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Holidays in Egypt 2013

 

Hotel “Sheraton Soma Bay Resort”, Soma Bay, Safaga   (05.06. - 19.06.2013)

 

Hotel

- The architecture of this hotel is clearly influenced by the Temple of Karnak in Luxor.
Even the driveway and the avenue to the hotel, lined with large stone figures, bears witness to it. Likewise, the main building and the main hall with its huge pillars. In niches of the two side wings, there are two huge stone statues (probably Pharaohs), ranging over two floors.
This style is also reflected in the pool area, where present oneself two large sphinxes and four columns. All in all a very impressive place.

- Only one ATM (debit or credit card) outputs in the lobby, the pound notes. Currency exchange of large banknotes into small is difficult or impossible (barely cash at the reception). Who repeatedly distributed gratuities on the day, as we did, likes to have 10-Pound notes in your pocket for it. So a money exchange is advised at the airport. This could be improved by the hotel management.

- No typical colored Tourist bracelets. Instead, the guest has to sign a receipt as soon as the servants serve an AI-drink (eg. during the day at the bars) or an AI-meal (lunch at the "Copper Crescent Restaurant ") - for AI guests so-called "zero receipts ". At the beginning, one or the other may find it annoying, but it has quickly become accustomed. And we take gladly accept, if we don’t have to wear any colorful " Dog Tags ". *****

- Very family friendly, suitable for wheelchair users. *****

- The dealing with children by the staff, as far as we could observe, is always very friendly. To a potentially provided child care we can‘t make any statement, because we haven‘t paid attention. Wheelchairs have no problem to get everywhere at this hotel. All stairs outdoors have additional ramps, and indoors there is an elevator.

- Maybe the hotel facility is a little aged through the years, but it is well maintained and clean. Every day you can see the hard-working staff at watering and defoliation of the park, the pools are cleaned daily and also the beach area.
Because in our Travel period strong wind prevailed, it was of course impossible to avoid that repeatedly landed foliage in the pools.
This is not a criticism to us because no one can really avoid it, no matter how many stars the hotel has.

- Also, no complaint are the small flocks of birds (15-20) at the outdoor dining. There are probably finches or sparrows (or similar).
This we are encountered in any hotel that we visited. And that can not really avoid, especially when fed outdoors. Of course, they land on the (empty) tables and forage or tear napkins to bits. And of course you could scare them away, but that would be an employee continuously employed - as long as the buffet takes (breakfast 6:30 to 11:00). So we accept these small predators, because it is better than constantly scurrying servants between the tables.

- Internet access in the room is clearly too expensive at 19 € per day. Who has been sitting all day on the computer when he is on vacation? – It’s better to buy 1 hours for 3 € at the reception and use it on one of three computers in the lobby. This is entirely sufficient to check my emails or make a short visit on facebook.

- The nationalities represented are mixed, we found the Italian and local guests as dominant, because because they are more noticed -
at meals, the pool and the beach. They lifted although from the crowd, but had not disturbing.

- In the whole hotel area never ar the impression of a typical mass tourism. It seems more like a big family. This is always ensured by the friendly and courteous staff - especially the lower ranks. *****


Location

- The area of ​​the so-called "Soma Bay" is a sealed-off area. It consists of the five hotels "Robinson Club", "Kempinski", "La Résindence des Cascades", "The Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge" and the " Sheraton " (see also Somabay.com).
In addition to these hotels in the future will be build two sites with "Bay Villas", a "Six Star Hotel & Resort Housing" and another 5-star hotel located between the Sheraton and the Robinson Club.

- Due to the remoteness of this whole area, the shopping opportunities are extremely limited.

- Next shopping opportunity in the Marina (located next to the Kempinski), and accessible by a regular open shuttle from the "Breakers" from, passing the "Sheraton" and "Robinson". He commutes daily between 14 to 17 pm every 10-15 minutes. Who wants to go to the marina, need not necessarily run to the Breakers to board the shuttle. It is quite sufficient to signal him on his way by show of hands that you would like to share a ride. At the marina you will find the usual souvenir and clothing shops - nothing more.

- Another shopping opportunity offers the Senzo Mall. For 15 € per person you get there and back and then have two hours to do your shopping. Here's a very well-stocked supermarket ("Spinney 's") various clothing shops with real (and expensive) brand products, bars and restaurants, a bank, also very well-stocked pharmacy, a Vodafone shop and further various shops.
For shopping, a real gem, where two hours may are not enough.

