Al-Ahram Weekly Online   3 - 9 April 2003
Issue No. 632
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Spring escapes

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Nelson Village, the extension of the Hilton Taba Resort, is a perfect base for scuba diving, snorkelling or relaxing on the beach
Anyone thinking of booking a Spring or Easter break will be able to take advantage of special deals being offered by Egyptian hotels and tourist villages to offset the drop in foreign visitors deterred by the Iraq war. Escapade Travel Nile cruises leaving each Monday from Luxor to Aswan (four nights) and on Fridays from Aswan to Luxor (three nights) are offered at $45 per night per person, including breakfast, dinner and sightseeing. Flash Tours are offering three-night cruises from Aswan to Luxor for LE1,000, and from Luxor to Aswan (four nights) for LE1,150, including flights, transfers, breakfast, dinner and sightseeing. Flash also has three-night trips to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, with breakfast, for LE480 and LE390 respectively. The trips and cruises include five-star hotel accommodation.

The Nile Hilton in the heart of Cairo offers double rooms with breakfast for LE320 for Egyptians and $110 for foreigners to cover extra taxes and services. The Hilton Pyramids and Golf Resort in 6th October City has special deals for Egyptians at LE350 with breakfast, with a further LE50 discount starting in April. The Four Seasons Hotel, is aiming to combat the Iraqi war crisis by presenting special offers at weekends for Egyptians at $125-165 and foreigners at $252-292 per night for a double room. The Marriott Hotel offers double rooms for $75 to Egyptians and $95 to foreigners.

Ain Sokhna, the Arabic word for "hot springs" named after nearby springs that originate in the Ataqa mountain in the Eastern Desert, is the closest beach resort to Cairo and the most popular getaway to the sea, with fine beaches, coral reefs, fishing, watersports and beautiful weather all year round. The Hilton Ain Sokhna Resort is offering discounted cottages with breakfast for LE220 for Egyptians and LE320 for foreigners. Luxor, Homer's "Hundred-gated Thebes", about 500kms south of Cairo, contains some of the world's most famous historical monuments. The Luxor Hilton is located in Karnak village on the East Bank of the Nile. Following the noticeable retreat by visitors -- particularly British and Japanese -- the hotel is offering double rooms with breakfast for LE200-250 for Egyptians and $120-140 for foreigners.

Sinai was known as the "Land of Discovery" in Pharaonic times. Now it's referred to as the "Must See Destination". Once one is in Sinai, there are some towns that shouldn't be missed. Dahab, lying 100kms northeast of Sharm El-Sheikh, is ideal for windsurfing. The Hilton Dahab Resort seems scarcely touched by the war. However, it is offering Egyptian guests double rooms with breakfast for LE200- 250. Taba, at the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba on the border of Israel, is a paradise for snorkellers with its turquoise seas and myriad corals. Taba is worth visiting to see the picturesque Pharaoh's Island, the restored citadel of Salaheddin, the Coloured Canyon and the monastery of St Catherine. The Hilton Taba Resort offers Egyptians and foreign residents double rooms for LE220-250 and $154-164 for foreigners. Nelson Village is the hotel's extension, offering cottages for LE280 for Egyptians and $171 for foreigners.

Nuweiba has a beautiful outlook over Tiran Island. The Hilton Nuweiba Coral Resort is offering double rooms with breakfast and dinner for Egyptians for LE320 and foreigners for $100. Hurghada, with its amazing underwater gardens, is the perfect place for scuba diving, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing and desert safaris. The Hilton Hurghada Plaza, which is continuing to receive Egyptian and foreign guests in spite of the war, is offering special rates of LE260 and $80 respectively.

Sharm El-Sheikh lies near a series of bays on the southeastern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Diving, snorkelling and windsurfing are commonly pursuits at the resort. The Hilton Sharks Bay Resort seems untouched by the wave of stagnation that is sweeping other tourist locations. However, it is still offering discounts with rooms for Egyptians at LE520 and foreigners at $190 including breakfast and dinner. The Hilton Sharm El-Sheikh Fayrouz Resort has an offer until 23 April for LE320 for Egyptians and $120 for foreigners. Starting on 24 April prices will increase by LE50 and $30 respectively.

Operators are hoping guests will be encouraged by the lower rates. "There's nothing left to be done," one tour company manager said. "Even if we invite tourists for free, they still won't come if they're afraid. March and April are dull. However, we hope there will be some bookings in May."

Practical information

Unless otherwise stated, prices given are for two people per night in a double room.

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