Sharm El Sheik is a quintessential beach resort town located on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Sharm, as locals call it, is at the border of the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea right at the end of the Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai Peninsula, like most of Egypt, is a desert and driving from the airport to our resort was mostly sand. Then you enter the resort and it’s an oasis of green.
The US State Department does not allow personnel to drive to Sharm due to security concerns on the Sinai Peninsula. It is just a 1 hour flight from Cairo to Sharm and both Egypt Air and Nile Air do regular flights. We also learned that Nile Air, for all that it is a regional airline with limited flights, does customer service well. One free checked bag per person AND they served a small meal (or large snack depending on your size) on the 1 hour flight–a juice box and two small sandwiches (one with meat and one with cheese). Everyone got the same food and they were super efficient with passing out and picking up trash considering the first 20 and last 20 minutes of the 60 min flight were gaining altitude and descent!
We traveled to Sharm for Eid weekend with happened to correspond with Labor Day weekend as well. For Eid, most Egyptians (and the Embassy) got a 5 day weekend, so many many people traveled for it. We knew 3 other families on our flight alone to Sharm! Made for a party in the airport 🙂
One thing we discovered for our first flight out of Cairo International Airport is that services and food were greatly limited at our terminal. The airport has 3 terminals and we were at Terminal 1. Within Terminal 1 are 3 Halls. We had to enter through Hall 1, but then wind our way over to Hall 2 where Nile Air does their domestic flight departures. We did security with all our luggage to enter the hall, then did check in (Nile Air doesn’t seem to have an online check in option that I could find). There was 1 small cafe with some pre-prepared sandwiches and danishes, coffee, and juice and some tables. That was it. Once you left that area you went through security again and entered your gate area where there was nothing except chairs. No bathrooms, no food, no shops. We went through first and then realized the lack of bathrooms but by then the line for security was really long and slow, so I held it!
The flight was super fast, which was good because DS screamed most of it. He was tired and cranky and teething and not happy about being contained. Oh well, at least it was over fast! We got picked up at the airport by our hotel and off we went. There are many hotel options in Sharm. We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort, but friends stayed at Movenpik and in Shark’s Bay and both enjoyed those. If we go back again, we’ll check out another option.
Four Seasons is a higher end resort with gorgeous grounds and a high level of service. They have rooms that range from single rooms to four bedroom chalets and an extremely pricy presidential suite. We went with the two bedroom suite and it was perfect for our family of four. DD got her own room that had 2 twin beds and we had DS in a crib in the master bedroom. The closet was even big enough to fit the crib into, which made his earlier bedtime less inconvenient (the door to the closet was not solid, so air flow was not a problem). Two bathrooms, a kitchenette (mini fridge, microwave, sink, and stove top), and living area with sofa and table/chairs rounded out the suite. Our rooms opened to garden patios, though some suites had balconies. There was even a washer/dryer in the suite.
Kids were thrilled to be met by personalized cookies (their names written on them!) and juice boxes when we arrived. A perfect treat and distraction while we unpacked and settled in. There were also t-shirts sized for them appropriately, kid toiletries, and a kid sized robe.
We spent our 3 nights there rotating between pools and the beach, eating delicious meals, and chilling in our suite. There are two main adult pools, one overlooking the beach and sea and one nestled among the suites up on the hillside. Each adult pool has a kiddy pool right by it. There is also a pool connected to the spa, but we never used it. The kid pools were 2 feet deep and had a built in bench around most of the sides. The Aladdin Kid Pool (next to the adult Waha pool) had mini kid sized lounger chairs, which DD loved. We enjoyed the kid pools, but they were basic-no slides or water features. The adult pools were beautiful and had swim up bars and plenty of space and lounger chairs. Lots of options for sun or shade. Hotel staff had special towels that went over the loungers so they wouldn’t fall off and they brought complimentary mini coolers with water bottles and cool washcloths for every group. Great for storing snacks in as well that you might bring down.