- The third option for shopping is a trip to Hurghada offered in all the hotels. The price is 25 € per person to go there and back and is even more expensive.
- The fourth and final option would be a trip to Safaga. The price is almost prohibitive. The cost is 25 € per person there, and 25 € per person back. So two persons pay 100 € for a single ride [ (2 x 25 €) x 2 ].

- The drive times given are only "approximate" The drive times given are only "approximate" because these times are deceeded in most cases. In the Senzo mall for example we were in less than half an hour.
But not the hotel staff are responsible for the seclusion of the entire Soma Bay area, but rather the builder or operator. They would have to make obvious shopping opportunities during the planning of the areals. The shops in the marina are not sufficient in our opinion, by far..


Gastronomy

" L' Abydos Brasserie Restaurant " (Main restaurant) ******

Breakfast buffet:

- Plenty of freshly squeezed orange juice, grapefruit juice, water and honey melons, grapes, plums, kiwis, peaches and other fruits. Although we have not counted, but at least three times a week there was even strawberries for breakfast. And that we have experienced in no other hotel. *****

- A small selection of hot dishes and a large counter with desserts such as cakes and buns.

- Always pancakes, omelets, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, boiled eggs and the possibility to cook the breakfast eggs for themselves.

- Spreads like Nutella and jam.

- Large variety of cereals, fresh filter coffee and tea, a toaster for self-toasting.

- A large Nescafe machine offers espresso, latte macchiato, cappuccino, among other things.

- Choice of yogurt and fruit separately in order to prepare your own yogurt.

- On the breakfast table is a daily "newsletter" in which a weather forecast for the current and the following day is printed. In addition, here are details about the daily evening program, gym, water sports activities, excursions and more.

- The mentioned filter coffee and tea are served by a staff member at the table and sometimes topped up so fast that a cup has little opportunity to be empty. *****


Dinner:

- A changing themed buffet at 10-day intervals.

- In a small outdoor dining area, there is every evening Grilled.

- Large salad buffet. In addition, at a separate counter the guest can put together his salad from a wide selection of ingredients (lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, sausage, cheese, etc.) and dressings themselves.

- always ice for Large and Small (strawberry, mango, chocolate and vanilla) with 4 sauces of your choice.

"Copper Crescent Restaurant " (barbecue restaurant) *****

- Opulent menu (pizzas, pastas, meat dishes, fish dishes, salads, ice cream, drinks, etc.)

- Generous portions (eg burgers are larger than the largest of McDonalds or Burger King)

- Delicious, all freshly prepared

"Sea Breeze Bar " (beach bar) *****

- Drinks are served on the beach - right on the beach chair. *****
There is a small colored flags, which can be pulled up by rope at each beach umbrella. This is a signal for the beach stuff that the guest wants something to drink. A staff appears shortly afterwards and ask for the wishes. However, you should give the people a bit time, because after all, the beach area is quite extensive and it can ever take a little longer, until the flag is perceived.. So not "disengage" or annoyed respond ;-). The service certainly works well.

- All-inclusive drinks include only LOCAL alcoholic drinks (beer, wine, etc.), but these are not mentioned exactly with the exception of beer. Imported alcoholic drinks have to be paid extra (cocktails such as "Bloody Mary" or mixed drinks such as "Cuba Libre", Whiskey, Rum, Vodka etc.) eg 65 L. E. (about 9 €). It is unapparent for the guest, which drinks belong to the all-inclusive offer and what must be paid. **
However, this has a positive result, "queueing", drinking bout and raucous Alkis absolutely inevitable! *****

- The All-inclusive plan also does not include exotic canned drinks, such as "Red Bull", which is to get here, too. The box costs 35 L. E. (about 4 €).


Sports and Entertainment

- On the first day at the beach, we found that the "early birds" who reserve the beach chairs in the early morning are not as numerous as we had originally suspected. Of course they are here, but they are apparently held in check by the hotel. Because even after breakfast and later the day there are ALWAYS free beach chairs to find. Maybe not in the first row, but somewhere else. And even in the first row, we find empty beach chairs in the late morning. We could sleep comfortably every day, have relish and extensively breakfast and then stroll to the beach. We were always sure that there a free beach chairs waiting for us. By the way, 3 (!) Chairs and a windbreak belong to any umbrella ****.

