review | steigenberger 5* resorts | egypt - lavishness, fit for the pharaohs.
revel in the royal treatment
egypt, the northeast african country that dates back to the time of the pharaohs has been hit hard by the pandemic but with innovative schemes such as the loosening of visa restrictions on many countries & a successful vaccination program for hospitality workers the return of tourists has started to trickle in. millennia-old monuments sit along the fertile nile river valley, including giza's colossal pyramids & the great sphinx as well as luxor's hieroglyph-lined karnak temple & the valley of the kings' tombs.
i sincerely believe that egypt will once again welcome back the droves of tourists that once frequented this magical country.
my foray to egypt was a little different this time. as i have already visited the ancient sights of cairo a few years ago i felt the coast of the red sea was calling me for a little rest & recuperation, albeit with a brief jaunt to the capital of the pharaohs, luxor.
while this trip took me from sharm el sheik to soma bay, located on the red sea & finally on to luxor i had the privilege to stay exclusively with what is regarded as the finest 5* resort group in the country, steigenberger hotels & resorts.
steigenberger alcazar - sharm el sheik
a triumph of a resort, i truly believe this must be one of the finest luxury resorts in the world. from the moment i arrived, i had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming the sheer scale of this resort is epic in both size & service. i felt like a small child, giddy with excitement as i explored all that this resort had to offer.
i stayed in room 6025, the royal suite. it was one of the finest resort rooms i have ever stayed in, more of an apartment than a room. with its separate living & dining area, cozy bedroom, gigantic bathroom with jacuzzi & a terrace with your own private pool, it really is fit for royalty.
on arrival to the suite, i was greeted with a fruit basket, amazing selection of nuts, chocolate & pastries along with a complimentary mini-bar stocked to the brim with all the drinks one could need included in the all-inclusive package.
the resort is absolutely vast, that’s why they provide an electric buggy service to ferry you around the property. from the lobby & 24h marha bar you make your way past the three main pools that are flanked with rooms to the beach & shallow waters beyond that are perfect for water sports & snorkeling. you’ll find a sports area with gym & tennis courts along with a spa where access to the jacuzzis is complementary.
a world of choice awaits here, this is not your ordinary all-inclusive as they have many a la carte restaurants that you can book for your evening meal. from japanese to middle eastern, seafood & Italian you're sure to find a cuisine that you’ll love. one of my favorite meals was lunch served at sanafir beach bar overlooking the turquoise waters of the red sea.
the opulently gilded marha 24-hour bar makes a killer margarita for those nights when waking up early is only optional.
it's all about the water sports here from kite surfing to scuba & boat trips your days can be filled with adrenline if relaxation is not your thing. if you're traveling with kids then the animation team are on hand to keep them occupied with activities throughout the day. to work off all the calories of the sublime cusine, fitness classes happen everyday. those who are a little more competitive can get out onto center court with the free to use tennis courts.
less than 20 mins from the airport, i arrived in style with their mercedes limo transfer service. the sea is super shallow for hundreds of meters out making it super safe for swimmers of all abilities.
steigenberger achti - luxor
set on the banks of the nile, this hotel feels like you are stepping into another world. many a novel have been written about this wonderful life-giver, giving it such a sense of mysticism where you can't help but be taken aback by the sheer beauty. in the past royalty have called this place home as it is by far the finest hotel in town.
i stayed in the enormous junior suite on the second floor. with a separate living room, master bedroom, vast bathroom & a private terrace that spans the length of the suite with stunning views of the nile, especially at sunset. genuinely it was the size of an apartment in europe.
the central focus point is undoubtedly the pool & terrace area set right on the banks of the river. a wonderful place not only to gain a little respite from the searing heat of the sun as the breeze from the nile gently cools but a place to unwind in pure tranquilly while enjoying the sight of the felucca's (small sailboats) that glide along the glass-like surface of the nile, especially during golden hour.
breakfast, lunch & dinner are all served at the main restaurant, the food was exquisite, in fact they grow their own vegetables in the hotel garden. from seafood to local dishes i never had a bad meal, all the dishes were delicious. if you're seeking something special then the romantic meal onboard a felucca with your private chef is truly a unique experience that one would never forget.
my first morning saw me rise at 4am for a magical hot air balloon trip at sunrise over the valley of the kings.
luxor is described as a vast open-air museum & i can tell you from experience it is very true. from karnak to luxor temple the sheer ingenuity of the temples are tombs are absolutely awe-inspiring. a walk along the promenade in the evening is a great way to meet locals while taking in the sights of city.
set on the banks of the nile away from the busy downtown, the resort is a picture of tranquility. security at the gates & jetty make this a very private resort only a short ride from the airport.
steigenberger ras soma - red sea
opened earlier this year (2021) with much anticipation, the uniqueness & quality of the resort is truly astounding. as soon as you arrive at the grand lobby it positively takes your breath away, from the vast panoramic windows with views over the pools & beyond to the decor you cannot help but be inspired by the design & character of this modern monolith.
well, more of a mini estate than a room. i stayed in the two-bedroom villa a stone's throw from the sea. the villa was equipped with a large lounge, outdoor/indoor dining table, 2 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms equipped with jacuzzi baths & outdoor showers. the focal point of the villa was the vast terrace with a private swimming pool, day beds & an outdoor seating area. it even comes with its very own butler. i can honestly say that this is the finest accommodation i have had the privilege to stay in.
the resort is boundless in every way from the atrium to the safari bar, main restaurant, multiple a la carte restaurants, then we come to the three pools. one exclusively for adults with a swim-up bar & two more heading down to the beach. the beach area has its own restaurant, spa & cabanas that look out over the turquoise waters of the bay where countless kite surfers zoom along in the shallow waters.
a seemingly endless number of restaurants are there to tempt you, from the main buffet restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch & dinner to the many a la carte restaurants that are bookable for evening meals. from japanese to middle eastern & seafood you are truly spoilt for choice. the safari bar is the central evening hub where the evenings' entertainment takes place. be sure to try one of their signature cocktails, i loved their passionfruit mojitos.
water sports are king here from kite surfing to boat trips, boredom is never an issue. the nightly entertainment was always super popular with all the guests, from belly dancers to singers everyone can get involved. you'll also find a great gym with fabulous views over the pools. the spa is conveniently located on the beach for those times when a massage is needed to melt away the stress of modern life.
harbored on the turquoise shores of the red sea with the mountains to the west, this area is of truely outstanding natural beauty & only 40mins from hurghada airport.
i honestly cannot fault any of the resorts that i stayed in on my trip around this wonderful country. i was treated like a king though-out my stay at all the properties, the staff really made it extra special as they went above & beyond in curating experiences for me & the fact they they remember your name is truly a touch of excellence.
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country travel tips
atm: most banks offer withdrawals for ($3). don't accept the on-screen conversion.
sim card: vodafone. 5GB is ($15) for 30 days. got an e-sim enabled phone, try airalo.
transport: hotel transfers & tours companies are the safest.
taxi: uber? use promo: carlm5078ue for free ride.
accommodation: get ($20) off your first booking.com reservation here