Al-Ahram Weekly Online   6 - 12 March 2008
Issue No. 887
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Airlines & airports

New Lufthansa connection to Equatorial Guinea

STARTING April, Lufthansa will commence its first flights to Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. Utilising the existing connection from Frankfurt to Abuja, Nigeria, the airline will stop off en route at Malabo. Lufthansa will operate the route three times weekly with an Airbus A330- 300.

Malabo is alongside Luanda, Angola, the second new African destination to be added to the coming Lufthansa summer timetable. As in Angola, the economy in Equatorial Guinea is largely dependent on the production and export of oil.

With the newcomers in the summer timetable, Lufthansa is expanding its route network in Africa to a total of 15 destinations in 12 countries, served by 67 weekly connections. "The new destination is in fast and easy reach of Frankfurt on flights lasting a good six and a half hours," said Karl-Rudolf Rupprecht, head of hub management Frankfurt. "Lufthansa is the only airline to offer First Class accommodation to Malabo, alongside Economy and Business Class," Rupprecht added.

SWISS is also optimising its flight schedules to West Africa. In the summer timetable 2008, the Swiss carrier is discontinuing its services to Malabo analogous to the new Lufthansa connection and is instead adding an extra flight from Zurich to Douala, Cameroon, as well as increasing its services to Yaoundé in Cameroon with a further two to three flights weekly. The new flights will greatly improve services to Cameroon.

Hotels & resorts

Third Torii year

CAIRO Marriott's Japanese restaurant Torii recently celebrated its third anniversary in style. Invited guests included members of the diplomatic community, captains of industry and VIP clients of the Cairo Marriott Hotel. The invitees were hosted by Ulrich Huth, general manager of the hotel, and Cairo Marriott's team. A selection of delicious Sushi, Sashimi and Tempura dishes was prepared by Sushi Chef Marcelo Mahinay and his team.

Guests can enjoy Torii All-You-Can Eat promotions four days a week. All-You-Can Eat Sushi night, during which Sushi lovers can eat as much Sushi as they like, is every Saturday and Monday. Guests can also enjoy All-You-Can Eat Main Course Delights Buffet on Sundays and Tuesdays for a popular mouthwatering hot item buffet between 6pm and midnight.

InterContinental CityStars promotions

THIERRY Perrot, area general manager of IHG CityStars & general manager of InterContinental Cairo CityStars, recently announced the promotion of Khaled Shafik to director of sales of InterContinental & Holiday Inn Cairo CityStars.

Shafik brings with him over 15 years of academic and professional experience in the hospitality industry, concentrated in sales and holding several positions throughout these years in international hotel chains.

Shafik has been with InterContinental Hotels Group since 1995. He gained international experience by working at InterContinental Miami, then moved to Semiramis InterContinental before joining InterContinental Cairo CityStars in 2004 and was part of the hotel's opening team.

In his new capacity, Shafik will be in charge of the sales department of InterContinental and Holiday Inn Cairo CityStars.

Mohamed Abdallah, senior sales manager, was also promoted to assistant director of sales- corporate for InterContinental & Holiday Inn Cairo CityStars.

Abdallah joined InterContinental Cairo CityStars in 2004 and was part of the hotel's debut team.

Abdallah will be in charge of corporate sales accounts for InterContinental and Holiday Inn Cairo CityStars.

A brunch by the Mediterranean

THE MEDITERRANEAN restaurant Kala, at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano, is offering guests an unforgettable dining experience in its latest addition, "Friday Brunch". Family and friends can now indulge themselves every week from 1pm to 5pm in a diverse selection of appetising buffet items while enjoying the panoramic view of the sea. Guests will enjoy a variety of flavours and tastes from around the world in 10 food stations buffets accompanied by live jazz entertainment.

Diners can choose from a diverse range of delicacies that vary from mouth watering appetisers, breads, hot and cold mezza, soups, a la minute pasta, grilled dishes to delicious desserts. For seafood lovers, several specialties are available such as fish medallion with tomato sauce, prawns with red curry, calamari with mushrooms, marinated fish, smoked salmon and a lot more.

