“ Address: Sharm El Sheikh / Egypt „
So for this years holiday I decided to use our Tesco club card vouchers as part payment to save a little bit of ready cash, to do this however we were limited to one tour operator and this was Cosmos. We do like to do all inclusive as we know that all food and drink will be paid for and we only need to take spending money for gifts etc. so picked up the Cosmos All Inclusive Brochure from the local travel agents and started looking through to pick our annual holiday. I quite fancied trying Tunisia for a change but read a couple of reviews and didn't fancy the hotel I had picked so settled on going back to Egypt for the 3rd time, 2nd time to Sharm El Sheikh knowing we would be guaranteed the weather and we knew what to expect from the area.
We first visited Sharm about two years ago but was not happy with the hotel that we picked last time, (it was the First Choice Holiday Village and had it not been for the lovely weather I would have sworn we had gone to Butlins, as all these family villages are the same all over the world you have no idea what country you are in) so this time we wanted a more Egyptian hotel.
The Sea Club resort is owned by Flash International who operate a number of cruise ships along the Nile and a number of hotels along the Red Sea (3 in Sharm) which they claim offer 5* luxury and you can use the facilities in any of their hotel in the area, what more could anybody want.
So holiday booked, Tesco's shelves cleared of every sun cream and medical remedy possible, everything including the kitchen sink packed and an excited 3 year old in tow we set off for two weeks at the seaside.
The Sea Club Resort and Sea Life Resort (both owned by Flash International and situated next door to each other) are located 5km from Sharm Airport and about 20 km from Naama Bay (Sharm El Sheikh city centre).
Anybody that has flown to the different planet known as Sharm El Sheikh International Airport will know that when you eventually escape bedlam all you want to do is check into your hotel and relax. After 3 hours in bedlam we boarded our bus for the 5 to 10 minute journey and arrived at the luxurious hotel. Check in, in the large impressive marble floored reception area with a few settees and coffee tables dotted about, was very quick, three receptionists dealing with three groups of people, forms signed, passports copied we were given our beach towel cards and key we were taken by the concierge to our room just in time for a quick wash and dinner, with our luggage arriving at our rooms about 5 minutes after we got there.
The Sea Club has 350 rooms of which 288 are twin bedded, 42 are king sized bedded and 20 are junior suites. The rooms are situated in blocks of 20 - 40 rooms nestled in gardens around the swimming pool. The blocks are designed in an Andalusian style and are painted cream. Looking at the rooms, only a few have a sea view for which you pay extra although included in this upgrade are bath robes, slippers, beach towel, afternoon tea, candlelit dinner and fruit basket in room on arrival but most have a view of the pool and the gardens. All rooms have a safe, satellite TV, mini-fridge containing 1 large bottle of water per person (not stocked again throughout the stay), shower and toilet, hair drier, air-conditioning and a balcony or terrace. Rooms with 2 children have bunk beds or with 1 child another single bed.
The rooms are of a reasonable size with plenty of room to move around, even though we had an extra bed for Holly. Two chairs and a coffee table are sat in front of the door that takes you out to the terrace/balcony. The room includes a dressing table which the television sits on and three draws. Next to this is a bench before the mini fridge and a large cupboard with 4 shelves, one of which houses the safe and finally a large double wardrobe with 8 hangers. The wardrobe was big enough to house our 3 suitcases and two hand luggage holdalls. We could have done with a few more draws and maybe some more shelves but you can't be greedy.
The toilet/shower room was of a decent size with a hand basin set in a marble top and a rail for one hand towel per person and a squeezy soap container containing Lux hand soap. The toilet and bidet with various water hoses attached and a toilet brush. A rail for one bath towel per person and the walk in shower containing another squeezy soap container, this time filled with Lux shampoo and body soap. OnePictures of Sea Club Resort
The pool at the Sea Club Resortproblem I found was that the shower had no soap dish to put your own bar of soap.
The balcony or terrace is a reasonable size and had two plastic chairs in it.
When we arrived in the room the bed for Holly was still outside but the cleaner soon put this in position and made it up in a couple of seconds.
Electricity is powered by inserting your key ring into a slot at the side of the front door.
