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Published: March 13th 2018
Hotel beach from the sea
The shoreline isn't bent, it's a fish eye lens!
The stress is overwhelming! It’s February half term and there’s another day of guaranteed sunshine to cope with on the beach. Do I lie on the sunbed and read? Do I don my snorkel and visit the exotic aquarium that is the Red Sea just yards off the shallow sandy shore? Shall I go for a walk and listen to the lapping of the waves, or nip into a shady bar for mid-afternoon beer? Or, should I just sit still, gaze out to the horizon, and let the distant cares of work just melt away? Just breathing deeply and weighing up the options is a pleasant enough pastime. Welcome to Fort Arabesque.
A combination of silly flight prices at February half term, and some bad luck with the weather, has caused us to (sadly) give the Canary Islands a miss these last couple of years. This year we returned to Makadi Bay and the hotel Fort Arabesque for a week’s all-inclusive break. Compare the cost of flights, add in the fact that we paid around £55 a night, then Egypt works out cheaper than the Canaries (of course I am tied to school holidays). And there’s
A pool bar
I never felt comfortable having a beer whilst sat in a pool.
a much better likelihood of good weather (25c most days).
I normally review a city/resort rather than a hotel but there’s nothing else at Makadi Bay other than resort hotels. The city of Hurghada is 40 mins drive to the north and westwards is the desert. Makadi Bay is not a cultural trip, it offers beach, sun, sea, and creature comforts. According to TripAdvisor there’s not much to choose between the hotels surrounding the bay but having walked through most of them several times I’d say we picked the winner, and here’s why.
Starting with the beach; at Fort Arabesque there is simply much more of it. Consequently, the sunbeds are better spaced out and you can move them around to catch a tan. The generous layout makes sunbathing feel more private and consequently, more relaxing. Off the beach and into the sea I counted over twenty coral reefs, many accessible at waist height off a sandy shore and in excellent condition. None of the other hotels comes near this. The hotel is large, but its grounds are also large, superbly kept, beautifully green and verdant. Only the ‘Jazz’ hotel further round the bay
Just after sunset, the grounds are very nice.
looks anything like as attractive. Fort Arabesque is big; but it doesn’t feel big. It has six bars and four restaurants so there’s quite a bit of variation to be had in the evenings. There is an animation team, fortunately both they and their ‘entertainments’ are very easy to avoid.
The reviews on TripAdvisor tell a fair story of the ins and outs of the place and it’s not perfect. If you want Wi-Fi for more than one device then hire an internet gadget for £20. You can pick it up off a chap at the airport when you arrive and that will save you money. Book your own transfers as the hotel uses a taxi firm that is overpriced. Don’t book the holiday direct with Thomas Cook or Saga as they add upwards of at least £200. For this you get a ‘free’ transfer (which cost us a mere £13) and a rep to irritate you on the beach. Don’t unpack on the first night, sleep in the room, if you don’t like it then go to reception next morning and politely ask for a change. We’ve done this twice, it improved our accommodation a great deal and they didn’t charge extra. The flight from the UK is gruesome as Thomas Cook have crammed too many seats on the plane making this a 5 ½ hour long chore. Take small USA or Egyptian notes for tips as this will get you more attentive service. Don’t moan about it, you are much wealthier than your polite, multi-lingual waiters, bar staff, cleaners, porters and bog door openers. They need the money more than you and they are really nice people.
A day trip to Luxor by private car is a long one and a bit pricey but quite brilliant. The drive itself is an eye opener into the landscape and the people. The destination; Valley of the Kings, the Nile, the Karnak temples are truly iconic, essential posing material for dinner parties. I was effectively robbed in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. A friendly chap invited me and my wife down a dark, closed off tunnel offering to show me wall paintings that others on the tour hadn’t seen. We hopped over a fence and down a dark tunnel. He delivered the goods, we saw the pictures, fair enough, but then he and his mate demanded some cash. The murky burrow wasn’t quite the place to start a barney, so I laughed, called him a cheeky so and so, and gave him half what he asked for. At least I can say I have been mugged in the tomb of Ramses VI. Don’t let it happen to you. After all that fuss the pictures weren’t even very good!
I don’t see myself as being unduly courageous but when you tell some people you’re going to Egypt they gasp and look upon you as if you were going to fight in the Colosseum. The threat of terrorism exists across our world, in the UK as much as it does in Red Sea resorts. There’s no need to give the terrorists more publicity here by recapping their crimes. If it helps the fact is that security at Hurghada airport is very tight, indeed absurdly so. I was stopped/checked/searched a total of six times on departure and, importantly, from the jetway I noticed baggage handlers being searched by security staff. Manchester airport has been assisting them on their set up. Most of Egypt is as safe as anywhere else. The fear is there, but it’s everywhere, and the choice to give in to it is ours.
Should you go?
In summer the temperatures are around 40c which has most northern Europeans stark naked and hugging the aircon in their rooms; I’d stay well away. In winter there’s much more chance of decent weather than there is in the Canaries. The flights are grim but if you can stay for two weeks I’d say ‘do it’ because it’s more cost effective that way. Luxor apart, Makadi Bay is not a cultural experience but; the food is good, the beer and wine are fine, the beach is great and the snorkelling world class. I can’t think of many places I’ve been to twice.
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