Review: Al Manara Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba, Jordan
The southern resort town of Aqaba, Jordan is home to the Kingdom of Jordan’s water shoreline access. In addition to the country’s port, the city of Aqaba contains a large number of resort developments designed for Arabian tourists. We’d visit the Al Manara Hotel – A Luxury Collection Resort in the new Saraya Aqaba development for our stay in the region. How did Jordan’s only Luxury Collection hotel perform during our stay?
This post is one chapter on our trip to Jordan, Israel and France during the end of the pandemic. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and Alaska Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
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✈️ Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: Driving 1,265 kilometres in Jordan, Israel and France via Icelandair, Turkish Airlines and Royal Jordanian Business Class
- My Favourite Long Layover Restaurant at SeaTac Airport: 13 Coins
- The Club at SEA Business Lounge, “S” Concourse, Seattle Tacoma, USA
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Seattle – Reykjavík
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Reykjavik – Paris Charles de Gaulle
- The Residence Inn by Marriott Paris Charles de Gaulle Central Airport, France
- Salon Paul Maxence Lounge, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2A, France
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2A, France
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Paris – Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines Business Lounge: Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Istanbul – Amman
- What to Expect Driving through the Kingdom of Jordan
- Dead Sea Marriott Resort and Spa, Jordan
- Top Five Tips for a Day of Canyoning – Hiking the Wadi Mujib Trial, Jordan
- Petra Marriott Hotel, Jordan
- How to Tackle the Ruins of Petra, Jordan
- Is it Worth Seeing Petra by Night?
- Al Manara, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba, Jordan
- Going Local: Al Mohandes Cafeteria, Aqaba, Jordan
- Memories Aicha Luxury Tented Camp, Wadi Rum, Jordan
- Getting Sandy in Wadi Rum, Jordan
- The St Regis Amman, Jordan
- Views from the Citadel in Amman, Jordan
- Royal Jordanian Crown Lounge, Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
- The Petra Lounge, Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
- Royal Jordanian Business Class: Amman – Tel Aviv
- The Sheraton Tel Aviv, Israel
- The Intersection of the World’s Religions, Visiting Jerusalem, Israel
- Visiting Tel Aviv’s Beaches, a Day at Gordon’s Beach, Israel
- The Dan Lounge, Ben Gurion International Airport – Terminal 3, Tel Aviv, Israel
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Tel Aviv – Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles Lounge, Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- iGA Sleep Pod, Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- iGA Lounge, Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Istanbul – Paris
- The Westin Paris Vendôme, Paris, France
- Returning to the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
- What’s Left of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacré Coeur and Montmartre, Paris, France
- Bateau Mouches Seine Cruises, Paris, France
- Le Cafe de la Paix, Paris, France
- Bouillion Pigalle, Paris, France
- Le Café du Trocadéro, Paris, France
- Extime Lounge, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2B, France
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Paris – Reykjavík
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Reykjavík – Seattle
Review: Al Manara, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba, Jordan
“The Al Manara – A Luxury Collection Resort Saraya Aqaba provides a Modern Beach Resort experience that is an Excellent Value on Marriott Bonvoy Certificates that varies in Exclusivity Dependent on how Busy the Resort is”
Booking The Al Manara Hotel:
While I was looking for something fun to do in Jordan, I came across the Al Manara Hotel by Luxury Collection. The hotel was a brand new build property in the upscale Saraya Aqaba complex; a brand new full development of the harbour in the southern town of Aqaba, Jordan.
As I was researching this property, I was especially astounded to find that it was the equivalent of a Marriott Bonvoy Category 5 property, meaning that free nights started at 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. This meant that we could use the Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Award certificates that came with Marriott Bonvoy American Express Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card.
While cash rates were approximately 246 JOD ($347 USD) for a base level Classic King Guest Room – Balcony, we would end up redeeming two free Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Award certificates.
I booked direct on the Marriott Bonvoy website. As a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Level member, I would also be entitled to Upgrade to best available room, including select suites.
The Al Manara – A Luxury Collection Resort is a seasonal resort property. As a result, I found that there was some price variability at the property. I found rates as low as 129 JOD ($1,810 USD) in the off season, with rates as high as well above 500 JOD ($ 700 USD) in the peak tourist travel seasons of April and May. If you’re coming here during a seasonal peak time, make sure you book well in advance.
We were able to get a reasonable price just under the pricing pressure by booking at three months in advance with redemption rooms easily available.