The Main Restaurant
The main buffet style restaurant can be found on the ground floor of the main building. This restaurant serves breakfast from 7 am till 10.30, Lunch from 12.30pm till 2.30 and Dinner from 6.30 pm till 10 pm. On arrival at the restaurant you go to the restaurant reception desk, where the receptionist asks how many are in your party before you wait for a member of the management to take you to a free table to seat you. Personally I think this is a good idea because it saves you wandering aimlessly around the restaurant looking for free tables although you may have to wait around 10 minutes to be seated.
The evening dinner menu is promoted at 14 days 14 ways. For two weeks they have a different theme for dinner, including American, Indian, Asian, French, Fish Night, BBQ, Lebanese, Italian etc.
This is a Seafood/Italian Restaurant overlooking the beach. This offers a lunch of Italian dishes including freshly cooked pasta, pizzas and salads served from 12.30 till 2.30 and again you wait to be seated.
Dinner in this restaurant is served from 8pm till 11 pm and again is a buffet type but features a fish market and a catch of the day (Extra Charge) booking is required in the evening.
An A la Carte French Restaurant located upstairs in the main building next to the reception. This is open for dinner from 7 pm till 11 pm. This is again extra charge (depending what you have) and booking is again required.
These serve a fish or Meat menu where you cook you own food in a fondue. We had a Beef Fondue and the cost was 60 Egyptian pounds each around £7.50 in our money (depending on exchange rate) and is well worth every penny. We had about 1lb of beef each served with chips and rice and dips.
Bar/ Room Service Menu
There is a bar menu served in the lobby bar only and room service menu available but they are the same. Sandwiches, Steak and Chicken are available. We tried the Fillet Steak out for 50 Egyptian pounds each (about £6.50), two pieces of Fillet steak served with chips and vegetables (well if you can call them vegetables one thin slice of red/green pepper and one mange tout!). We ate this in the main restaurant, so I was still able to get Holly food from the all inclusive buffet and we was able to have desserts from the all inclusive again (crafty).
Snacks are available at the pool bar but these are at extra cost. We tried a large Pizza which cost 35 Egyptian pounds (just under £4.50) and was just big enough for the 3 of us.
Burgers and Hot dogs are served at the beach bar and are included in the all inclusive price.
The hotel has 4 bars. The lobby bar which is open 24 hours and located on the first floor, adjacent to reception. The pool and beach bars are open from 10 am till sunset and the Jungle Bar/Disco is open from 11pm till 2 am. All bars have a fair amount of seating although we never paid a visit to the Jungle Bar.
All inclusive drinks include soft drinks of Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Soda Water, Tonic Water, Diet Cola and Sprite, fruit juices out of cartons and mineral water. Local Beer (according to Darren this was drinkable), Local White, Rose and Red Wine, (again drinkable), Local Spirits of Vodka, Gin, Rum, Whisky and Brandy (all made in Egypt) and Tea and Coffee. These are available free of charge between the hours of 10 am and 10.30 pm although the brochure says 11pm. Tea and coffee are available free of charge at breakfast time in the main restaurant. All international drinks need to be paid for.
The hotel has one large pool with sun loungers and wooden shade umbrellas around the pool and if you are lucky enough a table as well. The pool depth is between 1.5 metres to 1.8 metres and has two bridges for you to cross from one side to the other. A small round children's pool is situated to the side of the main pool and is about 1 metre deep. We only went in the pool a couple of times as it was freezing.
Next to the pool is the beach towel hut where you hand over your towel card in exchange for a clean towel and drop your dirty towel off in exchange for your towel card. Toilets and showers are located next to the pool.
The Private Beach.
The beach has a pier that takes you out past the lagoon so you are able to snorkel in the sea. Again the beach equipped with sun loungers and shade umbrellas and something else I have never seen other than in this country, wind breakers. Wind breakers I hear you say, yes wind breakers, the resort seems to have a bit of a problem with wind! It gets very windy in the morning, so windy that you can not snorkel in the sea until the white flag is raised, and this tends to be around lunch time prior to that they have a black or red flag up and should you dare walk over the lagoon coral you will get whistled and shouted at by the life guards. In fact one morning the wind was so bad that the waves were coming up the 10 foot of beach to the first row of sun loungers and the same morning it was so windy that the wind breakers were blowing over squashing the people relaxing under them. The wind breakers came in handy in the afternoon as extra shade if you are with a little one who wants to play in the sand all day. One thing I need to mention is the sand seems very dirty I washed Holly's swimsuit and shorts every night in the shower and put them out to dry but no matter how much I scrubbed them they were still dirty. Needless to say the swimsuit and shorts never made it back to the good old Blightly.
