Russa  Italiano German French English Arabic 

Diving, snorkelling and five-star luxury: How Egypt's El Gouna resort really is a mirage in the middle of the desert
 When the winter months set in, and the days get shorter, your mind inevitably drifts towards a touch of the sun. Egypt probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind for a quick getaway, but contrary to what you might think, it’s not out of bounds, so that’s exactly where we ended up going for a 48-hour jaunt. Full disclosure: we weren’t interested in any culture for this quick trip – we just wanted a beach and the sun on our heads. El Gouna was our destination. El Gouna is a real life mirage. When you land at Hurghada Airport, you are in the middle of the desert, you drive for half an hour and suddenly you’re confronted by a huge resort. And yes, like a mirage, some of it was too good to be true. The resort, built out of nothing around 20 years ago by businessman Samih Sawiris, caters to those who fancy a bit of golf, diving and snorkelling or kite surfing. All of El Gouna is artificial, right down to its plants, so the whole thing feels a little like a Disney-fied version of Egypt, and although very relaxed, you get the impression things are tightly under control. Indeed, when we walked through the hotel’s front door, we had to go through a metal detector which was slightly disconcerting. However, it is stunning and you do feel a long way from the cold, dark nights of London. In our case, we stayed at the Mövenpick Resort and Spa, a five-star hotel, the biggest in the area with some 554 rooms. Our room was spacious, clean and had a great view of the swimming pool. On our first full day, we started off with a full body massage (it’s a tough life but somebody has to review it) which got us properly into holiday mode. That was followed up with the undoubted highlight of the stay – our snorkeling trip. We met our boat captain Karim and our guide Shaban before setting off out into the big blue beyond. As a snorkelling novice, I don’t have anything to compare it to, although to my untrained eye, the water was crystal clear, warm and full of fish. Shaban was a great guide, pointing out the vast array of sealife and making sure we didn’t fall too far behind. While the photograph of me after my first successful snorkel session shows me smiling, what the picture didn't show however was the amount of water swallowed while struggling to work out the breathing apparatus... On our first evening, we opted for il Limone, Mövenpick’s Italian restaurant. I appreciate that heading all the way to Egypt and opting for Italian food might seem a bit 'off', but in my defence, I’m allergic to nuts and felt it was the safest, and probably tastiest, option. The second day was a slightly more surreal affair. We began at the beach, only disturbed every so often by one of the two camels, Dudu and Dede, that roamed up and down the sand through the day. I can’t say the guide was successful in convincing us to hop on top of them. Our afternoon was supposed to be a boat ride through the lagoon with a few Egyptian pensioners and indeed for the first 60 seconds it appeared that would be the case. But it was clear the captain was having an issue with the engine and as we drifted off from the harbour, it predictably died. We meandered through the water for five minutes, before another boat eventually came along to collect us and put our hapless captain out of his misery. It was a reminder that no matter how artificial and controlled the whole experience was, some things just don’t go to plan. Desert getaway: El Gouna is located on the Red Sea, an hour's flight from Cairo Desert getaway: El Gouna is located on the Red Sea, an hour's flight from Cairo Nonetheless, we took this as an opportunity to head out of the hotel to the downtown area for a more ‘authentic’ Egyptian experience. I can’t say my culinary choices over two days were exactly adventurous. As I say, I am allergic to nuts and pulses, and our final meal was in Palavrion, the buffet restaurant. Although there was a wide selection of food, I didn’t feel I could trust what was being offered up. We finished off our night with a glass of wine in the bar, although the wine came out of a box rather than a bottle, which seemed a bit odd. But it was probably just as well - with an early flight the next day we called it a night instead of partying into the small hours. After spending exactly 48 hours in Egypt, I was glad I had gone, even if for such a short time. The scenery was spectacular, the snorkelling breathtaking and the resort offers everything you would expect from the Movenpick name. I’m not sure the destination offers anything extra that you wouldn’t get from a shorter trip to somewhere in Spain or Portugal. Next time I would go for longer to make the most of the facilities and take up the day trips, such as the tour to the fascinating city of Luxor.
الحجم : 2.26 ميجا الحجم : 0.98 ميجا الحجم : 19.8 ميجا
Home Page | About Us | Contact Us | Contact Site Manager