SENSATORI SHARM EL SHEIKH.
Since the Arab spring uprisings, a number of popular tourist destinations have been affected, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, The Middle East and more recently Egypt. The FCO in the UK have advised caution and refuse to allow holidaymakers into Cairo, but Sharm El Sheikh remains largely unaffected. The Department of Foreign affairs in Dublin has only this week lifted the ban on Sharm but with strong warnings.
As the political situation has caused a lot of issues for the Irish travel industry, I decided to pop down to Sharm to see for myself just how bad or good things actually were. I travelled with Falcon Holidays on a weeklong all-inclusive package direct from Belfast International.
My flight was approx. 5.5 hours and went in with minimal fuss. I had pre-booked extra legroom seats and this made the journey extremely comfortable for me.
Thomson flight crew were superb and the flight few by. On arrival at Sharm El Sheikh airport, we were met by our Thomson Holiday representative and driven the short distance (15 minutes) to the Sensatori resort in Sharm El Sheikh.
I had never been to a Sensatori resort before, so this was going to be a new experience for me.
This smart 5 * rated beachfront hotel is just metres from the Red Sea and comes with all the Sensatori trademarks: from top-class restaurants to lots of different room types, amazing service great food, Spa’s etc.
In a nutshell Sensatori’s goal is to make you feel as comfortable as possible and if there is anything the staff can do to make you feel better they will (within reason).
The Thomson resort team is managed by Diane Bellamy, a lady who’s job it is, is to make your holiday as fantastic as possible.
She doesn’t just, work for Thomson holidays, she lives for the customer. You need it, need information or require something, she’s there to “I’ll sort that for you”.
Want advice on taxis, trips, local places to eat (not that you need to eat off resort), shopping, medical, tourist guides you name it she has the information.
Diane is very much a part of the Sharm resort experience and she is there every day, behind the scenes, making sure your holiday is a success.Following some fun snorkelling at the in resort Ocean Dive Centre, I did the VIP boat trip organised by the resort. At £50 it was a superb day out, a full day excursion to Tiran Island and Shark bay with three snorkelling sites and a BBQ lunch on board.
What a trip it was truly amazing.
So what’s included?
The Sensatori resorts all Inclusive deal means, meals and snacks are included, and you get locally produced drinks from 10 am to midnight. (
You can also upgrade to international-brand drinks when you arrive for an extra charge) To be honest why would you?
Breakfast is served in the main restaurant (FOUNTAIN VIEW), while dinner is included in four of the six eateries, and lunch in two.
Room service is also available at a small charge.
My first impression when I arrived at the main restaurant for lunch was somewhat flavoured by the fact that there were hand sanitizers’ adjacent to the doors both outside and inside. Initially I thought that this was quite an unusual thing to see in the resort and I assumed that there might be a hygiene issue. How wrong was I?
After realising that in large holiday resorts it’s generally the guests who bring the bugs in to the restaurants and not the staff. Thomson holidays encourage all their resorts to use hand sanitizers and when you think about it logically, it is a truly magnificent idea as it ensures that all the people touching the buffet utensils, handling plates and eating in restaurants (provided they sanitise their hands) minimises the risk for all concerned.
Staff also advised guests to go sparingly on the ice because of the heat outside. You see our stomachs get quite warm in 40 °C so if we take on board a lot of ice it does tend to upset the constitution.
Thomson holidays have in my opinion acted very cleverly on this issue and are seriously proactive about cleanliness and health consequently whilst I was in the resort I suffered no “problems” at all.