From the beach you get a very good view of Tiran Island which is part of the Ras Muhammad National Park (and is believed to be the location of where Moses parted the Red Sea), along with a view of a ship wreck which seemed to be a popular location for day trip snorkelling boats.
If you fancy a camel ride, the hotel has a resident camel complete with canvas bag strapped to his bottom to collect the poo! I never enquired how much for a ride as I didn't want to encourage the man to keep hassling us and for the first few days Holly thought it was a monster and burst into tears a couple of times so the man kept clear.
There are no toilets anywhere near the beach but luckily our room was in the last block before the beach so it was easier to go to our room that walk to the toilets by the pool.
The hotel has various activities throughout the day, including Volley Ball, Water Polo and Aerobics. A kids club which was open for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. Holly was too young to attend as the club is for 4 - 11 year olds. I had a wander to the kids club, situated in a building about halfway between the main building and pool and found one girl in there colouring in a picture and a very bored looking woman sitting there filing her nails! Outside the kids club was a play area with a very old and dirty looking swing/slide contraption. We took Holly to play on this one evening before sunset but she fell off the swing so that was the end of that.
The resort also has a billiard room and table tennis, a Tennis Court which is free to use during the day but a 10 Euro charge of a evening. A five a side football pitch and an externally run diving centre at extra charge of course.
The resort also has a free to use gym on site situated in the health club area but the health club is chargeable.
The main bar has live music every night, either a singer, flutist, or guitar player. The singer must have learnt every song from Now that's what I call Music 20, all he ever sung was hits from the 80's.
The hotel, outside the entrance, has a amphitheatre for entertainment but the only time we ever saw this in use was for the kids disco that ran from 8.30 till 9 every night. There were toilets located just behind but no bar. We never made it to any of the night time entertainment that was either in the Jungle Bar or a beach party, mainly because it did not start till 11 at night and by the time the all inclusive drinks had finished and Holly would be so tired from her day building sand castles on the beach that we would all just collapse into bed way before this.
The resort has its fair share of gift shops all selling the standard rubbish noisy camels for that gift for somebody you don't really like! A gold and silver jewellers, beach wear, fashion wear, shop selling sweets, crisps and more importantly bucket and spade!, a pharmacy and a bank. The resort also has a cash machine on site however this does not accept Maestro or Solo Cards and neither does the bank. If your card has this on, you need to go to the resort next door where you are able to get cash from the machine (a maximum of 200 Egyptian pounds per transaction about £25.00 but you can use it more than once on the same day and pay the charges!) A doctor is available on site and charges 60 Eros per visit.
Now why on earth would you put a title of water features. Well it seems that Flash International are very fond of water features. They are everywhere. One at the entrance to the Restaurant, with a further 4 outside the main building. Not only that, they have moved the amphitheatre from inside the complex to build yet another water feature, this time is is about the size of medium size swimming pool, what a waste of space.
The staff are great, and really helpful. Most can speak every language possible but speaking to the staff you find out the hotel is not a nice place to work. Most are men and they come from Cairo to work there. They work for a solid 3 weeks from early morning to late at night and then get a coach back to Cairo for 5 days before returning. They earn about 600 Egyptian pounds per month (about £75.00) which is quite poor and they rely on the tip money, which has to be shared between all the staff. We spotted our cleaner cleaning the site at about 7 in the morning before he moved to clean his allotted 20 rooms between 10 am and 6 pm. We then spotted him cleaning out the toilets in the bar at 10 o'clock at night. On the day they are going home they work until 12 - 12.30 and then have to rush to their rooms to pack to be ready for their coach leaving at 2 pm. When asked why they work there, surely it would be better to work nearer home in the hotels in Cairo their reply was that the hotels in Cairo pay even less money.
