Take a break in Kuwait

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The Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa in Kuwait. (Supplied)
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There is plenty of good food on offer at the hotel’s many F&B outlets. (Supplied)
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The hotel has 12 private villas in its manicured gardens. (Supplied)
Updated 22 April 2019

Take a break in Kuwait

  • The Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa racks up top marks for comfort, food and service

DUBAI: Arriving at the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa in Kuwait, our initial impression is that it fits well into the Dubai-based international luxury hotel brand’s chain of properties.

Stepping into the impressive lobby we stare through the huge windows ahead, looking along the hotel’s central courtyard down to the sea, following a path through manicured gardens. The staff are quick to check us in, unfailingly polite and helpful (as they are throughout our stay), and usher us to our generously sized room — one of 407 in the hotel, including 12 private villas down by the aforementioned manicured gardens. So far, so good.

Settling in, we pull back the curtains to see what our view’s like. It is striking. But not in a good way. We do not have a beach-facing room. There is some water — a stagnant pool gathering in a concrete trench around a sad-looking, mostly concrete, park. This, we later learn, is part of the Messilah Beach Water Village; a ‘family friendly’ attraction reminiscent of a rundown British seaside town. It might be fun to visit (we didn’t go), but it is no kind of aesthetic pleasure.

The incongruous vista is made even less attractive by the two large garbage containers directly below our window. A useful hint: If you’re booking a room here, avoid the south-facing ones.

The room itself, thankfully, is more pleasant to look at: Generic, inoffensive color scheme with a decent attempt at a mural above the sofa, tidy, and, most importantly, clean. The location of the desk is puzzling, and would probably tip a feng-shui expert into an apoplectic rage. The large bathroom with jacuzzi and separate shower, however, is a sumptuous treat.

Less of a treat is the … let’s be charitable and call it idiosyncratic … electrical system. Motion sensors are a nice idea, but not if they turn all the lights on when one of you gets up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. The labyrinthine method required to avoid this seems wholly unnecessary and easily avoidable — a confusing and pointless reinvention of the wheel.

Opening and closing the curtains isn’t quite as complicated, once we’ve located the switches, which — for some reason — are hidden away behind a small outcrop in the wall and can only be seen once you are sitting on the bed.

Those small (albeit infuriating) niggles are quickly forgotten, though, once we sink into bed. It is, it’s fair to say, a magnificent mattress/duvet/pillow combination. Pure luxury. And a great night’s sleep, helped in no small part by our evening stroll out along the hotel’s breakwater, past the open-air beach pavilions — definitely worth a wander while the nights are still cool.

Our breakfast is taken at the Garden Café, situated on the hotel’s lower level and looking out — you guessed it — over the gardens. The hotel promo material promises a “lavish buffet,” and the reality does not disappoint. The choice is enormous — from continental and Arabic breakfast staples, to a good old fry-up (including live omelet station), via a plethora of fruit, a range of wonderful pastries and breads, fresh juice, and more, all of it excellent. The kitchen is able to cater for diverse dietary requirements, including vegan and gluten-free dishes. You can stock up for the day here, and we do. We sample the Friday bunch at the same venue, too, which is also delicious and ridiculously well-stocked.

We do not try any of the hotel’s other outlets, but there is a range of cuisines on offer, including Italian, Arabic, seafood, and a steakhouse.

There’s not much within walking distance of the hotel — unless you’re tempted by the Water Village, which you won’t be — apart from a garage with a shop for basic groceries, and a small strip of restaurants and cafés. But this isn’t a major issue, since you can happily spend the day relaxing around the hotel’s three pools, or down by the beach. If you fancy something a little more energetic, you can book the tennis court, or make use of the hotel’s well-equipped gym. And for pampering, of course, there’s the Talise Spa, which offers 17 treatment rooms and two private suites. There’s even a majlis-style room where you can book a group Hammam treatment, and a Himalayan Salt Room, which — the hotel claims — is the first in the Middle East.

Overall, the superb levels of service, comfort and cuisine more than make up for our disappointing view and the peculiarities of the electrics. If you’re planning a break in Kuwait, then Jumeirah Messilah Beach is a great option — particularly if you’re looking to escape the clutch of hotels in the city center.

Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

Updated 58 min 46 sec ago

Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

  • And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits

JEDDAH: An enterprising Saudi family is aiming to take the world by storm with its scientific approach to healthy eating.

The Bogari’s newly opened Protein Laboratory restaurant in Jeddah is the brainchild of brothers Ahmed, Hussain and Hassan.

The three doctors got the inspiration for their startup from hospital laboratories while studying in medical school, and with the help of their parents set about establishing their innovative culinary venture.

In recent years the health and fitness fad has become a flourishing business sector in the Kingdom, which has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of gyms and fitness centers.

And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits. However, eating clean can be a challenge for those with busy, modern lifestyles who do not have the time to prepare meals.

Enter the Protein Laboratory, opened to add fun to the idea of healthy food. “We wanted to reintroduce the concept of healthy food to the Saudi health and fitness community,” Ahmed, 27, told Arab News.

“We believe that healthy food does not have to be boring and achieving your goal of fat loss can actually satisfy your taste buds and leave you happily full at the same time.

“We are planning to expand in Jeddah and Makkah to help more people achieve their fitness targets while enjoying tasty food, and we are aiming to be recognized globally,” he said.

The trio started planning their enterprise while studying at medical college but credit their parents’ support for helping turn their vision into a successful business launch.

Their father guided them in setting up the company and their mother took responsibility for the restaurant’s kitchen, playing a major role in developing recipes and supervising operations.

The brothers’ association with the field of medicine also helped them in their efforts. Ahmed was first inspired by hospital laboratories and the way researchers worked on minor details to get the best possible results.

“The long counters, glass walls, and test tubes are what I liked the most, in addition to the complete transparency of the place. It is exactly how I wanted our restaurant to be. Everything to be prepared and cooked just in front of the customer with a high level of attention to detail,” he added.

The idea behind the name Protein Laboratory was to ensure customers had the option to select, mix and create ingredients according to their taste or preference.

“Customers can order their meals according to their nutritional needs and preferences, starting with selecting the protein base, cooking method, side dishes, the sauce and portion of the meal’s components in grams.”

Ahmed said: “We use the healthiest cooking methods possible. We don’t use frozen meat; we blend our own spices and make sure everything is always made in the healthiest way.”

The brothers and their mother work like scientists. “We spent one year testing ingredients and creating healthy recipes. We had only one goal in mind: High protein in a healthy meal and a portion that could help us and others to stay healthy while still eating the food we desired with higher quality and better taste,” Ahmed added.

Their lab salad dish includes more than 20 organic ingredients high in protein, fiber and antioxidants. The restaurant’s burger has only 396 calories, and one of their best-selling desserts is a sugar-free banana pancake.

“We aim to make our prices within everyone’s reach,” Ahmed said.

One of the services offered by the restaurant is subscription to a meal plan drawn up according to the nutritional needs of the customer and delivered to their workplace or home.

Protein Laboratory is located in Helmi Kutbi Street, in Jeddah’s Al-Zahra district and can be followed on Instagram @proteinlabsa.