Heaven by the sea. Stand on the pier at Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh and try to find a better description. White sand beaches, blue waters known for phenomenal snorkeling and world-class diving, and a sun that starts strong and stays that way all day, all year long.
Situated on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula—a fact that technically makes it more Asian than African—Sharm el Sheikh has long been a stop for European, North American, African and Asian travelers-in-the-know. Families are welcome here, and you’ll spot them all over the huge property. Their only concern? Whether they’ll be able to squeeze in all of the complimentary activities on offer for kids and adults alike, and how tricky it might be to extend their stay.
About a month long, in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan in 2012 is July 20 to Aug. 18. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, then hold a prayer (maghreb) and evening meal (Iftar) at sunset. The traditional family feast, and bonding around the dinner table, is central to Ramadan.
*Native Bedouins, camels, the mystique of the desert.
*Views of the Red Sea.
*Three levels of beauty: Start with the 1,800 palm trees across the lush green gardens; move on to the four pools that span the property; wrap it up with beautiful beachside loungers and cabañas calling to you to while away the day.
* As much action as you like with or without a schedule: tennis, basketball, soccer, aerobics, lap pools… you get the idea.
* Rooms that offer private spaces and the option of plunge pool seclusion.
*World-class diving and snorkeling.
• Complimentary round-trip transfers in a luxe private vehicle means you can begin to relax the moment you step off the plane.
• A plethora of complimentary activities: basketball, boules, water polo and personal trainer-led fitness classes.
• Professional instruction in scuba diving (on-site dive centre), deep-sea fishing (some of the world’s best) and sailing on the Red Sea.
• Spa pampering that includes authentic Egyptian traditional offerings and personalized attention.
• The peace of mind that comes from knowing you can truly unwind because the kids are completely cared for.
The stars. Take them in on your own from your front porch or join astronomer Nader Kobaissy on a twilight stargazing session.
Dine in—With eight different resort venues at which to dine or have drinks, you’ll run out of time before your tastebuds run out of options. Watch for special theme nights that take advantage of local produce and don’t miss the chance to dine al fresco. We liked:
*Il Frantoio Restaurant : Try the Italian Risotto Zafferano e Frutti di Mare and the Pappardelle Nero pasta.
*Reef Grill Restaurant : Order the Grilled Seafood Platter with lobster, calamari, shrimp and sea bass served with grilled veggies and a reef Mediterranean sauce.
Dine out—The diversity of eating options onsite means it’s highly unlikely that you’ll want to leave Four Seasons. But if you do, the quality of cuisine in town won’t let you down. Ask the concierge for the latest and greatest. Two suggestions:
*Soho Square: includes restaurants, fountain, kids festivals and play area.
*Dolphinella: a meal, plus dolphin shows for kids.
Save time for a picnic at Tiran Island—the presumed location for the place where the Red Sea was parted in the Bible—and enjoy the stunning views.
1. A snorkeling trip out on the Red Sea.
2. Learn to dive in the pool, then take your adventures to new depths with a day trip out to Moses’ mountain.
3. Family time at KFAS* kids’ club. Discover each other’s hidden talents: join in on a soccer match and meet some of the other families visiting the resort.
4. Ask the concierge to arrange a hiking outing or horseback riding adventure offsite.
5. Nothing at all: curl up with the kids under a cabaña by the pool, or overlooking the sea, and relax.
*Babies: Lounging next to mom and dad in a shaded playpen on the beach. Splashing in the pool that’s just the right depth. Exploring the manicured lawns with mom in tow. Taking advantage of the in-room babysitting services for an adults’ night out.
*Toddlers: Take advantage of the resort’s beach toys for lounger-side fun. Join them for a dip in the pool or accompany them to theKFAS* club and enjoy the big-kid fun (a parent or nanny must accompany children under five).
*Kids 5-12: The KFAS* club—drop in for an hour or two, or stay all day. Once they’ve spent an hour, though, you’ll have a tough time getting them to leave. The club offers a good mix of scripted and unscripted time, which means kids can use their imagination. (My two joined a ninja team and practiced their glee club impressions.) Other crafts and activities include traditional Egyptian crafts, movies, treasure hunts and cooking classes.
If you can get the kids to leave KFAS, opt for snorkeling excursions, learn-to-dive lessons, the four pools to test out and a beach to explore. Add in the evening: pick up games of basketball and soccer.
*Tweens & teens: Snorkeling, scuba, sailing, tennis, soccer, basketball, ping pong, etc. are at their disposal all day long. They will also enjoy the on-site YAS (Young Adult Social) Centre, where they can meet up with other teens and play ping pong, video games or billiards.
*Kids For All Seasons (KFAS) is a Four Seasons complimentary recreational and educational program for children of resort guests. Most KFAS clubs are designed for youth four to 12 years old, and open daily from 9 to 5. (Younger children can often join KFAS with a nanny or parent, or resorts can arrange for babysitting.) But details vary from property to property, so check the resort’s website for more information.
Kids can go all day or just for an hour or two. Activities inside and out include games, sports, music, treasure hunts, swimming, arts and crafts, cultural education, environmental preservation work and yoga. Not your average camp, the VIP offerings are pretty extraordinary—for example, at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, kids can help the resort’s marine biologist graft coral in the lagoon sanctuary.
Read more about Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in Four Seasons Magazine.
Based near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Heather Greenwood Davis is a freelance writer whose articles appear in publications such as The Toronto Star, Canadian Family, UrbanMoms.ca and more. She recently returned from a one-year, round-the-world adventure with her husband and two sons, eight and 10. You can read about their journey and the adventures before and since at globetrottingmama.com.
View all posts from Heather
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