No kidding! I thought I’d died and gone to Shangri-la when we drove out of the desert and entered the exotic and luxurious Kempinski Hotel at Soma Bay on the Red Sea. For a traveler like me who usually goes budget, even back-packs and camps, this sprawling Moorish style hotel-spa was like waking in a fairy-tale dream. The hotel occupies a beachside area spanning 150,000 sq meters offering 325 rooms designer furnished with views overlooking the hotel lagoon and creation pools to the sparkling turquoise water of the sea.As I surveyed the luscious landscape, the waterfalls, streams, heated swimming pools and the long stretch of beach I could only gasp and say “Wow!” No wonder the Kempinski is known as the Pearl of the Red Sea!
Welcome to My Room!
After our long journey across the desert, I could hardly wait to go for a swim so I donned my bathing suit and headed for the beach. Imagine! A chance to swim in the Red Sea (called that name because of the red coral reefs), a sea that I had long-ago heard about in Bible stories. I envisioned myself drifting in the crystal clear water.
I started to wade out and went farther and farther from shore, the water barely reaching my shins! Now I know how Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt across the sea. They waded across! Finally I squatted down so it appeared that I was submerged and had my friend Linda take my photograph, just so I could say I ‘swam’ in the Red Sea.
Wading in the Red Sea
Pretending to Swim
Camels on the Beach
Then I returned to shore and joined my friends by the pool side. It is such a large pool it was almost like swimming in the sea so I spent the rest of the afternoon splashing around and lolling in the sun by pool-side.
There’s pool-side restaurant, Al Mar, where sunbathers can order snacks or drinks. The hotel’s main restaurant is The View where we were served a spectacular buffet dinner later that day.
It was fun just hanging out in the vast and beautifully decorated main lounge area where we lounged on comfy couches and checked our emails on our iphones and tablets.
In the evening Markos, Linda and I sat outside on the patio, ordered glasses of Egyptian wine (my favorite was the Omar Khayyam) and smoked a water pipe of pear flavored sheesah. This is a very communal type of pastime in Egypt, relaxing and sweet-tasting and not a narcotic smoked from a tall ornate pipe with long tubes for inhaling. Even a non-smoker like me enjoyed puffing away as we chatted and watched the glorious rosy sunset over the sea.
The Soma Bay Peninsula is 10 square miles but only 2 miles are developed. The Kempinski Hotel is one of several luxurious spa-resorts on the shores of Soma Bay. Just down the beach we visited the Residence Des Cascade Resort, another spa hotel.
We were taken around the 18 hole championship golf-course on a golf cart. This would appeal to most golfers, a par 72 course right by the sea the lush green fairways a contrast to the distant desert landscape.
Later we stopped at the Breakers Hotel, designed for the more laid-back adventurous folks. There’s a dive centre and a Kite House offering kite surfing and kite racing on the long stretch of beach. We watched dozens of brightly coloured kite-surfers, like giant butterflies, hovering over the water. You can take a 4 day kite-surfing course as well as learn how to scuba dive at the Dive Centre. There is also a volley ball training court.
We were invited to return for a free spa treatment. But Markos, Linda and I had other plans: a night out in the nearby city of Hurghada. I knew I’d be too tired to enjoy the fun if I went to the spa, so I passed up the chance. Good job too, because Yves was too tired to join us as we set off by van for a night of adventure in the city.
NEXT: Exploring the Night-life of Hurghada.