Jeannine Williamson checks out the second city of Egypt's Red Sea coast
In the home of the pyramids and the sphinx, burgeoning Hurghada is a modern-day success story. Located on the eastern coast, making it closer to the ancient wonders of Cairo than popular Red Sea cousin Sharm el-Sheikh, this classic sun, sea and sand destination has plenty of selling points.
SELL: VALUE AND QUALITY
“Hurghada continues to grow in popularity with UK holidaymakers,” says Jason Hilton, Red Sea Holidays sales director. “Sharm remains a firm favourite, however, we believe Hurghada will become equally popular over the next three to five years.
“The destination has grown from a traditional fishing village into a busy city centre with a wide range of traditional and high street-branded shops. The new Marina Boulevard is amazing, with luxury yachts and apartments, a fabulous array of bars and fine dining restaurants. Hurghada’s location makes it an ideal choice for combining a week by the Red Sea with a cruise along the Nile. As much as 80% of our 14-night holiday sales to Hurghada include a cruise.”
Photis Lambrianides, director of Olympic Holidays, says recent political unrest in Cairo has had a knock-on effect, even though Red Sea resorts have been unaffected. But this in turn has led to bargain prices, particularly with many clients evaluating the situation before making last-minute bookings.
“Hoteliers are being very supportive, helping us to win back business with lots of great reductions in particular for top-end four-stars and five-stars,” he explains.
The Egypt State Tourist Office offers regular fam trips and is currently holding a series of nationwide workshops. An online training programme and more information can be found in the agent section at gotoegypt.org.
STAY: more CHOICE
Hurghada is attracting a huge amount of ongoing investment, and while this is mainly at the luxury end of the market the region already boasts a wide range of accommodation. Coupled with the great deals available, this adds up to plenty of choice to suit all tastes and budgets.
Thomas Cook features the adult-only Sunrise Holidays Resort, while the Iberotel Aquamarine, included in Thomson’s Platinum range this winter, is popular with families and couples, with its 18 swimming pools, six restaurants and beachfront location.
“New hotels are being developed all the time,” says Omayma El Husseini, UK director of the Egyptian State Tourist Office. “The highest investment in hotels is concentrated in this area and all the international chains are represented.”
Also ideal for families is the 600-room Sunwing Waterworld Makadi, outside Hurghada, featured by operators such as Red Sea Holidays. The property includes four restaurants serving à la carte, set and buffet menus, several large pools and a water park. Sister company Red Sea Hotels is investing heavily in Hurghada with three new hotels opening this year and a further five planned over the next two years.
Appealing to mature couples and high-end clients, five new hotels linked by a promenade and a new golf complex are also underway in Hurghada’s premium resort area Sahl Hasheesh.
“The standard of hotels in Hurghada is high, from three-star to five-star,” adds Olympic Holidays’ Lambrianides. “And those who go won’t fail to be impressed when they see what they are getting for their money this year.”
SEE: DIVING AND DESERTS
Site of the Red Sea’s first commercial dive base, and a year-round playground for divers, snorkellers, wind and kite-surfers, the sea is undoubtedly the main attraction in Hurghada.
Whether clients are dipping their toe into the water for the first time or are seasoned divers looking to explore offshore reefs and wrecks, there are packages to suit all abilities. New products from Attraction World include a half-day Padi experience taster course for £55 and four-day open water course priced at £240.
Do Something Different’s most popular excursion is a snorkelling trip to Mahmya beach on Giftun Island, a 45-minute trip from Hurghada. Equipment is provided, with lunch served on the boat, and the trip is bookable at £34 for adults and £17 for children.
A great recommendation for families is the Jungle Aqua Park in the centre of Hurghada, which has more than 20 water slides, wave pool and rafting river. Adults looking for adventure can head out into the desert for the day to combine a jeep safari with quad biking and a camel ride followed by a visit to a Bedouin village and barbecue under the stars. These are both bookable through Attraction World with the aqua park priced at £40 for adults and £20 for children, and £36 for the desert trip.
And as Hurghada is just a 50-minute flight from Cairo, visitors can easily take in Egypt’s famous pyramids and sphinx on a one-day excursion offered by Attraction World for £225 for adults and £170 for children.
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