OK!'S ASHLEY PEARSON gets all adventurous on a luxury break in Egypt's Sharm El Sheikh...
Where can you find year-round sunshine, luxury resorts, the world’s best diving, a myriad of desert adventures, western-style entertainment and traditional souks all in the one place? The Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh
, located on the tip of Egypt
’s Sinai Peninsula.
Flanked by the craggy red peaks of Mount Sinai on one side and the crystal-clear Red Sea on the other, Sharm’s natural sheltered position makes it an ideal destination for everyone from beach bums and water babies to experienced divers. For those who prefer terra firma there’s Jeep safaris and camel riding and for party animals there’s the mega-clubs of Pangaea and Pacha.Click here now for amazing deals to Sharm El Sheikh!WHERE SHOULD I GO?
Weatherwise, the ideal time to visit is between October and May as summer temperatures hit the sizzlingly high 40˚Cs. If you ever thought that camels were slow-moving animals you’ll be in for a shock if you attend the annual South Sinai Camel Festival, held just outside Sharm in May. More than 250 camels from 17 different Egyptian tribes compete in a variety of races. WHERE SHOULD I STAY?
Isn’t a wonderful start to any holiday when you arrive at your hotel within 15 minutes of leaving the airport? This was the case for OK! when we arrived at The Savoy (www.savoy-sharm.com
), a sprawling low-rise modern resort set amid acres of manicured gardens and lush foliage dotted with archways and waterfalls. At the bottom of the palm-shaded gardens there’s the White Knight Beach, the sparking waters of the Red Sea and Tiran Island beyond. The 479-room resort comprises the main hotel and the Royal Savoy Club Wing and villas.
OK! checked into a room within the Royal Savoy, an ultra-luxurious child-free (under 12) wing of the hotel, which features its own private pool and lounge, where you can graze on drinks and canapés all day. We were delighted to find the room came with a private butler, a sea-view balcony and a wonderful four-poster bed. We loved our bed’s crisp white Egyptian cotton sheets so much that we tried to buy them but were told we’d have to come back to sleep on them again! We also adored the little treats left in our room each day – from filo-filed pastries to divine homemade cookies. WHAT CAN I DO AT THE SAVOY?
There’s plenty to do at The Savoy with three adult pools, two kids’ pools, an excellent kids’ club, a spa and gym and a well-equipped PADI dive and watersports centre. From the hotel beach it’s only a few breast strokes until you reach coral reefs brimming with fish, so you’ll be in snorkelling heaven. Food-wise you’ll never be bored with six restaurants to choose from. OK!’s favourite was Caligula Hot Rock, with its Roman Palace-themed décor, live band and cook-your-own supper experience. Diners choose between steak, chicken or fish and then cook it on an individual hot rock heated to 440˚F. Our other favourite was the Sushi Bar & Tepanyaki, where the chef grills Japanese dishes right in front of you. We enjoyed lobster and scrumptious seared bananas over ice cream.WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
Just a short stroll from The Savoy is Soho Square, a Western-style entertainment multiplex featuring restaurants, bars (including a Queen Vic), a bowling alley and even an ice skating rink. There are also plenty of shops. OK! was delighted with our fantastic knock-off Jimmy Choo handbag which we bought for £18 – ask for Ahmed to bag yourself a good deal at the Sharm Star store.
We then stopped off for a tasty Indian feast at the Bombay restaurant, but there’s also a sushi bar, a steak house and Chinese, Thai and Middle Eastern eateries. If you’ve still got stamina, have a cocktail at the Fashion Lounge or a vodka shot at the Ice Bar (don’t worry they provide anoraks as it’s -5˚C), before clubbing at Pangaea. Want incredible offers to Sharm El Sheikh? Click here now...
Close to The Savoy is the tourist hub of Na’Ama Bay. This is where you’ll find most of Sharm’s tourist nightlife such as the Little Buddha bar, a Hard Rock Café and Pacha nightclub. In downtown Sharm you’ll still find a slice of traditional Egyptian life on the streets of Old Sharm. Veiled women scurry around shopping, while men smoke shisha pipes and sip glasses of strong coffee. Here you can buy everything from spices, dates, jewellery and carpets in the souks.WHAT ARE THE MUST-DO ACTIVITIES?
It’s no secret that Sharm offers some of the world’s best diving. Its stunning coral reefs attract scuba fans from across the globe – it’s like going to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef minus the 24-hour flight! A must-visit is the famous Ras Muhammad National Park, where there are more than 1,000 species of fish and 170 types of brightly coloured coral to be discovered. We felt like we were inside a giant tropical aquarium!
OK!’s favourite excursion was a quad bike ride across the Sinai desert. Sporting giant sunnies and with our head wrapped in Arab scarves, we flew across the sunbaked desert valley and bumpy sand dunes at high speeds surrounded by huge clouds of coloured dust. We finished our journey by stopping off at a Bedouin camp and sipped hot tea with local tribesmen.
Or take a hike up to St Catherine’s Monastery (the world’s oldest and now an UNESCO heritage site), at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments.
If you have kids in tow make sure you enjoy the watery delights of Aqua Blue, a new water park with 32 slides and a lazy river, or try go-karting at the Ghibli Race Track. WHAT CELEBRITIES MIGHT I SEE?
Tony Blair and his family are fans, as are French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni. Craig David loved lying by the pool at The Savoy, while England footballer John Terry and his family have also stayed at the hotel. Torchwood star John Barrowman digs the diving in Sharm, saying of his visit: ‘I’ve been every day and I’ve just done my first wreck dive.’ Meanwhile, Coronation Street’s Samia Smith holidayed with her husband Matt in Sharm.HOW CAN I GET THERE?
BA Holidays (0844 493 0758; www.ba.com/sharmelsheikh
) offers a five-night package, including return BA flights from London Gatwick and daily breakfast, staying in a standard garden view room at the five-star Savoy Hotel in Sharm El Sheikh from £453 per person departing in May. Price based on two sharing. The same package staying in a Royal Savoy room costs from £778pp. Half board and all-inclusive options are available.