We were due to stay at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel, situated close to the private sandy beach (about 400m away) with a sister hotel of the same chain, which is great because you share the facilities, icluding a floodlit 9 hole golf course! They have four different restaurants on site ,with three requiring prebooking, which you can dine at once over your holiday. There is pool bar, beach side restaurant, Palappa Italian restaurant, Magic Sky rooftop fine dining a la carte restaurant and an Egyptian and international food court. Food and drinks are available 24 hours a day, midnight snacks at the bar? No problem!
Thomas Cook 5* all inclusive holiday in Hurghada, a little holiday spot along the Red Sea which is very popular for British tourists. I was always intrigued why the place was so popular and the main reason I've learnt is the guaranteed sunshine, super high quality service and beautiful accomodation.
Arriving in Egypt Tips
The hotel rooms were all spacious with contemporary, light designs and with amazing air conditioning (trust me it's needed) and flat screen TVs with a variety of English language channels, which isnt always the case! There is also a mini bar which is stocked daily with cans of pop, juice and water. The travetine tiled wetroom was awesome too, really stylish and spotlessly clean.
The lazy river has to be my favourite swimming attraction. A looped swimming experience you can float along relaxing in the sunshine on an inflatable donut provided by the hotel. Sometimes floating along, one of us would jump out whilst going past the bar, then hop back in with drinks for the rest of the journey!
Even though we didn't go on this as it was for children I must tell you how envious I was. The pirate boat looked spectacular! When you hear the bell tolling you know something exciting is about to happen, every 5-10 minutes the huge bucket at the top fills with water then once full drips down to ring the bell and then gushes a huge amount of water all over the ship - drenching everyone on it! Oh it looked so much fun!
Palappa RestaurantPalappa Restaurant is an Italian inspired cuisine with made to order pizzas and delicious pasta dishes. There were risottos, soups, pasta, pizzas even for an extra amount you could get a seafood pizza... complete with lobster! This restaurant was poolside, which when it was all lit up in the evening made for a beautiful backdrop to enjoy the delicious food. This venue became our go-to place for breakfast as the staff were so friendly and eager to help, we were on first name terms by the end of the week!!
Oriental BuffetThe oriental buffet was actually my least favourite but you collect your meal base from the buffet then a smoking coal hot plate of grilled meat is put on your table for you to enjoy. They have all sorts including lamb koftas, but for me this wasn't to my tastes as personally I like all my meat to be scorched and almost burnt for me to enjoy it. My other half really enjoyed the bbq, al fresco style cooking and went back for seconnds but for me Palappa and Magic Sky were top.
Magic Sky Bar and RestaurantMagic Sky restaurant was where we ate on our final evening and this was by far the best. It not only serves delicious food but it is totally picturesque and the ideal way to finish your holiday as it overlooks the hotel pools and grounds. My chef other half was particulaly impressed, commenting that both the soup and the steak main course were some of the best he'd tasted anywhere. High praise indeed!! There is also a beautiful bar attached to the restaurant so after your meal you could relax and enjoy the vistas of the mountains as the sun set.
The main buffet where you dine any other day or night is a mixture of foods that take inspiration from all over the globe - sometimes your a little bit spoilt for choice! Whatever your taste, from french fries and crispy chicken through to whole baked tuna and duck a l'orange, you couldn't possibly go hungry at the Magic Flavours restaurant. Look out for the incredible desserts too, I had a life changing chocolate and coconut number!
When you head down to the beach there is also a snack bar which has french fries, hotdogs, burgers and ice cream.... genius!
What to do
There was a photographer taking pictures whilst you're there but photos/videos are at an extra charge, their bubbly attitude did change slightly once we declined buying any pictures. I guess his happiness depended on sales! Also they do come round at the end and ask for a donation for boat staff - which if I wasn't asked (or there was a tip jar) would of done so but it made us feel a little uncomfortable. I guess what I'm saying is if you're prepared to set aside an extra bit of money to tip and buy photos then you'll have a wonderful day!
Having never been on an all inclusive holiday we were extremely impressed. The activities, food and staff were great and definitely not to be missed. Egypt itself I was slightly concerned about visiting, mainly because of the cultural difference and that I didn't want to offend anyone or obviously be in any danger. I was soon put at ease once we'd settled in with the very attentive and friendly staff (the majority could speak English, Arabic, Russian and German, super impressive!!).
I'd definitely say that a Thomas Cook all inclusive will 100% be on the cards again and this resort in Egypt was perfect. A little tip is to take medication for a poorly tummy as Egypt is known for potentially unsettling your tum, that's from the drastic change of heat from the UK and generally the change of cuisine.
If you're wanting a holiday that is fun, relaxing, friendly with plenty to do then a week (or two!) at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic is a must... you don't have to take part in anything if you don't want to but the options are all there, plus there are even two new restaurants coming in November 2014.
If you fancy seeing more photos from my Egyptian adventures have a look on my Twitter and Instagram using hashtag #RedSeaStories.