“ Address: Awameya Road / Kings Island / Luxor 1111 / Egypt / Tel: +20 (0) 95 2274-855 „
Once owned by Mövenpick and called Jolie Ville Crocodile Island Luxor has now changed to Maritim Jolie Ville Kings Island Luxor. Maritim is a family owned and run company and they have been around since 1969 and are more well known in Germany in a lot of the large cities but their hotel portfolio is now over fifty strong in several countries around the world. Maritim's motto is 'meetings and accommodation under one roof', and they pride themselves on good old German hospitality. The Maritim Jolie Ville Kings Island Luxor is just one of five they own in Egypt, they have three in Sharm El Sheikh one in Alexandria and the one I'll be reviewing in Luxor. This was my fourth trip to the island and it may not be the last as the planned, and already underway, revitalisation and modernising thus doubling of the capacity with extra new bungalows and two more swimming pools is a bit tempting to say the least. A large new reception was already nearly completed when we were there and the expansion of the bridge making it possible to have two way traffic on and off the island at any one time. My first two visits was when it was Mövenpick and there has been changes since Maritim took over but that's mainly to do with management the resort itself is just as tranquil, lush, relaxing and beautiful as it's always been. I must add that for all the building work that's going on at the moment we never once were bothered by any of it.
We booked our holiday with Thomson's for the first two weeks of July 2010, this is there quiet time with it being the hottest time of the year and the hotel has only 50% occupancy. You could choose between half board or bed and breakfast we booked the latter. We flew Thomson-fly from Gatwick, Luxor flights are normally on Wednesdays and the plane is nearly always full. It takes four and three quarters hours to get there and the flight was one hour late taking off but they made the time up on the way. It was a very hot, stuffy and uncomfortable flight. Once you have landed and leave the plane is when you realise how hot it gets out there it takes your breath away, then a two minute bus ride to the terminal and passport control. This is where you get your visa which you usually buy using sterling but American dollars would be ok, it costs £10 each adult with reductions for children. Transfers from the Airport are about twenty minutes that's 14 kms to the resort and they normally have one other drop off in Luxor then its onward to 'Kings Island' due south from Luxor. A right turn off the main road and across the private bridge with only a couple of minutes to the welcoming entrance to reception.
The hotel is situated on its own private island it is on the River Nile approximately 4 kilometres from Luxor and is an idyllic and beautifully landscaped escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life that you usually encounter with hotels and city life. There are 327 rooms housed in 21 bungalows spaciously spaced out on the lush green grass which has a labyrinth of treed walkways connecting all bungalows with all the places you need to get to. It is disabled friendly as the resort is nearly totally flat with only a couple of places that have steps but they have provided ramped walkways. Wi-Fi is free to all but has a weak signal in places and no signal in others. There are dozens of gardeners milling about all over the Island that are hard at work very early in the mornings and they do a terrific job of keeping all the trees, bushes and flowers in tip top condition.
At reception you will be booked in and given a map of the island and then given the keys to your room whilst your luggage is taken by the very busy bellboys. Each bungalow has around 16 rooms and are identified by a letter of the alphabet we were given A6 which is the closest to the centre of the resort, this was requested by me several weeks before we arrived by email. As I have mobility problems I sent the manager an email and informed him of my situation and he was happy to give me the room I asked for. The rooms I have to report are very old fashioned and in the seventies style but are extremely clean and tidy and have excellent air conditioning which you will find is essential. Rooms are equipped with hairdryers and a kettle with tea and coffee and milk supplied, irons and boards are supplied on request with a quick call from your room to the excellent dry cleaning and laundry service. All the bungalows/rooms are due for an upgrade over the next several months which will bring them up to date. Activities include a fitness and massage centre, a jogging track (far too hot), tennis courts, football and volleyball, table tennis, billiards and fishing. In the reception area there is a library, a very expensive shop for magazines and papers a cash point and bank.