For little ones, a "Kiddy" buffet is offered along with face painting. It includes a variety of dishes especially designed for children, including mini burgers, chicken and fish nuggets, hot dogs, French fries, in addition to popcorn, cookies, candies and marshmallows. The foods are distinguished by their healthy low or non-fat choices to meet parents' health awareness expectations. Toys and colouring books are presented to children upon being seated and when they finish their meal.

Sheraton Montazah results

SHERATON Montazah Hotel recently held an elegant party at Tabia Ballroom celebrating 2007 year end results with its distinguished customers of corporate, travel and airline companies. General Manager Atef Wilson thanked the attendees for the support they gave the hotel during 2007 which led to remarkable results. "I do hope we continue delivering your esteemed companies the services that match and exceed your expectations in regards to both standard and quality," Wilson said.

New Chinese Year

TO CELEBRATE the new Chinese Year, Spice restaurant at Four Seasons Nile Plaza has prepared special New Year decorations and a mouth-watering eight-course menu. The Chinese New Year is traditionally celebrated as family gatherings and is a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The underlying message is peace and happiness.

With upcoming celebrations of the Chinese New Year, a traditional custom called the Bai- San is arranged as an opening ceremony to greet the start of the year with a table set full of fresh fruit and other foods prepared by staff members of Spice joined by the management of the hotel.

Guests will have the opportunity to savour the most authentic Chinese specialties, including steamed crystal dumplings, King Crab soup, stir fried prawns and sweet lotus soup within a warm and welcoming atmosphere, accompanied by Spice's immaculate service and overwhelming Nile views.

In order to enhance the ambiance, special flower arrangements in the lobby and customary Chinese decorations in the restaurant will ensure a truly welcoming and memorable evening.

"We are delighted to be able to offer guests a truly authentic experience at Spice, similar to one you would find in China or Hong Kong," says General Manager Olivier Masson. "Chef Dickey and his team of experienced chefs have created a truly traditional menu for you to enjoy."

Are you ready?

THE HILTON Family of Brands in Egypt recently organised the Brands' international sales conference and trade show 2008 from 28 and 31 January at the Conrad Cairo Hotel. This outstanding event was held for the first time in the Middle East. Egypt was honoured to host the event under the slogan "Are you ready?"

Over 300 participants from around the world attended the event, including all Hilton International sales officers.

The conference was inaugurated by Egyptian Minister of Tourism Zoheir Garanah who confirmed that Egypt enjoys the highest hospitality ranking in the region, which is why it has the ability to attract the best international hotel brand names. "Hilton, being the first international hotel chain to begin operations in Egypt in 1959, certainly tops the 'who's who' list of hotels in Egypt, so much so that the Nile Hilton has become one of our national landmarks. I don't think I've ever met an Egyptian who did not have a special Hilton moment," Garanah said.

He added that Hilton has always set the benchmark for quality service in Egypt from the beginning. "And to this day, having served at the Hilton is equal to a quality seal on any professional's CV.

"I would really like to further explore how Egypt's larger hospitality industry may benefit from Hilton's long-standing experience in training and continued education. With 17 Hilton and two Conrad Hotels in Egypt, the Hilton Family of Brands is a key player in helping us create a culture of quality in the hospitality industry. For this we are indeed very grateful."

James Farrow, senior vice president of sales at Hilton International, said holding such an important conference aims in the first place "at giving the chance to the different hotels in our group to market themselves to the various international sales offices of the Hilton Family of Brands participating from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, the Pacific and Europe."

Aura opens at Four Seasons

AURA Restaurant has just opened at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence. Aura aims to bring guests Lebanese-inspired cuisine in a modern setting next to a cosy swimming pool. Chef Shadi has been sampling recipes and experimenting with ingredients to bring guests a menu combining traditional dishes with a contemporary twist in order to create the perfect aura. What sets Aura Restaurant apart from the competition is its unique ambiance and architectural innovation coupled by comfort food in the heart of the city.

