly, I am slightly less impressed with the rain shower experience and I reckon that shower head was merely replaced to the current one in the recent refurbishment initiative. Anyway, I could go on and on about the Deluxe room but I rather stop right here by saying that everything is carefully arranged for home-away-from-home feel and one will be pleasantly surprised with the creature comforts that are featured in the Deluxe room.

Being a luxurious boutique hotel, hosting top-notch health facilities is a given for The Ritz-Carlton. On the 4th floor is the one-stop health centre which features a well-equipped gym, a swimming pool, a guest lounge and of recently, the Spa Village. The guest lounge is truly impressive with comfortable placements of rattan sofa and stately wood cabinets where antique items are on display. Various reading materials can be obtained from a desk and the patrons can whisk away in the comfortable lounge. In the evening, glittering view of the city centre can be enjoyed from the guest lounge as well. The guest lounge opens out to the outdoor swimming pool which overlooks the less-appealing side of the town, which is the old Pudu area. Sunning beds are generously provided on its periphery and based from my observation, you are likely to be the only person at the pool at any given time. Nevertheless, I find the swimming pool is rather small with no exemplary features, but again, one is rarely bothered about it. Connected from the pool area is the new Spa Village which was introduced in the hotel some years back. A well-hidden swimming pool greets the arriving visitors and it screams Balinese all over. A truly impressive Balinese-inspired pool landscaped with square steps, soft-murmuring fountains and lush greeneries against a towering wall that effectively shields the spa patrons from the hustle and bustle of the outside streets. There are a number of outdoor massage beds fronting a section of the soothing greenery where the patrons can opt for a total head-to-toe treatments.

The Ritz-Carlton officially hosts three diverse-themed F&B outlets, excluding a poolside bar on the 4th floor, the Feast Village at the adjoining Starhill Gallery which hosts 13 fine restaurants with names like Shook!, Fisherman’s Cove, My Thai, Pak Loh, Vansh, Jogoya, Gonbei, Enak, Tarbush and Sentidos Tapas are all too familiar with ardent shoppers of Bukit Bintang, as well as Carlton Gourmet on the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Residences. Stacked between the main lobby and the 1st floor is the aptly-named Lobby Lounge. Playing on its colonial English theme, the lounge is fitted with stately leather couches and opulent timber walls in a rather traditional setting. The main specialty of the lounge is the English high tea which is offered from 1500hrs to 1700rs daily. During this period, expect to see multi-tiered serving trolleys filled with scones and cakes, along with a collection of the finest tea leaves freshly mixed with boiling hot water from a brass container. I am rather impressed with the whole setup (and this coming from a non-English fan who opted for a café latte while at the lounge). Occasionally, soothing classical numbers are stringed by a dedicated harp player at the lounge entrance, which all in all, nudges a wee bit more of the elegant and sophisticated ambiance. On the 1st floor lies Rossini’s which uniquely features a Tuscan-theme dining ambiance. Buffet breakfast is served daily at Rossini’s and if you think you are not ready for an Italian-style breakfast, fret not, as the restaurant actually serves a regular breakfast selection of local and Western choices. The number of dishes available on the buffet counter is rather limited albeit in a good way, as the patrons can opt for freshly prepared selections from the open-kitchen stalls. For example, I opted for a serving of egg benedict which I found very savoury. I was also impressed with the attentiveness of the wait staff manning the restaurant as they were on their toes to cater for your needs literally on the get-go. In fact, just moments after I delightfully cleaned my meals, a wait staff diligently took away the plates without you having to signal for someone to clear off the table as we normally do at other hotels. Interestingly, I was handed a questionnaire by a staff to gauge the overall experience and I gave them rave reviews based on the pleasant experience. Other than that, on the 2nd floor lies Li Yen, an award-winning Chinese restaurant which specialises in Cantonese fine dining as well as the occasional dim sum luncheons.

Overall, the guest facilities and services at The Ritz-Carlton strike a perfect balance between a luxurious yet practical hotel stay. Truth be told, the guest services at The Ritz-Carlton are top-notch and mostly unmatched in term of their attentiveness and warmth. More often than not, a front desk personnel or an administrative executive will greet you with a great smile, and other service personnel seem to be ready to assist you in any way possible. Save it for a little annoyance caused by the valet parking staff when I first drove into the hotel which I believed was their standard security measures (I was driving a 5-year-old Proton Wira instead of a Lexus or BMW with single-digit car plate, so they had to ask!), the overall experience is utterly pleasant.

I came to The Ritz Carlton with a lot of questions, and upon stepping out of the hotel, I had all the answers.
 
REVIEWED ON:
November 2007

MY VERDICT:
Perfection to a tee. Spick and span condition all around. Extremely friendly and attentive staff. Good overall guest facilities. A true portrayal of the fabled Ritz-Carlton service excellence.

MY RATING:

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