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Kota Kinabalu Hotels & Resorts
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Le Méridien Hotel
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Le Méridien Hotel is located on Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens in downtown Kota Kinabalu and is just yards away from the increasingly popular KK Waterfront. The hotel is located just 15 minutes from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) and the taxi journey will normally cost RM20 per way. If you are within the city itself, the hotel is located within the Sinsuran precinct of Kota Kinabalu and it is adjacent to the Warisan Square, a popular and relatively new shopping centre.

Le Méridien Hotel in Kota Kinabalu opens back in 2005 when the city itself known for its natural beauties was facing a dearth of high-end international class hotel and resort to cater for the increasing tourist influx. Prior to its opening, the hospitality scene of Kota Kinabalu was very much dominated by the two Shangri-la's resorts (Tanjung Aru & Rasa Ria), the Hyatt Regency, Sutera Harbour Resort (both Pacific & Magellan) and Nexus Karambunai Resort. Even so, most of these names are actual resorts with the exception of the Hyatt Regency as being a business-class hotel. Hence, the introduction of Le Méridien Hotel in the city centre was a much-welcome addition to cater for the increasing market volume of leisure and MICE.

In our previous write-up, we mentioned a little bit on the local tales with regards to the hotel building which has had ownership changes and probably financial issues as well. While it seems destined to be just another matchbox-like office building, the plan to host a hotel had been there since day one. In fact, according to the Marketing & Communications Executive of the hotel, the Renaissance brand was initially identified to manage the hotel. To cut the story short, the Le Méridien brand under Starwood Hotels & Resorts was eventually selected and the rest is history. Today, the Le Méridien emblem stands proudly over the busy street of Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens and the KK Waterfront, and it has piqued interest from onlookers in more ways than one, including us who were compelled to stay in the then-latest hotel in Kota Kinabalu back in 2006.

So here we are back in Le Méridien Hotel in Kota Kinabalu via special invitation, in a sense to finish the (ahemmm..) unfinished review. Back then, a number of features were still under construction whilst the room categorisation has changed somewhat. We do appreciate the proactive step that allows us to revisit this five-star establishment and to the best of our endeavour, we shall try to as representative as possible on what the hotel has to offer. If previously we had to wait at the reception desk until 1500hrs to check-in into our room (the hotel was experiencing almost full occupancy back then), we barely had to wait this time around. At 1230hrs, our room was ready and we were (un)officially welcome by Ms Telcadora James, the Marketing & Communications Executive of the hotel, who obviously has been waiting for our appearance. We were whisked away to our Superior room and after a half-day spent under the sweltering sun of Kota Kinabalu, we were more than ready to re-live our experience of staying here.

Fast forward two years later. In 2008, the Superior room still exudes the warmth and elegance as it did when it was first opened. The 32in Samsung LCD TV looks shiny as if it had just come out of the box. If I remember correctly, the hotel was the first one to introduce flat screen LCD TVs in Kota Kinabalu, and circa year 2005, it was no mean feat as the price was still prohibitive. Our room comes in a twin-bedding configuration with two super-single beds, which are comfortably wide. As always, high-quality bed linens are used for the bedding with luxurious cotton striped bedsheet, a combination of foam and feather pillows, and contrasting bed runners to add a touch of opulence. A one-seater fabric sofa is placed in a corner next to the large glass window, from which the outdoor views can be thoroughly enjoyed. The bathroom is featured with four segmentations for a wash basin with bath and shaving mirrors, a water closet, a long bath as well as a standing glass shower. It can best be described as a spacious bathroom area as expected since the Superior room itself is humongous in total built-up size for a similar Superior category in other hotels. Another much-welcome feature of the Superior room is the complimentary high-speed internet access which is available a broadband socket on the writing desk. True to its promise of a "high-speed" access, the test internet speed ranges from 1.0Mbps to 1.2Mbps for access to regional servers. As we could not recall with any hotels or resorts in Kota Kinabalu that do not offer free broadband access, a decent and reliable internet service can be the deal breaker. Other room amenities include electronic safe, IDD phones, alarm clock, hair dryer, air conditioning with individual temperature setting, bath robes, mini bar, clothing wardrobe and others. All in all, the Superior room continues to impress us for its spaciousness, warmth, opulence and elegance.

