“ Address: Nabque Bay / Sharm el Sheikh / Egypt „
Club Magic Life Hotel/Resort Sharm El Sheikh
We went here last year in August and have now booked to go back again in November. The food and cocktails are out of this world.
Food - The main buffet restaurant changes its full décor every night and they have a different food theme on every night too. If you are walking past the buffet restaurant during the day in between lunch and dinner you will actually see the staff carrying in giant Italian, Mexican, Egyptian etc decor such as giant flags and seahorses and tents. They literally change the look of the full restaurant each night on a fortnightly cycle. For the Al La Carte restaurants they have a sea food one, an Egyptian one and a Spanish one and all are delicious. You can book each one once per week, so if you go for a week you can make 3 bookings and if you go for 10 days or more you can book it 5 or 6 times. Breakfast is also really good, you get things like French toast, cereals and fruits and sausages. Not quite the same as a UK fry up, but I like that they are different options on offer as I'm not that much of a fan of the fry up anyways. They also have a gorgeous little café up a tower (Café Sissi) that serves cake and coffee all day and has been decorated like a really fancy church with all paintings up the walls and ceilings.
Rooms: They have double beds!! Not those hilarious holiday twin beds that are popped next to each together, proper double beds. The rooms are nicely laid out with freshly painted white walls and burgundy seats and covers on the beds and the furniture is all dark wood. You can see the design from the website. We booked the lowest priced room option which was the "double room with garden view" and found it to be very spacious and the view of the gardens was also lovely as the grounds are very well kept. The bathroom is a bit "Sopranos" all cream/brown Italian marble but even though it's not modern in the bathroom, it is clean and very functional and there is a good light above the bathroom mirror for makeup. Your fridge in the room is re- stocked with water and fizzy pop daily at no extra cost.
The hotel grounds: These are lovely, there is a tennis court, a gym, lots of flowery gardens and there is loads of room so you can have a great wander about without constantly bumping in to people. There are loads of trees and they have made a real effort to decorate the gardens to at every other turn there is something new to see such as illuminated toad stools, boats with floral arrangements in them and Egyptian statues.
Bars: There are at least 5 bars that I can remember, the sports bar has branded spirits and you can sit inside it and watch a bit of sports and they bring you nibbles to have with your drinks. It is like an old tavern, rather than the usual idea of a sports bar and has wicker furniture and glass tables, it actually made us feel like we were sitting inside a massive conservatory The rest of the bars cover the beach, an area right in the middle of the complex and around the pool and one has internet access. ALL bars do amazing cocktails. Our faves were pina colads, island colads and mai tai's, but there was around 20 or more on offer at each bar. My OH said the beer was drinkable and at the restaurants you can get bottles of wine with your meal (all as part of the all inclusive price). The bars were all really nicely laid out and stylishly decorated (you will see them on the 360 tour) and all had a really friendly atmosphere.
Tanning: There are 3 areas to sunbathe, the activities pool where they do aqua aerobics and it was a constant source of hilarity. The quiet pool for folks wanting to read their books and chill out pool side and the beach. We loved the beach, it had separate cabanas and the bar had all the cocktails on offer. The jetty was fab too and we walked along it every day (I'm not keen on the water but still managed it) and the snorkelling off the end of the jetty looked amazing, I only snorkelled in the very shallow water but my OH went in off the deep end and was hooked!
Entertainment: The hotel put on a lot of things at night, bingo, gala dinners, theatre shows, sports in the sports bar, parties down the beach and other themed nights. If you want to get a copy of their schedule, use the email address on the website and they will send the most recent programme. We did do trips out to the Pyramids and the shopping centres last time but when we go back we will happily spend the full 14 nights in the hotel. If you wanted to you can go out and about via the Thomson rep's trips but the hotel also have a taxi and mini bus which is really reliable and take you to each of the main pubs/shopping areas and you just arrange the time they will pick you up and it is much cheaper than via Thomson.
The staff: The staff were all really friendly and helpful. We didn't have any major issues while on holiday but any questions on things like currency, getting extra juice sent to the room and arranging a taxi were all dealt with super quick and in a really nice way. The staff do seem to work long hours but even at the end of the day they are all still very forthcoming in their offers to help you and being happy and friendly towards the guests.
You can only book this hotel via the First Choice or Thomson website as it is one of their exclusives so watch it for a couple of weeks if you do fancy it as prices go up and down. It is one of their platinum hotels and this means you are the first to be dropped off from the airport and the last to be picked up on the way back which was actually really quite a bonus.
The cocktails were so good it was at the beach drinking them that we decided to get married!
If you are interested to go to this hotel here is the link to the company website, you just need to click on Sharm El Sheikh to find it, have a look at the 360 tour if you can as it really gives you a good idea of the lay out
For a cocktail lover like me this hotel is ideal. It is a bit more expensive than other hotels very close to it, but friends have been to those and this hotel and have always commented that the food and drink is not as good in the other hotels so we are happy to pay a bit more to get the better drinks and food. If you are thinking of going drop me a line and I can answer any questions you have.
