Al-Ahram Weekly Online   26 August - 1 September 2004
Issue No. 705
Travel
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Autumn bargains

Missed out on your summer vacation? Don't worry, you'll have better deals in the autumn, Rehab Saad guides you through the best offers around

Click to view caption
It's autumn time when a couple can enjoy a relaxing vacation with kids-free beaches photo: Khaled El-Fiqi

Summer is already coming to an end and scores of holidaymakers are preparing to make their way back home to get ready for the new academic year, scheduled to start in mid-September. For those of you who have no kids who have to be back at school and who have missed out on the peak summer season, now is the best time for a holiday. Beaches will be quieter, rates will be lower and the weather will be better.

You can get the best offers if you choose the right destination and the best timing. For example, don't expect to get good offers in Sharm El-Sheikh or Hurghada in winter, just as you should not expect to strike a great bargain in Alexandria in the summer. Each destination has its own high and low seasons, and you have to seize the various opportunities as they come.

Accommodation rates in the Red Sea area -- Hurghada, Safaga, Al-Qusseir, Marsa Alam -- and South Sinai -- Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba -- will soar in October, when the "winter season" begins. So if you are looking for a real bargain, you have to seize your chance in September.

On the other hand, rates in Mediterranean destinations such as Alexandria, Marsa Matruh and Port Said will fall in October, as this is their low season. So if you decide on a holiday on the Mediterranean coast, you will need to wait until October to get a reasonable price. Cheap packages are extremely rare before October.

The idea of travelling to Luxor or Aswan in Upper Egypt in September might sound ridiculous, as temperatures there will be very high, but this may be the only time of the year when some travellers can afford one of the luxurious hotels or the splendours of a Nile cruise.

So, if you are ready for a holiday in autumn, all you have to do is to pack your bags and choose from one of the deals described below.

El-Gouna

If you book a room in the Steigenberger Golf Resort (+2065) 580 140 from 1 September to the end of October, you can get a double for LE225 per person per night on a half board basis, including service charge and taxes. If you decide to have your holiday during the 6 October weekend -- from 5 October to 9/10 --, the rates will rise to LE280 per person per night on a half board basis. Children younger than six years go free, while those aged from six to 12 pay a supplement of LE65 on a half board basis.

The rates in the Sheraton Miramar (+2065) 545 608 are a little higher. A double room will cost you LE285 per person per night on a bed and breakfast basis, inclusive of service charge and taxes, in addition to free transportation from and to Hurghada airport. The offer is valid only to Egyptians and foreign residents and is applicable from 1 September to the end of October.

If you have money to spare and want to treat yourself try the newly-opened Club Med Resort that offers, until 17 September, double rooms for LE415 per person per night on a full board basis including several activities such as tennis, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, sauna, hammam in addition to snorkelling lessons. From 18 September to the start of October the rates soar to LE474 per person per night. They rise even higher in the period from 2 to 22 October to be LE504 per person in a double room. From 23 to 29 October, the rates rise to LE555 per person in a double room, and then the rates start to fall from 30 October to 26 November to LE444 per person in a double room. The best rates you can get are in the period between 27 November and 11 December, when a double room costs only LE393 per person.

If you are looking for lower rates, consider the deal offered by Ocean View Hotel, whereby a double room costs LE170 per person per night on a half board basis. If you need a sea-view room you have to pay a supplement of LE40 per night. The offer is valid until the end of September and is open only to Egyptians and foreign residents.

Hurghada

Both Thomas Cook and Emeco Travel offer lucrative packages in Hurghada, the most famous tourist city on the Red Sea coast.

Thomas Cook offers three nights in the five-star Calimera Resort on an all-inclusive basis -- meaning that you can eat and drink whatever you want all day long without paying any extras -- with prices starting from LE633 per person in a double room. The offer is valid from 16 to 30 September and from 11 to 31 October.

In the period from 15 September to 10 October the rates for three-night stays will soar up to LE733 per person in a double room.

Thomas Cook also offers three-night stays in the four-star Sun Rise El Palacio Resort with rates starting from LE480 per person in a double room on a full board basis. The offer is valid from 18 September until the end of October.

Through Emeco Travel you can spend three nights in Sofitel Hurghada for LE945 per person in a double room on a half board basis. The offer is valid until the end of October.

On the other hand, Le Meridian Makadi Bay Hotel (+2065)590 590 offers during September double "dune" rooms for LE285 per person on a full board basis and LE310 per person on an all-inclusive basis. In October, the rates rise to LE310 per person in a double "dune" room on a full board basis and LE335 per person on an all-inclusive basis. The offer is valid only to Egyptians and foreign residents.

Sheraton Soma Bay (+2065) 545 845, located 45 kilometres south of Hurghada, offers in September start from LE275 per person in a double room on a half board basis including a free transportation from and to Hurghada airport, while in October the rate for a double room starts from LE335 per person per night.

Al-Qusseir

Al-Qusseir is located south of Hurghada, about 85 kilometres from Safaga. There are only nine tourist villages, built around the outskirts. Some of them have special offers through the autumn months.

