Mecca, Saudi Arabia. A landmark that overlooks a landmark best describes the Fairmont Makkah Clock Royal Tower hotel.
Those traveling to the holy city of Mecca can enjoy their stay in a luxurious setting since Fairmont believes that a comfortable stay will make people feel more at ease while on pilgrimage.
"We entered the market after an intensive study [which revealed] that the average time for the people coming for umrah [a pilgrimage to Mecca outside the hajj season] is not only one-and-a-half days or two days like it used to be, [they] now [travel for] nearly three days," Fairmont hotel manager, Abdel Aziz Eid, told reporters last week.
Located adjacent to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Abraj Al-Bait complex consists of seven skyscraper hotels and Fairmont occupies the royal clock tower, which is the third-tallest building in the world, with a giant clock that is visible from up to 17 kilometers away.
The proximity and easy access to the Grand Mosque in Mecca are the most distinguishable features of the 76-storey hotel. Guests can take one of the 76 state-of-the-art elevators to the ground floor, which is connected to the Abraj al Bait Mall and the terrace of the mosque itself.
In April it may be relaxing to take a stroll between the hotel and the mosque, but it is a stark contrast during Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, where every corner of the Grand Mosque in Mecca will be occupied by worshippers.
To make guests more comfortable, Fairmont has planned well in advance for the peak season, offering two extensive prayer rooms. One of the prayer rooms on the second level is open all year, overlooking the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The second prayer room on the 29th floor is especially open during the peak seasons including the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, which occurs during Dhu al Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic calendar.
Each prayer room is equipped with a speaker broadcasting prayer calls as well as the imam's voice leading the prayers.
A Room With a View
A beacon in the heart of the holy city, the five-star hotel has a large variety of rooms catering to different preferences.
Each room offers one of three views, a view of the mosque, a view of the Kaaba and a view of the city.
Based on the size, the types of rooms offered are a twin, deluxe, triple, king and suites. Fairmont suites occupy 38 percent of the building.
Should guests prefer something more exclusive, they can opt for Fairmont Gold, which offers a private check-in and check-out service and a 24-hour butler service.
Fairmont Gold guests have the privilege to relax at the VIP lounge, that offers beverages all day, which is perfect for those who just want to sit back and sip Arabic coffee. Breakfast and snacks are also available in the lounge.
Fairmont Gold also has five floors reserved for state officials and other high-profile government officials from around the world. The suites as offer a recluse for the guests. Besides a team of butlers to cater to every need, the full view of the mosque as well as special dining and massage rooms, guests will enjoy the extra privacy and security offered.
"We are receiving many top guests from all over the country. Most of them come alone just for Allah even though they are usually surrounded by strict security guards," Fairmont senior head butler, Hossam Morsi said.
To ensure privacy, the floors have their own meeting rooms for intimate gatherings.
Variety of Dining Choices
Other than lavish rooms, all the guests are guaranteed to enjoy the hotel entertainment.
"What's the entertainment in Mecca? It cannot be baseball, ballet or opera – it's food," the hotel manager said.
While other hotels offer just one restaurant for all the guests, the Fairmont boasts an extensive gastronomic portfolio.
There is the standard 24-hour in-room dining. They also boast two cafes, Mazaq and Mirkaz, which are perfect for afternoon breaks or short meetings with colleagues. Skilled sommeliers also offer the best teas and coffees to match the patisseries at
They also boast two cafes, Mazaq and Mirkaz, which are perfect for afternoon breaks or short meetings with colleagues. Skilled sommeliers also offer the best teas and coffees to match the patisseries at Mazaq, while Mirkaz is for the coffee lovers.
The finest cuts of meat are found at The Grill steakhouse.
Miscellaneous international cuisines from Asia, North Africa and the Mediterranean are served all day in a casual manner at Atyaf.
Another restaurant, Aja, also offers mixed Asian cuisine and specializes in Indonesian and Malaysian dishes, including nasi goreng, or fried rice. Considering that around 20 percent of the guests are Indonesian, Fairmont goes the extra mile to make them feel right at home.
Indian delicacies are offered at Mazedar, while high-end Turkish cuisine is available at Lezzet. Al-Dira, meanwhile, offers a Lebanese buffet.
The hotel is also home to the first five-star Saudi restaurant in the country, promising an unforgettable experience for guests tasting their dishes for the first time.
The hotel also can accommodate meetings and conferences with over 3,200 square meters of flexible function space including three ballrooms and eight meeting rooms.
The ballroom is extremely versatile because it is not just for festive events. It can also be turned into a dining venue for a giant group of umrah performers if booked in advance.
Business aside, relaxation is paramount. Fairmont offers separate male and female health clubs, which include a children's corner, jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms.
Overall, the hotel offers state of the art facilities combined with world-class service so that guests can enjoy their stay in Mecca in luxury and comfort.
More information is available on their website.