Throughout all my travels, I have experienced different types of accommodations. A rented apartment in Tuscany, Krakow, Paris and Sofia. No-frills basic hotels in Stone Town, Moshi, Aswan and Brasov. Bed & breakfasts in Sonoma, the Dordogne, and Tavistock. Middle-of-the-road hotels in Reston, Stellenbosch and Venice. Top-of-the-line in Santiago de Chile, Mykonos, Boca Raton, and Washington D.C. And a camping tent in Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The type of place I stay at is not happenstance – though staying at a youth hostel in my very late 30s in Oslo was due to no hotels being available for my business trip… quite the experience! I select the type of place I stay at based on many factors, such as:
- am I going solo or with others
- nature of the trip (business or personal)
- am I staying in one place for the most part or roaming
- what I want to spend,
- what am I looking to experience in this vacation (I may only need a bed or I may want to enjoy a royal experience in my lodging).
But seldom do I experience many types of lodging in one trip. And that’s exactly what I did in my recent trip to Jordan. My trip to Jordan confirmed for me that that special something is what makes accommodations truly enjoyable and memorable (which is just as important as enjoying them at the moment!) regardless of the type of accommodation.
Here are the places I stayed at and why they each became as memorable a part of my trip as the many of the sights and sites I got to see in awesome Jordan.
Standard nice hotel
I got to continue my Marriott stays quite accidentally (as I did not have a hand in choosing this time), in both Amman and Petra. Marriotts give you that standard feel that provides continuity for the very frequent traveler who moves around towns and hotels. I can count on standard amenities, service and comfort in these.
The Amman Marriott first surprises because it feels like it is in the middle of a neighborhood. Then you have to go through security – and odd thing but one that I am sure they do to keep me safe and unconcerned. I felt both. The restaurant offers a great breakfast buffet. The outdoor pool area is spacious enough but there is ALSO an indoor pool and and jacuzzi so something for everyone’s water preferences. The hallways in the room floors feel very luxurious and the rooms are nicer than the regular Marriott I have experienced and I separate this from the room I actually got which was an upgrade due to my Platinum Elite status with the chain: I got quite a nice suite!!!
The Petra Marriott is a smaller hotel than the one in Amman – but what it lacks in size (no executive lounge, for example) it makes up for in the view. The hotel faces the mountains around Petra from a high vantage point which makes it a great place to watch sunset as well! The breakfast buffet was also smaller when compared to the Amman one and the staff not as “going out of their way” but it was still a good breakfast.
Clearly the view from the Petra Marriott made it most memorable but that feeling of arriving at a “second home”-type of place was also pretty darn cool.
Roughing it in a camp
One night we actually “roughed” it at Camp Rummana in the Dana Biosphere Reserve where one can see nature at its best is this part of Jordan. I put rough in quote because, though sleeping in a tent and using a common bathroom facility are not high-styling it, these tents beat the tent I slept in while climbing Kilimanjaro for sure. The tents were spacious and they had mattresses on the ground. There was a common bathroom facility (a hike away if you woke up in the middle of the night and “had to go”) with showers and also a dining area where we had our meals. Closer to the sleeping tents, was a set of large tents to hang out after dinner before bedtime – true to the Bedouin way.
Nothing like being so close to nature to make a place memorable and the Rummana Camp definitely connected me with the great setting.
After the hike through the Dana-Feynan canyon, we arrived exhausted at the Feynan Ecolodge, right in the heart of the Dana Biosphere Reserve. It has been rated one of the world’s top 50 ecolodges by National Geographic’s Adventure magazine. A partnership between the Royal Conservation Society of Jordan and EcoHotels, this lodge seeks to fit in not only with the terrain but also by respecting the local traditions and culture and providing the opportunity for an economic livelihood for the locals of the area. There is a LOT that is done right by this ecolodge, so remote from main roads and anything urban yet surrounded by some incredible landscapes and skies as well as by the welcoming Bedouins of the area.
Feynan is an ecolodge which means little or no electricity available (you can re-charge your device on one of two power outlets in the lobby) which is tough but, at the same time, we are too connected some times so maybe this is a good break? It also means it only offers vegetarian fare as meat would require refrigeration. But the food was delicious and quite diverse much to my surprise! The rooms are very nice; no frills but nice. Each has its own bathroom. Oh and water is free – straight from a mineral spring so it is safe to drink! Now, if it is a hot time of the year, know that the rooms have no fans or A/C (of course) – but you are here for the adventure, right? Finally, it also has a rooftop telescope – a great place to explore the skies at night.
The ability to get close to the locals without being taken to a “shop” definitely made the Feynan Ecolodge quite memorable to me as was the interesting sunset I got to watch.
A place with an experience
After exploring the Wadi Rum by pick-up truck well into the evening, we arrived at a Captain’s Desert Private Camp to spend the night. But it was not just to have dinner and spend the night. There was to be music and more of a soirée experience. The tents were different than the Rummana Camp‘s but no worse, no better. There was a nice area to have dinner and hang out, and, in fact, some folks opted to sleep there under the stars. What was really cool about this place was that it was nested in canyon walls and it was beautiful in the morning.
The Bedouin experience and the setting made the Captain’s Desert Camp quite a memorable place to stay. I wish I had been feeling 100% that night to enjoy it more!
We got to stay at this hideaway two times each for one night. The Evason Ma’in Six Senses hotel may have some details to work out, mainly in its managerial/front office efforts, but the place is in an idyllic and very secluded setting. Further, it provides great comfort in its rooms, offers great views, and is around hot springs that offer great relaxation.
The uniqueness of the setting and the proximity and relative isolation of the hot springs as well as the inviting rooms made this place a memorable part of my trip.
And the “living-it-up” resort
My last night in Jordan was by the Dead Sea, where great resorts are located. I stayed at the Mövenpick, a 5-star resort with a great view, a great offering in terms of food and fun, and an interesting design whether in architectural details or in the concept itself.
The room was not as luxurious as I would have expected but it was comfortable and spacious for sure.
The hotel grounds had several pools including one only for adults (closest to the Dead Sea).
The main hotel building had many different areas to lounge in with very nice decorations and details. The restaurant was outstanding in the diversity and quality of the buffet it offered for dinner and breakfast.
At night there was an area that offered music and belly dancing without the corniness typically associated with belly dancing in the U.S. (where there HAS to be audience participation); you could just really appreciate the art form here without worrying you were going to be called upon to make a fool of yourself…
What made this place the most memorable was the amazing sunset I got to live through and watch…
During this trip, I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board. That notwithstanding, the stories I share were my real experiences and nothing else. As they always are!