Outside the front of this resort is absolutely nothing. No shops no nothing just nothing. You can not walk anywhere. The hotel does run a free shuttle bus into Naama Bay but you can only use this at set times namely 10.30 in the morning and return at 12.30 or 6.30 in the evening and return at 10.30. If you want to stop longer, say you catch the morning bus out but want to return on the evening bus, you can't, you have to get a cab back. We only went on pre-arranged excursions due to having Holly. We have found in the past that shops entice children in by offering sweets and they know that the parents will follow and if you are on a time limit of 2 hours you may not get out of the shop in time to catch the bus back.
There are a number of people selling excursions at the hotel although Cosmos recommend you book through Cosmos. I did price up an excursion on a submarine, Cosmos charged £27.00 per person and the same company through the hotel wanted 30 Euros per person. So it is worth checking out.
The Sea Life Resort.
This is the sister hotel owned by the same group and it is next door and easily accessible from the Sea Club resort. You are able to use the facilities in this hotel as well. On the third day we decided to take a walk to check out the Sea Life Resort. Well, on looks I'm glad we chose our resort, it is designed in a traditional Nubian Style (it looked more like the Bedrock village from the Flintstones, with its dirty red painted finish and dilapidated wooden chairs on the wooden balconies or terraces). The pool was tiny and everybody seemed to be sitting on each others lap with no privacy. The restaurant served the same meals but just with the days swapped about.
We did try the Teppanyaki Restaurant which featured a Japanese visual cooking experience. This again was at extra cost. It cost us about 111 Egyptian pounds each (14.00 each) for a 4 course meal of soup, followed by a Chicken salad, our main course of Beef and Vegetable stir-fry served with rice was cooked in front of us whilst we wore a Japanese dressing gown and sat at a bar type table during which time the chef cooked and threw our dinner onto our plate, and a dessert of fresh fruit and ice cream. I have to say it was well worth the money just for the experience alone.
They also have another charge extra restaurant called the El Dewania, which is a Lebanese restaurant serving a set menu of 4 courses of 10 Euros. Unfortunately we never got to try this restaurant out.
Check out is at 12pm however we wasn't leaving the hotel until 4 in the afternoon so enquired about late check out. For just under £10.00 we was able to stay in the room until 3 in the afternoon which meant a less stressful departure of trying to keep a three year old occupied in the main reception for three hours. Check up is easy just pay your bill if need be but beware if you pay on credit card they charge 3% on top and if you pay cash, funnily enough they never have any change, (yet another rip off).
Sounds quite a good place doesn't it but if you look out of the window now you may see a big black cloud approaching (at this point I had thought about typing in the Jaws theme music).
So here is the down side of stopping at this resort.
I am not house proud but I do like to see places clean, especially hotels. When we pushed to the single beds together to make a one bed, the dirt, sweets and other rubbish under the bed was disgusting. It looked as though the tiles had not been cleaned since the hotel had been built. I noticed a scrap of paper under the coffee table on the first night of our stay, two weeks later when we checked out this scrap of paper was still there although the area when the bed had been had been swept and mopped. The grouting in the shower was mouldy and in need of a good bleaching, in fact had I thought about it I would have taken a bottle of Dettol Mould and Mildew remover with me, I seemed to take everything else! Dirty plates were left outside rooms for days on end.
It seemed the cleaner was unable to count. There were 3 people in our room and yet for the first few days he only left 2 hand towels and 2 bath towels and as any woman knows a woman and a toddler need at least 6 towels to have a shower with. This was eventually rectified when I asked receptionist if our room was listed as have two people stopping instead of the three. By the time we got back to the room 6 towels had been left in our room which I hid for future use.
No matter how many times the sheets were changed, every time I got in bed they felt as though they had been washed with the beach towels, all gritty and sandy.
Now I know there is a credit crunch about but they never seemed to leave enough toilet paper, at one point I had to resort to stealing toilet paper off the cleaners trolley and hiding it just so we would have enough.
I'm not entirely sure that this was the cleaners fault, I worked out that in fact the poor man had around 25 minutes per room to clean and change along with sorting out the clean laundry for his block.
The rooms are also in need of an upgrade to replace broken floor and wall tiles and a lick of paint would not go amiss.
