Having a windsurfing husband and having visited Egypt a number of times at Dahab & Soma Bay & Sharm, John & I decided we wanted to try a different resort this spring and so, on recommendation, we booked the Shams Alam at Marsa Alam with Sportif. Despite it being a 1hr 30 mins transfer, it was well worth it.
The drive down was really nice as you go along the coast road and can see the ocean all the way, although you get to the point of constantly thinking 'are we there yet?'. The hotel really is in the middle of nowhere, but there is a big hotel about a mile north up the beach that people walked to for a change of scenery. There is also a new shopping arcade directly across from the main entrance which has a good Pharmacy alongside the usual nick-knacks / T shirt shops.
Rooms;- Rooms 100 - 500 are to the left of reception and are the ones nearest to the windsurfing centre. Rooms 600 - 1000 are to the right and are nearest the dive centre. All rooms have a sea view which is a really great design side of the hotel. If like us, you arrive after a long days travel and on seeing your room feel a bit disappointed, give it till the morning when the sun is shining and everything looks so much better. We did move rooms before unpacking as we had requested an upper floor room when we booked, and were very pleased when we were given room 409 which is upstairs at the front of the block with amazing views. The rooms have lovely domed brick ceilings and are very comfortable. Khalid who looked after our room deserves a special mention for his helpfulness and his amazing towel creations, especially the monkey hanging inside the door one day which initially made us jump. Whilst not the most modern of bathrooms, the shower and water temperature was excellent, and everything worked as it should, including the plug in the sink... The only down side was that the TV sound kept going off and there was only a couple of English speaking channels, plus there are no tea/coffee making facilities in the room. Comment for the hotel is that you could do with upgrading you TV's.
Beach;- The beach is amazing and the best we have been to in Egypt so far. The sand is pale and soft, and the bay sweeps in a gentle curve, about 300m long from the windsurfing centre at the north end, to the jetty and dive school at the south. John's comments on the windsurfing is that it is a really great spot with cross shore winds so you can sail straight out from the beach and back, with flat water, turning into a bit of chop, then swells further out. He's definitely wanting to go back as the conditions were perfect for his sport. The beach/bay is more or less divided into 3 areas, the windsurfing on the left, then a large sandy area ideal for swimming in the centre, which going right out to sea & where turtles come in close to feed on the grass tufts growing on the bottom, then on the right the reef comes right up to the beach and is partially out of the water at low tide. It was incredible, and heaven for snorkelers of all capabilities. In the shallows you can drift along the edge of the corals and see all the usual variety of fish without going out of your depth, and this would be the most amazing place for children to learn how to snorkel. For those who are a bit more brave, you can swim around the outer edge of the reef from the beach, and come out up the ladder on the jetty. There is a great beach bar that does food at lunch time 'in season' but as the hotel was so quiet when we were there, they were only serving drinks. As with most Egyptian hotels now, beach towels are provided which saves lots of room and weight in your luggage. In summary, great for windsurfing, snorkelling and just swimming and sunbathing. Fantastic...
Food;- As there was no food being served at the beach bar, being on an All Inclusive basis, all meals were taken in the restaurant and were buffet style. There was a different theme each night (Italian, French, Egyptian etc) and in our view the food was good. Due to the hotel being nearly empty (the main Italian Travel Agent that uses the hotel went bust in December) the variety of food was not what you would normally expect, but the kitchen staff did a great job and what was available was tasty and good quality,and the aubergine (egg plant) dishes were to die for. The restaurant staff were amazing and were great at anticipating what you wanted, so your drinks were ready on the table for you when you arrived. As it was still fairly early in the season there were no tables set outside for eating, but it was no problem for us to take our breakfast out and eat in the sun each morning.
Things to do;- Not a lot... Most likely this was due to the lack of Italians/guests at the hotel, but the evening entertainment programme hadn't started yet, the disco was closed, and so most people (about 30 of us in total) strolled around the grounds, sat and drank on the terrace next to the pool, or watched TV in their rooms. It was disappointing that, with the lack of alternative activity going on, the billiard/snooker room was also closed. However we did sneak in and, having done a bit of dusting, were able to have a game on a couple of nights as each table has it's own light above it. There is also a small gym which has everything you need for a workout, but take a towel as this was also very dusty.
We must give a special mention (and a huge 'Hi' from Mister John & Carol if you're reading this) to Hani who runs the Spa at the hotel. What a lovely man he is. By the end of our week apparently we were the only couple in the hotel who hadn't had a massage by him, simply because we don't do Spa's on holiday. Other guests were raving about him though, and when John finally succumbed on our last day to a 5 minute neck & back massage on the beach, he said we would definitely book a treatment when we go back for our next holiday.
The Hotel generally;- This is a lovely medium sized hotel, with an amazing team of staff who can't do enough for you. Having said that, the rooms could all do with a bit of attention and updating, and the grounds are not as well tended as we have been used to seeing in Egypt
So, in summary. If you're looking for a hotel that's plush and perfectly manicured this may not be the one for you. However, if the things that are important to you are the location, the beach/sea life and the team of people looking after you, then you'll love the Shams Alam. We did.
John & Carol - England
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- Also Known As:
- Shams Alam Beach Hotel Marsa Alam