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“Empire hotel - improving”

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The Empire Hotel & Country Club
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 4 January 2012

Felt I had to update my review for the empire as the first (12 months ago) wasn't so good. We stayed during new year for x2 nights using their select voucher system. Worth the initial outlay for some good deals for a period of 12 months. The hotel was busy but this year there was an obvious increase in staff presence (probably the entire team) whereas last Xmas it was minimal. Check in takes too long I'm afraid ( not sure why because having pre booked this shouldn't take the time it does?!) therefore the queues are extended during a busy period. Noticed at 2pm that all the tables in the lobby area had been pre booked for afternoon tea so if you intend to enjoy this during a celebration time of year, make sure you make a prior reservation. Zest is the new cafe area with seating outside so thankfully there is an alternative for coffee, cakes and snacks. This also now sells the speciality chocolates which is a vast improvement to the old system. We stayed in the "superior rooms" which are actually the cheapest and appear to be the newest wings of accommodation. After previously staying in various sections of the hotel, we believe that there is very little difference and it's not worth spending the extra unless you prefer the "e club" facilities. All rooms have vast bathrooms, huge bath tubs and individual showers etc. If,however, you like a quieter room I'd suggest asking for one which doesn't overlook the pool. We also experienced noisy fellow guests on various landings of the accomodation block, who thought everyone else should hear their children playing in the corridors ( should I say screeching and screaming!) Noticed that the mini bar fridge was empty but apparently there is a new practice regarding this now. The more expensive rooms and e club rooms have complimentary drinks and fridge contents but you can pay 10 brunei dollars if you wish to have it filled on arrival, in the cheaper rooms. Therefore take your own drinks etc to store in the room fridges (cheaper option anyway) possibly the hotel need to place a notice in the rooms to explain this or inform at check in. There is currently improvements to some if the swimming pools but the larger pool is open. During our stay this work had obviously been suspended due to the large number of guests but not sure if it would cause excessive noise when recommenced. There are also further plans to improve some of the deluxe rooms decor and furnishings in 2012. We had pre booked the 6 course new years eve meal at "Spaghettini" restaurant which was very good. Service was excellent and we enjoyed the entertainment (singing trio) which was far superior to that of the group in the atrium! There wasn't any firework display this year which was disappointing but a balloon drop
at midnight so we decided not to wait around for this. Buffet breakfasts are adequate and much improved seating arrangements on two floors (because of hotel occupancy being high) with plenty of choice and items replenished quickly. In all it felt like there had been improvement in staff training to improve the sometimes previous negative vibes from staff. There were noticeably more smiley happy employees and many more greetings which is always a good thing. Hopefully this will continue and the management team should be aware that there efforts to improve customer service has been noticed. Just a slight negative comment is that the Chinese restaurant Li Gong continues not to offer their a la carte menu every evening which for anyone who prefers non buffet choice this is disappointing (not available on Sunday's) we did dine on a Monday evening but we were still initially only given the "all you can eat buffet " menu by the lead waiter?! We had to ask for the a la carte menu. Its obvious therefore that the buffet is the easiest option for the chef! However, after a bad experience previously, we would rather dine somewhere else. Looking forward to seeing the improvements which have been scheduled for 2012 and hope customer service will continue to improve and be consistent.

Room Tip: Superior rooms are more than adequate. Ask for a quiet room.
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  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank LindsayCheshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TheEmpireHotel, General Manager at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, responded to this reviewResponded 8 March 2012

Dear LindsayChesire,

Greetings and a warm welcome from The Empire Hotel and Country Club! Thank you very much for your review and comments about our property. It is exactly feedback like yours that helps us to understand how those who actually use the hotel see us, and we thoroughly appreciate your role in this!

Firstly, let me thank you for staying with us again - from your review it sounds as if you have stayed with us before?

I greatly appreciate the time that you have taken to share your impressions and am delighted that, by and large, you feel that there have been some improvements since you last stayed with us. However, it is of some considerable regret to me that you did have some difficulties during your stay.

We take your point about the long delays at check in. It is true that we did underestimate how busy we would be during some of the busier periods in December and January. It is a problem we should have anticipated, & I am very sorry that we failed to do so. Since the period of your visit however, we have taken some corrective action to speed up the check in process.

We do have a new policy regarding the mini-bar and while this information is available on our website, booking through external sites might mean this information is not given. Your point about perhaps placing an explanatory card in the rooms will certainly be considered

Li Gong features both an a-la-carte and buffet menu, However it is generally the case that the latter seems to be the more popular option - based on average customer feedback. However, we always have an a-la-carte menu available (except for Sunday lunch time) and you can certainly order from that. In fact, we have recently revamped that menu to make the ordering of individual dishes even easier than it has been in the past.

