In the continuing adventures for Our Man on the Ground I find myself flying to the Red Sea to sample the delights of the Somabay Resort. The sea should really be called the Blue Sea as it is incredibly blue, warm and the perfect spot for a swim.
Hurghada airport is only 45 minutes drive away from Somabay Resort, which means including the flight you can be checked into your luxury Red Sea view room within six hours of taking off from the UK. Placed at the tip of an isthmus surrounded on three sides by alluringly blue water, this sunny location (with a gentle breeze) is perfect for a long weekend getaway for a game of golf or a stay in one of the top notch five star hotels or even if you fancied a little piece of the action of owning your own apartment.
Everything is nicely spaced out here, giving the impression of a small village or town with friendly minibuses to ferry you around (just ask wherever you are to call you one and it will be there in a jiffy). The hotels have their own bars, restaurants and shops so you can go ‘shopping’ somewhere else for the morning if the fancy takes you. And that’s what this place is all about, what you fancy because as well as just doing nothing in the sun (often my preferred option) there are plenty of activities to keep you busy.
There is a variety of accommodation such as villas or suites as well as regular rooms. The Sheraton even has a couple of royal suites (occupied on my visit so I wasn’t even allowed a peek). It’s that kind of place, good food very relaxed and a safe atmosphere, did I mention that it’s lovely and sunny here pretty much all day every day.
The blue pool (and it is so blue you wouldn’t believe it) has the benefit of a background of the astonishingly beautiful Saraga Mountains behind it. Just wait until the sun goes down, they look like a sleeping giant resting in the warm breeze that’s always present. It makes bathing and pool time a real pleasure but don’t forget to lotion up!
Sailing options and of course diving options are a plenty in Somabay, such as a catamaran snorkeling trip with lunch included. I went on this, it was just fabulous as we moored up to go diving and snorkeling at a few spots, visited a desert island (you could walk around it in less than five minutes) put the sails up and let the wind take us where it wanted, on a good day you’ll see dolphins. There was a qualified captain and his mate and someone else doing the food so not really as random as I’m making out, but a man can dream can’t he?
After a hard day’s sailing on the Red Sea’s only peninsular with what is effectively perfect weather one can feel a bit, well, in need of refreshment. It could have been one of the other bars but my favourite turned out to be called The Eagle’s Nest. It was on the top floor of the hotel with good views sure but what appealed was the large square bar in the middle of a sizable room. Not unlike the theme tune to Cheers the American sitcom suggests after an evening there everyone really does know your name. Friendly service and a good choice of inclusive drinks (there are various packages with the hotels). Just the job after a day on the water. Then naturally it was time for dinner at one of the many restaurants in the hotels to choose from. I plumbed for the buffet laid on by The Cascades Hotel where I was staying. A changing array of feasts every evening with cooking stations dotted around to make something just the way you like it. Needless to say, the drink flowed and flowed. The staff remembered what my tipple was and made sure I had plenty of it.
Daytime eating is less formal. I liked Spikes with its dappled light from split bamboo roof blinds looking out watching people play golf in the sun. The food is lighter too, with bowls of pasta, burgers and plenty of fish and daily specials. I chatted to a few guests and what came over was just how much repeat business there is. People just love returning here, with the sun, sea, golf, kite surfing, snorkeling etc being powerful persuaders.
Of course there’s a spa at Cascades but better than that there is a Thalesso. What’s that I hear you ask? I didn’t know either until I visited. It’s basically a large compartmentalised swimming pool that you move around and use like a gym. The exercise comes from working against the water that is pumped in at various heights. Sounds easy and gentle and it is to start with but as you work around the circuit it gets harder. My instructor had me swimming against a strong current, wading sideways and walking backwards as well, all quite invigorating and surprisingly good fun. The water’s warm, the ‘exercises’ are not all hard work, with some being similar to a massage with water replacing hands and to be honest the whole thing was so novel I found myself wanting to return as soon as possible.
A chilled break is guaranteed at Somabay with glorious weather (I went in spring when the average temperature is 25˚C). The dress code is simple, no beach ware at dinner, the rooms and suites are large and comfortable, the staff a joy and did I mention it’s sunny all the time.
Somabay Red Sea Holiday Resort, Red Sea Riviera, Egypt.
The resort is located on a peninsula on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera and just four hours from Central Europe. Hurghada International Airport is only a short drive away and Luxor and the Nile Valley are two hours by car.
Type of Hotel: Red Sea Holiday Resort made up of a collection of luxury hotels, villas, chalets and apartments
Price Band: High
Insider Tip: if you don’t want to go on a boat trip you can snorkel at the end of the pier quite safely.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10
Neil Hennessy-Vass is Contributing Editor for Our Man On The Ground as well as a widely-published globetrotting food and award-winning travel writer and photographer.
Photographs by Neil Hennessy-Vass