Jamie Ndah heads to Egypt to discover the luxury, culture and sights in Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh is an Egyptian resort situated between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. Originally a little fishing village, Sharm el-Sheikh has developed into a well-equipped travel destination.
The town is well-known for its world-famous scuba-diving sites, snorkelling, long golden sandy beaches, clear waters, luxurious five star hotels, shopping, entertainment, and all year-round sunshine, thereby making it one of the most important resorts on the Red Sea.
I boarded the inaugural British Airways flight from London Gatwick to Sharm El Sheikh after the airline had returned to this popular tourist area after a four-year break. The comfort and quality within British Airways Club Europe is of the highest order, and the newly refurbished leather seats with moveable headrests were generous in space and legroom. Cabin interiors are comfortable, stylish and contemporary, and have been inspired by the elegance of the British Airways flagship Airbus A380s and Boeing 787s. The flight time to Sharm El Sheikh was approximately five and a half hours during which the British Airways cabin crew were brilliant and maintained their high levels of thoughtful and attentive service throughout.
We landed in Sharm El Sheikh to soaring temperatures of 38 degrees, and once I was able to adjust to the staggering Egyptian heat, I was certainly looking forward to this thrilling trip. Inside the airport, we received a sensational welcome from the Egyptian authorities that is usually afforded to VIPs, celebrities and dignitaries. There was a traditional Egyptian dance group who performed a captivating ensemble, a number of young children handing out flowers to signify our arrival, all of which was captured on Egyptian TV cameras, and several photographers were present too. It’s fair to say that my British Airways Club Europe experience had been sublime on this debut flight, and the Egyptian welcoming committee had been phenomenal. It was then that I knew my Sharm El Sheikh tour was going to be a special one.
I was staying at the Four Seasons Hotel Sharm El Sheikh courtesy of British Airways Holidays, and my transfer from the airport to the hotel was incredibly smooth and took approximately 15 minutes. The property overlooks the inviting waters of the Red Sea, and is an imperial, modern, thriving resort which is ideal for the single traveller, couples and families alike. Reminiscent of an Arabian palace, it features sweeping Moorish archways crowned with intricately carved grilles. Luxurious Four Seasons villas are spread in village-style clusters, commanding breath-taking sea or courtyard garden views.
This stunning 200 bedroom property paradise is also the home to approximately 1,800 palm trees (including date palms and fan-shaped Washington palms), colourful hibiscus and abundant bougainvillea surrounding villas and pools.
My bedroom was gorgeous, and came with a sea view and a private terrace, with elegant and calming interiors that combined modern amenities such as a BOSE entertainment system, and a divine king-sized bed, with super soft, and luxurious Egyptian cotton bathrobes and slippers for adults and children. A beautifully-designed marble bathroom with a deep soak tub and a separate shower, all equipped with L’Occitane toiletries, was a real treat. There was equally a well-stocked mini-bar, complimentary Wi-Fi, ironing facilities, satellite TV, air conditioning, a safe, as well as tea and coffee facilities.
The hotel has further plush amenities such as a 100 metre private beach, snorkelling off its jetty, four swimming pools, three tennis courts, football and basketball.
The Spa and Wellness Centre at Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh features 13 tranquil treatment rooms, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, including cardiovascular-training machines furnished with individual monitors and headsets. There’s also six stylish restaurants with cuisines ranging from Lebanese to Mediterranean, and for guests that wish to experience cocktails by candlelight, there is the graceful Observatory Lounge where the walls are lined with local paintings and appealing sculptures.
I also took the opportunity to venture outside of the Four Seasons Hotel Sharm El Sheikh and visit the lively Na’ama Bay. During the day, it offers the opportunity to browse the authentic Egyptian bazaars of the old market. However, by night, Na’ama Bay transforms into a thriving nocturnal scene with its abundance of bars, restaurants and shisha cafés.
For visitors wishing to explore further afield, I would recommend taking one of the many excursions out to sea. I went on an enchanting glass bottom boat trip which was an opportunity to really discover the Red Sea’s underwater world without getting wet on this distinctive tour. I was able to gaze at the dazzling coral reefs and spot an amazing array of marine life while cruising from Na’ama Bay to the Near Garden and Far Garden. This was a truly memorable experience.
In the evening, I was treated to a superb dinner at the accomplished L’Entrecote Steak House in the popular area of Soho Square which has many bars and restaurants to choose from for evening entertainment. This classic French-themed eatery has some of the finest beef imported from America, Australia and Japan, and is cooked on an open grill to your liking. I really enjoyed my Australian steak, which was well prepared and nicely presented.
My exploration of the area continued, and my next stop was the Tiran Island for some fun snorkeling which was a real standout experience. The Tiran Island is located at the southern end of the Gulf of Aqaba, which is 2,000 metres deep, but here, the Gulf narrows and becomes shallower. I got the opportunity to spend an entire day of relaxing, swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing around the protected white sandy Tiran Island. I plunged into the crystal clear waters and snorkeled in the sapphire-coloured lagoon where I spotted a dazzling array of tropical fish around the coral reefs.
Three snorkeling stops were made during the day, and our supreme local guides were on hand to escort the group around the reefs. However, if snorkeling is not for you, then you can easily stretch out on the sun-drenched deck, unwind and enjoy the glorious Egyptian sunshine. There was also a substantial buffet lunch on offer which was served on the boat with lots of refreshments and drinks throughout the day.
My final dinner of the trip was courtesy of the tremendous Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh which was located at their Thai themed Sala Thai which is a distinguished and refined restaurant that overlooks the Red Sea with a glittering two-level terrace, and serves the best Thai in Sharm El Sheikh.
In summary, there is something for everyone at Sharm El Sheikh, whether you want a luxury stay to enjoy the finer things the destination has to offer, a cultural break spent soaking up the sights, a family holiday filled with beach fun, days packed with action and adventure, or even nights hopping between the buzzing bars. The choice of things to do in Sharm El Sheikh will certainly tick every box.
The Four Seasons Hotel Sharm El Sheikh is a spectacular luxury hotel run by extraordinary people who are all warm, kind and so welcoming. The staff at the Four Seasons Hotel Sharm El Sheikh are not just a first rate team, but are a real family group who persevere and strive to the highest level to ensure each and every guest has a truly remarkable stay.
I am really looking forward to returning to the amazing Four Seasons Hotel Sharm El Sheikh in the not too distant future so as to re-visit the many friends I made in Sharm El Sheikh during my world class stay, and to pursue my exciting Egyptian adventure.
Sharm El Sheikh – How and where
For flights, please visit ba.com or call 0844 493 0787. There are two flights a week during the summer season, and three flights a week during winter. Fares start from £219 return, including taxes and charges. Return hand baggage only fares start from £199, including taxes and charges.
The British Airways Package
British Airways Holidays offers seven nights at the 5* Four Seasons Resort, from £799 per person, travelling November 30th 2015 – December 14th 2015. Includes Euro Traveller return flights from London Gatwick and accommodation with breakfast. For reservations, visit ba.com/sharmelsheikh.
For further information on the Four Seasons Hotel Sharm El Sheikh, please visit www.fourseasons.com/sharmelsheikh.
For trips, tours and excursions contact Midland Travel and Tours
About Jamie Ndah
British Airway Inaugural flight to Sharm El Sheikh Video