There was a dead inflatable crocodile outside our neighbours room in the garden on our first day of arrival, this was still there when we left two weeks later, although the gardeners had managed to kick it to a different position.
The hotel promotes its 14 days, 14 different ways as you enter the restaurant. Every day would be a sheet of paper pinned to a board telling you what night it was for dinner and also the vast array of meals that would be available, well maybe not vast array but around 10 however out of these 10 dishes you were lucky if you could find 4 that were mentioned. After the third night we realised that yes they have different theme nights but every night the food remained the same taste, Beef or Chicken but with a different name to correspond with that nights theme. There were about 12 large pots in the bain-marie although whether this was switched on and contained water is debatable. 3 would contain rice, 1 would contain pasta, two would contain vegetables, 2 would contain potatoes then two would contain the same beef dish all the stay of our holiday(Beef Casserole, Beef curry, Beef Stroganoff, Beef Goulash and Baked Beef, all these beef dishes looked and tasted the same!) and another one would contain the same chicken dish (again looking and tasting the same) and the final would contain baked fish or backed fish as it was labelled. This after one week became rather boring let alone two weeks.
We are not by any means fussy eaters, we enjoy curry and rice, pasta, different sauces and any meats. However I do like to see chicken cooked! The chicken was not always cooked properly so I stuck with the beef dish. The food would be stone cold when you put it on your plate. They did have a fresh pasta bar but the sauce would be warmed for about 20 seconds then the pasta would be added to the pan for 10 seconds and served to you still cold! (Ah maybe that is why they call themselves Flash International, the food gets a quick flash in the pan)
They did have a good selection of salads but everybody knows to steer clear of salads.
The desserts looked rather nice but every cake tasted the same, OK but nothing spectacular. The only dessert I found to be any good was the area where they cooked fresh deserts, either fried bananas or a deep fried batter balls covered with a chocolate sauce.
Breakfast didn't fair much better, the cooked breakfast was rather dire (mini chicken frankfurter sausage, beans, tomato, boiled potatoes, a fowl mash (Darren said it was mashed beans!) and an attempt at French toast), so we resorted to having the fresh omelettes that were cooked in front of you, this however turned sour as these started to be turned onto the plate still rather runny. I think the chefs must have got fed up with me complaining. It was then down to eating toast which you toasted yourself although they did have a very good selection of fresh bread and rolls. Oh I must say the pancakes at breakfast were quite nice especially covered in a chocolate sauce but even this started to become boring. Once again there was a good selection of salads or fresh fruit, but again you are told not to eat them.
We tried the burgers down at the beach bar. OK so the chef had gloves on but with these gloves on he would handle a raw burger onto the grill, still with the same gloves he would pick up the roll to cut, place some salad in it then fill it with the cooked burger or slightly heated Frankfurter Sausage. A case of cross contamination if ever I saw one!
Those readers who are squeamish please omit the * paragraphs but if you are thinking of stopping at this resort it may be in your best interests to read on.
*After four days the stomach cramps started, after that out came the Imodium tablets but these did not even touch the diarrhoea. After all the Imodium tablets had been consumed we paid a visit to the pharmacy, where the pharmacist opened the draw next to him and sold us two different types of tablets. These once again did not touch it, even though the pharmacist had said we wouldn't get diarrhoea for the next 50 years. A couple of days after that Holly started with the Diarrhoea, now all she was eating was the rice and pasta, one minute by the pool she said Mummy I want a poo the next second it was too late, it was everywhere. Now this to me, was a red rag to a bull, I could cope with me and Darren having it but when a three year old gets it this sent me spiralling out of control. I spotted the Cosmos Rep having his lunch so he got it in the neck, he then called the head chef, who did in all fairness offer to cook something fresh for Holly at every meal.
Once again we paid a visit to the pharmacy who made up a potion for Holly but it never worked. We spent one third of our spending money in this pharmacy (sorry Torr we were in no mood to haggle although Darren did tell the pharmacist that medicines for children were free in the UK but it never made any difference). Holly ended up spending the second week of her holiday in nappies but I had not taken enough so I went back to the pharmacy to spend another bank loan on a packet of nappies (£7.00 for 12), the pharmacist did ask how Holly was going on and we told him she was no better so he gave us a packet of sachets containing extra salts and vitamins to pour into her drink free of charge. He then told us to not eat the omelettes as they were not cooked to a hot enough temperature, don't eat the fresh fruit or salads and don't eat the burgers. Don't drink any of the soft drinks out of the pump dispensers and to only drink soft drinks out of bottles or cartons which was fruit juices or diet Cola or Sprite. So not much left there to eat or drink. That was why we started paying for food.