The beach towels are issued from 8 am. There are no towel cards, it is sufficient to indicate the room number, sometimes it does not even need this, and they can be replaced at any time with fresh ones. It is like a very informal circuit. *****
The pools and beach are thoroughly cleaned every morning after sunrise, the toilets every 30 minutes. *****

- What is also noticed us extremely well, is the lack of beach sellers who want to bring any excursions, massages or other to the man/woman. PERFECT! *****
The beach area is indeed concreted over large areas and sprinkled with a relatively thin layer of sand (could even be piled higher), but the five to six meters (from the first screen row) to the water line are deep and fine sand. And fishes come up in ankle-deep water.

- There is also a lack of annoying beach animation (" doodle-doo... get up... etc. ") ***** with loud music. Of course there is also an entertainment program (bocce, soccer, volleyball, etc.), but this happens so cautious that we hardly noticed something from it. At the beach the guest has really peace. *****

- In the "Boat House", belonging to the hotel water sports center, the guest snorkeling equipment (fins, mask, snorkel) can borrow for free each day. Daily 1 hour of free windsurfing and sailing are among the AI services. That makes 14 hours in a 14-day stay. One or the other vacationers can learn a lot there.. *****

- The evening entertainment at the hotel stage could in our opinion be further strengthened because they all repeated three to four days (belly dancing, entertainers, Dervish). But this does not mean that they were not good. It is quite an eyes- and ears candy to watch or listen to the dancers and singers. But after the second time we did not need it anymore.

- The complex has a gym, a massage area, (cutting hair, shaving, dreadlocks, henna tattoos etc.), a beauty shop and two pools for small children (a 25 cm deep, the other one is a little lower), with adjoining small playground (with climbing frames).

Rooms

- The furnishing of the rooms (ours was 1226) is lush, with lots of storage space. A two-piece wardrobe with three drawers, shelves and an electronic safe, next to a sideboard with mini bar, glasses, bottle opener and snacks (tacos, 'Bake Rolz " etc.), a double bed with two bedside tables, a large sideboard with 6 drawers and a center compartment, TV with 4 German channels (ARD, ZDF, RTL and RTL 2),
a double bed, a coffee table and an armchair. On the balcony there are two chairs and a small side table. In addition to the wardrobe (and above the sideboard with mini bar) there is a large mirror on the opposite wall, a full length mirror. The air conditioning can be set free on three levels and temperature controller.

- No room key with chunky pendants, but 2 magnetic cards in credit card format - PERFECT! *****

- No toilet brushes in the room. These must be specifically requested and should actually default stand next to the toilet

- Unlimited use of the minibar in All-Inclusive (refilled daily) *****

2x water (bottles 0.33 l),
2x Coca Cola (bottle 0.3 l),
2x Coca Cola Light (cans 0,33),
2x Sprite (bottle 0.3 l),
1x Fanta (0.33 l can)
2x beer (Luxor (0.33 l can) and Heineken (bottle 0,33 l)),
1x Schweppes (0.3 liter bottle)
1x tomato juice (bottle 0,25 l)
2x orange nectar (mini- tetra pack)
2x apple nectar (mini- tetra pack)
1x pineapple nectar (mini- tetra pack)
2 bags of mixed nuts (cashews and pistachios)
and various chocolate bars such as Mars, Twix, among others

- An electric kettle and a daily refilled selection of coffee (instant powder with and without caffeine), tea and sugar (white and brown). *****

- The rooms are clean, cleaned daily and the towels (14 pieces in different sizes) even changed twice a day (morning and evening) –
a compliment and a big thank you to the housekeeping team (especially to Mohamed on evening room service) *****

And if the laundry service can be slow in coming, the nice man from the housekeeping has no problem to call the laundry - and hey presto, the cleaned garments are there. (although in such a case actually the reception / guest relations would be responsible). *****

- Bathroom with hair dryer, bidet, walk-in-shower with overhead and hand shower, 2 bathrobes, hot running water (also in the bidet), a huge mirror over the sink, a large round mirror on the wall to the right and a shaving mirror on the left from the sink. *****

- The sockets are not suitable for the plug of a laptop or blow dryer and some difficult to access.
While there is an adapter for the thick plugs (because of the electric kettle), but this is to be treated with caution ! An inserted plug is loose and easily falls out again. For example, if you dry your hair and the cable oft he hair dryer swings, the plug quickly falls out again - so always put one foot on the cable of the hair dryer. A remedy must be created here.


