Belfast Telegraph

TRAVEL GUIDE: Egypt

If you’re like me, one of the main reasons you go on holiday is to escape the rain. Well, Egypt could be the perfect destination for you.

My wife and I went in November and were delighted to discover that sunshine is pretty much guaranteed all year round. We basked in 30 degrees under a cloudless sky the entire holiday. We travelled to Egypt with Falcon Holidays and stayed in Holiday Village Red Sea in Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula.

The Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Red Sea, is famous for its endless sandy beaches, mountains and rich coral reefs. Sharm el-Sheikh is also one of the most accessible and developed tourist resort communities in the area, packed with fake Bedouin tents, bazaars, casinos, nightclubs, an 18-hole golf course and plenty of health facilities.

We had an all-in deal at the large, well-equipped hotel which enjoys a beachfront location, close to some of Egypt's best diving sites. That included a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, one visit per week to each of the a-la carte restaurants, snacks, ice cream, afternoon tea and unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

The food here is fantastic. Everything from the buffet breakfast to the a-la carte dinners is top class with plenty of choice.

One of our favourite mealtimes was lunch at the beach. To save you the hassle of leaving your spot on the beach, a hot lunch, such as chicken and chips, is served which you then take back to your sun lounger or eat at the beach bar. And the staff even serve you complimentary drinks while you sunbathe on the beach, making you feel like some sort of Pharaoh!

In the evening you have the choice of eating in the buffet restaurant, which doesn’t require a booking and offers a more relaxed atmosphere.

Alternatively there are a number of a-la carte restaurants, which you need to book in advance. We ate in the Indian, Mediterranean and Chinese restaurants which all provided excellent service and cuisine. We also ventured a little further down the beach to the Holiday Village’s sister resort Coral Sea and sampled their Italian restaurant, which was fantastic.

This is a very family friendly complex and there seemed to be a lot on offer for children including live entertainment, kids clubs and activities such as a zip wire and water slides. For adults there are plenty of bars, live entertainment and pub quizzes. The relaxed atmosphere makes for a totally chilled out holiday.

One of the main advantages of this destination is that it caters for those who are simply after a relaxing break but also for the more active tourist. And one of the key attractions is the diving. The Red Sea boasts over a thousand species of fish and, in places, the reef stretches way out to sea forming an elaborate system of caves, lagoons, gardens and plateaus. We opted for the more relaxing form of snorkelling, which can be done off the edge of the hotel pier.

It’s amazing how accessible the reef is and the amount of sea life on view.Watersports opportunities are everywhere and I decided to have a go at windsurfing. My one-hour lesson cost £20. Great fun but even more entertaining for my wife who, when she saw me wobbling past on the water, felt the need to interrupt her sunbathing to come and take some embarrassing photos.

We spent a lot of our time on the hotel beach with its fantastic facilities and you can’t beat lying looking out on the clear turquoise water.The Holiday Village also has a Health & Well Being Centre with an indoor swimming pool, steam and sauna rooms, hairdresser, beauticians, gym and spa facilities. We treated ourselves to a his and hers package which included a full body scrub and facial, swim, sauna and steam and a massage.

This couples package cost just £90. My wife also used the beautician’s for a manicure and pedicure.

There are plenty of excursions on offer if you find relaxing just too relaxing, including trips to the Pyramids and the Sphinx, the hustle and bustle of Cairo, a river cruise down the Nile or 4x4 trips through the desert. All of which can be arranged from the resort once you arrive. But we found the facilities on offer were enough to keep us at the complex for a chance to completely unwind. Sharm el Sheikh, with its friendly staff, great atmosphere and facilities, has really got the lot.

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