Marriott Bonvoy Reward Opportunities:
The Al Manara – a Luxury Collection Resort prices very competitively in the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program. The property generally prices between 30,000 to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy reward points, for a standard level room.
The lower reward price point near that magical 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy Reward point level, it also means that this property can be redeemed against the annual free night awards that come with the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card. If you happen to have these certificates that come with this credit card, you will likely find lots of value redeeming them here.
If you value Marriott Bonvoy Points at 0.005 cents, you’ll come out ahead by redeeming points against a room at the property if you rate is above 106 JOD ($150 USD). You’ll possibly find some outsized value in the event the cash rate is exceptionally high, with often seems to be the case in high tourist Jordan season between April – June and Sept – October.
Suite Night Awards:
Marriott Suite Night Awards are for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum, Titanium or Ambassador members and can be used to upgrade to a selected room in the suite (or almost suite) category, confirming it 5 days in advance of arrival.
The property participates in the Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Award program. As a resort property where we were more likely to be spending time in and around the room, I ended up using my Suite Night Awards at this particular property.
As a newer luxury hotel, there are quite a few categories of rooms within the Suite Night Award pool inventory. The Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night awards pool consisted of about half and half upgraded regular rooms, and about half of actual suites.
Consistent with my usual practice of only redeeming Suite Night Awards against actual suites, I only redeemed Suite Night Awards against actual suites as I have typically had good success getting upgrades to the non suite upgraded room categories as a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium level member.
At five days before our stay, we got the usual email that “We’re Working on your Upgrade Request”, meaning that our upgrade under the Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Award program hadn’t cleared.
Fortunately, at 2 days before our arrival, we got notice that our upgrade had been confirmed into a Superior Suite, 1 Bedroom Larger Suite, 1 King, Sea view, Balcony.
This upgrade confirmation was excellent news as the room was retailing for 510 JOD ($720 USD) a night; what an excellent use of Marriott Suite Night Awards and an even better use leveraging a free night certificate, into a room of this calibre.
Getting to the Al Manara:
The Al Manara – A Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba is located in the brand new development complex at the west end of the Aqaba waterfront. As the area is brand new, there are several areas that remain under construction and not fully finished. Despite being a new property, it remains within a reasonable walking distance of several Aqaba sites.
In terms of getting to the hotel, we self drove down from the Marriott Petra Hotel, which took about two hours time to drive. We had some spectacular highway drive views as we descended into Aqaba, Jordan which was located at sea level.
As we arrived to Al Manara – A Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba the property was guarded like many others in Jordan. We had a full vehicle security check at the front gate. There was also a first for me, there was a full explosives swab check of the steering wheel and vehicle itself near the bottom of driver window.
Like many resort properties in the Middle East, the property is really impressive to arrive to. Landscaped areas along with a sleek Middle Eastern feel to the architecture make the place feel contemporary and exciting to stay.
Checking into the Al Manara Hotel:
We arrived to the porte cochère and unloaded at the front. Like many others hotels in Jordan, the property offers complimentary valet parking. We had a hand bag search at the front desk security with some questions on MrsWT73’s wine and the half bottle given to us at the Marriott Petra Hotel as our welcome amenity. I got the sense that the property seemed reluctant to allow it in, but we were eventually waved up.
The lobby was pretty impressive. It consisted of a high ceiling lobby with traditional Middle Eastern furniture and lighting. It was frequently a place where people would gather, and there were typically people all over the lobby during our stay.
We had a smooth and crisp check in. We received no further offer of upgrade on our alaready Marriott Suite Night Award upgraded room. As a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium benefit, were were offered 2,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or buffet breakfast in the Taybeh Al Manara Restaurant. As holiday makers, we took the full buffet breakfast.
As a funny note, we were also encouraged to smoke outdoor on the deck, as opposed to indoors in the suite.
There was a description of the layout of the property which was provided verbally although I get to didn’t pair it with a property map. The “L” Shaped layout was a little confusing at the start, given that it is a resort property that is situated on the curve of an inlet.
During the check in process, I also asked for Marriott Bonvoy Titanium late checkout for 2 PM as we were headed off to Memories Aicha Luxury Tended Camp in Wadi Rum on the day after departure. I was told to come back day before departure to confirm. This is probably among the last things that you want to do while on a holiday, but it is technically within the terms and conditions of the Marriott Bonvoy program. The property certainly wasn’t all to generous in this regard, and when we returned on the day before departure, after substantial discussion, we were eventually allowed a 1 PM check out.
