We're couple of 37y and travelled with three kids, two 10y and one 2y old. The intention was to escape to the sun before long and cold winter and the trip took place from 26th of Nov to 3rd of Dec in 2011. Here are our comments:
Hotel in general
Locates some 20min buss ride from the Hurgada airport so relatively near but the air traffic does not disturb, it's rather cool to check the arriving planes with kids to kill the time. Hotel has been built just some years ago so everything looks and feels fresh. The design is quite modern with some arabic touch. Place is big and there's lot of room to walk around, find your own place to take sun or just hang out and for kids to find something to do. It's five years we were in Egypt and stayed at Hilton Long Beach back then. Although a great hotel too, it felt like stone age compared to Aquamarine.
Really hard to tell if they were sincerely friendly or trained to by but if latter, then the trainers did a great job. You were greeted at every possible moment and small chat and jokes were part of the daily routine with staff members. Nevertheless, if you did not felt like talking, everyone moved along quickly. Sales reps who were dealing additional services like trips, massages and stuff, were rather having a friendly chat than selling hard. With kids you'll have a "special treatment" in a very best meaning as Egyptians (Arabs in general) adore children and especially blonde with blue eyes like our youngest. Staff was incredibly helpful and considering: e.g. if you looked at least a little bit troubled carrying your food in the restaurant, they ran for help to carry your plate or coffee to your table. They watered the grass every evening and there was always a gardener on particular site to turn it off when they saw you approaching. A little but special thing we noticed was that as they were driving little transportation vehicles in the dark, they turned off the main lights when they passed you not to blind you. Everyone spoke english quite well but it seemed to be that their language skill was near perfect only at the area of their expertise. E.g. sales reps at the beach had a totally fluent conversation about your origin and the service they were offering but faced troubles to explain, what are the lights on the sea. Some times we felt they're much more fluent in Russian than in English. We also heard them talking good German so these would be the languages you would be totally ok with at Aquamarine.
Our travel agent find it difficult to accommodate us to the family room that had one large bed and sofas that can be turned into beds. At the pictures the sofas looked quite uncomfortable so we asked for other options. As hotel was a bit resistant to allow 5 persons to the family room, they offered us two superior sea view rooms instead of one family room. It was a great decision to act upon their advice! We got two great rooms, that in total costed less than one family room. Together with trips and AI-treatment we paid around EUR 2800 for the whole one week trip for five. And our two 10y old got their OWN room for the week for the first time in their vacation history. The rooms were very tasty featuring almost nordic design and nice textiles. There was no bath but the bathroom was big. Bed was huge - found it hard to find my wife there :). Sea view was a real sea view that meant some 50m to the beach and 70 m to the sea. We had rooms at the second floor and that gave a nice view over a beach house between the hotel and the sea. Second floor was a bit uncomfortable for carrying a pram up and down but it was a minor distress. The rooms were farest from the main building but this 3-4 min walk was essential to have the necessary excercise with all that food! As it was away from the animation activities at the pool area, it was a very quiet part of the resort both during day and night. We spotted some small ants in our bathroom but none in kids room. Did not bother us but when packing, we checked not to take too many of them back home :) Rooms were cleaned daily with surprise animals made of towels, bed covers and other handy materials. These were great especially for kids who always ran to check what animal they got. The cleaning personnel was very kind and professional so the rooms were tidy and they had endless fantasies for creating these creatures on your bed. With some fresh flowers once in a while during the stay.
In Egypt it is usual that every little move will be awarded with a tip. The regular tip is one dollar, one euro or five Egyptian pounds. At Aquamarine staff has been obviously told that asking for the tip is the eleventh sin at least! During our stay no-one asked for a tip but many extra efforts were made to earn one. So it is actually up to you if you reward extra effort or not. We left cleaning personnel a dollar daily, and also a guy who showed us our rooms and baggage carrier were awarded with a buck. At a la carte we left 20 Egyptian pounds that our waiter took a great care to hide so that supervisor would not see he was tipped. Taking all this into account, this is not the place were you have to constantly consider if you should tip or not. There were also some funny attempts like at the buffe dinner where waiter has reserved a table next to the window with his own sweater and kindly guided us to that table. He afterward asked if we liked the table and if we would like to sit there also the next evening. So probably, if we would have gone back, that would have been counted as an extra effort to be worthwhile the tip. But even then no direct suggestion for a tip was made. And that is of course totally different to the usual situation outside the resort in Egypt.
