Trip Report – Sharm El Sheikh Marriott Resort – Tubing w/ the Prince of Kuwait

by Adam

This is the final part of a five part trip report from my travels to the UAE and Egypt. This report includes my review of the Sharm El Sheikh Marriott Resort and our EGYPTAIR flight from Luxor to Sharm El Sheikh. We even enjoyed a full day of water sports courtesy of the Royal Princes of Kuwait.

The flight from Luxor (LXR) to Sharm (SSH) was even shorter than the CAI-LXR flight at a quick 50 minutes with only 38 minutes of actual flying time. Again, the flight was operated by EGYPTAIR Express on an Embraer RJ-170. There’s not too much to report back that’s different from the prior EGYPTAIR RJ-170 flight:

  • Once again, extremely lax security.  They have everyone actually keep their watches and belts on and when the metal detector buzzes they do a quick pat down and brush over with a hand-held metal detector.  Laptop and liquids can stay in your bag!
  • The flight was about 1/2 full, I guess most of the tourists are on holiday from Europe…lots of Ryanair, easyJet, and charter flights.
  • Again, we departed and arrived early despite the less than stellar reputation for EGYPTAIR.
  • There was drink service on the short flight, mostly made up of fruit and vegetable juices as well as water. Flight attendants were nice but not overly friendly.
  • The E-170s aren’t that old in plane years but they do give off that late 80s / early 90s feel.
  • United MileagePlus miles posted approximately 5 days after my flight.

Upon arrival – might want to think twice about drugs in Egypt “…you are hereby notified that it is strictly forbidden to deal with any types of drugs in Egypt. Any infringement by a foreigner or Egyptian will subject him to life imprisonment in some cases or death by hanging, over and above a fine reaching 500,000 Egyptian Pounds. In the hope this warning is heeded we wish you a pleasant stay in our country 😉 ”

Sharm El Sheikh Marriott Resort

As we pulled away from the airport it was clear that we were no longer in “mainland” Egypt. There were wide and distinct lanes, drivers yielded to pedestrians and stayed in their lanes, and the chaos factor was gone. Similarly, this was the first hotel we visited in Egypt without any official barrier or security check.

Booking & Check-In
The resort is actually two separate hotels, referred to as the “Mountain Side” and the “Beach Side”. Call it a consequence of last minute planning but my friend didn’t even realize the distinction when booking our room and so when the taxi dropped us off on the beach side, we thought we were in the right place. That was until the friendly front-desk agent told us we needed to cross the street to the mountain side. It’s a main road (visible in the second picture above), but there isn’t an overabundance of traffic so our concern was more about the convenience factor and being closer to the beach. I asked if we could be switched to the beach side and the front-desk agent disappeared for a few moments. While he was gone I pulled up my Marriott App and saw that there were several available rooms on the beach side…I also noted a few more details my friend must have missed…like the fact that the beach side says “Newly Renovated” and the rates average about $50 more per night. I was paying for one night at $120 and my friend was using 10,000 points to cover the other night, unfortunately the PointSavers awards were only available on the mountain side.

The front desk agent came back and told me that they would be unable to move us as one of the nights was paid for using a reward certificate. He assured me that the mountain side had just as big of a pool and that we could use all the facilities on the other side, including the beach and separate pool. I’m not much of a pool guy so I was really just upset about the beach being across the street. I then gently reminded the agent of my Marriott Platinum status and asked if there were any upgrades available that would put us on the other side. He told me that we could be upgraded to a pool view room on the mountain side or a garden view room on the pool side…jackpot and back across the street we went!

The Room
The Marriott website actually does a pretty good job displaying the differences between the same room types on the separate sides of the hotel. The main differences are new furniture, beds/mattresses, curtains, a flat-screen tv, and a semi modern feel compared to a 80s mountain side room.

We selected a wine and fruit platter as our welcome gift.

We had friends who we met who didn’t do as good of a job with their negotiations. Their room was adequate but even with the Marriott bedding, you couldn’t hide the fact that they had horrible mattresses on the non renovated side.

