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Savoy Sharm El Sheikh: A warm welcome

The Savoy Sharm El Sheikh is not just a hotel, it is all-encompassing opulence, and that’s why it is Business Destinations’ Best Luxury Hotel, Egypt, 2013, writes Philip Whitfield


Egypt’s democracy is viewed around the world as a mixed blessing. My experience, even as a former BBC war correspondent, is that 99 percent of Egypt is safer than most places – and the remaining one percent isn’t on the tourist map. The Red Sea, the Mediterranean coast and the ancient sites in Upper Egypt around Luxor remain largely untouched by recent events.

Above all, Egyptians remain among the most welcoming people on earth. Egyptians invented global hospitality when Coptic monasteries opened their doors to the millions of pilgrims who flocked to visit the places that tradition holds were visited by the Holy Family during their three years in Egypt.

The perfect getaway
My grown-up kids living in Europe have me on their speed-dial to text, “Mayday Mayday!” when the winter blues descend. “Bring the grandchildren,” is my response. Where? “Sharm El Sheikh,” I always text back. And which hotel? The Savoy, of course.

The Savoy knows us now. They put the kids and their kids in appropriate rooms, sometimes in the Savoy, other times in the Sierra (which to the grandchildren is heaven on earth). And for me, it’s always a suite in the Royal Savoy.

That’s the flexibility of the Savoy Group. It figures out what’s best for its visitors, offer you great deals, such as huge discounts on fine cuisine, or like my family, my housekeeper and driver, they can provide us with separate accommodation, but within five minutes walk of each other. We can choose to eat together, which we do for breakfast and dinner sometimes, spend as much time as we’d like together in any of the pools or on the beach, or we can separate to pursue different activities.

There’s no other hotel where five-star blends into all-inclusive with such panache; I take my hat off to them. It’s an art, a vocation and a passion for service excellence. Who’s responsible? I have no idea, but my guess is that the Anglo-Egyptian family that owns the premier holiday hotel on the Red Sea, and is consistently awarded best in Egypt, have a natural talent. The family runs this world-class hostelry together, managing every detail dawn to dusk – try to find that in a global brand or franchise set-up.

The owners can frequently be seen sitting with a breakfast crowd, enjoying their company. It’s the culture in Egypt, an urge to get entangled. Take the Pharaohs: they didn’t want any old pyre or grave. They wanted to be buried in chambers that were, to them, the nearest they could get to the creator. That’s why they built the pyramids; to this day, the intricacies of their construction are uncertain, but if an Egyptian puts his or her mind to it, don’t stand in their way.

A personal experience
So, why should you choose the Savoy, or the Royal Savoy, or the Sierra family-style hotel? Firstly, they are all on the lush paradisiacal tropical grounds with swimming pool lagoons gently emptying into the private White Knight Beach, in the fabled Ras Mohamed protected national park on the Red Sea. But mainly it’s because you, the guest, choose what you want your experience to be.

Eating? You can go to Safari at almost any hour and fill your plate as many times as you wish from endless buffet bars. Or ask the chefs to rustle up eggs any style, or get a wok out and conjure up authentic Asian flavours that you will never forget. Alternatively you can choose fine cuisine in-house. Italian is popular, but the choices are infinite. Better still, take a five-minute stroll to SOHO Square, a pedestrianised square mile of great shopping, fine dining and endless entertainment. They bring in renowned singers from all over the world, that draw hundreds into sing-alongs and dances in the warm air that drifts in from the Red Sea.

Feel like some exercise? Go ice-skating or ten-pin bowling. Snag a cold one afterwards in Africa’s first Ice Bar. More likely, you’ll be fascinated by the passers-by. The world meets at SOHO Square. Guests in all the Sharm El Sheikh hotels can be taken there by coach. No wonder. People such as Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha bring their friends to flop out at the Savoy for a couple of days; they’re Dave and Sam to us.

Then there are the oil magnates from the Arabian Gulf. Their kids mingle with mine, the grandkids with my grandkids. Where on this Earth would you rather be?

Complex luxury
I’m implored to give readers some details, so I’ll summarise. The Savoy Group is spread over 200,000sq m. The resort comprises The Royal Savoy and Villas, the Savoy Hotel, the Sierra Hotel and SOHO Square, a square mile of restaurants, entertainment facilities and shops that have won the admiration of foreign and domestic visitors alike.

The three Savoy brands boast a comprehensive range of packages to fit all budgets. The nine Savoy Villas are unique, each styled and themed to reflect the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed over the centuries with the most up-to-date facilities. The Royal Savoy is the executive, stand-alone wing of the hotel, the highest level of accommodation and service, including 18 new opulent honeymoon suites.

The Savoy Hotel’s stunning architectural design attracts discerning visitors. Some 463 superior rooms range from singles, doubles and triples to the lavish presidential suite. There are excellent restaurants and bars, pools, a dive centre, sports facilities and a health club and spa.

The Sierra is a family-style, all-inclusive hotel with exceptional room options, pools, kids’ activities and an unrivalled health centre.

The Savoy has some of the most sought-after diving and snorkelling in the region and is close to many of the world’s oldest historic sites, as well as being only a few minutes from the centre of Sharm El Sheikh. The International Airport serves airlines flying between Europe and the Middle East, including capital cities such as London, Rome, Warsaw, Moscow and Kiev.

Those are the features, what about the benefits? The Savoy resort is a marvellous place to get away – to leave the hustle and bustle of Europe behind, to forego the Scandinavian frost, the long winters in Kiev and Moscow. Within a few hours you’re on a sublime beach, or out toasting by a pool. In the spacious grounds you’re never hemmed in like some other resorts.

But I asked my kids why they like the Savoy so much: “Everyone is so friendly,” they chorused. And that’s the truth of it.

For more information: www.savoy-sharm.com

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