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Mandarin Oriental to take over Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi

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Whilst it won’t be bookable on points, regular holidaymakers to the Middle East will be keen to know that Mandarin Oriental is taking over management of the iconic Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi from 1st January.

Emirates Palace opened in 2005 and was, at the time, revolutionary in terms of quality for the region.  It was given a prime position and huge sums of money were thrown at the construction.  Giving it to Kempinski to manage always seemed like an odd decision.

(Something similar has happened in Qatar recently.  When I was there this year, I stayed at Kempinski Marsa Malaz on The Pearl.  The Pearl is Qatar’s smaller version of Dubai’s The Palm, and Marsa Malaz is – by a long way – the best beach resort in Doha.  And yet, for some odd reason, Kempinski was brought in to manage it.)

Mandarin Oriental to manage Emirates Palace hotel from Kempinski

With Mandarin Oriental in charge, Emirates Palace will become a genuine top-end option again.  Don’t rush to book, however.  The hotel is embarking on a two year renovation in January – although it will remain open – which means it will be 2022 before it is fully reflecting Mandarin Oriental’s vision.

As usual, if you are looking to book a Mandarin Oriental property then you should get a quote for our luxury hotel booking partner Emyr Thomas.  Mandarin Oriental bookings via Emyr will come with:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay
  • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit (a small number of hotels offer a different amenity instead of this)
  • Early check-in / late check-out, subject to availability 
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

You can contact him via the form on this page of Head for Points.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (134)

  • Gary says:

    OT if I’m VS silver can the rest of my party (no status) use the premium check in / baggage / boarding with me, or do we all have to use the regular lines if we want to stay together?

    • NigelthePensioner says:

      At last a reason to go back to the Emirates Palace! It was splendid indeed when it first opened and I fully expect MO to reinvent the “Palace”.
      Currently the Club Floor at the Jumeirah ET gets my vote (and money) on our Abu Dhabi trips, over and above all of the usual big group names present in the city……..

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Not a major chain but Have you been to the Rosewood Abu Dhabi?

        Also the Ritz Carlton looks good but out of the main city. I’ll probably visit Abu Dhabi sometime this year.

        • Shoestring says:

          did you see Wizz Air starting up Abu Dhabi operation H2 2020, might turn out to be cheapest way to get there

          • Genghis says:

            I’ve flown Wizz once – from Luton – and it was one of the worst flight experiences ever. Stingy hand luggage and seats way too tight in all directions. Going to Abu Dhabi, good luck!!

          • Ben says:

            @genghis – baggage reasons aside, surely the seats were the same as ba/easyJet with those awful slim seats?

          • Genghis says:

            Empirically smaller. I’ve got short stubby legs and they were rammed in on Wizz. Much more space with BA and U2

          • Russ says:

            Wasn’t this the same outfit who a few weeks back launched a campaign saying business class users were all selfish and responsible for climate change?

          • RussellH says:

            > Wasn’t this the same outfit who a few weeks back launched a
            > campaign saying business class users were all selfish and
            > responsible for climate change?

            Michael O’Leary, I believe.

          • the_real_a says:

            To me Wizz air is like any other a320 in the world… no better or worse. However, adding a bag can sometimes double the fare which is incredibly annoying when comparing prices. Having said that, paying for an exit row and perhaps having a stop over in Budapest or Bucharest for a couple of days – one can make a very cheap and reasonably comfortable mid haul trip.

        • Sandra says:

          Taxi’s are very cheap in Abu Dhabi and tbh you’ll need to use them to get around most of the time because it’s generally too hot and humid (depending on time of year you travel) to walk anywhere. If you want city centre the Beach Rotana has direct access into Abu Dhabi Mall so you never leave the air conditioning, is central and has it’s own beach on the creek. The Ritz Carlton & the Shang Ri La (plus a few others) are in a similar area & are further out but all pretty good. The Rosewood is on Al Maryah Island not too far from the centre, there’s a bridge over the creek so you could walk. Not stayed but had food in it and it was good. Also St Regis Beach Resort on Sadiyaat island, again you’ll need to use taxi’s to travel into the centre – it has it’s own private beach. On the Corniche there is the Intercon and Jumeirah Etihad Towers at the Marina Mall end (& Emirates Palace). The Corniche is a nice seafront stroll in the evening. There are plenty of hotels on Yas Island which is the location of Yas Mall, waterpark, Ferrari World and the F1 track. It really depends what you want around you. If you want a proper desert experience I’d recommend a couple of nights at the Qasr Al Sarab (Anantara hotel) in the Empty Quarter.

          • Benilyn says:

            Are they cheap? £20 from airport to Corniche last I checked on Uber, not sure about hail cabs though. Relative to renting a car for 2 days at £45 didn’t seem god value.

          • Rob says:

            Taxis are effectively free in the Middle East. It was £1 from Waldorf-Astoria in Ras to the local mall, for example. You are probably also underestimating how utterly crazy the local drivers are, who have little respect for safety or the law. They is no scenario – none at all – under which hiring a car makes sense.

          • Bagoly says:

            Are there still horrendous queues for taxis from malls on Fridays?
            Seeing those when interviewing was what prompted me to have my own driver when I lived there.

      • Metty says:

        Totally agree re Jumeirah Etihad Towers. Must have been a flyertalk tip years ago, but we’ve been five years in a row when needing to escape the damp here. Club level room > Club Lounge gives enough food for us to survive each day (top up at Waitrose if necessary) and free alcohol in the evening is sufficient. Book with Amex Plat = $100 food and bev credit which pays for a beer on the beach daytime. The benefits of the Club Lounge have gradually been enhanced away but still perfectly good for normal people. We now book refundable rate via Amex Plat and check every month as the room rate can vary a lot!

