We are back from our week away to get some winter sun. We were looking for somewhere hot and weren’t planning on doing much more than tanning and reading. Based on a that brief, a friend of a friend recommended El Gouna, Egypt. After doing some research on Trip Advisor we decided it sounded exactly like what we were looking for (let me point out that although we were heading to the culturally rich country of Egypt, we didn’t intend to venture near anything cultural…except for observing the resort camel or tasting locally brewed beer).
El Gouna, from what we could tell, was completely built to be a tourist destination…7 years ago it was pure desert now it is 14 hotels, a USPGA golf course, a marina and a downtown area. The area is completely assessable via tuk tucks which you could take around the area for a flat fee of 5 Egyptian Pounds per person no matter where you wanted to go (about 62 pence or $1.14 CDN).
The downtown area was walking distance from our hotel and includes a bunch of restaurants (Thai, Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Pub, etc etc), a supermarket and various other shops. The Marina was a bit farther away but also had a number of restaurants and a collection of private yachts that could rival Monaco.
The El Gouna tourist board (or whomever manages this mini paradise area) has encouraged the hotels not to offer just all inclusive packages to get hotel guests to leave their resorts and drive business to the downtown and marina restaurants. We opted for a bed and breakfast option which worked out well as we were spoiled for choice when it came to food between the resort, marina and downtown. There was a 2 hour time difference but the hubby adjusted to the LET (Local eating time) well and we started testing the restaurants out right away. The food was excellent (minus the minuscule mini bar snacks) and we couldn’t help but notice the effort that each restaurant took in their presentation.
The staff at both the restaurants and resort were incredibly friendly, honest and never did someone approach us to sell us anything or imply that they wanted a tip for anything. One night we went to the Seventh Star restaurant at the marina, when we left I noticed that I had far less cash in my wallet than I thought we had. We talked it through and convinced ourselves that I hadn’t lost it, that we had in fact somehow spent it. Two nights later we went back to the same restaurant (because it was so good and they were so friendly) and the manager walked up to us and asked us if we had lost some money the night before…stunned we said yes at which time he said ‘don’t worry I kept it for you’. Needless to say they received a good (and very well deserved) tip that night.
Our resort (Movenpick El Gouna) was great, it was immaculately clean, food was amazing and we were never at a loss for where to suntan as there were 3 pools, 3 lagoons and 1km of sandy beach along the Red Sea. All in all it was lovely and reminiscing about all of this makes me miss it already!
I could ramble on and on (as I do) but will stop and just throw in some pictures as they probably say it better than I could ever do.