Moving on to our overview of other room categories the hotel. In total, there are 306 guest rooms and suites ranging from 129 Superior rooms that we have deliberated earlier, 92 Deluxe rooms, 53 Le Royal Club rooms, 31 Le Royal Club suites and 1 Presidential Suite. With the exception of some units, the Deluxe rooms feature a similar built-up size to the Superior rooms. In reality, the difference in term of room amenities is next to none for these two categories, but the Deluxe room category is prized for its full-fronting ocean view. As Kota Kinabalu's sea landscapes and golden sunsets are legendary, it should come to no surprise on as to why the room differentiation is done in such way. That being said, we are able to tour a unique variant of the Deluxe room. Upon closer inspection of the hotel building on from the outside, one would notice a wall curvature in the middle portion. The hotel makes a good use of this attribute to feature an extended Deluxe room with curved glass window that opens out to the fantastic ocean view. Two fabric seater are unconventionally placed to face to curved window as opposed to the bedding area (choices, choices, the bedding area or the ocean?). Going by what we have covered thus far, it is rather easy to describe the 53 Le Royal Club rooms. In a sense, they are a collection of spacious city-view or ocean-view rooms that are placed on the two highest floors of the hotel building with an interconnecting wrought-iron circular staircase which ensures a quick yet fashionable access to the Le Royal Club Lounge on Level 12. As the ocean view is a prized asset throughout the hotel, the Le Royal Club Lounge offers the biggest prize of all. Upon entering the lounge, one can expect to be astounded by the 180-degree view of Sutera Harbour, islands such as Sulug, Mamutik, Manukan, Gaya and Sepanggar, the bustling port as well as the hectic KK Waterfront. The lounge interior itself is done in an elegant fashion with some hints of traditional European look of black leather chairs, hanging chandeliers and solid wood fixtures. Guests staying in the Le Royal Club room category will be able to access the lounge throughout the day to enjoy daily breakfast selections, evening cocktails and canapés, as well as complimentary use of the internet-enabled PCs, wireless hot spots and a meeting room. As a sneak preview, we were also invited to have a look at one of the Le Royal Club suites which entitles its guests to access the Le Royal Club Lounge as well. The Le Royal Club suite is decidedly spacious with a partitioned wall for the living area and the bedroom. The suite opens into a half bath or washroom which is suitable for visiting guests, while the full bath is located within the bedroom. The bathroom is equally spacious as well as well-appointed. As a distinguished gesture for its guests, the bathroom is provided with a collection of Hermęs bath kits (yes, you can bring them home as your personal keep). The living area is homely, opulent and elegant, with careful placement of fabric sofa and coffee table to face a 32in Samsung LCD TV, while the bedding area is fitted with a comfortable king-size bed that is fronting another 32in Samsung LCD TV.