We recently spent two weeks in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt and we stayed at the all-inclusive resort Club Magic Life in Naqb Bay. I was a bit dubious about Sharm as I haven't heard the best things about the area, but the need for a holiday of sunbathing and generally relaxing, plus a couple of recommendations from friends meant that I went ahead and booked it.
Location and First Impressions
Naqb Bay is about twenty minutes away from Naama Bay (which is the main resort in Sharm El Sheikh) and it is closer to the airport. It is just a fifteen minute transfer from the airport, which is great for getting there quickly, but also means that the hotel is pretty much under the flight path. It's not a massive problem as the flights aren't continual throughout the day but there do seem to be busy periods where the planes overhead are quite low and quite loud. You can get a shuttle bus from the hotel to Naama Bay for five Euros return and the fairly new Soho Square is about ten minutes away in a taxi.
We arrived at the hotel at night so first impressions were of quite a grand hotel that has a sweeping driveway that is all lit up and lined with well-manicured gardens. This turned out to be the standard of the whole resort; everything about it is well presented and meticulously maintained. The whole place is like a little village and we were there for days before we found our way around completely. The resort is made up of lots of little buildings linked by gardens and paths. The buildings are all only two or three storeys.
Checking in is a simple and relatively quick process. The hotel is obviously aware of when guests are due to arrive as there are extra staff at reception to help speed things up. When you arrive, the porter will take your case and direct you to the reception desk, where you fill in a little form and hand over your passport for the staff to take a photocopy. Once this is done you get your room key and you have to tell the porter which room you are in. It seems fiddly but the whole process is surprisingly smooth. I think at this point you are supposed to wait for the porter to show you to your room but we decided that we wanted to catch dinner before it closed so we headed off on our own. It only took a few minutes for our cases to arrive after we did - pretty good service considering the number of people that checked in at the same time as us!
We were on the third floor on our block (number fourteen) there are about twenty rooms in each block spaced over three floors. I'd definitely recommend requesting a third floor room, because they seem to offer much more privacy. However do bear in mind that there are no lifts to higher floors so if can't use stairs then you will need to be on the ground floor. We had a garden view room which was excellent. I don't remember being given the option to upgrade to a sea view room, but having now been there, I wouldn't bother. As the highest rooms are only on the third floor, much of the view of the sea is obscured by the tall palm trees, even if you are right at the front of the resort by the beach. The other thing with the sea view rooms is that they tended to be near the restaurants that are all close to the beach as well so in the evening, you'll be overlooking people eating their dinner, which isn't my idea of fun. The balconies are large and it seems such a shame to waste them by not being able to use them for fear of hungry people looking up at you!
The rooms themselves are very spacious and bright. I have read people elsewhere say that they are a little dated and could do with a refurb, but I didn't think that at all. I thought that the rooms were well presented and comfortable. They aren't the most luxurious rooms on the planet but they are very of a very good standard. Our room had a double bed that was huge and the mattress was so comfortable - I had fourteen extremely good night's sleep! The rooms are kitted out with the usual - LCD TVs, dressing table, sizeable wardrobe. There is also an electronic safe in each room. The TV channels are pretty basic - there are a few English channels including BBC World News (which I loathe) and a movie channel. Normally i wouldn't mind about this because I don't watch TV on holiday, but with the sun going down earlyish ( around 4pm), there was quite a gap between leaving the beach and going for dinner and it might have been nice to have more variety for that.
The bathrooms again are very suitable: large and well lit with a walk-in shower cubicle and oversized sink. I particularly liked the fact that the shower cubicle was slightly lower than the rest of the bathroom, meaning that the water was contained rather than soaking the floor. The showers are powerful and there was never a dip in the hot water despite it being such a big resort. There is also a hairdryer in the bathroom, but it's about as powerful as a hand fan so not really worth the effort!
Housekeeping came every day and they did a very good job. i would always recommend using the safe for valuables because you can never be too sure, but on a few occasions, we accidentally left money or phones left out and they were always there when we got back, so no problems with security.
The Restaurants and Bars
The hotel is all-inclusive and, unlike some of the others I have stayed in, everything is actually included in terms of food. Main meals are taken in the Magico Restaurant which is a buffet. You can have breakfast lunch and dinner in there. Breakfast is good and includes everything you would expect; sausages, eggs cooked to order, fruits, yoghurt, cereals, pastries, fresh bread and so on. I found that, after two weeks, it did become a bit samey as it was the same choice every day - it's up to you to vary it I suppose. Lunch and dinner were similar and included a huge salad station, lots of fresh bread and a wide range of main dishes that are all served from show counters. Dinner offers a bit more variety as they have different theme nights every night, repeated every two weeks. Themes include Mexican, Chinese, seafood and Egyptian, although lots of the staple popular items appear every night regardless of the theme. These tended to include things like pasta dishes and curries as well as basics like pizza and chips, so fussy eaters will always find something to eat. For a bit of extra variety, you can eat at the Buffet Around the World at lunch time. This one is open from 12 until 4pm and is based down by the beach. It is partially open air and so makes for a great place to for a break from the beach. The variety isn't as good as the main restaurant, but it is great for a snack rather than a full meal.
