Jordan, an Exotic Land of Possibilities

If your clients can stand the heat, Travel Agent suggests a trip to Jordan. This Middle Eastern country, which touches the Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea, is mostly desert and offers a cohesive mix of ancient civilization and modern lifestyle. The bustling capital of Amman dates back to the Stone Age and contains fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Today a burgeoning resort haven, in ancient times, the Red Sea port city Aqaba was the main port for shipments from the Red Sea to the Far East. Here are two properties to keep in mind for clients headed to Jordan.
Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea

The Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, in the JordonValley, just unveiled new accommodations in May. This is the second phase of building; the first, the Ishtar Villas, opened in May 2006. The new building adds another 201 rooms and suites to the hotel's already expansive list of 117 accommodations. The new add-ons include 137 Superior Rooms, 51 Junior Suites, 11 Executive Suites and two Penthouse Suites, all housed in an Arabesque building.

As worthwhile as each accommodation is, Marketing Manager Najem Khalil says the most popular pick is a Ishtar Superior room—even though this is the hotel's lowest category. Offering plenty of space, rooms located on the ground floor have approximately 538 square feet, a sitting area and veranda with terrace furniture, as well as direct pool access and easy beach access. Rooms located on the first floor have approximately 430 square feet and a private 86-square-foot balcony with terrace furniture and great views of the Dead Sea. We even hear these offerings would be considered a suite or a deluxe room in other hotels. However, for travel agents with clients looking for the most luxurious experience, opt for the Royal Villa. This palatial accommodation spans more than 5,000 square feet on two floors and has a courtyard complete with a water feature. This prime pick also boasts three bedrooms, three bathrooms with separate shower cabine (where each bathtub has a window overlooking the Dead Sea), two glass-fronted living rooms with access to a large terrace and a dining room for up to twelve guests. The Ishtar Royal Villa can also be connected to the two Ishtar Beach Chalets on a lower level of the sloped ground.

An Ishtar Superior room at Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea

Also on the list of improvements is a new dining outlet. The Codes, a recently opened Asian inspired restaurant, serves up Thai dishes and sushi. Another top pick is The Obelisk Restaurant. By the end of the year, there will be a total of nine dining and lounge venues offering up ethnic and international cuisine.

Travel agents sending clients with a large gathering on the agenda should take note: The Grand Ballroom will also debut this year with a capacity of 800. If clients don't have quite as large a gathering in mind, or if they are simply executing a business meeting, the property also has extensive meeting facilities and an auditorium, which seats more than 200 people.

Another reason to bookmark this property is that we hear it will feature the largest spa in the Middle East. Anantara Spa will boast holistic wellness facilities and such perks as 20 treatment rooms and 28 spa suites. Opting for a spa treatment while enjoying views of Jordan isn't a problem—the spa also has outdoor therapy lounges. The project will be completed by the end of the year.

When guests have to return home, the resort is situated approximately 43 miles southwest of Queen Alia International Airport and approximately 34 miles southwest of Amman—the bustling capital city. Travel agents sending their clients should contact Marketing Manager Najem Khalil at 962 5 356 8888 or najem.khalil@kempinski.com.

For travel agents with clients headed to Jordan down the road, Aqaba is a city to keep in mind. The town is Jordan's only seaport and has become a haven for diving and beach resorts. Painted with gorgeous coral reefs, the town's abundant history dates back to the 4th millennium BCE.

Several properties will be popping up in this town, which are sure to give even the most popular of Middle East resorts a run for their money. The following is a property to keep on your radar:

The Radisson SAS Tala Bay Resort, Aqaba, is scheduled to open in February 2008. The hotel's optimal beachfront location overlooks the Gulf of Aqaba. Radisson SAS will boast 323 rooms, including 51 suites and an outdoor beach restaurant. The property will also feature three outdoor pools, tennis courts, a children's club and approximately 2,152 square feet of private beach. Avid golfers take note: The Radisson plans to add a golf course in 2009.

Adventurous clients who can pry themselves away from the resort should explore what this area has to offer—venture to the Islamic walled city of Ayla dating back to the seventh century, as well as the 14th-century fort. Radisson can arrange boating excursions to the volcanic rock island of Pharaoh's Island off the Sinai coastline of Egypt. An hour's drive away from the hotel is the UNESCO world heritage site of the Red City of Petra and the Bedouin camps in the Wadi Rum desert. When your clients have to get back to their hectic lives, AqabaInternationalAirport if just a 10- to 15-minute drive.