Service *****

- The service at this hotel is second to none. The best service we have ever experienced (8th holidays in Egypt). The staff was constantly trying to make our stay as pleasant as possible. Always friendly and helpful.
Unforgettable are the "recipes" of the stuff in the unfortunate ills of diarrhea, have to contend with the many Europeans in these latitudes. The specially prepared teas from them (eg. black tea with lemon) were very helpful. They tear up virtually from one leg to the guest. *****

- Towels (14 pieces in different sizes) are even exchanged twice a day - once in the morning with cleaning the room and once in the evening. *****

- In this hotel good knowledge of English are required (secondary school knowledge is sufficient).
In this language, the basic communication is active. And there you find also a few German speaking employees (including 1 or 2 at the reception), but those are rare. But we do not make the hotel a reproach. When I consider how many nationalities guesting in such a hotel,
 I can not expect that all these languages ​​are spoken by all employees.
In an internationally frequented hotel you have to specify a primary language, and that's just English as a world language. But we were pleasantly surprised when we discovered in the course of our stay, that one or the other employees is fairly well acquainted with the German language. *****

- The hotel has a resident physician with a small but well-equipped practice ("Clinic"). However, we recommend a visit only in real emergency or serious injury. a visit with treatment costs basically 60 €. Then there are the ointments used, wound dressings and / or associations, and any prescribed medications. Example: gash under the foot by a shell fragment. First visit with treatment (wound cleansing, disinfection and plaster) for 60 € and prescribed tablets € 33 (total € 93). Second visit with follow-up and new pavement
€ 60 + € 10 (total € 70).
In three follow-ups, all in all there are € 303 together. And the guest is of course in advance and has to report after the holiday to his/her
insurance for reimbursement. So be sure not to discard the bills.
That aside, the doctor is very knowledgeable and technically comparable with a German general practitioners. The guest is thus quite in good hands.


Beach and Pool

The first thing that struck us very positive, is the lack of beach vendors as well as the well-known from many tourist bunkers animation program. ***** No "doodle-doo... and so on", no "beach runners" who are trying to sell the tourists various tours. This was a new and very enjoyable experience for us. For our understanding this is a definitely plus for the hotel ! *****
Of course, the hotel also offers an entertainment program (bocce, soccer, volleyball, etc.), which takes place on the beach. However, this happens so inconspicuous, that we felt never bothered us on the beach.
And we can not even complain about constantly occupied in the early morning beach chairs. Of course, there was the same here, just in the "first row", even at 6 or 7 am. But at least during our stay we never had a problem at 10 am.
And by the staggered arrangement of the sunshades, it's hardly noticeable that you are "only" lying in the second row. Anyway, even after breakfast, we were more than once been able to find a free couch "in the front row".

Positive to notice is the fact that the toilets be cleaned every 30 minutes. *****


Tips

Excursions (all booked through the travel agency)

- "Island of Dreams" - boating, snorkeling 3 stops, island residence with swimming, fishing stop. Incl. Lunch, dinner and drinks.
This tour is not recommended.

First, this is due to the snorkel stops. An estimated 10-15 excursion boats moored close together and accordingly many people paddle
(some inconsiderate of others) in the water around.
This is not for inexperienced snorkelers. In those circumstances the quiet panic attacks can trigger. And even I, who consider myself as an experienced snorkeler (who is, depending on the location, up to two and a half hours continuously in the water) settling of the crowd and prefer to snorkel alone through the area. Further, the states stay on the island is similar to the snorkel stops: Crowds of tourists cavort in a separate area, that might arouse so many claustrophobia. No trace of romance. The place is called "Mahmya" (probably "Paradise Iceland" ?).


- "Dolphin House" - boating, snorkeling "The Red Sea and its inhabitants"
This tour is not recommended.

Of course we saw dolphins. But the tour was more like a hunt for these sea creatures. Five to six cruise ships cruising in an estimated 200x200m large area messed up tight and the "beater" try with signal horn and high-pitched whisteling the dolphins to lure to the sea surface. Of course, they cut the surface here or there, but that probably to get air, so it seems (No stars).

