My job means that I experience many hotels around Europe, and I have travelled worldwide staying in a variety of accommodation- from basic B+Bs in Thailand to 5* resorts in Bora Bora. I would say I am fairly well travelled and used to a wide spectrum of hospitality and cultural diffrerences. I shall endeavour to make my review as honest as possible.
Impressions were good initially with an on time arrival at Hurghada Airport, short transfer and good looking hotel. Check in was swift and the room was pretty clean and comfortable. Dining in the main restaraunt provided a 'something for everyone' experience and we were always able to find something good. The main restaurant also had a small grill/pizza making area outside which provided a kind of 'fast food' if one fancied a change. There were two Al A Carte restaurants within the complex and a further two available at the sister resort next door. We managed to get a table in all four within the 10 day holiday and I can recommend them all but would advise booking as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment as they booked out well into the following week.
Breakfast was taken in the main dining room and again had a wide variety but was definitely 'Euro centric'- no full English or anything of the sort but fresh omelettes were available.
Daytime dining was courtesy of the main restaraunt or the various poolside grills. Hotdogs, burgers, chips, pizza etc were available and were generally good and swiftly made. (The A la Carte Italian was also open at lucnhtimes and was very good).
The pool areas themselves were clean however but there was a bit of a Hobsons choice between the two main ones- ice cold pool (bearing in mind the time of year of course) that was quiet, or the heated 'family pool' where a constant stream of activities and very loud music (on a continuous loop of about 3 tracks) ate into the relaxation aspect a bit...
Evening entertainment was provided in the 'Amphitheatre'. We didn't attend (due to having a 6 month old baby with us) but felt involved most nights as the volume was sufficient as to be heard from our room with the windows and doors shut anyway.
The room on arrival was well equipped- Aircon, fridge, telly etc all working and the tea and coffee making facilities stocked. Sadly throughout the week the level of cleanliness after the room had been cleaned diminished- replacement towels not very clean, toiletries not replaced, coffee and sugar not replaced etc etc. (meaning we had to hunt down housekeeping and ask for them). Not the end of the world but one expects slightly better as this is basic stuff and childsplay for a 4* resort.
The staff were generally smart looking and seemed eager to help but there was always an underlying sense of resentment which manifested itself in a variety of muttered remarks or general looks of disdain. The majority of staff also seemed to work on a 'you scratch my back' basis- they pour you a coffee at breakfast, you must be willing to be asked to change their Euro/GBP tips into Egyptian pounds, using their own unfavourable exchange rate. One could always say no but there just seemed to be a constant begging bowl being waved under your nose. The staff get paid by the resort to attend to the guests, NOT to try and treat them as some kind of walking Bureau de Change or a tipping machine (of course this could be put down to cultural differences but when it is being directed at you it just feels like hassle). In my honest opinion a tip should be merited on a good job well done and it kind of takes the edge off the job when a hand is thrust out and left out expecting more more more.
We ventured to the local tourist spots via the hotel taxis (one of the better aspects of the hotel as price was agreed and paid in reception although more on this in a minute) to look for souvenirs etc. The number of shops selling the same stuff is staggering and to be honest the owners although polite initially shared a similar disdain for tourists as the hotel staff- if you didn't go into the shop you were followed and hassled, if you did and didn't buy anything you were given a look to say 'get lost and never darken my doors again' and if you weren't prepared to haggle seriously and I mean knock 50-60% off their intial price you were at serious risk of being badly ripped off. On one occasion having been dropped outside a shop by the taxi driver we were informed that after our trip into town that we were to contact the owner of the shop to arrange pick up (a fairly obvious ploy to get punters in). However on return, we duly looked at said shop, and out of a misplaced sense of duty selected 3 items- a mens T shirt, a babies T shirt and a 6x4 photo album. At another shop (Cleopatra is a chain and a very good place to start hunting for gifts to find their relative values, as they are reasonable and prices are fixed), you would pay around 15 quid for something similar. This particular chap went in with an initial price of 68 pounds and wasn't budging. After about 40 minutes of trying to explain that at that price I would be expecting a REAL D&G t-shirt he grudgingly called the taxi for us. Not good.
The rest of the holiday was without hitch apart from the last day, when on check out with about an hour to go before our transfer, we were told to wait at reception to see the manager to explain damage done to a room by one of our party. We queried this and were told that it was a broken window but we had to wait for the manager. Meanwhile, the porters had withheld two of our suitcases with no explanation. We had noticed the crack in the window on arrival but as it was still intact had neglected to mention this to the hotel- the rooms were in no way mint condition and I don't expect to have to write an inventory of potential areas of damage etc. As the transfer bus pitched up so did one of the plethora of managers we had seen swanning around the complex. Before our problem was addressed another British couple were also seen, as they had been charged with the loss of a room key that they hadn't been issued with. In isolation these problems sound like common hotel issues but together it starts looking like a scam. After basically being accused of the damage I was asked to write a note to the effect that we were not responsible and were told we could leave, with a thousand apologies for any inconvenience caused at such a bad time. Two things- why were our bags withheld (very low), and if housekeeping had only noticed this on the day of departure (funny old thing) they clearly weren't cleaning the rooms very well all week.
The whole thing left an extremely bitter taste and the gent who experienced problems at check out summed it up nicely by paying the £5 for the key but explaining to the manager that it had cost him subsequent business.
To top it off when we got home and unpacked our suitcases they had been rifled and items were missing. Of course this could have occurred in the UK but all things considered...
Would I recommend this hotel again- no.
Would I recommend Egypt as a nice place to visit- no.
Will I be going back?
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This elegant 5 star (local category) "All Inclusive" Resort is perfectly located in an extensive garden landscape. The private sandy beach offers relaxing hours directly at the Red Sea.Here you will enjoy breathless sunset and fantastic views to the desert, mountains and the turquoise waters of the beaches. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Sunrise Select Garden Beach Hotel Hurghada
- Sunrise Select Garden Beach Resort And Spa