The cuisine at Aura Restaurant serves up delectable dishes inspired by the modern flavours of Lebanon. Lunch and dinner menus feature the full complement of Lebanese dishes starting from hot and cold mezuzahs to savoury Oriental grills whereas the dessert menu is a combination of East meeting West in taste and concept.

The atmosphere affords the patron a warm glow surrounded by a décor set in earth tones. There are comfortable sofas and armchairs with yellow canvas in a sophisticated bamboo design. The walls are decorated with light brick and off-white canvas patterns for an elegant simplicity next to tan oak tables set with yellow flowers to match. As the weather warms up, the doors will swing open wide for an indoor-outdoor feel. At night, the atmosphere is gently illuminated. The architecture is commanding and has an Eastern flare.

Aura Restaurant not only serves up a tasty menu in an intimate atmosphere but offers entertainment to its clients. Once the summer months are upon us, Aura will have live Oriental takht music accompanied by a belly dancer. Starting at 12 noon, you can sample an array of shisha flavours in the smoking section. The dining area is petite, so make your reservations in advance.

International Federation of Travel Writers at Ramses Hilton

TO MARK the hosting of the International Federation of Journalists and Travel Writers Conference in Egypt, Ramses Hilton held a special gala dinner at Ramses Ballroom. The event was attended by Minister of Tourism Zoheir Garanah, travel writers and members of the International Federation of Journalists and Travel Writers who were greeted by Mahmoud Mokhtar, Ramses Hilton's general manager.

Miss Germany Camp in El-Gouna

El-GOUNA hosted the finalists of the Miss Germany 2008 pageant from 17 to 26 January. The legendary Miss Germany Beauty Camp was dedicated to preparing the contestants for the final selection held at Europapark in Rust, Germany on 2 February.

The 22 finalists of the German pageant, surrounded by stylists, make-up artists, photographers and television crews, were given VIP treatment for nine full days of combined work and play.

During their stay, the young ladies resided at the five-star Sheraton Miramar and enjoyed a wide range of activities including catwalk training, etiquette coaching, a fashion show, and a glamour photo shoot on the beach. Contestants also received workout training by middleweight world champion and 2007 Boxer of the Year Arthur Abraham, who accompanied the Miss Germany Camp 2008 as a VIP guest.

The beauties' trip also included all of El-Gouna's recreational activities both on land and on the water with a tour of the town via the lagoons, an introduction to golf on the 18- hole championship course, a day at Mangroovy Beach, kitesurfing and wakeboarding, diving and snorkelling, and a desert Oasis Night with belly dancing.


Road shows to the Arab world

IN AN ATTEMPT to attract more Arab travellers to Egypt, the Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA) recently organised a number of road shows to several other Arab countries lasting until the end of May.

ETA's plan is to visit eight countries in the Arab world -- Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan and Syria.

The first road show went to Syria and Jordan from 9 to 15 February and was headed by Amr El-Ezabi, head of the ETA, representatives of the tourist business sector and media.

"The Ministry of Tourism aims, through these road shows, to promote the Arab tourist movement to Egypt due to its importance since the number of Arab tourists coming to Egypt in 2007 was two million, about 20 per cent of the total tourist movement, who spent more than 26.2 million nights representing 24 per cent of the total tourist nights achieved in 2007," said El-Ezabi.

He said the road shows this year bear a definite message, that Egypt is a suitable tourist destination for the Arab tourist. They also aim at promoting specific destinations and resorts inside Egypt that suit each market visited by the road show.

"The road shows are an organised work done by the Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with a large number of concerned tourist bodies and media who visit important markets to support the tourist movement and try to solve any problem that might face tourist exchanges between these countries and Egypt," El-Ezabi said. "Road shows also aim at concluding partnership deals with the existence of strong media coverage to increase the tourist demand for Egypt."

He added that road shows are one of the important tools of marketing in the Arab region especially with the absence of permanent tourist offices in these countries. "The road shows were highly appreciated by the Arabs and their success in previous years resulted in a big increase in the volume of the Arab tourist movement during previous seasons," El-Ezabi said.

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