Al-Ahram Weekly Online   3 - 9 September 2009
Issue No. 963
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Resort launches in Eid

A NEW FIVE-star resort, the Iberotel Aquamarine Resort, will open its doors to guests soon after Ramadan ends on 24 September. The resort, the latest addition to the extensive portfolio of Jaz Hotels, Resorts & Cruises is located on the southern tip of Hurghada, with its own unspoiled private beach. The complex will feature 1001 rooms, offering the latest facilities, services and amenities, as well as eight restaurants serving Egyptian, Asian, Lebanese, Italian, international, grilled and seafood. This is in addition to two bars.

Facilities and services include wireless Internet access, four large swimming pools with two exclusively for children, tennis courts, a fully equipped gym and health club, beach volleyball, table tennis, diving centre, camel rides and other activities. Those interested in a more laid back approach to vacationing will enjoy the evening shows and live music entertainment, featuring national and international dancing, performed at the hotel's theatre.

There are specialised activities for children as part of the kid's club entertainment programmes, including special games rooms and activities organised by a fun animation team.

Jaz Hotels, Resorts & Cruises is one of the flags under Travco Group International, Egypt's leading Travel and Tourism Company.

Various Ramadan flavours

TO READY for the month of fasting, Ramadan, Hilton Egypt Hotels and Resorts prepared a refreshing schedule revolving around Iftar (breaking of the fast) and Sohour (pre-dawn meal). During this holy month, Hilton will offer its guests and visitors an array of the hotel's new and innovative services.

Each year, Hilton arranges a diverse entertainment programme in a unique atmosphere, including seasonal tents, decorations, artistic performances and appetising dishes. Hilton evenings showcase oriental orchestras, delicious buffets and especially customised menus at the Lebanese Terrace Al Mandara by the Nile, as well as the Egyptian cuisines at Garden Court Café and Rendezvous Café.

At the Conrad Cairo, Al-Felucca restaurant offers daily Iftar of delicious food accompanied by oriental music, and later guests can enjoy the newly renovated Jayda Lounge where Sohour and various shisha flavours are served in a magical outdoor atmosphere. Guests can also enjoy Iftar and Sohour at the Takeiba Restaurant by the pool at the Hilton World Trade Centre.

Hilton Pyramids Golf Resort offers guests an Iftar buffet and shisha by the pool in the fresh air at Fair Way restaurant, while oriental music and shisha are also available at Abu Keir Restaurant located at the Hilton Green Plaza in Alexandria.

The hotel chain is also preparing for the Eid Al-Fitr vacation which will follow the fasting month. During the holiday, many will flee the city in search of relaxation, therefore all Hilton resorts are already undertaking the necessary preparations for this festive occasion.

Ramadan of luxury

THE GATHERINGS and reunions of friends and family during Ramadan add to the sentimental nature of the holy month, and the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence is working to ensure that the month's festivities are exceptional. Guests will enjoy a real oriental ambiance, offering unrivalled Four Seasons service and hospitality at both Aura and Seasons restaurants.

After a devotional day of fasting or in preparation for the next day during Sohour, guests can gather around the pool and enjoy Ramadan favourites and regional specialties at the modern Lebanese restaurant Aura. The restaurant's team of experienced chefs will be offering extravagant Ramadan buffets with a wide range of mouth-watering Lebanese delicacies and delights, as well as live entertainment in the evenings.

New private pergolas are ideal for families and friends who are looking for an oriental setting in familiar surroundings with spectacular view of the pool. Guests will additionally enjoy an endless range of flavoured shisha in a relaxed atmosphere.

The Four Seasons will equally be offering a delectable extensive Iftar menu, with a wide range of oriental delicacies, a selection of traditional local and regional specialties and traditional drinks. Families and friends can respite amongst the authentic Arabian House Music where the décor will reflect the true essence of Ramadan, with colourful table runners and piped in Oriental music.

The hotel's catering team has prepared a wide range of special menus for private Iftar and Sohour parties at any venue of choice, as well as the luxurious Four Seasons Ballroom.