We did this tour combined with the speedboat ("water taxi"), which was the only positive aspect of this trip.
The nearly 30-minute drive was like a crazy ride on a running wild camel. No high wave was left out - and in the heavy swell at the open sea they were sometimes up to 2 meters high. The impact on the wave troughs was always hard as a rock. The trips by speedboat were just terrific. *****

- "Diving Tour" - Executive dipping station " Diving Ocean " at the Hotel " Prima Life " of Makadi Bay.

Highly recommended base (small but nice and with everything that goes with it) with very competent chef and just such guides (such as Andreas from Austria).

We really recommend a privat day trip to El Gouna booked at the tour operator, offered outside the program. In our case with "Schauinsland" for € 40 per person.
We were accompanied (family of 4 persons) only from a German-speaking guide of the tour operator and the driver, no one else  (no other guests). The bus we had to ourselves and it took us about 1 hour each way. The only major fixture was a nearly 1-hour boat tour of the lagoons of El Gouna (on a tourist boat with other guests). But that is not a must ! The rest of the stay (about four hours) was at our disposal. It did not matter whether we eat at a cafe ice cream, eating in a restaurant in the marina or downtown shopping, or simply wanted to just walking through the village - the guide was directed here quite to our liking and "paved" the way for us through the shops or eg. visits to restaurants. He also gave valuable tips when it comes to paying in the shops and also explanations about the life in El Gouna. It remained for us more than enough time to take pictures or videos. Because of our guides we paid for the purchase of 4 rods native cigarettes € 12 less. *****

We recommend prior to departure the conclusion of a foreign health insurance. You even get it for just € 10 per year. In the unlikely event something unexpected happen, you always will be on the safe side when it comes to reimbursement of expenses. For purchases (no matter what kind) always pay with local currency, never with Euros. The exchange rate is much cheaper then. We have for example, almost 12 euros saved on the purchase of 4 bars of local cigarettes (thanks to the advice of our guide to the El Gouna Tour).

We also recommend an Egyptian prepaid SIM card for your mobile phone. You get it on Ebay for 10-15 € (possibly with residual credit) for example. Thus, the cost for calls & SMS to Germany, as well as the online time for email, Facebook, What's App, etc. are very much cheaper than roaming a German SIM card. I used a card from Vodafone, but it is also possible to use a SIM from the Egyptian provider "etisalat". The Vodafone SIM can be easily recharged at the Vodafone shop in the Senzo Mall, or at any ATM machines in every store,
with the "Fawry" character. It is similar with the etisalat sim.
Accessibility/network coverage is as good as in Germany. However, you should be prepared that the provider/Info messages are in Arabic. From the numerical values ​​provided in the text, however, consumed units and the remaining balance can be easily discern. *****
- Of course it is also possible to make calls via the fixed network abroad via room phone, but we did not use it and therefore do not know the fees.

Finally, every tourist who has a sensitive stomach should get already in Germany or immediately upon arrival the drug "Antinal".  It is a broad-spectrum intestinal antiseptic in capsules, which is taken in diarrhea and gastroenteritis. It is the standard means of this kind of discomfort and costs eg. in the Senzo Mall 10 L. E. (about € 1.30). Medication: 4 pieces throughout the day. The very first time taking 2 pieces at a time.
Especially for us the "Guest Relations" has managed​​ to send a delivery man to Hurghada to get this medication - great service ! *****

Interesting information from Baher, our "medicine man" in the main restaurant:
Diarrhea is caused to 60% from the constant change of hot and cold (room floor and/or ongoing air conditioning) and 40% of the dietary change (European food preparation to indigenous food preparation). Of course also "Black tea with lemon" for relief were offered by the staff in the Main Restaurant, which we accepted of course.


Thanksgiving

At this point we would like to thank all the staff of the hotel ensure that they have allowed us such a pleasant experience. Our special thanks go to the crew of the "L' Abydos Brasserie Restaurant":

Baher (our nice "medicine man"), Rafaad, Wael Ibrahim, Mahmoud Ahmed, Yasser and all others whose name we forgot to record us.

In addition,a very big thank you to "Tom", the extremely nice photographer in the hotel, for a completely successful and professional photo session. The numerous photos that we were able to take home, have been taken from all viewers with great enthusiasm in inspection.



At least: I beg you not overly pay attention to my imperfect English, especially my punctuation.