Thursday, December 04, 2014

TRAVEL :: Soma Bay, Egypt

TRAVEL :: Soma Bay, Egypt

It's somewhat easy to travel around Egypt and relatively inexpensive. And with the 'instability' in the country, there are all sorts of deals that you can take advantage of.

This was a last minute, quick trip: Booked about 5 days in advance and only for 3 nights. I booked the flight (Expedia) and the hotel separately (Agoda).

The entire trip was not that expensive - at least not in my view since I have a travel budget that I did not use much over the past two months. I think the total cost was in the $500-$750 range: flight, hotel, airport transfer, dinners, spa treatments. So this is not what I could call an inexpensive trip, but I was desperate for some R&R so it was worth it.

Thanksgiving Weekend 2014

  • Airport pick up was good, since my flight had been delayed. 
  • Nice driver, but he drove quite fast; it made me a bit nervous. 
  • Car model: Kia. 
  • The cost was 75 Euro for round trip. 

  • The property was clean and spacious; and somewhat easy to get around. 
  • The design of the hotel is nice and spacious. The decor is a good mix of Arabesque with a little bit of contemporary. 
  • The fitness center was nice. The jacuzzi was a bit cool for my liking, however, the steam room was excellent as was the sauna. Actually, the women’s spa was nice with water and fresh fruit available. 
  • I like the location. I liked that it was mostly quiet. 
The view of the pool area from the room balcony. Taken November 2014.

  • The room was a nice size. The bathroom was quiet large with a separate shower and bathtub. The towels were substandard. There were nice robes in the room. They have standard slippers. The soap and lotion was a nice local brand. 
  • The bed was comfy. The offer a selection of pillows too. 
  • There was lots of complimentary water, in the room and in the health facility. 
  • The soft drinks are complimentary in the room. 
  • They leave an outline of events and activities along with the weather in your room on a nightly basis. Good for planning the next day’s activities. 
  • The TV had a nice selection of channels in English, Arabic, etc. 
  • It would be nice to have a water kettle and tea in the room. They do provide it, complimentary, but you have to ask for it. Also, they let the tea steep for too long. They should just bring the hot water and allow the guest to steep the tea. 
At the bay looking towards the Red Sea Mountains at sunset. Taken November 2014.

  • Hotel could have mentioned in advance of the visit that they need a deposit for incidentals and they don’t take debit cards. I happened to have a lot of cash on me at the time; had to leave 2000LE (Egyptian Pounds). 
  • Oddly, they did not have any electrical adapters for U.S. plugs. I may purchase some and send them to them for future guests to use. I have several and I thought that I had one in my bag, but I did not and it was a major oversight for me on this short trip. 
  • Stay way from the ’supermarket’ in the Marina Shops. The prices were outrageous. The chipsies were 20LE when they only cost 3LE. Yikes. The Twix bar, however, was 10LE which is about the going rate. 
  • I did purchase 'gifts' in some of the other shops. If you're savvy, you can cut a deal. 
  • They need to have a way to get Internet in the rooms other than the cable especially in this wireless environment. My latest computer does not have a slot for an Ethernet connection. 
  • Between not having the Internet in the room and not having an adapter, it was a bit of a downer for me because I missed some important deadlines. 
  • The Internet in the lobby worked sometimes, but it was spotty. The staff were aware of the inconsistency. 
  • The breakfast selection was plentiful including champagne. There were several stations: omelette's, pancakes, waffles and more. 
  • You could order dinner ala carte or buffet from a choice of their restaurants. Note: not all restaurants are open every evening. 
View from the Kempinski Soma Bay Beach. Taken November 2014.

  • At times the staff just weren’t attentive to me and that’s a big deal since I don’t like overly attentive staff. That means that I was overlooked on many occasions, which is frustrating. And when I’m overlooked, I begin to pay attention to how others are treated, like do they wait for the same amount of time as I did before they get serviced and the answer is/was overwhelmingly - no. 
  • It would be ideal if they offered bike rentals - or if someone nearby did. It’s a great location for a leisure bike ride and/or to ride from the Thalasso Spa to Kempinski. 
  • Also, Beach Bootcamp would be great - and not much needed to make that happen, maybe a few weights. Where’s the Beach Yoga? Maybe they do offer it and I was just not aware. 
  • It was easy to book spa services at the nearby Thalasso Spa. 
  • Overall, not bad, but not 5-star, for sure, the service is just not there; too many missteps on the basics. However, Mariam in guest services was great - wonderful personality and went above and beyond. They need more women - note: women - like her is visible positions. The place is missing a woman's touch and presence. 
NOTE: Parts of this text was submitted to TripAdvisor: "Lots of Sunshine, Hospitality Just Okay."

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