Through Thomas Cook you can book three nights in the Flamenco Resort for LE441 per person in a double room on a half board basis. Thomas Cook also offers three nights in the Akasia Resort, on the road between Al-Qusseir and Marsa Alam for LE551 per person in a double room on a half board basis. Both offers are valid until the end of October.

Sharm El-Sheikh

Emeco Travel offers three nights in Sonesta Sharm El-Sheikh for LE1,403 per person on a half board basis. Emeco also offers three nights in Mövenpick Golf Resort for LE990 per person on a bed and breakfast basis. Both offers are valid until the end of September.

Through Thomas Cook you can book three nights in Radisson SAS, with rates starting from LE360 per person in a double room on a bed and breakfast basis. The offer is valid from 11 September to the end of the month. The rates in the period from 1 September until 10 September are higher, fetching LE435 per person in a double room.

You can also book three nights in Holiday Inn Resort with rates starting from LE525 per person in a double room on a half board basis. The offer is valid from 1 September till the end of the month.

Taba

Taba is one of the resorts in South Sinai where you can really enjoy serenity and peace of mind. Here is a variety of deals on offer through the autumn months:

You can spend three nights in Steigenberger Resort through Thomas Cook for LE420 per person in a double room on a half board basis. You can also stay in a double room for three nights in Sofitel Taba Heights for LE450 per person on a half board basis. Both offers are valid only throughout September.

If you choose to stay in Taba Hilton (19009) in September, you can enjoy the LE100 discount off the August rates. During September you can get a double room for LE360 per night on a half board basis. The offer is valid until the end of September. The Hyatt Regency Hotel (+2069) 601 234 offers double rooms for LE350 on a half board basis until the end of September. You can even get a better rate if you wait until October, as the rate for a double room rate will drop to only LE300 per night, contrary to the usual rule that rates in Sinai and the Red Sea rise in October. If you want a sea-view room you have to pay an LE50 supplement per night, while for a sea front room you have to pay LE100 and for a lagoon room you need to pay LE150. The first child under 12 goes free while sharing parent's room, while a second child would have to pay LE45 per night.

Alexandria

September in Alexandria is still considered a peak season. Although prices could be lower than those of August, they are still high.

Paradise Inn Beach Resort (+203) 547 9602 in Maamoura offers during September double rooms for LE580 per night on a bed and breakfast basis including service charge and taxes, whereas in October the rates will drop by LE100.

Through Emeco Travel you can get three nights in either Hilton Plaza Hotel in Semouha in Alexandria or in the newly- opened Mövenpick El-Alamein on the North Coast for LE1,200 per person in a double room on a bed and breakfast basis. The offer is valid until the end of September and the rate is inclusive of service charges and taxes. Officials of Emeco said that October rates would be much lower, but they have not yet finalised them.

Marsa Matruh

Marsa Matruh, on the Mediterranean coast to the west of Egypt, is considered one of the most popular holiday resorts to Egyptians. It includes the best beaches ever with its crystal-clear blue serene waters and white sand. Like Alexandria, September is a high season whereas rates in October fall drastically.

Emeco Travel offers three nights in the Beausite Hotel for LE1390 per person in a double room on a half board basis. Rates in October are expected to be lower, but they have not been decided yet.

Luxor and Aswan

Despite the hot weather in Upper Egypt during this season, a trip to Luxor and Aswan could still be an unforgettable experience, especially since the ancient sites will not be overcrowded and tour guides are unlikely to be in such a rush.

Until the end of September you can book a double room in Sheraton Luxor resort (+095) 374 957 in Luxor for LE200 per night on a bed and breakfast basis. In October, contrary to Alexandria, North Coast and Matruh hotels, rates will rise and thus a double room in Sheraton Luxor Hotel will rise to LE240 per night. The offer is restricted to garden and banglow rooms only. For Nile-view rooms you have to pay a supplement of LE30 per room per night and if you want a half board accommodation you have to pay an extra of LE75 per person per meal.

In Aswan there are more three-night deals on offer with Thomas Cook at the Old Cataract Hotel, New Cataract and Basma Hotel for LE488, LE225 and LE267 respectively per person in a double room on a bed and breakfast basis. These offers are valid until the end of September.

Next month is also a good time to enjoy a Nile cruise between Luxor and Aswan at a reasonable price. Emeco Travel offers a three- night, four-day cruise on Presidential boat at LE1,650 for a double cabin. This package includes full board accommodation in addition to a sightseeing programme, and is valid until the end of September.

Thomas Cook offers a three-night, four-day package on Sonesta's Sun Goddess at prices starting from LE939 for a double cabin and another three-night, four-day package on Mövenpick's Ramada I and Ramada II at prices starting from LE945 for a double cabin. Both offers are valid until the end of September.

For more information, contact Thomas Cook (+202 417 1260), Emeco Travel (+202) 574 9360.

All information is correct at the time of going to press. The newspaper is not responsible for any changes to these prices that may be made by the hotels, resorts or travel agencies concerned.

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