We stayed over Christmas & New Year, having previously stayed in Feb 2010 when the Garden View was closed and only Brits travelled to Egypt.
We noticed some changes , some beneficial , most definitely not. In our opinion the food has been dumbed down to suit guests from the former USSR who form the bulk of the clientele.
You will find very little to excite you food-wise unless you pay for the seafood and fresh fish. Normally in AI hotels lobster is payable but prawns, kalamaria , fresh fish are on the AI. The Italian trattoria , formerly an a la carte but now a daily table d'hote menu is a real disappointment. The main courses do not resemble their descriptions on the menu and do not resemble Italian dishes either. The antipasto is mostly salad as there is little seafood or charcuterie. The pasta dishes are ok - avoid the canelloni which is microwaved to smithereens several times - the pizzas very bland, being mostly cheese.You'll find better and more authentic in a British supermarket. We had to ask for parmesan and black pepper. Still, the view from the balcony is lovely with music from the pool island giving some atmosphere. Inside it's quite awful and it's hard to understand diners staying indoors. We spoke to two Italian tourists who thought it risible.
Fatima Oriental is openlunch and dinner. It's good to eat lunch at a table with wine service but the food is unsuitable for lunch considering they have a bbq there. Mostly it's watery stews, chicken kofta occasionally, and badly cooked frozen fish - usually red mullet. We liked the octopus casserole but it needed more ouzo. There are vegetable dishes - the okra tajine passable - and a choice of carbs. The rice is usually good, and the saffron rice better but cried out for prawns of which there were none unless you paid. There is very basic pizza - just cheese and tomato. It's all rather dreary and school-dinnerish. They'd do much better to fire the bbq up and serve typical Med taverna dishes in such a lovely setting such as souvlaki, kalamaria, paella, prawns saganaki, greek salad etc.
At night the outlook is charming with all the lights shimmering on the sea They serve a smallish meze and then a choice of meat or fish on the bbq, although somewhat curiously the food doesn't have that authentic chargrilled flavour. The kofta are quite dry and you have to ask for lemon as there is no dressing on the food. The fish with harissa is ok, but not as good as the staff think it is. There is a bit of atmosphere here with music and dancing when they fix the cd player. Inside Fatima is the Barracuda seafood restaurant - only worth bothering with if you pay for the seafood in the fridge. Some of the crabs look older and deader than King Tut.
The beach snack bar serves a curious combination of junk food - fries, burgers and chicken/donkey dogs - and some salad ingredients. There's no dressing or mayo but if you look carefully there's a thin tzatziki to buck things up a bit. Tip - wait until about 3pm when the chef cooks decent food for the divers. Duck kebabs, chicken stir fry with herbs (woohoo) and the water from a pack of feta. Not the feta of course - that's for someone else.
Make sure the beach drinks bar know you're British if you want beer at lunchtime. Beer o'clock is 11am. The beach gets very crowded at lunchtime with guests from the cheaper Garden View (yellow towels) - but they disappear when the bar stops serving them beer.
The bar at the cliiftop Pool 4 is arguably the pick of the bars although one barman couldn't make cafe frappe. It's a great spot for a sundowner as the sea undergoes its wonderful change of colour at dusk. What a shame they don't heat this pool in winter.
The animation crew work long hours to little effect as the activities are sparse and basic - boccia, darts and aerobics. There are a couple of evening shows worth going to - the Fakir & the Folklore. The amphitheatre is a comfortless place though. The best thing is the music and dance lessons - bachata, salsa, Egyptian & Greek belly dance and some reggae on the beach. The crew also run payable trips to local nite spots including transport.
The main restaurant has pleasant outdoor seating but inside it is dreadful - echoey and canteenish. At breakfast there is a wide range of food - including some authentic Egyptian food for the traveller. We found the pastries good. We didn't eat there lunchtime or evening - we intended to eat there on French night (we love snails) but this had changed to Chinese night so there weren't any snails - maybe they were coming from Cairo. The Chinese looked quite unappetising so we retreated to the Italian for something completely different - lamb balls with anchovies.
The hotel is now under Turkish ownership and they plan a complete refurb of the rooms which are now rather tired although comfortable enough. The hotel is beautifully laid out with two-storey blocks along flower-strewn pathways and water-courses with waterfalls leading to the clifftop path at pool 4 with views over Tiran Island.
Almost without exception the staff are friendly, smiling and helpful. You should speak a bit of Egyptian Arabic to see their delighted reaction at your respect for their culture and ,of course, they repay you for your small efforts in spades.
They held a splendid Gala Dinner on New Year's Eve when - fanfare - prawns made an appearance along with many other goodies such as sushi, stuffed quail, smoked salmon, halloumi, sachertorte and lots more desserts. What a contrast all this was to the bland stuff served daily and nightly. There was a pleasant Christmas Eve meal although the entertainment was low-key.
Generally speaking the guests from Eastern Europe are rather miserable looking. Since the temperature difference between Moscow & Sharm is 40deg C it's difficult to understand why they're so miserable. They misbehave on the beach, walk into the sea over the coral, wear shoes on the jetties. They are also incredibly wasteful, filling plates with food and then leaving it all. They do this particularly when the food looks low so if there are four normal portions of strawberries left they will take all four and then leave them rather than letting other guests have them.
Overall the gardens, staff, & service are wonderful as are the Red Sea fish and the climate.
The food could be much more exciting, the rooms are being refurbished gradually, the indoor dining areas could be improved and the daytime activities modernised and extended to watersports, archery, climbing wall etc. as in most AI hotels at this price level. There is plenty of room on site for these.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Directly located at the splendid Shark Bay with its own house reef you will find in this "Ultra All - Inclusive" 5 star (country category) Resort everything you wish. The four large pool areas, the splendid arranged garden, with water falls and canals, the spaciously designed rooms and junior suites are the ideal venues for your family vacation. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sunrise Select Island View Hotel Sharm El Sheikh
- Sunrise Island View Egypt
- Hotel Sunrise Island View
- Sunrise Island View Hotel