Hotel Review: InterContinental Durrat Al Riyadh Resort & Spa
Hotel Review: InterContinental Durrat Al Riyadh Resort & Spa
A legacy oasis just outside of Riyadh city, come with us as we explore the newly revamped and redesigned resort
If you're in need of some TLC, the InterContinental Durrat Al Riyadh Resort & Spa, conveniently situated just minutes from Riyadh’s downtown neighbourhood of Olaya, could be just the thing.
While Saudi’s capital has recently seen a quick succession of luxury hotel launches, the InterContinental stands out as a legacy property with a reputation going back decades. A new refurbishment has retained the property’s vintage glamour while creating what general manager Marc Reissinger describes as “a vibrant resort ambience with an oasis-like setting, which references the property’s Arabian architecture and local heritage in a contemporary way.”
In a contrast to the generic beige decor and bright spaces to be found in most upmarket chains these days, the InterContinental’s redesign – by award-winning interior design studio Kristina Zanic Consultants – is more about warm tones, natural materials, textured finishes, and organic patterns, across the full range of guestrooms, suites, public areas, and dining outlets.
Visitors are immediately surrounded by this ambience as they enter the lobby with its dark wood fittings, muted lighting, and plush sofas – a welcome respite from the often blinding sunlight and intense heat of the surrounding concrete jungle. The idea, as Reissinger explains, is to provide “an inviting desert retreat away from the urban bustle...reimagined with an array of ways to unwind, celebrate, and retreat as per the highest standards of luxury and world-class services in our rooms and across all outlets and facilities, in an oasis-like setting.”
Head concierge Ayat Khalifah emphasises the InterContinental’s position at the heart of a buzzing capital, which is increasingly making waves across the world. “Riyadh is a thriving modern city with a global reputation and a commitment to innovation and growth,” Khalifah says. “Many of the pioneering Vision 2030 projects are located in and around the capital, which is a huge driver for tourism, entertainment, and overall economic development.”
No doubt, this is an exciting time to visit Riyadh, and the InterContinental is the ideal vantage point from which to explore and enjoy the city, particularly during Riyadh Season with its host of entertainment and cultural activities.
Hospitality at it's Finest
Reissinger assures all guests of “a warm welcome upon arrival and dedicated personnel to offer any needed assistance and to remain in touch with the guests throughout their stay.” This is in line with the InterContinental’s parent company IHG Hotels & Resorts as a whole – a global network headquartered in Windsor, UK with roots going right back to 1777. Running and franchising a range of business and luxury brands, IHG has over 6,000 hotels under its umbrella in more than 100 countries and indeed was the first international hospitality company to operate in Saudi.
The Riyadh outlet’s 162 guestrooms and one-to-four room suites offer a blend of comfort, convenience, and style. All rooms provide the standard five-star features, including comfortable king or queen-sized beds, large flat-screen TVs, round-the-clock dining, and complimentary Wi-Fi, while many have the additional benefit of private balconies with views over the property’s expansive gardens or the impressive night-time cityscape.
The Amenities and Special Spa
Sporting enthusiasts have the choice of a 24-hour fitness centre, tennis courts, a bowling alley, a nine-hole golf course (impressive considering the property’s inner-city location), and an indoor and outdoor swimming pool – the latter surrounded by lush vegetation. Corporate guests will also appreciate the well-equipped business centre and dedicated staff on hand.
In addition, the InterContinental is an attractive venue for business seminars, exhibitions, conferences, and celebrations. The property has eight meeting rooms and a grand ballroom – all equipped with state-of-the-art facilities – and an 18,000 sq metre outdoor exhibition area, with seating capacity from 12 to 2,810 guests.
But what really marks out the property is its accent on wellness and rejuvenation. The InterContinental is the first hotel in Saudi to introduce the prestige Thai brand, HARNN Heritage Spa, describing itself as “a contemporary Thai-styled sanctuary with holistic treatments inspired by oriental wisdom, using the finest botanicals.” The HARNN spa provides a temporary escape from the chaos of urban living, in the hands of skilled and knowledgeable Thai therapists. The look is inspired by the elegance of a classic Thai palace with soft shades of celadon green, symbolising peace and serenity. Beautiful artworks and installations add a sense of aesthetics and serenity.
Guests are invited to embark on “a wellness retreat personalised to their health and lifestyle goals with holistic spa treatments, pedicure and manicure services, healthy food and beverages, and a selection of self-care retail items for the ultimate lifestyle enrichment.” The spa incorporates natural elements of both Thailand and the Middle East, including hot sand, herbs, and aromatherapy based on the HARNN Ancient Asian Five Elements Philosophy, whereby guests discover their dominant element – fire, earth, water, metal, or wood – and the appropriate essential oil blend to help rebalance that element.
One such experience is the signature Journey of Arabian Heritage. This starts with a purifying hammam ritual with a gentle exfoliation and body wash using rice bran oil soap, followed by the Nuad Thai Massage, in which a combination of palm pressure, stretching, and heat melt away muscle tension, leaving the body relaxed and in a state of bliss. The deep massage is finally complemented by a warmed sand compress with healing essential oils.
The Dining Experiences
All that physical therapy will no doubt leave you with quite an appetite, and fortunately the InterContinental has no shortage of culinary options. Les Palmiers is an Arabian bistro featuring all the delicious mezze appetisers to be expected in this part of the world, while the “concept café,” Oasis, is situated on an open terrace overlooking the infinity edge pool with a deli offering of sandwiches, salads, desserts, and juices.
Plus, there’s the Café Lagoon hookah lounge, watch a football game on multiple screens or challenge friends to a game of pool, and Coco's Bar, another poolside location with an international menu and great views over the adjoining park. And later this year, the property will be adding an Asian fine-dining restaurant as well as Fumé, a boutique cigar lounge.
“This is the perfect choice for recharging yourself from daily life,” says Reissinger. “Our hotel sets the tone for discerning modern-day travellers.”