The rooms at Sensatori Resort Sharm El Sheikh have a contemporary luxurious feel. They come with high-end touches like whirlpool baths, plasma TVs and iPod docking stations, plus handy bits and pieces like tea and coffee-making facilities, irons and ironing boards. To really up the ante, you can pay extra for a room with a pool or sea view, or book a superior room in the adults-only section of the hotel. Sensatori resorts really do think about your options when on holiday. I paid the upgrade and had a swim up room with a sea view, this meant I literally had my own private pool at the end of my patio and after that; there was the beautiful red sea.The room was spotless, luxury Egyptian cotton and towels, beautiful fittings whirlpool bath and room service worth of the Savoy in London or the Ritz in Paris. I did pay extra to have Wi-Fi in my room, but there is free wi-fi available in resort. Is not just the wonderful area, the views, the weather, the amazing entertainment, the fantastic food, the great flight, its very much the about the staff too. My room had the same staff member looking after me for the week “Ragab” was quite literally there for me the whole time. He serviced my room, checked to see if everything was perfect, not just ok or right but perfect. Obviously I wanted to “tip” this commensurate professional and I asked him to make sure he saw me before I left for home. His response was remarkable. “ No need Sir, my payment is just making sure you are happy and that you have had a good time ” Wow!
The staff really do want to ensure you have a great time, if they can make your stay better they will do what they can to make this a truly Sensatori experience.
Thomson also offer Family rooms, Whirlpool rooms, Suites and Sensatori Suites.
These sleep up to 2 adults and 2 children with a king-size bed and two day beds. There’s a sliding partition between each sleeping area for added privacy. They’re also available as swim-up rooms.
Swim up rooms
These rooms let you go from your room to the water in seconds. They’re also available in adult, family or suite varieties and you can book them on the beachfront, so you get sea views as well. Swim-up pools are acclimatised in winter.
When you book one of these rooms your balcony will come with an al fresco whirlpool bath. They’re also available for families.
These rooms come with a separate lounge area and a king-sized bed. They’re also available as family suites, family swim-up suites, and Sensatori suites, which are the most luxurious of all our room types.
The Golden Menace (the Sun)
Sitting in the sun’s rays for long periods of time can be extremely harmful to your skin and in some cases could be deadly. The sun is particularly strong in Egypt and can get up to 50°C so you do have to be very careful. This is where your sun cream becomes a lifesaver.
At the Sensatori resort they have a “Cream Box Swap”. If you arrive on resort with out sun protection you simply call in with the Thomson crew and they will let you take some left over creams from the “Cream Box Swap”, alternatively if you are going home and don’t want to take an opened bottle, pop it in the “Cream Box Swap” and leave it for someone else. The box contains Sun Cream after sun and mosquito repellent.
I also brought with me a “Zap It” Mosquito Bite Relief Device. (www.myzapit.com) Wherever you go in the world you can’t avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and as I am a rather large target, the little blighters managed to get me a few times. Repellents may help, but mosquitoes always get through to you. ZapIt inhibits the histamine build-up under the skin which relieves the discomfort and urge to scratch, which in turn ensures that a bite doesn’t become inflamed or septic. A few people inquired as to how my device worked and its really quite simple. The ZapIt works by the rapid expansion and contraction of crystals that takes place when you press the activating button. This creates a harmless impulse, similar in effect to a mild static electricity charge. If you have not seen these devices I urge you to try it, it saved me a lot of pain.
The food being offered in the Sensatori resort was exceptional. Extensive range and exceptional quality is the best way to describe it. As part of the “all inclusive” package, dinner was available in:
FOUNTAIN VIEW – the main buffet restaurant, which served a mix of local and international dishes. This restaurant was vast, but the food and service was exceptional hundreds of dishes expertly prepared, It would be impossible not to find anything you liked in here. Exceptional quality
MARHABA – a Middle Eastern restaurant, which offered up a taste of the exotic, I ate in here twice and loved the experience, again super food, great service. Deserts to die for!
CASA BIANCA – an Italian eatery with a classic menu, this was one of the most popular restaurants in the whole resort and quite hard to get into. I know why because it was fantastic. The general restaurant manager MELUD, I hope I have spelt his name correctly was a star. Nothing was too much bother for him. The food was outstanding and I would return to Egypt just to eat there. Brilliant.
TIRAN DINER AND BEACH BAR – a beachfront diner that’s ideal for informal lunches and dinners. Its situated right on the beach, with an American diner type feel, burgers and salads etc. Food was great but it was hard to stay away from Casa Bianca.