There are two pools one is adults only and is aptly named the Tranquillity Pool which is a perfect place for the serious sunworshipper with temperatures averaging 45c and with hardly a breeze to speak of you will not fail to burn, no sorry, get a tan. There are always very friendly waiters around both pools to serve your every need, with soft or alcohol drinks that come with buckets of ice to chips and ice creams that are to die for. The second pool is a large infinity pool, this is where I spent at least four hours every day looking out over the very clear River Nile and watching the daily activity of the children swimming in the river and people in a couple of the small villages on the West Bank opposite going about their daily routines. On certain days every week the dozens of very large river cruise boats go past on there way to the various temples along the river towards Aswan. Around the pool areas there are plenty of comfy sun beds and the essential reed covered parasols with lots on the grassed areas for those that wanted more secluded privacy. They also have hammocks hanging between trees scattered around all over the island. Pool and sun bed towels are supplied free of charge, the pool has a waterfall that you can stand under and is quite powerful, near to the centre of the pool you can sit, relax and possibly read a book whist sitting in the Jacuzzi area. At one end is the very large kiddies pool section that has everything from climbing frames with water jets, chutes and slides and a sand pit, swings and slides close by. There is a kiddies club for ages between 4 and 12 open the whole year round. Ramses the camel makes daily appearances giving you the chance of a ride between the trees.
Food & Drink at the resort
The food generally is excellent but a little expensive, breakfast, from 5.30am till 10.30am daily is buffet style catering for the British as well as International cuisines with all types of cereal and fruit on offer, several fruit juices, coffee tea and milk. Hot food is freshly cooked by there top internationally trained chefs. You can have your eggs cooked any which way you want as there is a chef ready and waiting for your request, oh and remember there is no bacon here at all. This is the main à-la-carte restaurant that serves constantly changing themed buffet nights including the very delicious Egyptian, American, Italian, British, and other International favourites. 'La Fleur' restaurant is another serving à-la-carte international meals that is just a bit more posher. With a three course meal costing 154.00le = £17.50. The Sherazade is a garden restaurant overlooking The Nile serving baked food, pizza, sandwiches, ice cream, bbq'd meats and other Egyptian specialties. Warning if dining outside in the evening make sure you have covered yourself with a good mosquito spray as you will be covered in bites in no time at all. The Kings Bar, open till 11pm, is inside and next to reception and serves drinks and beverages including soups, beef and chicken burgers, salads, Margherita pizza 48.00le = £5.43, club sandwiches 52.00le = £6 and plenty of chips 12.00le = £1.36 per serving. A bottle of Lager, Stella 500ml was 30le = £3.95, a glass of white wine was 40.00le = £4.52 and a can of Seven up at 15.00le = £1.70. The pool bar, Nakheel Terrace, serves up snacks, refreshments and most of what you can order at The Kings Bar but you have to try there absolutely gorgeous ice creams. You can buy bottles of water at any time, at 13.00le = £1.47 from all of the above, or have it delivered to your room as they have a good room delivery service.
Food and Drink in Luxor
Every other night we would go into Luxor as eating and drinking in can get a bit expensive especially if you like a drink, the cheapest bottle of wine was 150le = £16.90. Just ask at the front desk for a taxi and it will be there in a couple of minutes they charge 20.00le = £2.26 one way but if you want they will wait outside until you have finished your meal and then take you back to the resort for another 20.00le. There is now plenty of restaurants with various cuisines to choose from. Most of them cater for the British but also you can try the genuine Egyptian specialities they are really worth giving it a go. My top three places to eat and drink are:- The Jewel of the Nile, Puddleduck and The Lantern, we had a three course Sunday roast at The Jewel of the Nile for 75.00le = £8.50 a head and it was beautiful. A bottle of Stella here is 15.00le = £1.69, sprite was 7.00le = .79p and a bottle of wine is 75.00le = £8.47. So as you can see it is a lot cheaper eating and drinking out than back at the resort, although they estimate that 80% of their guests will never leave the resort, but our method was just to go and do what we all fancied at the time, if we had a busy day we would stay on the island and eat there and we always had drinks in the rooms fridge for these reasons. Most of the restaurants that we ate at in Luxor had a drinks takeaway service, at no additional cost so filling the fridge was a whole lot cheaper. Just be aware that there is a corkage charge at the hotel so don't make it too obvious that you are sneaking in drinks and snacks. I mentioned snacks because there is also an 'open all hours' mini supermarket called Arkwrights in Luxor here you can buy a lot of your essentials like chocolate, crisps, drinks, fresh bread, tins of tuna and many of the toiletries you may have run out of but you cannot buy alcohol here. Most taxi drivers will know Arkwrights and all of the restaurants and will wait while you do your shopping. Luxor also has the usual fast food outlets namely KFC, McDonald's and Pizza Hut.
