Day 164 in Beijing: The Grand Paragon.

We did a lot of searching for hotels in Johor Bahru.

Although only a 5 minute (without traffic) bus ride from the island of Singapore, it is worlds away.

The hotels, in general, are not on par with the Singapore hotels.

They are also a lot less expensive than the Singapore hotels.

That is one of the reasons we decided to stay in Johor.

We knew that our money would go further and we wanted to be part of a very different cultural scene since Singapore is more Western.

We got exactly what we wanted.

The Grand Paragon was a very nice hotel on the top of a small rise in JB.

It overlooked a lot of the city and, from our room, you could see over to Singapore.  From the pool you could see far into the countryside on the opposite side of the hotel.

The room was a little small but that was fine for us.  We were more than happy with it and we didn’t plan on spending a lot of time there.

The food was quite good.  There was a buffet breakfast included each morning. It consisted of rotating selections of Western and Malaysian food so we were able to sample some of the local food each morning and get an idea of what else we’d like to eat when we were out and about.

We also had views of the construction going on around Johor.  Johor is on the path to being a major business, and possibly vacation, destination soon.  They are going to be part of a free-trade agreement with Singapore and Indonesia in the near future and they are building a train that will go directly to Singapore by 2018.  This means that people are starting to buy up land, build hi rises, and everything else that comes with that kind of advancement.

Luckily, they haven’t torn down the gorgeous temples, mosques and other landmarks that will keep people coming back and give Johor it’s own special feel and not just a boring commercial destination.

The Grand Paragon seems to do an excellent job of balancing the new and the old.

The best of the The Grand Paragon was, without question, the hospitality of the staff.

We had every single need met, no matter what time of the day, and always with a smile and very welcoming attitude.  The staff remembered us very quickly and often went out of their way to help us out or give us suggestions.

A perfect example of this was one of the breakfast buffet managers.  His name was Moho Farez and he noticed, very quickly, that Jill likes having coffee in the morning.  On the third day, just as we walked in, he smiled, waved to us, and disappeared.

We took our plates and put together our food and then went to sit down.  By the time we had reached our seats, there were two cups of Americano sitting on our place mats.  He did this every morning until we left and was there, whenever we needed anything, without hovering over us.  It was a total joy and his beautiful smile made our mornings brighter every time we saw him.

The other staff we met were just as friendly, helpful and, as far as I can remember, every time we saw them, they had smiles on their faces.

 

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