|When in need of much-deserved alone time with your significant other, book yourself the first one-hour flight out of Cairo to Sahl Hasheesh. Located roughly 22 km from Hurghada, and less than a half-hour drive from Hurghada International Airport, Sahl Hasheesh spans 41 million square meters and is home to an extensive 12.5 km bay. Still largely under construction, this haven of luxury hotels and real estate projects promises to quickly become one of Egypt’s prime holiday destinations for the traveler looking to get away from it all.After a couple of hectic months trying to make ends meet with a new house, husband, puppy and a demanding job, I wanted to go to this meditative world of leisure and comfort.
Only being able to spare two nights out of our chaotic schedules, my husband and I booked ourselves a Deluxe Room at the ‘Couples Concept’ Premier Le Reve Hotel & Spa.
Rated the number one hotel in Hurghada for over a year now on TripAdvisor.com, the all-inclusive Premier Le Reve promised to deliver quiet, service and romance. And deliver, it did.
As you step into the hotel, you can’t help but notice the abundance of space. An island of marble, the lobby had an upscale art-deco feel with its oversized red chairs and velvet purple couches. But the fancy Romanesque structure and the white marble floors kept the look from being too avante garde.
The traditional architecture of the hotel was a little plain for my taste, but the service more than made up for it. The wonderfully warm welcome on arrival does not stop at the fruity welcome drink, it extends to the rest of your stay. You can tell that the hotel focuses on their staff’s attitude: Accommodating at all times, the staff wanted to do everything to make our stay more pleasant. For example, when they found out we were newlyweds, they treated our room to a honeymoon rose petal and candle-lit surprise extravaganza while we were out. The only other level of service I have come across that was this exceptional was in the Four Seasons in Costa Rica — and that’s saying a lot.
The standard of the rooms are no different. Decorated to emphasize exclusivity and a cozy ambience, the 228 rooms and eight suites are set up to meet every guest’s needs.
The Moderated, Superior and Deluxe Rooms are 49 square meters in size, each with mini bar, coffee and tea facilities, safe deposit box, built-in internet, walk-in wardrobe, LCD TV and a terrace overlooking the pool, and if you’re lucky, part of the beach. The only difference between the different rooms is the size of the bed: Our Deluxe Room had a 240 cm bed, which we felt sorry to leave behind at the end of our trip. However, the rooms’ terraces were narrow and lacked in privacy, and only very few rooms had a proper view of the sea. The minibar options were also lacking for a 5-star hotel fridge; all they had to offer were juice and water, leaving out nuts, chocolates and sodas normally found in other hotel fridges.
As for the suites, the hotel offers three categories: the 102 square meter suite with a master bedroom, living room, guest bedroom, jacuzzi and large balcony overlooking the sea. The Princess and Honeymooners suites, at 137 sq meters, have the added bonus of a dining room and an extra balcony.
After a good night’s sleep, we chose to spend our mornings lazing and taking dips in one of the five pools. With the weather a bit chilly, I opted for the heated pool, while my husband enjoyed the sea-salt pool. With only subtle music in the background and no children running around, it was the perfect setting to catch up on some reading and some much-needed sunshine. In the afternoons, we headed to the beach and lounged on the generously scattered king-size sun beds, large enough for couples to spend some quality time together and catch up on all the small details we don’t usually have enough time to share.
The hotel operates on an all-inclusive concept, and we were offered drinks and snacks all day by the staff and only needed to make an effort to move when hunger struck. For lunch, guests have the option of the main restaurant Turquoise, with its delicious open buffet of salads, main meals and desserts, or at Ossiano, a laidback, charming a la carte restaurant on the beach with views of the calm Red Sea. Both boasted exceptionally good food and service, and always ended with a platter of fresh seasonal fruit.
After lunch, we would head to the pool bar to catch the last rays of sunshine as we sipped cocktails and listened to a live performance by a British musician on his guitar singing a mix of oldies rock and romantic ballads — a perfect ending to a long relaxing day.
The beach itself, however, was disappointing. All coral, it is difficult to actually walk on or swim in. The hotel does have a long jetty out to deeper water, but it is not designed to lure you out with your towel to spend your day on it when in need of a dip. For us, this was not a major problem as we have some of the most beautiful beaches and azure waters in Egypt, available at any time of the year for a visit, but for visiting foreigners, the beach might be a letdown.
The food, however did not disappoint. Breakfast, hosted in Turquoise every morning, is worth getting up for. The eggs, the cheeses, the choices of breads and pastries; everything offered in the open buffet was superb. The only problem was that we found ourselves overeating at every meal. Dinner is also served in Turquoise, but guests have other options of culinary delights in the four other restaurants arranged via reservation the night before. We only had time to try Bella, the Italian restaurant, and Miyako Sushi, that doubles as both a Japanese and Indian restaurant. Both the Italian and the Indian were gourmet experiences, leaving us asking for “more please.” Mandarin, the Chinese restaurant and Mermaid, the Seafood restaurant, were also given rave reviews by some of the couples we talked to there.
Because of our limited time, we didn’t get to check out the other hotel services such as The Horus Spa (somewhat overpriced), with its various massage options; the fitness center with its decked out workout equipment; and the indoor swimming pool and juice bar. We did visit Long Bar after dinner, a laid back venue with live music, billiards and snooker tables, with couples just hanging around having a drink and unwinding after their day in the sun.
When it was time to leave, we were ready. We got what we had come for: relaxation, good food and sun, all without having to leave the hotel premises. Would I go back? Yes, but in a couple of years, as the average age of guests was well over the 40 mark.