The Room: Superior Suite, 1 Bedroom Larger Suite, 1 King, Sea view, Balcony
We self guided ourselves up to Room # 1341. Our baggage were brought up to room separately. Much with the Arabian reds, the contrast of the hallways was black, white and red as we located our room just off the elevator bank.
The Living Room:
Immediately upon entering the Superior Suite, we found ourselves in a long hallway that led past the main bathroom. Entering into the suite, we found ourselves in a fair sized living room that was contemporary in design, but also had roots that were traditional in nature.
The living space had Arabian themed pictures and offered a comfortable sitting area inside the room. The living room offered two small tables, along with a smaller flat screen television anchored by a reasonably comfortable couch.
In Room Amenities:
The hallway leading from the main door into the room served as the entertainment and room amenities hallway. It contained a full series of glassware, a coffee maker, along with a mini fridge which was completely empty except for some bottled water.
The Super Suite Bedroom was a large sized bedroom. Decorated in white, black and some dark greys, the bedroom was a pleasant looking space and a comfortable spot for sleeping.
The bedroom was on a slight angle, but it didn’t detract from the over all experience.
Just off the bedroom was a short corridor that served as a storage area. This contained a table for sitting, along with a whole variety of storage. There also appeared to be an owner’s storage feature as well, baed on a keyed lock off cupboard.
Aside from the storage area, the only other odd thing about the room was that it actually offered no luggage racks. As a result, we ended up with our luggage opened on the floor and over the occassional chair in the bedroom.
The bathroom of the Superior Suite was a spacious room. It offered space for two, although there was only a single vanity sink.
The bathroom offered a spacious shower room, along with a separate bathroom. The shower offered both a rain shower and a shower wand variety. Both were appreciated and it’s was nice to have the option between the two.
Much like the Dead Sea Marriott Resort, the toiletries were the upscale Trinita toiletries – enhanced with Dead Sea Minerals.
Overall, we were pretty satisfied with the bathroom. The Trinitae toiletries added an upscale feel to the experience. The fit and fixtures were great. Although it was a little compact only having a single sink for such a large room.
Room with a View:
The Living Room offered a small balcony. There were two chairs outside on the balcony and it became a spot to enjoy coffee in the morning.
Although we were assigned a Sea View Room, we ended up with an “almost there” Lagoon View room. The Lagoon View was over the Saraya Aqaba development. Much of the development hadn’t fully completed, so much of the views were over buildings that were partially completed.
The hotel room also had a peek a boo view back towards the regular coast line and the mountains surrounding Aqaba, Jordan.
The Superior Suite was a nice but not spectacular space. It perhaps could be best described as having a level of under stated luxury that was expressed through additional space, a comfortable place to relax, and quiet surroundings.
Overall, it was a nice suite. It was a great redemption on certificates with Marriott Suite Night Awards leveraged into an even better upgrade. I’m not sure of the value of the room being at a 510 – 608 JOD price point, dependent on room variation.
Around the Hotel Property:
The Al Manara Hotel offered a resort styled area that stretched the length of the lagoon and all the way out to the sea. It offered a concourse styled walkway within the confined of the resort property. The walkway was nicely styled and landscaped.
Along with a great short walking promenade, The Al Manara – A Luxury Collection Hotel Saraya Aqaba offered a set of tiered outdoor pools. There was only one set of outdoor pools, in that there was no separate adult only pool area. During our weekend stay, the main pool area was mostly invaded by families and children.
There was a primary infiniti pool that had views over the lagoon, along with distant views out over the Red Sea.
There was also a shaded small wading pool for families with kids. It was surrounded by a tiered sun tanning area.
The hotel had two separate beaches. The beach areas were not the strongest feature of this particular property as they both seemed man made.
The beach immediately underneath the pool area faced the inner lagoon. It didn’t have that great a view. Since it faced the lagoon, it offered a light tide with very gentle waters; great for families with toddlers.
Just down the way was “Pets Beach”. I’m not sure about the origin of the “Pets’ Beach” name, since it didn’t actually have any animals at the beach. Instead, it offered an actual shoreline beach front with views over to The Red Sea. We would end up setting up here for both our days.
The Pet’s Beach itself was pretty stony. It wasn’t like what you might find as the worlds best resort beaches. Despite this, the views from Pet’s Beach were pretty spectacular.