Talented chefs and actors

AS LE MÉRIDIEN Heliopolis staff members were finalising preparations for the holy month of Ramadan, the cast of the television serial Tager Al-Saada (Merchant of Happiness) were wrapping up the shooting of the last scenes on location. The serial, which will screen during Ramadan, stars Khaled Saleh, Hala Fakher and other talented actors.

The hotel is home to a delectable daily Iftar buffet at the Palmeraie Grill restaurant around the pool, providing mouth-watering oriental delicacies and an extraordinary desert buffet. This can all be enjoyed to the tunes of an authentic takht and large TV screens. Shisha lovers will also enjoy a treat, while for late night crowds the Marco Polo restaurant has prepared a gourmet spread for a plentiful Sohour.

A golfer's paradise

DEDICATED golfers will thoroughly enjoy staying at the Jaz Makadi Golf Hotel, a luxurious five-star boutique hotel nestled on the picturesque shores of Madinat Makadi resort. It is located near Hurghada on the Red Sea, and in the heart of the magnificent Makadi golf course.

The hotel's main attraction is the beautifully maintained and designed golf course consisting of 18 hole par 72 championship course, 9 hole par 3 executive course, driving range, 3 championship practice holes par 3, 4 and 5. Designed by John Sanford of Sanford Golf Design, the Makadi golf course is built to USPGA standards. The golf course, one of the longest in the region at 7,500 yards in length, overlooks the Red Sea and offers breathtaking scenery, including numerous water lakes.

The resort's accommodations complement the outstanding quality of the course, offering 673 spacious rooms including superior rooms and executive suites which include a jacuzzi. The hotel also offers an elegant à la carte restaurant, as well as convivial cocktail bar.

But if the golfer's party don't share the enthusiasm for the game, they will be fully entertained with the refreshment pool and access to the nearby Makadi Star & Spa's private beach, offering snorkelling and scuba diving. Other facilities include tennis, beach volleyball, beach football, billiards and pool tables. The spa is a world-class centre of relaxation and rejuvenation, where guests can enjoy up to 24 treatment rooms with Adam & Eve suites offering private secluded jacuzzi and a juice bar for the health conscious.

The votes are in

THE FOUR Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence has once again achieved international recognition, ranking number one in the Middle East region and three in Africa and the Middle East region, as voted by Travel & Leisure magazine readers. The publication is one of the world's leading travel magazines, producing a highly acclaimed annual guide which incorporates the world's finest travel experiences. Properties are rated by the magazine's affluent readership according to a number of strict criteria such as service, attention to detail, food and décor.

"We are proud and honoured to receive this award from such a prestigious publication," stated the hotel's General Manager Randy Shimabuku. "This acknowledgement is testament to the outstanding service we provide our guests and the continued dedication of our staff, in addition to our continuous effort to be innovative in a challenging market and meet our clients' expectations."

Stop the press!

A GROUP of representatives from the most prestigious media publications in the Gulf were in Cairo for a three-day press trip focussing on Four Seasons at The First Residence complex. The group, sponsored by EgyptAir which flew in reporters from Hia, Sayidaty, Al-Bayan, Layalina, Arabesque, Snob and L'officiel magazines, stayed at The First Residence.

The hotel is part of an extensive complex, First Place Cairo, which houses some of the world's top designer brands, local boutiques, fine dining, and glamorous clubbing experiences. The aim of the press trip is to promote the hotel amongst these magazines' wide readership, who account for some of the Arab world's most sophisticated and cosmopolitan individuals.

World class dining of various cuisines, multiple function rooms, a casino, as well as a spa makes the hotel a travel destination in and of itself. In addition to getting acquainted with the hotel and its numerous dining venues and amenities, the reporters went on day trips to Cairo's famous landmarks.

Perks for corporate

BUSINESS Club, an exclusive incentive programme for corporate bookers, was launched recently by InterContinental Hotels Group IHG worldwide. The Semiramis InterContinental and InterContinental & Holiday Inn Citystars marked the occasion by dedicating an evening to the launch, which wrapped up with a spectacular dinner at the Nile Terrace.