You mentioned that you were disturbed by noisy guests during your stay, would you mind telling me which floor or wing your room was located in? Did you perhaps mention this disturbance to the reception staff by any chance? This often gives staff the opportunity to ensure that everyone has the kind of holiday that they are looking for. We have excellent service staff, who are always willing to go the extra mile- they know equally the value of a smile and a helping hand goes a long way in making a guests' stay better! Whilst we pride ourselves on being a hotel of rest and relaxation, we also acknowledge that, being (on certain occasions - school holidays for example) a family destination, means there will be children at times although we do have staff who should be monitoring this - so one guest’s enjoyment doesn’t become another guests disturbance.

In regards to the Superior rooms, there is a little variation between what is included, or the configuration - but generally the major price difference would be reflected in whether or not you get a full view of the ocean. You may be interested to know that we are currently in the middle of upgrading 196 of our 518 rooms and suites – a project that should be completed by the end of October 2012. When back in circulation, these rooms will have been completely refurnished & provided with upgraded flat screen inter-active TV’s & connection facilities.
With regard to the lack of a firework display, as we turned from 2011 into 2012, this was a decision made to actually respect the comfort of those guests who make room and restaurant bookings for the evening. In the past, we have found that the hotel is inundated with over 5,000 people who come to see the fireworks. Normally we would welcome this, but the problem is that it means that the paying guests invariably get overrun by those who are just coming in for 40 to 50 minutes to see the fireworks and then leave again

Thank you very much for your patronage and we hope to see you again at The Empire Hotel and Country Club!

Best Regards,

Desmond Acheson
General Manager
The Empire Hotel and Country Club

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Reviewed 2 January 2012

Stayed here since 31st dec to celebrate new year with dear hubby. Check in was smooth entertained by michaela, very courteous and smily. I forgot to ask during check in if my stay include breakfast and she didnt mention it either so have to ask the reception at my building. I stayed at Waterfall building, a serene and quiet place which is what im looking for. Its a few minutes walk from the check in lobby passing the Seaview and Lagoon. Plus point of the room is the bathroom is very comfortable, marbles from top to bottom of the wall and theres sound system attached from tv so you can listen to mtv while having shower. Bath tub is also good size i think its european size nearly drowned due to long length (or maybe im too short haha!)

House keeping was excellent called them many times always greeted on the phone with 'how we may help you, Mrs A'. Requested towels, tissue paper, fresh brewed coffee, tv remote control, clean the bathroom etc, all done within 30 mins after calling which i think is excellent despite the high peak time. The staff speaks in english to me maybe because im not wearing head scarf but i always reply in malay because i know how difficult it is to converse in 2nd language to get information through (personal experience after years of working with brits and non malay speakers).

Breakfast was boring; noodles, rice, eggs, sausages. Bread section is a bit better but my highlight is the different kinds of cheese; i love cheese! For the empire hotel employees read this: your coffee is served cold! All are cold, i think only toasted bread is warm but others are bleurgghhh!

And may i suggest something? Since it is the peak time why dont the hotel have some entertaining activities like boat cruise? We cant swim so pool is useless to us. Water activities such as jet ski is closed. I dont want to watch movies at the cinema or bowling because i've been many times. The balloon dropping at new year countdown is not entertaining at all, it is only for diners not the hotel guests.

For people who wants a calm and slow paced place to stay, i think this empire hotel is a good place. I cant decide whether i want to stay here again with the price i pay and the entertainment i get.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank GalaxyJewel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TheEmpireHotel, General Manager at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, responded to this reviewResponded 6 March 2012

Dear GalaxyJewel,

Greetings and a warm welcome from The Empire Hotel and Country Club! Thank you very much for your review and comments about our property. It is exactly feedback like yours that helps us to continuously improve and do better and we thoroughly appreciate your role in this!

I certainly appreciate the many very positive comments that you have shared with us, and we are delighted to share these with our team. At the same time we must be concerned with those areas that disappointed you. Although you say that swimming is not ‘your thing’, I would like to let you know that the renovation of our 11,000 cubic metre Salt Water Lagoon will be completed by the end of April 2012 – and we look forward to welcoming it back into our fold of guests facilities.

Although a little bit in the distant future, plans are afoot where we will have our own pier/jetty and, from that, we hope to be able to provide guests with fishing, diving and cruising services.
With regard to breakfast food and coffee service, I am very sorry to learn that we slipped up so badly here. There is simply no excuse at all for cold coffee!

On the subject of entertainment, I am sure you will be aware that certain restrictions are placed on what can be shown and when it can be shown. However, we do our very best to work within those guidelines and are pleased to advise you that, with effect from this Friday (the 24th February 2012), we will be partnering with the ‘Lively Dancers Troupe’ to provide a short evening Cultural show at our Pantai restaurant. In addition, we will (from time to time) be providing big-screen viewing of international certain sports events and (where allowed) movies - around the pool. The next one will be the F1 grand prix event in March 2012

Updates can be found either on our website or our Facebook page.