The views from this southern tip of Jordan encompassed the mountains outside of Aqaba, Jordan. The views stretched all the way over to Israel and northern Egypt on the western side. It was truly a fascinating spot to spend a day sun tanning and gazing.
While not the greatest hotel beach in the world, the views were certainly among the best resort views to be had.
The property did feature a small gym. The gym was located just off the main lobby. The gym was oriented inwards towards the rest of the hotel, so it didn’t have any aspirational views or other views over the sea or lagoon.
The gym was empty the entire time I was on the resort and I never happened to see anyone using it.
Food and Beverage:
Kubba Levantin Restaurant:
On the date of our arrival, we enjoyed dinner on the property at Kubba Levantin Restaurant. Kubba Levantin featured Middle East cuisine. We didn’t require a reservation, although it was a short wait to get seated outside.
The access to the restaurant was just off the main floor and a short walk from the lobby. After being granted access to a table, we had a long walk down a gorgeously decorated stairwell accented by a ceiling sculpture.
With everyone seated outside, the dining room was completely empty. As a Middle Eastern restaurant, we had a great menu full of dishes that we were keen to try. There was also a reasonable wine and cocktail list.
We started off with some naan bread, along with olive oil and sumac
MrsWT73 enjoyed the house made hummus with olive oil, sesame paste and lemon juice. The hummus was tasty and it was easy to taste the chick pea in it.
I enjoyed the Kebab Bil Laban consisting of meat kebab, yogurt sauce, mint leaves, pine nuts. The meat kebak had a quality cut of meat to it- exceptionally good with a light yoghurt. It was pretty tasty and an upscale version of middle eastern food that I was keen to try on our holiday.
Taybeh Al Manara Restaurant
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Breakfast
Our Marriott Bonvoy Elite breakfast was at the Taybeh Al Manara Restaurant. There was a combination of indoor and outdoor terrace seating.
The breakfast buffet offered almost everything you could have asked for in a breakfast. There was also an egg station, which was available by ordering through your waiter / waitress.
On the Saturday morning, the resort was at full occupancy. This translated into a bit of mayhem with kids at the breakfast bar. Many of them seemed unsupervised, running around putting fingers in dishes and putting used water bottles up to spigots. Admittedly, there isn’t much that the resort can do about this. It wasn’t a super relaxing or refined experience at breakfast, but shows the amount of families at the resort
The breakfast was billed by taking our room number at the reception when we arrived. We didn’t need to further sign a bill or process any other paperwork after dining, which was convenient.
The Al Manara – a Luxury Collection Hotel Saraya Aqaba also offered the Amwaj Terrace. The outdoor terrace space was only open for dinner time. The best part about the terrace was the outstanding world class view that it had over the Red Sea.
The Amwaj Terrace was accessed by passing the pool area and was situated on the pinnicle of the resort just about the “Pets Beach”.
This view overlooking the Red Sea and the mountains of Israel and Egypt looks pretty outstanding for a dinner, or even a sunset cocktail.
The menu at Amwaj was a set menu of several courses and was inclusive of starters, a main and a dessert course. The price point started at 33 JOD ($46 USD) up to 40 JOD ($56 USD).
We didn’t dine here on our visit but this would have been next on my list after Kubba Levantin Restaurant for an upscale dining experience set against an amazing back drop.
Checking Out of the Al Manara:
I ended up negotiating a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium 1 PM check out to accomodate a late departure. The hotel wasn’t really keen on this request. Fortunately, housekeeping was not knocking down the door around that time, so we managed to get the car loaded up at about 1:30 PM.
We didn’t have any surprises on the bill and our car was packed up professionally by the valet staff.
We headed from the Al Manara – A Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba over to Memories Aicha Luxury Tented Camp Wadi Rum for another great stay.
Bottom Line: The Al Manara Luxury Collection Saraya Aqaba
This property represented the best of several things. It was modern and chic as a contemporary hotel. It was a terrific deal on certificates and we were able to get a great room for benefits that were included as a result of loyalty to the Marriott Bonvoy hotel program.
Having said that, the hotel was a little rigid with some of the elite benefits (late check out), and the hotel beach itself wasn’t all that spectacular. At times the property seemed over run with families; something that is admittedly not the resorts fault, but may impact your stay experience.
I would easily be a returning guest, but mostly as a side attraction if I was visiting the Aqaba, Jordan area for another reason.