The Commercial Director for the Near East at the InterContinental Hotels Group Haitham Mattar addressed guests at the event, followed by a comprehensive presentation on Business Club by Hala Sabry, director of sales and marketing at the Semiramis InterContinental and Khaled Shafik, director of sales at InterContinental Citystars.

"There are 350 participating InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Express by Holiday Inns throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa," noted Matter. "It's our way of saying thanks for choosing our hotels for your business travel and meetings. Every time you book hotel rooms, conferences and meetings at one of our hotels, you're awarded points which you can use to spoil yourself, your partner, friends or family or even your company or work colleagues."

To help members get the most out of their membership, there is a Business Club website in addition to exclusive company benefits, such as special rates on accommodation and access to our exclusive offers.

New look at Beymen

THE NILE Plaza's Beymen Café, the trendy hotspot offering a light, modern take on classic cuisine, has had a facelift this summer. But not only has the café's look changed, the menu has also been updated.

The new stained-glass ceiling and vibrant colours create a lively, energetic atmosphere to enjoy a selection of pastries, salads, petit pains and desserts. This is in addition to the popular sushi counter for fresh sashimi, sushi and maki.

Chocoholics can also indulge in 27 different types of chocolate made of ingredients which came directly from France. Take-out chocolate boxes are also available.

Book now, save later

GUESTS are invited to travel now and save up to 25 per cent off at Sheraton Sharm Hotel, Resort, Villas & Spa. The resort has a limited time offer for travellers who seek attentive service and attractive accommodations at a breathtaking location. By paying for five consecutive nights, guests can save up to 25 per cent on the hotel's best available rate. The offer is valid for booking online until the end of September 2009 on

Making memories together

THE HONEYMOON will always be a trip to remember if spent at a memorable location. Sheraton Miramar is known for its exceptional beauty and romantic character, with facilities which include five swimming pools, an aqua centre with an international diving school, water skiing, windsurfing, diving and fishing trips.

The hotel also offers an unrivalled dining experience at the Miramar Restaurant, the Orient 1001, the Waves Terrace and Bar, La Piscina Italian Restaurant. And for dazzling views of the Red Sea and a bounteous array of exotic flavours, the boat bar and the Miramar bar offer a wide selection of fine wines, cocktails and beverages served in comfortable, evocative surrounding.

Targeting Russia

AS PART of its efforts to promote Sharm El-Sheikh as a tourist destination for Russians, Sheraton Sharm Hotel, Resort, Villas & Spa and PEGAS (one of the leading tour operators in Russia), recently hosted 28 Russian travel experts in the Red Sea resort. Guests included representatives from the sales and marketing departments at PEGAS offices in 18 Russian cities. The Russian market is considered one of the main providers of tourists to Sharm El-Sheikh.

The group was given a comprehensive orientation tour of the hotel's rooms, suites, outlets and meeting rooms, which left them impressed by the location, services and facilities. They also enjoyed the Sheraton Sharm Spa, a true Thalasso Therapy centre, one of the world's largest associations of premier-level spas featured in over 25 countries worldwide.

Record passengers onboard

JULY was the busiest month for the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, with more than 616,000 passengers -- a nine per cent increase for the same period last year. The day with the most traffic was 31 July, when a record 21,640 passengers with a load factor of 90.3 per cent, making it the airline's busiest day in its five-year history. The last week of July recorded an average of more than 20,500 passengers onboard every day.

The same month saw Etihad's 900 weekly flights -- a 20 per cent increase of flights operated in July, 2008 -- fly at an average of 82 per cent full across first, business and economy cabins. "Whilst we expected July to be busy we are delighted to have beaten our previous records," stated the airline's Chief Executive James Hogan. "We now look forward to building upon this for the remainder of the summer holiday period and into the holy month of Ramadan."

Etihad's flights to the Asia-Pacific region and North America turned in particularly strong performances during July, with seat factors averaging more than 86 per cent. Within Europe, loads exceeded 82 per cent and in the Middle East region it was 77 per cent.

Etihad introduced three new destinations in June, Larnaca, Athens and Istanbul, which all made an impact on July's successful passenger numbers. The airline will launch non-stop flights from its Abu Dhabi base to Chicago in September, as well as Cape Town.

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