The beach was very pretty, but we didn’t actually spend a ton of time down there. DH said that most beaches in Sharm had to be built up with imported sand due to all the coral. The sand was pretty for looking at, but not very practical or fun for the kids as it was pebbly/rockier and not good for sand castles. The coral reef came practically right up to the water’s edge and was rough and no one was allowed on it (for both safety reasons and to avoid damaging the coral). This meant no wading or splashing in the water for little kids. They did have a dock that went out over the coral that you could jump off for swimming in the deeper water. Adults and older kids enjoyed snorkeling out there. In my opinion, if you have little kids and the beach is a high priority, pick a different hotel. Friends said the Shark’s Bay beaches were great and I think the beach at Movenpik had more options.
The food was amazing! Our room rate had buffet breakfast at Arabesque included in the cost. The buffet was huge and included a large range of Egyptian and International foods. Tons of pastries, fruit, yogurts, cheeses, deli meats, Egyptian breakfast items, sausage, beans, made-to-order eggs and omelets, pancakes, waffles, fresh juices, and more. We ate until we were stuffed.
Lunch we did room service days 2 and 3 and that worked out really well. Took about 30 minutes for food to arrive and it allowed for some nice downtime. Plus then DS could start his nap and I could eat more leisurely. Whole kid menu, plus lots of adult options. I got the caprese salad each day as I was still fairly stuffed from breakfast. DD got chicken fingers and pizza and DH enjoyed the Chicken Shwarma wrap and a salad. Room service was fancy–table clothes, mini salt and pepper shakers, bread basket, etc. Just like dining at a real restaurant.
The last day we did lunch at Waha Pool Restaurant after checking out and before our ride to the airport. Both kids were in full meltdown mode, so I can’t actually speak much towards the experience, but I think the food was good and the view was lovely! Kids under 6 eat free at some of the restaurants, including Waha. They had cute coloring activity books and colored pencils for the kids.
Dinners we rotated through 3 of the 4 restaurants. Il Frantoio serves Italian food and was night 1. We ate outside on a balcony and it was lovely. Delicious food and wine options and a great kids’ menu. However, DS had not napped that day and melted down before food even arrived. I bailed with the kids back to the room while DH waited for our food and to pay. DH requested they box our food and he’d bring it back. However, the staff insisted on delivering it to me so it would be hot and I could have a nice meal. Got the kids to bed and then a nice hot dinner arrived and I got to dine in style in the room. Props to the Il Frantoio staff!
The next night we ate at Arabesque which was doing an Eid Buffet. Buffets are great with kids as there is no waiting for food! None of the restaurants start serving dinner til 6:30, which means in a normal restaurant you’re not getting food til close to 7 which is rough when the kids want bedtime at 7–especially after a long day of pool playing! The buffet was amazing. Tons of food choices beautifully displayed. Many were in adorable small servings, which was great for tasting. I loved the tiny shot glass type servings of soups and dips. The dessert bar was amazing and I probably tried everything.
The last night we ate at the Reef Grill, which is their seafood restaurant overlooking the beach. It was their market night, so they had a set menu with an appetizer sampler to share, soup of choice, and then you got to pick what surf and turf meats you wanted cooked. We went up to the counter with a waiter and pointed out specific fish, seafood, and meat pieces that we wanted. You pay by weight or piece depending on the item. Those came out with some sides to share family style. I loved my shrimp, crab, and lobster, and DH had shrimp and 2 types of fish. There was also live music at the restaurant.
Four Seasons has a kids club that has a ton of activities. It is free for kids 4-12, though younger kids can participate with an adult chaperone. DD is not inclined to do those sort of activities, but we did go over one morning for an art project and for a break from the heat. They were drawing fish pictures and DS enjoyed playing in their play room. The facilities look great for those with kids who are willing to leave their parents! Play room, art room, game/tv room, 2 bathrooms–one with kid sized toilet and sink and one with adult sized, and a small outside area. They also do outings around the grounds to the pool and beach and you can pay a small fee for lunch or dinner coverage.
As a note of warning, the grounds cover a hill and there is a lot of going up and down hills and steps. They do have paths and you can ride golf carts places. They also have a trolley thing that goes from the main building to the main pool that the kids enjoyed riding, though it is very slow moving. But we still did a lot of walking up and down. Be prepared to walk and climb a lot or wait for transportation to get where you need to go.
Overall, it was a lovely trip, though I can’t say overly relaxing as DS was in full MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY mode the entire time and would scream bloody murder if I left him even for a minute to take DD to the bathroom. We did not snorkel or scuba, though I hear there are amazing options. It was just too difficult with the little kids.