The Red Sea and More at the Marriott!
My first piece of advice: Don’t drink the tap water!
Regardless of its 5-star status, the Marriott cautions everyone against drinking tap water. One bottle is provided, free of charge, but you will need to stock up on your own. Next to suntan lotion, water is the most expense non-trinket or non-Persian rug item that you will purchase while in Egypt—despite the nearly 6 Egyptian Pounds to 1 American dollar. A liter of water will run you anywhere from 15 to 20 Egyptian pounds (that’s nearly $3-5). Likewise, tanning lotion or sun block will run anywhere from 55-100 Egyptian Pounds (for a modest-sized bottle) or approximately $10-20. That said everything else is a steal—especially dining out!
While I typically try to avoid American-brand or large-chain hoteliers, I decided that my first trip to Egypt might be more enjoyable if I stayed at a location with a few recognizable home comforts. The Marriott Resort and Spa offered all that and more with exceptional staff service and everything you may need on-site. Actually, you almost don’t have to leave the hotel to enjoy the Red Sea, do some bartering, or experience fabulous dining.
Establishment: The Marriott is well-situated right on the Red Sea. Its facilities span both sides of the coastal road, and access is via a sky-bridge. The Marriott also provides courier service to/from the hotel. While I was not charged an additional fee, a fee might apply. Always ask staff if there is a fee prior to accepting any service.
Room: the room was comfortable and had the basic amenities including a mini-bar, hair dryer, and safe. Marriott recommends all guests use the safe to protect their valuables. Absent was a hot water kettle or coffee bar. Don't bother to ask for one because the hotel does not use them due to poor tap water quality. Guests can drink all the tea and/or coffee they want at Reception. All rooms have a sea-side view and a balcony. There are several multiple-language television channels to choose from, and there is an internet café with two computers free to hotel guests. Just a note that Housekeeping Staff observed the “do not disturb” sign even when it hung on my door for 3 days straight! They did not enter my room to change out linens until after I removed the sign (on the 3rd day).
Pool/Beach: the Marriott has two pools. The main pool is located on the main property near the beach area. The second pool—an adults only pool—is co-located with the sports facility across the street. Hotel guests are provided with a “towel card” which is held as collateral until your towel is returned. There are plenty of lounge chairs, and there is a fully stocked bar and grill located at the sea-side pool. The beach consisted of three main sections: two are typical sandy beaches and one consisted of a paved lounge area located on a small inlet accessed by a wooden bridge. For those looking to rent (or purchase) snorkel equipment or floating devices, there is a water-sports shop on-site. However, it is owned/operated separately from the Marriott chain. Marriott staff also tour the beach area regularly to ensure guests are comfortable and to provide information on games, events, or other tours available through the concierge. The beach staff will also organize volleyball and other beach games and encourage guests to interact. WARNING: nude or topless (for females) bathing is strictly prohibited! However, there are some guests who felt the rule did not apply to them. These ladies were asked to cover up or they would be forced to leave.
Spa/Sports Facility: the Spa/Sports Facility are located across the street (behind) the main complex. At this location are tennis courts, an adult-only pool, a very-well equipped work-out gym and a separate spa. While use of the tennis courts, pool, and gym are free to guests, use of the steam room, sauna, or spa facilities were an additional charge. The Spa does offer specialized massages. However, these were also at a separate price comparable to typical resort/spa prices.
Shops: there are several unaffiliated shops in the main concourse. In addition to a small, basic-service beauty salon, there is a currency exchange service, several jewelry shops, a large souvenir shop, and a small general store. None of these entities are owned or operated by the Marriott but are independently run. There is a small deli/internet café which is run by the Marriott and is accessible most of the day. Within the Marriott there is also one main bar, a Marriott-managed restaurant, and a separate unaffiliated restaurant.
All of the amenities aside, the most pleasant element about the Marriott at Hurghada was the staff—in particular the senior Bell Captain. While Egypt can be an intimidating place for a lone traveler, the bell captain was exceptionally reliable. I was greeted every morning and provided a free language lesson to help me throughout the day. He even accompanied to the one unassociated shop and assisted me with bartering and I felt comfortable that I was receiving a true bargain. The housekeeping staff was also very polite. However, while almost all staff was well-mannered, English language skills are still developing so make sure you speak clearly and slowly!
Overall, a very enjoyable experience.
Further Ratings (Average 4.3 of 5):
- Holidaycheck: 4.80 of 6
- Tripadvisor: 4.50 of 5