Dining was also available at extra cost in 2 other restaurants…
STONEGRILL™ – a rooftop eatery that specialises in succulent steaks and seafood
GOKAN – an Asian, teppanyaki and sushi restaurant, a your all-inclusive status does not apply here apart from soft drinks. I didn’t eat there for one reason. The food was so good in the other all-inclusive restaurants why pay for great food, when it was included free in the other eateries?
Tea, coffee and light snacks are also served from midnight until 2am in the lobby bar.
Gentlemen are asked to wear long trousers in all restaurants at dinner. I can see their point, but if ladies could wear bikini bottoms and a see through sarong at dinner in 35 oC surely a smart pair of shorts would suffice on a man.
The hotel has 6 swimming pools in total. Each one has a different vibe, so you can pick and choose based on your mood. Each one was spotless and great fun, the fitness instructor was really fit!
• 1 pool overlooking the beach, acclimatised in winter and surrounded by a sun terrace and lawns
• 1 activity pool, with things like Aqua Zumba
• 1 adults-only pool, as one person I spoke to thought it was “adult themes”, no sorry to disappoint, it meant no kids.
• 1 family pool, acclimatised in winter
• 2 children’s pools – one next to the main pool and another in the family zone. The latter comes with a sprayground, tipping buckets and water jets (cool for the kids and big dads)
• 1 horizon pool
Once the sun goes down, the entertainment at Sensatori Resort Sharm El Sheikh starts up. Now you have been there, in a resort all the guests have eaten, the ladies have put on the makeup and are dressed as cougars.
The “international entertainment” starts and out comes a snake charmer or the Chippendales with woodworm. Entertainment can be quite ropey, but not in Sensatori.
When I was there a comedian called Patrick Monaghan was appearing, what a treat that was. As seen on the Paul O‘Grady show, BBC, Edinburgh fringe and many other appearances, he brought the house down. Another great entertainer who was there was Chris Tame a classically trained singer, again another top quality act.
Sensatori Resort Sharm El Sheikh certainly makes the most of its Red Sea Riviera address. The hotel has its own Ocean College dive centre, and a water sports centre that offers things like snorkelling and windsurfing. And the rooftop gym and Chavana spa come with great sea views.
Here’s the full list of what you can expect if you want to get up off the sunbed.…
• Indoor pool*
• Turkish bath*
• Steam room*
• Spa treatments*
• Ocean College dive centre*
• Water sports centre*
• Activities suitable for teenagers
*These facilities come at an extra charge
Sensatori For Families
At the Play House, daytime activities are anything but ordinary thanks to the Silly Science Lab, Crazy Kitchen and the Arts and Crafts Zone. Evenings, meanwhile, bring parties and movies, plus, you can pay a little extra for sleepovers. Finally, because all Play House and Nursery staff hold UK-accredited childcare qualifications, you’re guaranteed peace of mind.
• Free supervised sessions for 3 to 12-year-olds are available 6 days a week for an hour or two. These sessions run between April and October and throughout the Christmas period
• You can use the facilities as a family with our special ‘stay and play’ sessions, available 7 days a week
Toddlers and babies get their own multi-sensory nursery, which comes with the likes of flashing lights, tactile panels and a Little Land of Nod sleeping room.
• For 0 to 4 year-olds
• Morning and afternoon sessions, 7 days a week, all year round.
• Nursery sessions cost extra and need to be pre-booked in the UK because of the strict child-to-staff ratio
After reviewing this holiday and writing up my experience I can honestly say it was the best package deal I have ever experienced in 25 years of traveling. The Sensatori experience was truly fantastic, everything was taken care of and all your senses were catered for: mind, body sprit, health and wellbeing.
The family staying in the room next to me summed it up for me.
Mark from Newcastle explained, “I’m fortunate enough to have travelled to many resorts, but I have returned here 6 times in two years, that says it all.”