One thing that was consistent was excellent housekweeping services. The rooms on both sides were clean and each day housekeeping staff would fold clothing and make towel animals.

The Pool & Grounds 
We spent the majority of our time on the beach at the Marriott, though we did take a diving and snorkeling trip as well. The grounds were fantastic!

The grounds

Beach and Mountain side pools…

The beach was really nice, but it’s neither quiet nor secluded, it’s a typical resort beach. Lots of people (but no 6am wake-up calls necessary to secure chairs), diving and snorkeling boats passing by, volleyball court, and abundant water-sport activities. In any case, the water was warm and the sand was soft and my Nook was working perfectly.

While laying on the beach one day, a water-sports representative from the hotel came over and asked if we wanted to do some free activities. We said no as we thought he wanted to sell us something in exchange. About 30 minutes later he came back again and confirmed that it would be no strings attached. He explained that one of the princes of Kuwait was a frequent guest but was always only sent with an entourage of security guards and no friends. He supposedly visits about four times per year. He loves to go tubing and banana boating, but each requires more than one person and so he needed some volunteers. The prince would of course be picking up the tab. The prince was actually a very nice and intelligent 16 year old with quite interesting world views. We got to speak for some time while the sports desk was setting up the activities. After a great time tubing and then banana boating, he invited us to go sailing and fishing as well. We passed as my friend was ready to get back to our seats, but look out for him as it seems like he’s on-site quarterly according to the water-sports desk!

Other Details
Service was excellent throughout the resort and everyone was attentive and guest oriented. Breakfast is not included as a elite amenity, though several of the rates seem to include the buffet, ours did not. Let’s be clear here, Sharm El Sheikh (and specifically Naama Bay where the Marriott and the other international hotels are located) is NOT real-life Egypt. After spending time in Cairo, Giza, and Luxor, Sharm El Sheikh felt like we were at a beach resort in the Caribbean. I think it’s a good way to end a trip to mainland Egypt which you might find stressful at times. That being said, the Marriott is in a great location. Walking out to the beach, you are on a boardwalk of sorts (they call it the pedestrian promenade) that connects you to all the other hotels, bazaars/shops, restaurants, and eventually Soho Square (a collection of restaurants, clubs, bars, hookah shops, and a mall). Don’t be surprised when you see Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, and a lot of drunk UK, Irish, and Russian tourists. We even came upon a group of Russian tourists who were having fun serving their very minor kids wine…

We were having trouble deciding where to grab a quick drink and snack…which forced an Akon Right Now dance off competition between two competing lounges…don’t worry they do it for everyone over and over again!

Thanks to MSYYZ and EkA380 on airliners for the MS pics!

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caveman April 20, 2013 - 1:01 pm

Interesting trip report. Did you use cash for your flights from Cairo-Luxor-Sharm El Sheikh. We are a party of five and not sure how to commute between these cities. I heard there is a very nice train service from Cairo to Luxor and also very luxurious cruse ships on the Nile for the same route. Did you ever consider that?

adam April 20, 2013 - 1:24 pm

@caveman – we were tight on time so we didn’t consider the Nile cruises but they looked quite nice. The flights ended up being $187 each but they only dropped last minute. A few weeks out the same flights were pricing over $500. If the prices didn’t drop we were going to burn some Lufthansa Miles that we received with the Barlcays card and were set to expire.

Reply April 20, 2013 - 2:14 pm

Death by hanging, and a fine!

adam April 20, 2013 - 7:12 pm

@SitInFirst- crazy right!

DrNo April 20, 2013 - 5:27 pm

What time of the year was this?
Pools were warm enough?

adam April 20, 2013 - 7:11 pm

@DrNo- it was the end of March and the weather was beautiful, mid 80s. The pools were heated as well.

Max M April 20, 2013 - 11:16 pm

Good report! Is EgyptAir still a dry/alcohol free airline?

adam April 20, 2013 - 11:54 pm

@Max M – Thanks! You know, I have no idea! They came around with tons of juices and water, didn’t see any alcohol but i didn’t ask either. We were in the air for under an hour on both flights.

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