The Movenpick Sharm el-Sheikh Hotel and Casino
By Jimmy Dunn
When the tour Egypt staff recently visited Egypt in December of 2004, taking along a few friends and family, many of the people had never been to Egypt. We did make a tour of it, visiting all the usual places that tourists normally go, including of course Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and the temples in between. We also extended our visit to include Sharm el-Sheikh, which ended up being a favorite of many of our tour members. I'm not sure why, really, because all of the group, being from the US, had previously gone to good beach resorts. But they seemed to love Sharm, and also the resort where we stayed.
We stayed in Movenpick Hotels throughout Egypt, but everyone seemed to think of this as being one of their best facilities in Egypt. Actually, Movenpick has a newer hotel in Sharm, known as the Movenpick Sharm el-Sheikh Golf and Resort, but we stayed in the Resort and Casino, which is centrally located on the beach front at Na'ama Bay. It is really a grand location, right in the midst of the action on the beach. One may turn left or right on the promenade along the beach and find all sorts of restaurants and entertainment, or remain in the spacious hotel gardens and pool area, which is quieter and more isolated.
This is the type of location that I prefer in Egypt. The Movenpick Resort and Casino is within easy walking distance of just about everything Sharm has to offer. Like most of the hotels along this stretch of the Beach, it occupies an area between the main road and the beach, up to the water front. In fact, the casino is actually across the main road. It has its own small mall, which even includes a medical clinic, but there is a fairly large mall next door to the south near the front with everything from pharmacies to a Radio Shack. Further back towards the beach, there is also a main pedestrian avenue to the south with more restaurants, including fast food such as McDonalds, camera shops and slews of clothing stores. Near the end of this avenue is the local Hard Rock Cafe. Of course, along the beach are restaurant after restaurant, dive shops and other facilities. There was simply no need for transportation anywhere during our stay, except when we took a day tour to St. Catherine's. Monastery.
The hotel itself consists of the main lobby at the front along the road, followed by a series of gardens with fountains along which are located, to either side, a total of 42 bungalows with 335 rooms. These garden areas then give into the pool area, with the small hotel mall to the north and a center containing a club, Seagulls, the internet cafe and other facilities, including a good Italian restaurant known as Zigolini with a good view on the second story. There is also a pool terrace restaurant, and then the main restaurant, Orangerie, sits between the pool area and the promenade. Between the promenade and the beach is the Beach BBQ restaurant. There is also a french restaurant named La Fleur, which I must admit that I missed.
The hotel contains a good variety of rooms, including standard and deluxe single rooms, as well as suites with up to three bedrooms. Of course, all of the rooms include standard amenities such as air conditioning, private baths, direct dial phones and color cable television with some good stations such as movie channels and CNN. They also each have a balcony or ground level terrace, hair dryers, a safe and mini fridges. All of the standard and deluxe rooms have only a shower, while all of the suites have a bathtub shower combination. The suites also have a coffee and tea service. The standard suites (not the junior suites) also have such niceties as bathrobes, speaker phones with up to two lines, a bathroom phone, work desks, and sofa beds.
However, while the rooms are comfortable and bright, there is simply too much to lure the guest outside, so most tourists will spend little time in their room beyond grabbing a night's sleep. Like most of the Movenpick Hotels (and many others in Egypt) breakfast is usually included in with the room rate. This hotel provides simply a huge buffet in their Orangerie restaurant near the beach, with food of every variety spread out in numerous buffet lines. Afterwards, the morning seems to be a very nice, pleasant and not too crowded time to take a visit to the beach. Like many beach towns, lots of action goes on at night, and the early morning is usually left to those who avoided too grand of a time the night before. Soon, however, the throngs wake up and migrate to the beach for the most imaginable beach activities. We found that these days, out of concern for the dolphins, there is no jet skiing, for example, but just about everything else is available. The hotel makes available sail boats, windsurfing equipment, snorkeling equipment, provides parasailing and glass bottom boat trips, and even fishing by special request. Then there are actually two pools, one fresh water and one salt water and, of course, they also maintain a dive center for scuba diving excursions. As most of our readers will know, Sharm el-Sheikh is one of the worlds best scuba diving destinations.
Outside of water sports, there is also an extensive health club, including sauna, massage, and weightlifting equipment, a game room that includes pool tables, tennis courts and not too far away, the golf course of the Movenpick's other hotel in Sharm. Finally, there is also the Snoopy club, a free supervised facility for children between the ages of three and twelve, which provides various activities.
Personally, I didn't participate in much of this, preferring rather to spend my time exploring about and sometimes sipping drinks in the shade of an umbrella on the beach at the BBQ restaurant, which was not so very different than the activities of most of our group. On previous trips to Sharm el-Sheikh, I did go out snuba diving. sort of a cross between scuba and snorkeling for those not licensed as scuba divers. However, I understand that some of the diving centers are not offering this activity any longer, though I do not know about all of them.
One younger member of our group, Rachel, who I have taken to calling Tigger because she seemed to have no lack of energy, did go out snorkeling with the Movenpick dive center, and seemed to have a very good time. As usual, she apparently took over the show, even driving the boat before all was said and done.
For many people life really starts in Sharm el-Sheikh during the evening, and even when I was staying elsewhere, I was always drawn to the nightclub at the Seagulls, which to me always seems to have the best entertainment, at least on this part of the strip. There are always some pretty good acts, with several groups of entertainers, such as dancers and singers, belly dancing, and various animation shows. Some of them have been spectacular. Of course, there is also other nearby entertainment. Just next door at the Gazalah Hotel, there is almost always one or more singers, for example. Several of our members also tried out the casino, which by the way is only open from 8:00 until 12:00 midnight, as all of the casinos are in Sharm. Nevertheless, one of our directors, Darrell Young, managed to walk away with about $400, though others didn't do as well. Note that most such casinos are not large, and are usually not very crowded.
All in all, the Movenpick Sharm el-Sheikh Hotel is a very nice, affordable facility with all the extras, in a very nice location on the main bay. I found very little to complain about, though the internet cafe was not exactly up to par. That was easily solved by stepping out of the hotel where I immediately found another that was better equipped. Otherwise, our entire group seemed to love our stay, so much so that Tigger ended up not going to sleep the last night. I think she, and a number of the others were enjoying the warm, bikini sun too much in the middle of December, and by now our trip to Egypt was winding down and we would soon have to return to the snow and cold weather that West Texas was offering us this year. That was a shocker, going from the sparkling Movenpick beach back to a white Christmas, but all vacations, I suppose, must end.
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Last Updated: April 26th, 2011
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