I would point out from the beginning that this is a resort for families and not anyone looking for a quiet holiday.
Like the vast majority of Red Sea hotel resorts the hotel was an all inclusive. Set in vast grounds and gardens which led down to the yellow sand beach and the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Aqaba. The beach is immaculate with sun loungers for you to relax on whilst looking across the Gulf of Aqaba towards the Saudi Arabian coast that can be seen quite clearly. There is also a beach bar to help you quench your thirst in the heat. The whole area was landscaped to make the most of the area with slopes, pools and paths. The gardens were well tended with plants and shrubs of many beautiful colours. The lawns were immaculate due to the constant watering and tendering by the garden staff. This part of the complex was certainly more than worthy of the 4 star rating.
We arrived early evening and joined the long queue at reception for checking in. When we were finally seen we were immediately asked if we wanted to upgrade to a better room with its own pool. For some reason this set alarm bells ringing. We politely declined and were then given a room key and joined the throng outside reception waiting to be shown to their rooms. After a long wait we were eventually walked around the complex until we came to our room. This was situated on the ground floor of Block 14 and was of reasonable size. It did not however give the impression of being a 4 star hotel room. No toiletries in the bathroom and a general austere feeling. Neither were we impressed with the view from the balcony overlooking a service road along with the laundry and staff quarters of the hotel next door. Hardly the place to sit having a quiet pre dinner drink whilst watching the sun go down. On speaking with reception they promised to change us to a different room the next morning.
After unpacking just the essentials for the first night we went to the main restaurant for dinner. As our room was on the far side of the complex it was quite a long walk to the main dining room. On entering we were a little surprised at how big it was with tables quite close together. It was also very noisy with lots of children running around. However there were several food stations and the choice really was exceptional. Whilst you may not like everything you would be hard pressed not to find something you liked. Lots of Sea Bass, fried chicken, various hot meats, salads, cold meats and of course, always chips. When will hotels learn that not everyone wants chips with everything? It is fair to say though that after a few days the food did seem to get rather repetitive. Although the selection was good it appeared to always be the same selection. One thing that was not acceptable though was the Rose wine being served out of an old litre sized lemonade bottle. The wine was fine but the presentation was not. This does nothing to enhance the dining experience. It does not give a good impression and is not acceptable in a 2 star hotel let alone a 4 star one!!
The next day as promised our room was changed to a ground floor with terrace in block 10. This was a lovely room with an outlook towards the 'Quiet Pool'. Also impressive were the toiletries that consisted of shampoo, body wash, body milk, conditioner, bars of soap etc. These were as good as any 5 star hotels we have stayed in and they were replenished daily if required. Towels were also changed daily. The bathroom with its separate shower unit was huge. The terrace was very large with a table and chairs on it. It appears the best block to be in is block 6 as this looks out to sea and the balconies get the sun for most of the day.
The 'Quiet Pool' turned out to be anything but quiet. Being January it was heated, unlike the main pool and as a result the holiday activities staff sectioned off a large part of it for swimming lessons. This resulted with the remainder being used by children on li-lo's, inflatable animals and boats etc. In turn there was very little room for adults to swim. Even the staff thought it should be renamed the ‘Heated Pool’.
The main pool is situated at the bottom end of the complex near to the beach. It is massive with a bridge going over the centre of it and surrounded with large sun bathing areas with a plentiful supply of sun loungers and sun umbrellas. It was pleasing to see that the loungers had fairly new mattresses which made them very comfortable and a joy to lie on. The towel booth is open from early morning until late afternoon. The towels are free but if one of the towel boys carries the towels and lays those out he will expect a tip. As regulars will know, tipping is the way of life in this part of the world. There is also a bar serving a wide range of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. However the area was spoilt as it was in need of cleaning as people used to bring food from the various food stations to the sun beds and inevitably some fell on the floor which never seemed to be cleaned thus promoting ants and other insects. Another disadvantage of the main pool area was the activities staff constantly looking for people to play ‘Beach Volley Ball’ or some other activity. There are water slides and tubes for the children and an ariel transporter to the beach.
There are 3 speciality restaurants, Chinese, Indian and Mediterranean. On arrival you are given tickets for them which allow you to dine at each one, once a week during your stay. We were there for 11 days and were given 6 tickets so we were able to dine twice at each. The quality of the food in each was excellent.
There is an adults only bar which is situated overlooking the beach. It is on the 1st floor of the building and has an excellent terrace. From the terrace you can see the lights of Saudi Arabia cross the Gulf. This is a great place in the evening for sitting with a drink and chatting to new made friends. Most evenings there is some form of entertainment in the bar. Sometimes a quiz other times a cabaret act.
Also very popular is the Pharaoh Theatre were during the evenings are shows and a disco which are primarily aimed at families with children. There are various bars in the main complex building as well as the usual shops selling souvenirs.
This is a resort that families and children will thoroughly enjoy. Lots of activities for the children and attentive staff to look after them and keep them amused so mum and dad can get some relaxation in the sunshine that always seems to be there. The staff and holiday representatives are excellent. Nothing is too much trouble for them. Everything is done with a smile. For older couples who want just a relaxing holiday this is not the place to come to. All in all a good resort which with a little more attention to detail could be turned into a great resort.