There are three a la carte restaurants as well; Mai Thai (Thai), Sofra (Egyptian) and Baia (Seafood). We enjoyed all of them although Baia was our favourite because it was a little more sophisticated and the presentation and quality of the food and service was particularly good. In both Baia and Sofra there are a couple of the dishes on the menu that you get automatically so just bear that in mind when you are deciding what to order. In Sofra we were going to order starters and main courses but when the bread and selection of dips came we decided against a starter because it was such a large portion.
The food in general is well cooked and fresh. They managed to keep more or less everything warm as well which is always difficult in buffet type restaurants in particular. We found it much more pleasant to eat in the a la carte restaurants as they offer a much more sophisticated dining experience. You can really tell that the hotel have tried hard to make it a different experience from the hustle and bustle of the buffet, with all the little touches like warm towels to start and being able to order full bottles of wine, and it really does make a nice difference.
Having said all of that, there were a couple of issues I had with the dining at Club Magic Life. Firstly the booking process for the a la carte restaurants was a pain. You have to go to guest services the day before you want to eat and book a table. It's supposed to be open from 2pm until 6pm, but the limited places are usually gone by half two at the latest because people queue up before it opens. You can only eat at each restaurant once per week, so it isn't really awful but I could have done without it.
The other problem I found was the opening times for the restaurants, particularly the buffet. It is open for four or more hours at both breakfast and lunch, but in the evening it is only open from 6pm until 9pm. We found that very few people used it before seven thirty and so after then it was completely packed until it closed. I'd have thought it would be much better to open until 10 so that you can stagger it a bit. The a la carte restaurants too are only open until 9.30 and the latest time you can book to sit down is 7.30, which again I thought was a bit early, because it then means that you are at a loss for something to do once you've eaten, rather than being able to make an evening of it.
There are a few other places to relax around the hotel including a coffee shop that offers cakes and pastries as well as an American bar (which incidentally is one of the only places in the resort that you can get a decent internet connection) and The Eagles Lounge, which is a bar both inside and outside that offers a comfortable place to sit. All of these places are included in your holiday price and, together, they mean that you can get something to eat or drink pretty much anytime of the day. I think I worked out that the only time you can't get food is from midnight until 6am.
Entertainment and Passing the Time
Sunbathing is obviously the first choice of 'activity' in these parts and there is plenty of opportunity to do it. We preferred the beach because it was generally quieter and I love looking out tosea. It can get a bit windy by the beach, but they have huge wind breakers and the beach staff are happy to move them around to make them into a little den for you. There is also a beach bar so you don't have to wander far for a drink! If you prefer the pool, there are two in the resort. The bigger one is absolutely huge but is where all the daytime activities take place so it can get very noisy. There is also a DJ booth near this pool, so it creates more of a party atmosphere. The sun umbrellas here are also fixed so it can be difficult to find a bed that isn't completely shaded for large parts of the day. The other pool is the relax pool which is much smaller but a lot more people. We noticed that a lot of the older guests seemed to gather around this pool during the day.
There is an entertainment team at the hotel and they do work hard. With it being a resort that is a bit in the middle of nowhere it does need to provide something to do, particularly once the sun has gone in. There are a lot of exercise based activities during the day that you can just turn up for including beach volleyball, boules, meditation and step aerobics. There are also five tennis courts and you can borrow equipment for free and there is a gym which is small but has pretty much everything you need. Almost everything is included in the holiday price, the only things that you had to pay more for were tennis lessons, spa treatments and hire of snorkelling and diving equipment. If the latter is your thing, there is a jetty leading out past the shoreline reefs and, as long as the flag isn't red, you can go swim and snorkel during the day. I'd highly recommend it because the reefs and the fish around them are absolutely stunning - I am absolutely not a fan of the sea, but I loved it, as long as I didn't think about the scary stuff that might be in there!
Every evening there is some form of show, usually at the amphitheatre. I'm not one for shows generally but they passed the time. Some of the shows were terrible, others were actually much better than I expected. The only problem with the shows is that they are outside and it does get pretty cold in the evening. They do provide little blankets, but you'll need some warmer clothes anyway.
Price and Is It Worth It?
We booked the hotel as part of a package so I'm not entirely sure how much the hotel cost us. There was a price list inside the room that said our room was 120 per night per room. It didn't say which currency it was in though and I wouldn't like to guess because they do seem to use all kinds of currencies in these parts. Our package was around £1700 for two of us for two weeks to give you an idea. The hotel is a five star hotel and it certainly does have the facilities to warrant this so I'd say it is worth it. It isn't the most luxurious in the world, but it is clean, the staff are very friendly and there are plenty of facilities. I would recommend the hotel but perhaps only for a one week holiday because the food and surroundings can get a bit repetitive, plus there isn't very much to do outside of the hotel either. Overall I'd say it is a lovely place for a nice relax and to enjoy some time in the sun.