We could feel the warmth as soon as our plane landed. It wasn’t just the comfortable late afternoon temperature of 28C but also the welcome we received at our magnificent Red Sea resort, which left us in no doubt that this was going to be a holiday to remember.
Just 15 minutes after leaving the airport we were in Sharm El Sheikh and pulling into the long driveway of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, lined with bougainvillaea and oleander.
Friendly, smiling staff waited in the chic reception area of this Egyptian hideaway to greet my boyfriend and I and guide us to our luxury room.
Within an hour we were tucking into giant mussels (£17) and succulent lobster (£30) in one of the four superb restaurants.
At the same time, we discovered that friends holidaying in Spain were paying double the price for similar dishes. With the pound weak against the euro, it is no wonder the Red Sea Riviera, with its year-round sunshine, is attracting thousands of British tourists.
The Hyatt is superbly equipped for chilling out.
We spent a lazy afternoon working our way through the three cascading pools, the lagoons, grottos and whirlpool. There are also three beaches to enjoy.
The luxurious spa became a favourite; so successful were its treatments in helping us to unwind that the gym, floodlit tennis courts and air-conditioned squash courts didn’t even get a second glance.
Many of the guests found enough at the hotel to keep them content.
But for the more adventurous, Sharm El Sheikh has so much to offer.
Every form of water sport is available, not to mention horse and camel riding and fascinating desert safaris. There are even two PGA Championship golf courses.
But there is one activity that visitors simply can’t afford to miss: diving.
The resort, on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula with the Red Sea on one side and Mount Sinai on the other, has built a reputation as one of the world’s most extraordinary diving destinations.
It boasts crystal-clear water, 250 magnificent coral reefs, exotic underwater flora and more than 1,000 species of fish.
We signed up with one of the many diving schools and were not disappointed – the experience was amazing.
The big hotel chains were quick to spot this potential and have built impressive five-star resorts along the white sandy beaches.
But there are plenty of opportunities for a more genuine Egyptian experience. Away from the luxury hotels are various smaller and more intimate places to stay, while the Old Market in Naama Bay is well worth checking out for some great bargains.
We finished our holiday with a visit to the former Bedouin settlement of Rowaysat. This charming area, famous for top-class craft workshops, is situated on a mountainside and has camels wandering around, giving it a wonderfully authentic feel.
It is slightly surreal but, like Sharm El Sheikh itself, unforgettable.
GETTING THERE:Thomson (0871 230 2550/ www.thomson.co.uk) offers seven nights B&B at the Hyatt Regency from £754pp (two sharing), including return flights from various UK airports.Egyptian State Tourist Office: 020 7493 5283/ www.gotoegypt.org