Guest facilities are abound in this 5-star establishment which cater for both business and leisure travelers alike. A host of meeting and banqueting facilities can be found on Level 3 of the hotel. Once again, capitalising on the exquisite ocean view are function rooms such as Mamutik, Gaya and Manukan, as well as a decently-sized pre-function area. These meeting and banqueting facilities are fitted with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that will provide a spectacular scenery that is abuzz with water-based activities. The Grand Ballroom is acceptably large as well and is able to fit some 320 patrons in sitting configuration or 700 guests in a cocktail function. The ballroom can also be partitioned into 3 smaller function rooms, namely Kudat, Kundasang and Keningau. At one end of the pre-function area lies the Business Centre which is equipped with internet PCs, document printers, fax machine and others. As an added attribute to the meeting and banqueting facilities, a pool terrace is made accessible from the inside, from which the participants can while away to the views of the swimming pool and yes, the South China Sea. Staircase access is provided from the terrace should you wish to walk down to the pool area one floor below. As of recently, the hotel has introduced Sipadan function room right on the pool level itself (the section was initially planned for a spa outlet but it did not materialise). As for health and fitness facilities, the hotel boasts a well-equipped gymnasium that is equipped with the latest exercise equipment, while jacuzzi, steam and sauna rooms are provided next door. As the pool area itself, it features a fairly average-size swimming pool which takes form in a pseudo outdoor platform facing the azure-blue ocean. Ample sunning beds and umbrellas are provided along its perimeter. As the sunsets over Kota Kinabalu is often described as magical, it is often worth to check out the pool area late in the evening. If you are lucky, you will be presented with an array of multi-hued skies that will simply take your breath away.

The hotel hosts 4 F&B outlets namely the Circle Restaurant, Rumba Latin Grill & Bar, The Lounge as well as the Pool Bar. Our official tour of the hotel began by sampling the house specialties of Rumba Latin Grill & Bar. The outlet is accessible from the street level at the rear end of the hotel building to mark itself as one of the premier night joints in the city. The interior is uniquely Mediterranean with brightly painted wall and colourful wrought-iron decors. It originally featured true-blue Latin numbers as performed by a group of Colombian musicians but according to our gracious hostess for that night, it had to do away with such rare offering due to low public response. Today, the bar features a more upbeat rock music which has witnessed a tremendous crowd response. As we sat away on a marbled dining table, we were recommended to try out the Argentinean beef steak which is reputably the best in town. After we have cleaned our plates, we were shown the second floor section of Rumba Latin Grill & Bar which is more private and secluded. The ambiance is definitely more toned down with dim lightings to ensure a quiet chit-chat session. Meanwhile, the main dining outlet at the hotel is the Circle Restaurant which is located within the main lobby directly opposite the reception desk. The restaurant is named as such for its circular feature where the serving counters are placed while various dining arrangements are placed to surround it. The Circle Restaurant prides in its offering of Asian fusion selections in buffet-style menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend's high tea, while a variety of a la carté items are available throughout the day. Adjacent to the Circle Restaurant lies The Lounge which is built in a partially-hidden partition to offer a more personalised lounging area. Piped-in and live music is played throughout the day at The Lounge. Further inside The Lounge lies a cigar divan in an even more private surrounding, featuring a fine selection of Cuban cigars in a stately seating arrangement. A variety of reading materials as well as a flatscreen LCD TV are available in the cigar divan to ensure a relaxing and enjoyable time for its patrons. On Level 2 of the hotel and within the pool area lies the Poor Bar which serves delightful soft drinks, cocktails and snacks whilst overlooking the majestic ocean view. In our previous review that was written in 2006, we mentioned about two F&B outlets that were still under the planning stage, namely Rumba Latin Bar & Grill and Bamboo Chic. The latter plan, unfortunately, is still put on hold but if it were to materialise, it will be located at the external front entrance of the hotel along Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens.

As we have come to the end of our write-up on our wholesome experience at Le Méridien Hotel in Kota Kinabalu, we would like to extend our heart-felt appreciation for the gracious hospitality provided by the Marketing & Communications Executive, Ms Telcadora James, as well as the hotel staff as a whole. In truth, the level of guest services and personal attentiveness at the hotel are immaculate and very well representative of what the Le Méridien brand strives to offer. We could not be more satisfied with our stay at Le Méridien Hotel, Kota Kinabalu.

Here are some useful information if you wish to learn more about Le Méridien Hotel, Kota Kinabalu:
- Official hotel website
- Latest special offers
- Hotel contact information

November 2006, July 2008

A well-appointed 5-star hotel with excellent guest services. Superb location in the city centre. Elegant rooms and suites as well as great dining outlets.


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