Thank you for recognizing our service staff- we train all staff to a standard and work consistently to make sure our brand of Asian hospitality is remembered, so it's encouraging to read your comments on Michaela

Thank you very much for your patronage and we hope to see you again at The Empire Hotel and Country Club!

Best Regards,

Desmond Acheson
General Manager
The Empire Hotel and Country Club

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Reviewed 29 December 2011

This hotel is grand, beautiful and a waste. It's boring, slow service, no entertainment, nothing going on. 'Housekeeping is below average. The huge lagoon pool is apparently being revnovated with no sign of work. Nothing on the website or around the hotel tells you that this main attraction is out of order which is very disappointing. The buffet is very average. So much potential, but deserted and unexciting. Considering its distance from town, don't bother!

Room Tip: ask for a deluxe seaview
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  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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2  Thank Travellingchick2401
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 December 2011

The Empire Hotel is a very unusual hotel. It has been built at vast expense and is quite luxurious. The hotel has several wings, mostly a short walk from the main hotel and lobby. Otherwise you can take an electric golf buggy to travel round the various parts of the hotel.

The conference centre, in the grounds of the hotel has been used for APEC, ASEAN and CHOGM meetings.

The hotel is full of marble and gold trimmings, but it's not very stylish. The rooms are large and very comfortable but looking quite dated in terms of furnishings and decor.

There is free wifi internet in the lobbies in the main building and the cafe. But in the room, it's $30 per day, per device, so would have cost me $90 a day for my laptop, ipad and iphone. Not worth it, as the rooms are not that cheap anyway.

Food is reasonably good, but more expensive than you will find downtown.

There are a number of other buildings in the grounds. A very good movie theatre, that has the latest movies. I saw the Adventures of Tin Tin, a couple of months before it came out in most countries. Very comfortable cinemas, but quite chilly aircon. There is a great gym as well and lots of nice swimming pools.

Its about $35 in a taxi or hotel car from the airport or to downtown. But you can catch a bus for just $1 to the downtown bus station. Check the times at the transport desk.

If you are staying in Brunei for a night or two, perhaps in transit on Royal Air Brunei, then this is a good choice. There is enough to keep you busy at the hotel for a few days. I booked a hotel car to meet my flight at the airport.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled on business
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1  Thank Oft_travelled
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 December 2011

Let’s get a few things covered right off the bat: Brunei is a small country; it isn’t necessarily a top tourist destination for people trekin’ around Southeast Asia, and there really isn’t any other luxurious place to stay in the country besides Empire.

That being said, while Empire is the nicest place to stay in the country in my opinion, it does have some deficiencies that are worth pointing out. For the most part, it is a good resort but it has some catching up to do.

Let’s start with the good: The resort is well planned out and in a beautiful sea-side setting. The grounds are beautifully maintained, and the staff (particularly the tour desk) is incredibly helpful and friendly. Everyone you meet in Brunei is this way; extremely kind and helpful and always smiling. I did find their concierge/bellman a bit ‘out-of-it’ when I arrived – there wasn’t anyone there to readily accept the luggage or get the door of the car. I’m not picky about this sort of thing but you sort of expect to have this sort of thing happen the moment the car pulls up for this type of resort. I was pleasantly surprised when I was “upgraded” at check-in to a sea facing room by the check-in staff. So first impressions were for the most part good.

The resort is also very very clean. Room was spacious, immaculately clean with the exception of some of the lampshades and curtains which had normal wear and tear and some stains on them that I noticed the last day when I was leaving. I also had some cookies, chocolates and cakes in the room when I arrived which was nice - until the cleaning crew cleared the cookie plate after only eating 1 of them on day 1! Bathrooms are HUGE, and the shower had great water pressure – I love places like this.

The resort also has a number of swimming pools which are good, and the resort is smoke-free (indoors at least, I think) which is great for non-smokers like me. The lobby is really quite a sight and impressive with its gold plated trimmings and Italian marble design that you really see when you walk in. It must have cost a small fortune just to deck out the lobby – you could tell that they put a lot of attention to detail into making this place. It really is quite impressive and stunning.

And while this really doesn’t fall under the control of the resort and Mother Nature decides this, the sunsets both nights were amazing; some of the more beautiful sunsets I have ever seen before with the sky ablaze with red, orange and yellow hues reflecting off patches of storm clouds in the distance.

