Africa

Luxurious Egypt

written by | Posted on October 1st, 2011

The Egyptian Museum, of course, situated next to “Freedom Square,” is still a must-see for every visitor to Cairo, with its extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities. Freedom Square, by the way, is actually a multi-block area where as many as one million demonstrators this year defied the regime and eventually brought it to its knees. It has now become a popular Friday night gathering spot for families more intent on socializing than politicking. Rami Girgis, product manager, Middle East, Abercrombie & Kent, says he recently visited Freedom Square with his family and had a wonderful time late into the evening, free of security fears.

hurghada This once sleepy little fishing village has developed into one of the largest resort regions on the Red Sea with literally mile after mile of charming and elegant beach resorts ranging from one- to five-star properties. What sets this apart from nearby Sharm el Sheikh—its nearby and admittedly more well-known neighbor—is a much larger old town, alive with traditional shops and markets. While it’s popular with European vacationers, it’s definitely a place North Americans should keep their eye on as a pre- or post-stay on their Egyptian vacation. Day trips to Luxor are popular and frequent and short flights to or from Abu Simbel or Aswan are also easy to arrange.

During our stay, we spent two nights at the Hurghada Marriott Beach Resort, a sprawling 283-room—including 14 suites—resort with breathtaking views of the Red Sea from spacious patios. This is the kind of resort where you can do nothing at all or all sorts of activities, ranging from watersports, desert safaris, fishing and diving, to laid-back spa offerings and sightseeing tours including a Red Sea submarine excursion for those who don’t want to get their feet wet. Six onsite restaurants and bars offer everything from Italian Tuscan dining, to seafood and casual fare by the pool. The main restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet-style with an intriguing and delicious assortment of food that includes Egyptian selections, all of which are absolutely delicious. The rooms themselves all guarantee sea views with quality bath amenities and Marriott beds, guaranteed to give your clients a great night’s sleep. Nearby attractions include the National Park of Giftun Island, an eco-tourism haven bordered by beautiful blue water and lush, sandy beaches. Guests will also love that there are dozens of nearby clubs and restaurants. It’s a good value choice and the overall venue is definitely on the deluxe level.

On the “definitely, no doubt about it” five-star level, we toured the Steigenberger Al Dau Beach Hotel, which, like Hurghada itself, is an overlooked vacation jewel in the North American marketplace. This 372-room beauty with 246 of them available as part of its All-Inclusive Club, is a study in understated elegance. The rooms are spacious with 93 percent of them offering sea views with sitting areas and free WiFi, unusual here with most hotels only offering pricey Internet service. Bathrooms have separate tub and rain showers with quality bath amenities. One particular outstanding feature is the presidential suite, an enormous multi-level offering with its own gym, spa/massage area, private pool, two bedrooms and huge living room. This is the right time to run for president in Egypt, just to get a crack at this beauty.

On site there’s a 9-hole golf course lined by villas—the golf is free for guests, by the way—one of the largest pools in the area that includes a lazy river for tubing, waterfalls and a separate indoor/outdoor salt water pool that includes a jacuzzi park. Needless to say, the land that includes all these goodies is enormous, all of it beautifully landscaped, leading to a large sandy beach with a romantic, exclusive dining venue called the Dunes Bistro and Bar, one of five gourmet restaurants on the property. There’s also the Ilios Dive Club & Aqua Center with a private marina and two private dive boats, as well as an enormous certified Thalasso Spa Center with 10 treatment rooms and a large Turkish hamman. This property is truly a five-star offering high-end travelers will love.

luxor This is the home of Egypt’s ancient kings and queens, with many of Egypt’s most famous and popular attractions. It’s here where you’ll find Karnak, a breathtaking temple complex where generation after generation of ancient pharaohs built monuments to themselves and their gods, where Romans made their mark and even Alexander The Great once trod. Here, early Christians hid from their Roman pursuers and an 800-year-old mosque still stands among the pagan ruins. Here, too, begins the road of the Sphinx, still guarding the way to the Temple of Luxor, home of the secondary wives.