Food and drinks
All inclusive package means that you can eat yourself to death. There was one main restaurant for the breakfast, lunch and dinner, a Four Corners restaurant that served Mediterranean, Italian, Oriental and Asian food and four a la carte restaurants (Italian, Lebanese, Asian and Seafood). These were extra but 5 euro per person was not much. While main buffet restaurants were quite busy (but not in any means crowded or handful), a la carte restaurants were quiet places to have dinner couple of times during the week stay. The food quality was good and the variety was big enough. Indeed, the buffet dishes and also the a la carte were not match to great European restaurants, but it was very good quality taking into account that chef had thousands of guests to feed. Main restaurant featured an Arabic corner with local dishes that I personally found interesting and enjoyed most of the times there.
Since we last time enjoyed AI in Egypt there has been a considerable improvement in drinks quality and also the way these are served. You can get everything from rum cola to mojito. And they are super fast with preparing a mojito in 20 sec! Ok, again, it is not quite the same as in some European bar, but totally OK!!! Wine was ok too compared to last time it was un-drinkable. Beer was great. BArs and lounges had a great atmosphere with waiters going back and forth with taking orders and serving drinks. La Perla bar at the pool area and Paradiso at the beach provided a sweet escape from the sun. Even there drinks were served in very decent plastic cups, totally superior to these sandbrushed, barely washed things at Hilton five years ago.
We took a great effort to find a hotel that is suitable for traveling with three kids. Tripadvisor was a great resource! So we knew what to expect and we got what was promised. For 10y olds the water park was a bless. The construction was solid and safe, there were one to two assistants at every level of the water slides and three down at the pool. They took a great care of children with occasional jokes. There were numerous pools for children starting from 30cm. The roofs on top of the pools avoided direct sunlight. At first couple of days some of the small children pools were not heated but eventually they were. At the beach the sand is quite hard but our 2y old did not mind. We found a good place to hang around the volleyball field where there was softer sand. Our 10y olds enjoyed the rest of the pools that did not offer too many gizmos but had not too much chloride as far as one can understand. The water quality was checked daily. Maybe it would be good to have one pool with sea water as at some resorts. There was a vast variety of food available so every kid should find something to eat. As far as the entertainment is concerned, animators were on the move constantly but there were not too much programme or 10y old girls. Nevertheless, there was a kids disco every night and a show programme for kids starting at 9pm at the theatre. So maybe some programme for early teenagers would be something they could consider.
Taking into account that these resorts have been built into the desert, the gardeners are the real magicians at Aquamarine. We did not saw a tried out plant in a week! And they constantly planted more! Bushes and other planst were blooming although it was winter time and it generated a very warm and nice atmosphere at the pool area. Grass surface reached the beach and it was flawless too.Great job!
At the time we were there the sea was quite cold. And that is why we maybe did not consider this at all important but you have to walk some 100 m in the sea before you get into considerable debth at Aquamarine beach. On the other hand this is a bliss for small kids as all this 100 m is covered with 20cm water and thus serious problems are not possible if kids are geared up and with sufficient supervision. They could play there for hours!
We enjoyed the sea while snorkling so we were all right but it would have been a bit troublesome to walk all the way to get your hips wet every day. Although we wouldn't mind it too much as it is also the case at home, with Gulf of Finland.
In total, it was the best trip to Egypt out of our 4 trips there and we believe that we managed to find the best hotel at the moment at Egypt resorts!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Iberotel Aquamarine Resort is made for those who want to spoil themselves with the prefect, relaxed, All inclusive luxurious five-star Egypt holiday. Located on the southern tip of Hurghada with its own unspoiled private beach, this impressive complex features seven restaurants. It boasts over 1,001 comfortable rooms equipped with all the latest facilities, services and amenities as well as the “Mercato” shopping complex and a conference centre for up to 1500 people. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Iberotel Aquamarine Hotel Hurghada