All Inclusive Red Sea Holiday Resort in Hurghada, Egypt
This website tells my family's first hand experiences in Egypt.
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All Inclusive Red Sea Resort - Iberotel Aquamarine
After our intense touring around the sights of Egypt, the Iberotel Aquamarine in Hurghada seemed like paradise! Stepping in from the heat of the long drive from Luxor into the cool atrium of the Aquamarine Hotel was the beginning of the relaxing part of our holiday. We stayed here for 5 nights before travelling back to Cairo staying in two rooms overlooking one of the many swimming pools. The many facilities at the hotel were excellent, the restaurants good and the kids really enjoyed the waterslides
The rooms are arranged in three major blocks which run alongside the pools. Pool side rooms have a good view of the pool and because the blocks are not straight, some get a reasonable view of the red sea while other a better view of the main hotel complex. All the blocks have small courtyards with grass (just for show, too small and dark to sit). Everything looks the same so its easy to get lost! They were building more rooms while we were there (although it was extremely discrete).
We had great rooms - all with a pool view. We'd picked a Double and Triple to accomodate the five of us an although we didn't end up with rooms next to each other they were not too far apart and were in the same block. We also saw family rooms with bunk beds which looked nice (sleep 4). We had a nice balcony and the rooms were modern and well kept. The cleaners often made interesting shapes with the towels and were friendly when we bumped into them. They did seem to have an expectation of a tip (which we obliged on the the last day!) - they never asked for one but when you talked to them they would emphasise what a good job they'd done with your room!
We did also see some fantastic ground floor rooms that appeared to have their own pool (there was no sign saying others couldn't swim but they felt so close to these apartments that it didn't feel right to swim in them!). These rooms are on the ends of the blocks so also have a great view of the Red Sea.
The Aquamarine at Hurghada has lots of swimming pools. They all vary in depth and are mainly rectangular. Many of the pools also had very shallow edges where there are sun loungers fixed just below the surface allowing you to relax in the cool water but beware of getting sun burnt - the water doesn't stop it!
Around all the pools there are many normal sun loungers, some with wooden shelters over them to shield them from the worst of the heat. This was one downside of the Iberotel. We were there off peak but even so it was extremely difficult to find five sun loungers in the shade. The rules of the hotel say that you shouldn't reserve loungers but if you're not down early a lot of the good spots have been reserved. That said, it wasn't impossible to find a spot but I expect in peak season it would be very difficult (although may be in peak season it would be less hot so the shade may be less in demand?). There were certainly always spare loungers if you didn't need the shade.
There are two pool sections (each with several pools) separated by a room block in the middle. One side has a pool that is used regularly for activities and can therefore be a little noisy (aqua-aerobics etc) whereas the other side is a little quieter and is also closer to the water park.
Drink is readily available (and all inclusive unless you select a spirit from a waiter that brings a trolley round the main restaurant). There didn't seem to be any service at your lounger but cafe points were all pretty close for you to get your own. There seemed to be two types of cup - a very small thin plastic one which is a bit useless given the heat (walk to the cafe - fill up the cup - walk back - you've probably finished it before you get back to your lounger!) and a larger thick plastic cup which at least allowed you to get back to your seat with a full drink. The first small cups were easily accessible but the larger ones were harder to come by (if you get one, don't let it go during the day - probably try and keep it all week!). In retrospect it might be best to take a plastic cup of a reasonable size yourself (although not sure whether this would be allowed!).
The choice of drinks is ok but the main staples are beer & fruit juice. There are alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails too.
The towel arrangement was a little confusing. At check-in you get a Towel Card and are told that there is a charge if you lose it. To get a towel you go to one of the towel counters and hand over your cards in return for a towel. Strictly speaking you're supposed to return them each night but most people, including us, seemed to keep them until the end of the holiday (does mean you need to keep track of your towels!).
All the pools close at night - so no night-time dips! At night the pools are lit which makes an attractive nighttime view. There is normally entertainment at the main reception area - not our thing really (in fact we booked the Iberotel specifically because of a trip advisor review that complained about the lack of entertainment!). But it was reasonably low key and we never found it a problem.
This was a god-send for the children. There is a small water park on site with 4 water slides. It doesn't compare to some of the bigger water parks you may have visited (it really is just four slides into a pool) but it certainly kept the children busy for the few days we were there.
The slides have either mats or rings (but the rings are in short supply and heavy demand - although not impossible to get one). Some of the rings are double so two of you can go together. There is one slide that has two lanes so you can have a race. The slides are supervised at all times but also open and close strictly on time included a break for lunch. The times seemed a little restrictive (they close at 4pm) - would be nice to continue until 6pm.
One of the main reasons for selecting the Iberotel Aquamarine was the range of restaurants. There is one main buffet-style restaurant which is within the all inclusive and is used for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No booking is required and you can just turn up. We mainly used this for breakfast although as we (well Lisa and the Children) are late sleepers we often arrive only just before they packed up (in general they were fine about it although we did get a few slightly irritated looks as we got in late!). It did however mean we got to know one or two of the waiters who were quite friendly when you got to know them (they did also ask us at the end of our holiday to change some of the pound coins they must have acquired through tips!).
You can eat outside or inside. Outside has its own buffet which is a subset of the food that is inside. There is no problem getting food from inside to eat outside other than a bit of a walk.
Lunch-times we generally wondered into one of the poolside cafes and ordered food (pizza, pasta, burgers etc). This is also all included although there are some items that are extra but we never felt the need to order any of them.
Dinner times can be very confusing until you get the hang of it. In addition to the main restaurant there are two Italian style restaurants, a fish restaurant, an "Asian" restaurant (sells mainly Chinese/Thai) and a Lebonese restaurant. Our favorite was probably the Lebonese.
So the range of restaurants is great but tables are limited and there is a complex (well its not that complex but a little confusing and quite annoying) process for booking the table. Basically every restaurant has a limited number of reservations. These reservations can only be made a day in advance and only from 10am on the morning of the day before. So if you really want a table you have to get there early (before 10) and queue to get a reservation. If you're not there early and all the reservations have gone then you've only got the main restaurant.
This process causes several problems - firstly you have to be up at a reasonable hour. Secondly you need to be prepared to queue (in the heat). Thirdly and perhaps most annoyingly, if you're not in the hotel the day before then you've got little chance of eating in one of these restaurants. This means the first night you have to eat in the main restaurant and if you have a trip out one day then the next day you have to eat in the main restaurant.
There may well be a way around this but we never cracked it. I did manage to book the lebonese restaurant two days in advance when we were going to out diving and there did seem to other reservations on the list so its not impossible (I think it depends on the person in the restaurant at the time!). Also we never managed to eat in the main Italian - it was always fully booked even when we got there early (they could however book you into the other Italian down on the beach). So someone must be booking early - probably a higher grade of booking!! If it was difficult in the off-peak season it must be almost impossible during peak season.
All the restaurants had a reasonable menu and it was well worth spending the time to get a reservation. The Asian restaurant was fantastic - great food - but we over ordered a little (thinking that each dish was separate but they all came with rice!) and we felt very guity leaving the food. The Lebonese had a good range and was probably our favorite. The Italian was a little limited but nice to have a bit of change of cuisine.
The food in these restaurants are also part of the all inclusive but there are items on the menu that cost more. Mainly we didn't order outside of the inclusive dishes - they were varied enough.
Also worth noting that our appetites were definitely affected by the heat - the children were never particularly hungry by the end of the day.
A few notes on other facilities: