Al-Ahram Weekly Online   12 - 18 March 2009
Issue No. 938
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Hotels and resorts

Romancing the earth

MILLIONS of people around the world will switch off their lights at 8:30pm local time for one hour in celebration of Earth Hour on 28 March. To show its support of long-term sustainability, the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza will host an elaborate candlelit dinner to coincide with Earth Hour.

With its impressive views of the Nile, the hotel will turn off the lights of its French Cuisine restaurant Aqua and light candles. "We are delighted to raise awareness of global warming by our symbolic gesture of support," stated Olivier Masson, regional vice-president of Four Seasons Hotels Egypt.

Four Seasons hotels worldwide will partake in the "romantic" idea, beginning at 8pm local time at Kable's restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney, Australia. This will continue as evening skies darken over 75 hotels and resorts around the world for the next 25 hours, ending at 11pm in Pahu ia restaurant at Four Seasons Hualalai, Hawaii.

Restaurant lights will be replaced by candlelight, creating "the world's longest candlelit dinner," noted Masson. "We believe this is an opportunity for us to communicate our commitment towards sustainable practices here in Egypt and around the globe."

Henna party poolside

AS A SPECIAL treat for brides-to-be and their girlfriends, the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza has created a unique Henna package. The pampering experience starts with a body minerals scrub using seaweed salt, essential oil with lavender and almond oil. The scrub achieves deep skin cleansing, stimulates microcirculation and eliminates toxins.

This is followed by an invigorating aromatic herbal bath to refresh and prepare the ladies for the big night. Emerging with soft, supple skin, guests are treated to an Aroma back massage followed by a manicure and pedicure. Later, the bride and her party can relax by the swimming pool as select Henna painters begin their magic.

This offer is available for a minimum of five guests, and includes the usage of the indoor pool and spa facilities.

Body and soul wellness

CERTIFIED homeopath Dr Hanaa Shams spoke to members of the exclusive First Residence Ladies Club on her specialty, at a lavish luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo, First Residence. Shams told her audience, as they feasted on the delights of Italian Chef Gian Carlo, that homeopathy is the second most widely used para-medicine system worldwide.

She asserted that "our body talks and sends out clear messages for us to respond to," explaining how the success of homeopathy is fuelled by several factors, mainly because it is natural, safe, holistic and its remedies are not addictive. Shams said that massage is regarded as a preventive treatment, and explained how the distribution of body energy can affect the overall welfare of the human body.

After the talk, the party toured the Spa and Wellness Centre which relies on natural elements, colours and materials to create a relaxing atmosphere. It offers a unique collection of facial and body treatments and massages, providing emotional and therapeutic benefits. The hotel's fitness centre, on the other hand, focuses on the physical aspects of a healthy body.

Saving the children

CONRAD Cairo sponsored Save the Children's Knit One, Save One campaign in Egypt this month. As part of its global campaign on child survival, the UK-based charity's initiative aims to provide low cost, high impact solutions to reduce the number of children who die every year before the age of five. The campaign has helped government efforts in this vein.

The event was organised by Save the Children and its partner the USAID-funded project Takamol, and was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and Population. It was attended by John Davies, deputy head of mission of the British Embassy in Cairo; Elisabeth Warfield, office director health and education, USAID in Egypt; Mona Rakha, general manager of the General Department of Child diseases, Ministry of Health and Population; along with representatives from international and domestic NGOs and private sector organisations in Egypt.

"In these difficult financial times that we are facing, Conrad Cairo takes its social corporate responsibility seriously, especially in a local environment," noted Conrad Cairo General Manager Kevin Brett. "We are delighted to be associated with this cause."

Early booking treat

AS PART of its strategy to increase sales, Hilton Egypt is offering Egyptian and foreign residents the Early Saver package. By booking three months in advance, clients receive a 30 per cent discount for the summer season and Bairam holidays. At the same time, guests are given the best available rates on accommodations at Hilton Egypt's 12 resorts.

The offer is available in Sharm El-Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba, Taba, Hurghada, Alexandria and Greater Cairo.

The sky's the limit

THE RAMSES Hilton is one of the first hotels in Egypt to obtain the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, HACCP award. This crucial accolade was originally devised to provide the ultimate levels of food and water safety for astronauts during their missions into space in the 1970s. The HACCP has since become one of the highly acclaimed certifications among renowned hotels worldwide.

"We are delighted to receive such an award, which demonstrates our keenness to offer nothing but the best to our clients," stated Ramses Hilton General Manager Haitham Nassar. "We believe that seeking the highest levels of services would not only reflect on the turnout of guests to our hotel, but would further enhance tourism in our homeland."

Meanwhile, the management team at Sheraton Cairo Hotel have completed the HACCP management team certification, in preparation for implementing the programme at the hotel.

The royal treatment

THE CAIRO Marriott Hotel has launched the Royal Suites, its newest luxurious addition. Located on the 19th and 20th floors of the Gezira Tower, the two royal suites offer unmatched panoramic views of the Nile so guests can enjoy spectacular scenery from the comfort of their own beds, feast in elegant dining rooms, and even enjoy the splendour of spacious living rooms.

The historical part of the Cairo Marriott Hotel, Al-Gezira Palace, was built in 1869 by Khedive Ismail to accommodate European royalty in town for the inauguration of the Suez Canal -- most famously, Empress Eugenie. It was also the venue of the first performance of Verdi's Opera Aida.

Today's Royal Suites are designed to provide classic, elegant interiors, reflecting a homelike feel at a luxurious private apartment. Each suite boasts a living space of 650 square metres, the equivalent of 18 standard rooms, making them the largest in town. Each includes two master bedrooms, a children's bedroom, guest bedroom, five bathrooms, a kitchen, a living area, dining room, library and a TV room. Each suite also includes two jacuzzis and a steam room, and both residences are complete with state-of-the-art amenities.

Nile Ritz-Carlton on the way

IN CELEBRATION of the first operational month of the Nile Hotel, Cairo, a cocktail reception was held for the city's elite and business leaders on the rooftop of the hotel's elegant French restaurant The Rotisseri Belvedere. The hotel, which was the first international brand ever in Cairo running under the management of the Hilton, continues to hold its stature among Nile-side hotels. It will continue operations in the coming three years under the name Nile Hotel, until renovations are complete and the Ritz-Carlton takes over.

The reception was attended by Fathi Nour, chairman of Misr Hotels, and Martin Kleinmann, general manager of the Nile Hotel. "I am very happy and proud to be here," announced Simon Cooper, president and chief operating officer of the Ritz- Carlton Hotel Company. "The opening of the Nile Ritz- Carlton, Cairo, in 2011 will add a new era of elegant stylish hospitality to this alluring tourism destination at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa."

Radisson name change

RADISSON SAS, one of the fastest growing hotel brands, is changing its name to Radisson Blu. This small, but significant, name change reflects the end of Radisson's link with the SAS Group, following Rezidor's IPO back in November 2006. The renaming was announced last month at the opening party of the first Radisson Blu, namely the spectacular Radisson Blu Hotel, Zurich Airport.

"We are extremely proud to hoist the Radisson Blu flag," stated Rezidor President and CEO Kurt Ritter. "After many very successful years with SAS, we are eager to start cruising high on our own."

Yes they can

SEMIRAMIS InterContinental launched its 'Yes We Can' initiative, where team members are encouraged to exert their best effort to be successful. "Do the right thing, show we care, aim higher, celebrate difference and work better together," stated a press release on the new initiative.

In search for excellence, the hotel launched the campaign along with a three-year strategy plan which incorporates major investments, new facilities and state-of-the-art technology which will further enhance business.

Awarding good policy

THE HUMAN resources department at the Cairo Marriott Hotel was recently recognised for its wise policy in handling the current economic crisis. The award came at a conference of the Scientific Committee and New Accounting Thought Association, held under the patronage of the ministers of higher education, administration development and social solidarity.

