When we decided to take a trip down to El Gouna, Hurghada, Egypt on the Red Sea, we picked the Movenpick Resort. We’ve stayed in two other Movenpick’s in Egypt (in Aswan and Ain Sokhna) and so knew what to expect. It’s a high end resort, but if you look for deals you can get a decent rate for high quality. Our kids were 5 and 2.5 at the time of our stay.
The Movenpick is sprawling with lots of great landscaping. It can take a while to walk from your room to a restaurant or the beach depending on where you room is located. Our room was near a playset and lagoon, but a bit of a walk from the pools, restaurants, and beach. We did not use a stroller, but between elevators and pathways you could take it pretty much anywhere if needed.
Our room was the family room. It takes 2 adults and 2 kids. The main floor had the master bedroom, a balcony, large bathroom, and small table and chair. Then there was a flight of stairs up to a loft with 2 twin beds. The loft is not separated from the lower area except by a railing (which could be a climbing hazard for toddlers). It does have a gate at the top to prevent sleep walkers, though my 2 year old quickly figured out how to unlock it. Upstairs only had the 2 beds and 2 lamps. No nightstands or a dresser or anything.
There was a curtain that partially blocked the master bed from upstairs. The balcony had a nice view, but only had 2 chairs and a small table. For a room that fits 4, you’d think they’d have seating for 4 outside.
They also have the family suite, which has 2 bedrooms (1 king, 1 with two twins) and a separate living room. It holds 4 adults + 1 child.
Waterwise, you have three choices–pools, lagoons, or the Red Sea. The main pools are right next to each other. There is a kiddy pool near a pool restaurant. It is right next to a main pool with a swim-up bar. Then there is another pool semi-connected to a mid-depth pool (my 5 year old could stand, but not my toddler). Plenty of seating and shade umbrellas. Morning time the seats were practically empty. Late afternoon was a bit trickier to get seating, but not impossible. You can order food to eat by the pool or eat at a table outside near the pool. There were also two bathrooms, changing rooms, and outside showers.
There were two lagoon choices. One lagoon was near our rooms and was partially connected to the Red Sea at the far end. It had lots of chairs and umbrellas, but no facilities. Even to get towels, you had to walk to the pool (which was about a 5 min walk). The ground was dirt, not really sand. The ground in the lagoon was a bit muddy and my kids weren’t a fan. It also gets deep quickly. There were, though, a number of adults in deeper floating around.
The other lagoon was more like a pond–not connected to the sea. It was right near the sea and surrounded by chairs. It was also nearer to the pool and its facilities. It had a towel stand right next to it. You could rent various boards and kayaks to use in the water.
The Red Sea is very shallow and calm at the hotel. Even small kids can walk out very far, even at high tide. There is not very good sand for sandcastles and not many shells. There is a little snorkling out far, but not a ton. The view is beautiful and there were lots of chairs and umbrellas.
As a side note, if looking for a sandy beach with good shells, the MOODS Restaurant beach near the Abu Tig Marina is great. It costs 100le for ages 12+ and is 50le for extra towels (say for kids). Not much snorkling, but lots of sand and shells.
Food wise, we ate breakfast daily with the buffet included in our rate. The buffet was a typical Egyptian/European buffet. Nothing amazing, but good basic food. Large pastry and yogurt selection, plus a salad bar, deli and cheese bar, Egyptian food table, omelets/eggs made to order, and a hot bar with chicken and beef sausage, hard boiled eggs, pancakes, potatoes, etc. It opened at 7 which was good with kids. We actually got there one day at 6:45 and they were open and cold things were out, though hot foods weren’t ready yet. The breakfast restaurant had indoor and outdoor seating.
Lunch we ate in town 3 times and at the hotel only once. Downtown has a number of different restaurants, including the Turkish and Thai restaurants we ate at (yum!). We also ate at MOODS Restaurant one day at the marina in connection with a beach day there. Our one lunch at the hotel was at the poolside restaurant. Service was really really slow. Kid food showed up first and the chicken nuggets were more of a minced seasoned chicken in a fried nugget shape. The kids wouldn’t eat it, and frankly I thought it tasted yucky as well. My food took so long I ended up taking the kids back to the room for nap and DH got my meal boxed when it finally arrived.
Dinner in Egypt is always difficult with kids. None of the restaurants opened before 6:30, which we don’t love as our kids go to bed by 7:30. This is especially true on days they have spent all day out in the sun and water. So we tend to order room service for dinner. We quickly learned that room service is also slow. 40 minutes at a minimum. First night I didn’t order soon enough. Third night it took an hour for food and every time I called to check they said it would be there in a minute. They also messed up orders and never remembered the bucket of ice we’d request and have to return with it later. The burgers were good and the kids liked their slider (though the kid burger was just 1 slider with a mess of french fries which was not enough meat for them. Should have ordered a full size burger). My DD also loved the pasta with a basic red sauce. We got the fruit platter each night, which was a hit and had a good variety of fruit.
There are buffet and a la carte restaurant choices available for those who want to dine at a restaurant, including one with a pretty sea view. Or you can go into town (only about a 10 min drive, or catch a taxi or tuk tuk).
Other things to note:
*Hotel gym is only open 8 am to 8 pm, which my husband disliked as he prefers to work out after the kids go to bed.
*Each afternoon they have a free chocolate bar in the lobby (about 4 pm it seemed) with a range of sweets and chocolates. Yum!
*You can arrange boating, scuba, and snorkling trips at the hotel. We arranged our private glass bottom boat ride in the lobby. It was 200 Euro for 2 hours–ride + snorkling. A splurge, but worth it. The kids loved it. And so did we!
*Towels you have to check out and return and it’s tracked with little hotel room key sized cards. This is pretty typical in Egypt. Somewhat inconvenient b/c the towel counters are not always where you want towels.
*They have a small shaded play ground near the beach with play houses and 2 playsets and a bench. Nice for a little break from the sun. There is a larger playground set inland near the family suites with a trampoline and large playset and picnic tables that is not shaded.
*They did not care that we brought in food and wine. I brought a ton of snacks for the kids and me and we brought 2 bottles of wine (and an opener) and some Scotch and while they scanned our bags, there was no issue.
Overall, the Movenpick in Gouna is very nice. It is not for someone whose focus is snorkling or needs a budget option. But it is family friendly, has room options for families (several rooms for 2 adults + 1 kid, family room for up to 2 adults and 2 kids under 12 or family suite for up to 4 adults and 1 kid) and is beautiful.