The resort is also connected to downtown Bandar Seri Begawan by bus which is nice. The town is worth exploring; it is sleepy, quiet and there really isn’t much to do but it is still worth checking out. The bus cost $1 each way and you need to organize it ahead of time as to which bus timing you want (only a handful of times to choose from) but compared to what a cab costs, this is definitely worth it. Getting back to the empire is a bit tricky though as the buses don’t depart at scheduled times or intervals from downtown as I found out. I asked when they depart from Bandar Seri Begawan and they go “whenever, last bus at 5:30!” Either way, even if you have to taxi it back the bus saves a ton of money. Going back, they also give you a bit of a tour of the residential neighborhoods of Brunei dropping people off.

Now to the stuff that isn’t so great; there are a few major things where the resort is in dire need of help. One is the design; it is terribly dated in its décor – this place would have been even more amazing at the turn of the millennium as a lot of it looks like it would fit perfectly in a late 1990’s sort of setting as that is the style of most everything in the resort and it looks like it hasn’t been majorly upgraded in the last decade or so. There are resorts that are “timeless” and look great no matter how old they are or how old they get – this isn’t one of them in my opinion. The good news is it looks like they are going to go through a major refurbishment and redesign of the rooms very soon so that should take care of the ‘updating’ of the look and they had some details of this on display in the lobby – it looked nice.

The biggest problem I think this place has though is the food; it can best be described as sub-par to horrible for what they charge and of all the resorts I have been to over the years, the food here was some of the worst that I have eaten.

I ate at Pantai Grill the first night and did the buffet. It was average – lots of the food lacked proper seasoning (with the exception of the lamb which was tasty) and the beef they were slicing was woefully dried out and didn’t even taste like beef or even fresh for that matter. I left thinking to myself “I just spent nearly $60 for that meal?!”

The next day, I slept in and missed breakfast, so I did lunch at the Atrium Café. I ordered some chicken dish with some spinach, polenta cake and a balsamic reduction (or glaze or whatever) as the main ingredients. Chicken was cooked to perfection but everything else on the plate with the exception of the balsamic was terrible. The spinach didn’t taste fresh and was inedible and the polenta cake lacked proper moisture and was awfully dried out. They both tasted like they were not fresh and made days before and I was just getting the leftovers. Definitely not worth the price I paid AT ALL. Should have had the Caesar Salad!
I ate at Spaghettini on my final night. It’s nothing great, but the prices are reasonable for the “fine dining” experience and this will be your best bet for food at the resort – stick to this restaurant for dinner as much as possible. It ultimately disappointed as it just tries too hard in my opinion to raise the culinary bar; A for effort, D for execution! The service also was a bit of a problem as on two occasions they brought me someone else’s food. Doh!
Finally ate breakfast the next morning and that was good – kinda hard to screw up eggs, bread and fruit juice though.

Ultimately, this is an ok place and it will get much better once they update the rooms. The golf is also supposed to be fantastic although there was a tournament going on and I didn’t get to check out the course. Once they get the rooms updated and solve their problem with the food, then I will definitely consider returning. Until then, I think given the price you pay, I would rather have gone to Phuket or Bali.

All-in-all, it’s not bad – but it needs some time to redevelop, mature and improve on the food quality. I’ll come back eventually, once the refurbishments are done and the food quality improves.

Room Tip: Try to stay in the main building, I think you get better views of the ocean from the main building v...
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  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled solo
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2  Thank SQ452
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Empire Hotel & Country Club

Address: Kampong Jerudong BG3122, Brunei Darussalam
Phone Number:
Region: Brunei Darussalam > Brunei-Muara District > Kampong Jerudong
Amenities:
Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Kampong Jerudong
Price Range: RM768 - RM1,135 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The Empire Hotel & Country Club 5*
Number of rooms: 518
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located on the north eastern tip of Borneo on the doorstep of one of Asia's oldest rainforests, The Empire Hotel & Country Club is Brunei’s most prestigious beach resort offering unsurpassed 5-star luxury.This palatial resort hotel, which astounds visitors with its spectacular 12 storey marble and gold lobby, is set in its own private 180-hectare (445 acres) estate of manicured gardens and an 18-hole, floodlit Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and Country Club. Each of the hotel’s 522 opulently appointed guest rooms, suites and private villas has a view of the ocean, lagoon, gardens or golf course, while standard throughout the hotel are Imperial king-sized beds made with the finest linens, and over-sized marble bathrooms with walk-in shower, deep soaking tub with gold taps and luxury amenities. The Empire Hotel & Country Club also extends the kingdom’s regal hospitality with an impressive range of international restaurants, spa, world-class golf and sporting activities, and international meeting facilities for top level MICE gatherings, making it a resort ideal for family, romantic or business vacations. The Empire Hotel & Country Club is a member of WORLDHOTELS and recipient of numerous prestigious international awards. ... more   less 
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The Empire Hotel And Country Club
Empire Hotel Brunei

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