Instead of laying-off staff or cutting salaries, the HR department worked on increasing staff salaries based on their work evaluation during 2008. The award was presented by Mohamed Taha, chairman of the Arab Gulf Centre and the New Accounting Thought Association.

Clinton's praise for Hyatt

US SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton chose to stay at the Hyatt Regency Sharm El-Sheikh while attending last week's donors conference for Gaza. Clinton acknowledged the resort's array of exquisite restaurants and sophisticated conference and leisure facilities, noting how this promises to make the hotel a top choice worldwide.

Economics, tourism and party

HYATT Regency Taba Heights hosted the Area Sales and Marketing meeting for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Egypt and Jordan. The meeting discussed the world economic crisis and its impact on tourism in the area. Participants acknowledged the perfect balance of professional service, superb indoor and outdoor venues and the inspired settings for activities. Elhamy El-Zayat, chairman and CEO of Emeco Group and former chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Federation gave a presentation to the gathering. The meeting wrapped with an outstanding beach party, a delicious feast of mezzas and authentic cuisine, and folkloric entertainment.

New delights at Taba

EMAD Youssef is the newly appointed director of food and beverage at the Hyatt Regency Taba Height resort, announced the hotel's General Manager Dirk Breuckmann. Youssef comes to Taba with several years' experience with Hyatt in Dubai and Amman. His main mission is to guarantee that the most discerning guest will enjoy the global fare at the resort's colourful restaurants; from Mediterranean dishes at the hotel veranda to authentic Lebanese cuisine at Tanour, to Indian specialties at Pub Tandoori.

As for sun lovers, a poolside restaurant and bar will serve grilled specialties and tall, cool drinks with a seafood menu in the evening. For some offbeat excitement, guests can sample a traditional Bedouin evening in the desert at the foothills of the Sinai mountains. A delicious Bedouin feast will be served, including mezzas and homemade bread, with a variety of authentic cuisine enhanced with folkloric entertainment.

American writers in Egypt

SOME 70 journalists from the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) stayed for four days at the Hilton Luxor Resort while attending the annual meeting of the American Association in Egypt. The association promotes joint tourism marketing between private and public sectors in the two countries.

The delegation enjoyed the relaxing facilities of the newly renovated spa after touring the city's breathtaking sites. Hilton Luxor is the first international spa in Luxor, with 236 rooms and suites offering a wide variety of restaurants and bars.

Egypt's Tourism Authority (ETA) hosted SATW members during a two-week visit to Egypt, where they visited key sites and cities, including Cairo, Alexandria, Sinai, Aswan and finally Luxor.

Best in class at Montazah

EMPLOYEES at Sheraton Montazah scored the highest votes in a survey named Star Voice, an annual survey conducted by Starwood for Hotels and Resorts amongst its 145,000 employees worldwide. The voting reflects employees' satisfaction with regards to work environment, career growth opportunities, supervisory efficiency, treatment and salaries.

The survey results of 2008 granted Sheraton Montazah merit for Best in Class Award for the fourth consecutive year.

Air flights

Cairo to Melbourne daily

THE EMIRATES National Carrier Etihad will launch daily flights from Cairo to Melbourne, Australia, with a stop in Abu Dhabi starting 29 March. According to Etihad Executive Manager James Hogen, the number of Egyptians flying to Melbourne has noticeably increased, therefore his carrier decided to provide daily flights in order to cope with the rising demand.

More than 16,000 Australian passengers flew to Cairo lately indicating the need to create direct flights between the two countries. This will not only encourage Egyptians to travel down under, but also that more Australians will come to Egypt. "We are offering this service for our clients with a transit time that does not exceed three hours," stated Sherine Ahmed, Etihad's Cairo office manager.

Egyptians visit Australia for many reasons, including tourism, study, business, noted Ahmed, "and we are delighted to provide a flight schedule which caters to all different time needs," added Ahmed.

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