      • ali says:

        +1 for Jumeirah ET. Relatively low rates for the standard of property and facilities and got 3rd night free for a stay this week when booking through amex in addition to all the FHR benefits

        • Rob says:

          We have reviewed this if you search.

          If you’re paying Best Flex then Emyr can get you a special package with free breakfast and $100 of hotel credit. If the Advanced Purchase rate is close to Best Flex then booking Best Flex via Emyr might be cheaper overall and you retain cancellation flexibility.

          Take the Jumeirah Sirius points and have a meal at one of the London hotels.

    • NigelthePensioner says:

      Don’t know how the above post ended up in your chain Gary – sorry!
      In answer to your query, if you are all on the same locator code (reservation number) then yes you can all check in together. If you are not, then what is the worst that can happen?? I would be inclined to all pitch up together with you checking in first! It’s not a huge issue to the agent (or anyone else).

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      You can all stay together!

  • riku2 says:

    “frequent flyer benefits will be fully aligned – this will mean that you will earn an identical number of Avios and tier points if you fly with China Southern or British Airways” The BA JBA’s don’t always include this. The Europe-Japan SJB is made up of JAL, BA and AY but there is no tier bonus on AY for BA status card holders unlike with JAL. It’s best to book AY flights with a BA flight number since those do get the tier bonus (being based on the marketing airline, not the operating airline).

  • Robert says:

    OT – I’m trying to get two reward seats in J to Japan using my 2-4-1 voucher, do I need to call the BA centre in Japan at midnight local time to get them and does anyone know the phone number? I understand I’ll only be able to get the outward leg first, 365 days out, then add the return when it becomes available. Thanks in advance for any advice.

    • Anna says:

      You can either book online or call – people on here have said they have previously called just before midnight so the agent is ready to pounce on the seats when they appear.

      It will be midnight GMT though (if you are booking before the clocks change), not Japanese time.

      • Robert says:

        thanks for these tips, I’ll try the UK call centre at midnight as there doesn’t seem to be anything online at all.

        • meta says:

          UK call centre won’t be open at midnight. You can call Japan or US. And Japan is a popular route, so 2 CW seats can be snapped up quickly.

        • john says:

          They come available online at the same time as on the phone, 355-days out but you need to be quick as other people can book them before you do if you don’t complete the full booking process in time

    • Spurs Debs says:

      It’s 355 days out not 365.

    • Robert says:

      Thanks all, that’s really useful info and will help me get those seats, hoping for First over CW so expecting it to be tricky.

  • Spurs Debs says:

    I’ve been to the Emirates Palace and wouldn’t waste my money on staying there. Hopefully the MO will Improve it.

    • C77 says:

      You make it sound like a failing Harvester.
      What didn’t you like about it? I’ve stayed their twice. Loved it the first time, not so much the second and that was purely down to the allocation of our room. I liked and appreciated the opulence of the place although that’s not going to be for everyone. Sometimes less is more but in the UAE jewel encrusted door knobs seems to work… 😊

      • Spurs Debs says:

        We only went for the day had lunch at the pool which was nice , the spa I was very disappointed It’s a very odd spa, no steam rooms no indoor pool or anything else, I even had to finish my own facial off very bizarre! We had evening meal at the steak restaurant which I thought was ok nothing special, I might of enjoyed a harvester more!
        We stayed at the Shangri-La and loved it.
        I love MO properties they have the best spas so maybe that will improve.
        It just wasn’t for me, the only thing the family liked was the pool.
        It reminded me of a Vegas hotel but without the fun which ironically I stayed at the MO there, which I believe has now been taken over by another company.
        Would be a very boring world if we all liked the same thing.

  • Stu N says:

    OT: Marriott autumn promo. Completed 2 stays for 2k bonus points last month and now completed my “personalised offer” of 4 stays for 8k points. Most of my stays are £100-£150 single nights so not a bad return all told, though there was an expensive 2 night stay in there too.
    It looks like there are no further targets – let’s hope for a decent promo in Q1 2020 or it’s Hilton for the time being.

  • Andrew says:

    10 Avios per £1 is good.

    Depends on who you work for, but there is also 20p in the £1 offered on Hackett when you click through from some Employee Offer portals.

    Has anyone had a double-dip of Harrods Offers on Amex? I had the £30 off £100 for a few weeks but hadn’t used it, A further £20 off £100 has appeared on the account. Will one purchase of over £100 trigger both?

  • flyforfun says:

    Interesting news about China Southern. Still not sure that would want to make me fly them!

  • n_g says:

    OT: Marriot Unlock More Offer

    Just realised I had a redemption at a Marriot hotel two weeks ago and am staying at a Marriot with work tonight. I just registered for the above promotion. Does anyone know if Marriot will retrospectively count my redemption from a two weeks as a stay and tonights stay will unlock the bonus if I provide my membership number on check in? I am unsure if ‘nights spent while redeeming an award are not eligible for bonus points’ means that my second stay could not be a redemption, or either stay cannot be.

    • meta says:

      Your past stay won’t count. If you haven’t checked in yet for today and if you’re registered it will probably work and tonight’s stay will be your first stay for the promo.

      • n_g says:

        That’s a shame as don’t see myself staying anytime before the end of the promotion. Thanks.