The Dead Sea area of Jordan is filled with
luxury resorts but one stands out. Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Resort
welcomed us, refreshed us, fed us and made our stay memorable.
We arrived at Kempinski Hotel Ishtar at the
end of a very busy 10 day press trip. What a refreshing surprise
to discover the Hanging Gardens of Babylon awaiting our
pleasure. Well, not the real Hanging Gardens but close. The
Ishtar is modeled on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon theme.
|Some of the color of the hanging garden
We entered the main building.
We met the manager out on the back balcony and could see
the gardens as they descended though the three main buildings of
the hotel to the Dead Sea in perfect view beneath us. I later
discovered that from below the view is equally spectacular.
Standing at the shore of the Dead Sea, I was looking up at three
sand colored walls with brightly colored flowers and greenery
rippling downward. Three is a magic number here; there are three
sections, the hotel, the spa and the villas.
My suite reinforced their five-star rating.
I found myself in the lap of luxury; comfortable king bed,
private dressing room with a huge mirror, a bath with shower and
tub, comfy sofa, table, fridge and microwave. They even sent up
a large platter of fresh and dried fruit.
The color scheme and art
were Babylonian and set the mood. But my favorite was the
private enclosed balcony courtyard. It had a seating area and
couch lounging area and a lovely Moorish-style openwork shutter
to offer privacy. Since I was on the second floor the palm
fronds of trees below rustled pleasantly right at my window
|This is only half of my balcony
The art work inside the hotel complements
the beauty of the grounds. One of the owners is an art
connoisseur and it shows in what hangs on the hotel's walls.
|The Akkad Pool Restaurant
||Some of the artwork at Kempinsky
Since we arrived at the Ishtar around
lunchtime, food was our next option. We dined on a selection of
well prepared Arabic dishes at their Akkad Pool Restaurant.
Our appetizers gave us a vast option and our main course
was a luscious set of shish kebabs including lamb, chicken and
beef. The chicken especially was melt-in-your-mouth good. As the
name implies, the Akkad Pool Restaurant is adjacent to the
hotel's Infinity Pool so naturally we dined outdoors.
|Some of the appetizers at the
The Ishtar has nine pools including the
Infinity Pool, Lazy River, a pool with a bubble fountain the
kids seem to love, a pool with an ever-burning fire at the ends
and others. If the pools and the Dead Sea aren't enough water
for you there are also waterfalls and lagoons mingled with the
One of the pools is adults only but it is
equalized by not only
a kids pool but an entire Kids Club with programs for the
little ones so parents enjoy their own activates knowing the
little ones are not only safe but having a great time.
|The Kids Club
Then there is a whole new range of pools at
the Resense Spa. The spa is the largest in Jordan with over
10,000 square feet of treatment space. Even the elevator there
is a view. Seema Lodi, spa manager, showed us through the spa.
There is a private "ladies only" section where celebrities and
those desiring privacy can utilize. She showed us the whirlpool
and sauna and a unique outdoor massage center when you can lie
in a pool and receive a treatment. She explained one of their
specials called "From Home to Heaven."
Many local people use it. She said, "We have a Mercedes
pick them up from home in the morning. Bring them here for a
massage, use the facilities have a healthy three course lunch,.
After lunch, relax, use the facilities again in the evening and
we have the Mercedes take them back home. They are happy
|One of the spa pools
As you can imagine the spa is popular.
Visitors from all over as well as locals visit the spa. Seema
confined, "even our queen comes here."
I had every intention of going back to the
spa after our tour there but got sidetracked by all the
rest of what the Kempinsky Ishtar offers. Like the Villas section of the hotel. The manager had
already told us that these rented from $20,000 per night or so.
Way past my budget but obviously lots of celebrities could and
did use them.
|The Villas really are fit for
I wandered through and saw many of the
villas occupied and caught a few glimpses of some of those
privileged guests relaxing in their private pool. The villas
were set a bit off to the side former the main section of the
hotel. More privacy that way. A pathway led through the villas
down to the beach. Near
one of the villas I saw the neatest golf car made to look like
an old model T Ford. Then I passed one other unique feature of
this hotel. Considering the antiquity I saw all over Jordan,
it's not surprising to see an ancient resident that had remained
on the hotel grounds for 700 years. It's a beautiful olive tree
that is still very healthy looking.
|I was told this magnificently
decked out cart belongs to one of the owners
The reason this hotel and others are
located at this spot was my main purpose of the trek to the
beach, the Dead Sea..The lowest point on earth and a body of
water so salty than the only living things which can survive in
it are a few bacteria and microbes. It has been a health resort
since the days of Herod the Great and a refuge for people
seeking relaxation since the biblical King David.
|Imagine this tree being old
before Columbus even sailed for America!
One other boon of the Ishtar Resort is
their private beach on the Dead Sea. I have been told the public
beaches become quite crowded sometimes.
Here, there were no crowds, just attendant with towels, a
huge vat of mud or if you wish buckets of it.
I had been told about the floating and salinity so I
entered the sea carefully. One helpful hint here; bring boating
or water shoes you can wear into the water. Not flip flops as
they will come off when you are floating.
I didn't and my tender feet paid the price. I waded out
about thigh deep and let my feet come off the ground. Presto, I
was on my back. No matter if I exhaled or inhaled, I could not
sink. In fact, I had to struggle to get my feet back under me
and stand when I wanted to leave the water after about twenty
|One of Kempinsky's pools with
the Dead Sea in the background
Back on the beach, my friends and I all
slathered ourselves with the mud until we looked ready for an
old-time minstrel show. I could feel it hardening on me. It is a
strange feeling; not painful just sort of tingly. I hoped it was
tightening my no-longer-young skin. After it dried and I washed
most of it off in the Dead Sea and finished up with a shower,
another benefit of that private beach, I really did feel like
the skin was younger. Yeah, I know, you're saying "wishful
thinking" but until you try it yourself how do you know? On the
way back, one of my friends and I took a dip in the Infinity
Pool. It really feels like you are swimming directly out into
the seemingly endless sea.
|Playing in the mud
At our day and a half at Ishtar, I got to
sample several of the other restaurants. All lived up to way
above standard. Breakfast and dinner at The Obelisk offer more
choices than any one person can sample. If you plan an early
lunch it serves breakfast until 11:30 and the breakfast menu
will more than double for an early lunch. There is the Ishtar
Lobby Bar which was quite handy to grab a quick drink on my way
up to my room.
I didn't get to sample the other
restaurants and bars but there are several others; Sushi Bar in
the main section; Kish Bar with a view of the Dead Sea, Sumerian
Bar; and Codes, a smart Thailand cuisine restaurant overlooking
the Dead Sea.
The final evening we all dined at the Ashur
Restaurant. It's Italian with a Middle Eastern twist. The food
was superb but it's always bitter sweet saying goodbye to new
friends with whom you have shared a trip.
The restaurant serves wine and cocktails. Friends who
ordered the wine were happy and my cocktail was perfect. We
again dined outdoors next to the flickering flame reflected in
goodbye to our wonderful Jordan
hostess, Janine Jervas, and
our knowledgable guide,
|One of our
served at our farewell dinner
Conde Nast Traveler rated Kempinski Hotel
Ishtar as one of the top five resorts in the Middle East so for
your trip to the Dead Sea discover the secrets of Ishtar and see
what is beyond five-star luxury.
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