Family Time



Mon, 24 Apr 2017 - 09:14 GMT


Mon, 24 Apr 2017 - 09:14 GMT

Four Seasons Hotel - Alexandria

Four Seasons Hotel - Alexandria

CAIRO - 24 April 2017: I’d never thought of Alexandria as a family-friendly destination, but being a huge fan of the eclectic seaside city I agreed to go with a group of moms for a weekend, our teens and tweens in tow. The kids had never really seen the sights in Alexandria, except as part of a quick jaunt during Sahel season and certainly not in winter, and during a cold snap, no less.

Our resident friend took us on a “touristic” tour of Alex, packing in the Citadel, a horse carriage ride, a choppy boat tour to see the sights from the Corniche followed by an obligatory sea-view fish meal—all of this interspersed with sundry snacks like termis bought from sidewalk vendors, ice cream from Azza and mini iced cakes from Manna.

My 14-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter were so amazed at the experience that I decided to return a few weekends later for a family trip.

On a cold and windy Thursday night we drove up to Alexandria, crawling through traffic along the Corniche on our way to the Four Seasons Alexandria where we were given a VIP welcome.

I had already checked in using the handy hotel app (which also allows you to book tables, spas or services in addition to checkout) so we didn’t spend more than a few moments as the friendly staff verified the booking and checked our IDs.

Weary from the long drive and ready to drop into bed, we rode up in the palatial elevator and got off at our suite on the 10th floor. Walking in, the kids excitedly became awake as we opened door after door of what was to be our home for the next 48 hours.

Tour over, they both sank into the comfortable settee, flipped on the TV and began munching on the complimentary welcome cookies thoughtfully left out for them on the table. “We’re not leaving the hotel,” they announced in unison.

Despite the many attractions Alexandria has to offer, the option of staying in and enjoying the hotel’s decadent features was just too appealing to turn down. After a quick change we rode down to the restaurant floor and settled on the Italian venue Stefano’s for dinner. A high-backed sofa lines the arc-shaped wall and above it are towering ornamental brass vases displayed in indirectly lit niches. The dining hall itself is not oversized, the soothing ocher of the walls and homey smells wafting in from the open kitchen across one end giving it a cozy and inviting feel.

The kids shared a lasagna and green salad while my husband ordered a stuffed chicken roll that was both juicy and flavorful. My beef fillet was topped with a soft and buttery ravioli square delicately spiced with basil and fresh tomato. Full from our meal, we headed back to our suite which had both a sofa bed as well as a single bed in the living area and within minutes were soundly asleep.

On Friday, my husband and I woke up later than usual to the delicious aroma of coffee brewing: the kids had found their way around the N’espresso machine and had made us each a cup that we took outside to the balcony.

From the railing we could see the swimming pool right under our room (the main pool is closed in winter months but opens in April), traffic picking up on the cornice then waves of the Mediterranean lapping endlessly as far as the eye could see. Despite the fog and chill in the air, we couldn’t pull ourselves away from the view and spent the next hour flipping through the hotel magazine and reading the morning news on our ipads.

An hour later, I walked into the dressing room to find the kids, having run their baths and showered, eviscerating their travel bags looking for something appropriate to wear. My son was fiddling intently with his fishing gear, having spotted early risers fishing on the craggy rocks breaking the waves directly across the hotel. My daughter had planned out her day between the indoor pool and the spa and couldn’t decide which swimsuit to don. I ordered them to tidy everything up and stepped across the cool marble of the bathroom floor to shower.

Finally ready, the four of us walked through trellised marble corridors and into the airy breakfast hall which was set up with a variety of seating options. At the entrance was a separate dining room perfect for large groups and family gatherings.

More tables were spread out across the main area which opened up to a third section enclosed in wall-to-ceiling windows looking out over the coastline. The breakfast buffet is loaded with just about everything under the sun, including local favorites ful (Alexandria style, of course), tameya and fitir in addition to Continental offerings such as pastries, omelets and fresh fruit. The waiter serves freshly squeezed orange juice or a guava smoothie to accompany the food.

Looking around, I could see a fair number of families as well as residents who had come to enjoy the delicious Friday breakfast. Thankfully a pancake and waffle station is on hand for the kids.

After lingering over coffee we went back to the suite to start our day. The boys grabbed the gear and made for the shore while I caught up on some work. An hour later, I took my daughter to the spa and booked an appointment for a mini treatment.

Treatments for kids are available starting at age 14 but they made an exception for us on condition that I attend the session with her. Appointment set, we made for the indoor pool for a few hours of splashing. Several couples were lounging on deckchairs, their children having fun in the water. A towel boy spread some clean towels out for us and I rested my head back and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere.

The boys returned from their fishing adventure, changed into their swimsuits and dove in while I my daughter showered ahead of her treatment. We were shown into the changing area where she was given the obligatory disposable underwear and wrapped in a voluminous toweling robe. She was a little apprehensive as the welcoming masseuse helped her onto the spa bed but relaxed as the Indonesian national worked her magic.

Using almond oil for sensitive skin, she slowly made her way from shoulder to foot then up again, all the time chatting amiably about her work. Many of her clients, she explains, are actually men staying at the hotel on business and looking for a treatment to rub away the stress.

Looking apprehensively at the mini clock on the bench-side table, the masseuse told me she couldn’t do more than a half hour as a first-time treatment for a young girl and began to rub at my daughter’s temples, then digging her fingertips into her scalp in relaxing circular motions.

Feeling pampered and her cheeks rosy, my daughter was thrilled at the experience and took a series of quick selfies to show off in front of her friends.

After a shower we all headed downstairs for brunch at Kala restaurant, which was clearly popular given the healthy number of people queuing up at the banquet tables.

Stealing the show were the salads and desserts—dipping fresh fruit slices in the chocolate fountain making everyone’s day. My recommendation would certainly be the Om Ali though. Deliciously creamy, it was decadent and melted on the tongue.

Next morning, we took a table that was squared off in its own nook and had a direct view of the sea. We lingered over coffee and French pastries, reluctant to end our stay but already looking forward to many happy returns.



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