Twice a week you can book up for a very entertaining evening at the Fellah's Tent, where lots of people from many of the hotels in Luxor can also join in. So for 240.00le = £27 per head you are given a traditional robe called a galabaya in different bright colours and there is a photo shoot then you all board and are sent out on a Felucca for half an hours sailing to watch the sunset. You then land at the bottom end of the island and after a short walk you arrive at what can only be described as a really large Bedouin tent where there is another photo shoot. You are taken to your table and are given copious amounts of wine, beer and soft drinks for the rest of the evening. They have a traditional local band playing, there's a fabulous belly dancer that you get the chance to join in with, oh and another photo opportunity. Then it's time for the snake charmer, the amazingly fast and colourful Whirling Dervish, also including singing, dancing and folklore shows after that the beautiful buffet starts. What a treat, it was brilliant and plenty of it, we were up two or three times and by the end of it all fully satisfied with the whole joyous evening.
Places to visit
There is a daily free shuttle bus, outside of reception, and a water taxi service that runs morning and evening to and from Luxor, you can book Felucca rides along the river at any time for a small charge, they will drop you off and collect you from some of the hotels that are along the front in Luxor. They also take you out for a day trip to Banana Island and Bird Island they will cook you an authentic Egyptian meal with drinks for a reasonable price.
Valley of the Kings is a must with 62 labyrinth-style tombs where the Pharaohs were put to rest. including and most famous for Howard Carter's 1922 discovery of KV 62 Tutankhamun. Next the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut carved from the cliff face and then explore one of the 65+ tombs in the Valley of the Queens then onto the Colossi of Memnon, two massive statues that stand guard over the area.
Another must do half day trip is the Karnak and Luxor Temples, Karnak being just three km north of Luxor here there's the amazing 134 pillars of its Hypostyle Hall and you will be able to walk the Avenues of the Sphinxes and then Luxor Temple and the 80foot obelisk and colossus of Ramses II.
There is quad biking, sunrise hot air balloon ride on the West Bank, a two day trip to Abu Simbel which includes a train and boat journey visiting Aswan Dam and the great temple itself Abu Simbel and then an overnight stay in a top hotel. There are trips to the Red Sea and there's Cairo by air. Not forgetting the Luxor Museum.
There's not an idle one among them they are always on the go and will do anything to help. They are friendly and very polite, they can have a conversation with quite a few nationalities, more than what we can do, and you can tell it's not forced, At breakfast if you don't fancy there fairly strong coffee then you can just ask one of the waiters if you could have Nescafe and they will bring it with boiling water. My wife only drinks Soya milk and we mentioned this to them and the next day, after a few phone calls, there it was thank you. You may of read on some other review sites that they are always holding there hands out for tips but this is not true, well it's never happened to us, I'm not saying you can't give tips because you can it is allowed. If you buy food or drink for instance you can pay cash, (Egyptian), each time or you can put it to your room number and settle up when you want at the reception. We took with us as much Egyptian currency as we thought we would need and ran out but there is a cash machine thankfully. Keeping your money and valuables secure is not a problem as all rooms have a safe.
Our whole experience can only be described heavenly, and yes I would certainly recommend it to all except those that thrive on having a busy nightlife of clubs, disco's and music and with plenty of bars, because here it's very serene, quiet and relaxing. What the new year brings after all the building work has finished with the extra bungalows, two more swimming pools, an Italian restaurant and whatever else they have planned I do hope that it won't change what a vast number of guests say is paradise. Lets just hope that Kings Island can stay afloat with twice as many guests visiting. With so many place to visit this is the perfect hub for whatever you plan to do.
Phone: +20 (0) 95 2274-855
Fax: +20 (0) 95 2274-936
Reservation phone: +49 (0) 6151 905-790