When walking around the restaurant we could see no end of people with these tablets sat on the table next to them or when you walked past the pharmacy the draw would be open and he would be selling yet another two packets. I started to think that the hotel and the pharmacy were in co-hoots and were splitting the profits from ripping the tourists off and that maybe Flash International should rename themselves as Flush International.
I was chatting to one of the receptionists one evening who asked me how I was enjoying the holiday so I told him about the diarrhoea, he took the same two packets out of his pocket and offered me half! So it seemed the staff had it as well.
We have never ever been ill on holiday so had no idea that if we had gone to see the doctor and paid 60 Euros plus any medication costs we could have claimed this all back on our insurance.'''*'''
OK you can start reading again now.
You are asked to sign and put your room number on a form for any drinks that you get from the bars or restaurant for apparent control purposes. Across the top would be written FOC but you needed to check these slips as you would sometimes find extra drinks added that were not yours so you could end up being charged for these. A couple we met were filling a bottle of diet coke up to take back to their room, they were told off and told that under no circumstances were you to take drinks back to your room, any drinks consumed in your room were to be ordered through room service for which you had to pay for. That meant you were allowed one large bottle of water each which was supplied in your fridge at the start of your stay for the whole of your stay for you to clean your teeth!
We went on an excursion to a Bedouin tent one evening in the desert and sampled their food which was a bad thing, the food was so nice that it completely put me off from eating in the main restaurant which is why we started paying to eat in the other restaurants.
The beach and pool had a rule of no reserving of sun beds, however on our first full day after breakfast we walked around the pool but could find no free sun beds under any shelter from the 30 degrees + sun so we went down to the beach. This again was full but we did manage to find one free umbrella so walked around the beach in search of free beds but we had no wind breaker and the sand was blowing up like a sand storm all around us. The following morning Darren broke the rules by going down and reserving three beds under an umbrella and a wind breaker with our own towels and the pushchair but it seemed everybody else had the same idea so when in Rome do as the Romans do! As far as we know nobody ever got told off for this.
As with all foreign hotels, the air conditioning never seemed to work. Darren told reception about this and they came to repair it but it worked even less then.
The water seems to be heated up by the sun as when it goes dark the water goes cold and the water pressure was so low that the water would not even come through the shower. Occasionally brown water would come out of the sink and shower tap (makes you wonder where it came from)
One thing that would have been nice was a bar that was open outside in the evenings, apparently there used to be one but they have shut it down, whether this is because it wasn't high season or had been permanently shut down we will never know.
Would I recommend this hotel.
In a word NO.
The hotel is suitable for families with younger children or older people who just want to relax and chill. If however you have older children or are young and hip, you will be bored witless. There is no music playing through the day and all the activities seem to be geared towards adults. The eldest child I spotted on the resort was about 9 but she had younger siblings and spend her time keeping them amused but if she had been on her own I'm not sure what would have kept her amused. There are no slides going into the pool and no activities that we saw geared to older children.
Flash International have given this hotel 5 stars, Cosmos have given it 4 stars, personally we have eaten better food in a 3 star hotel in Margarita (an Island off Venezuela) and have eaten better food from a road side caravan in this country and have not ended up with a dodgy stomach. I would say that yes the hotel is maybe a four star at a push but the food and cleaning I would not even give it 2 stars.
Towards the end of this holiday, to which I spent the second week counting down the days till we went home, I actually lost the will to live whilst lying on the beach, I couldn't even read my book, all I kept thinking about was the dismal food we would be having for tea.
Never before have I been so relieved to set foot on a plane to come home and never have I enjoyed an aeroplane meal so much in fact even Holly, who is not a great lover of a roast dinner, tucked into it.
Once we got home it took about another 4 days for our stomachs to return to normal which we kick started with a good old traditional meal of an Indian takeaway.
The resort is located directly on the beach front.