Written on: 31/05/2005 by BCool1 (1 review written)
Good, generous food; relaxing atmosphere; helpful couteous staff; clean
No newspapers etc.
I have just returned from two weeks at Hyatt Regency Hotel and I loved it. I will definitely go back but probably in the Winter time. As another reviewer has said, it really is like being on Mars, there's these desolate stark mountains and then like a space base - 4 hotels just plomped down there. They are developing a golf course at the moment so will be interesting to see how it changes.
I have never been out of Europe before so am a novice to that much sun and r&r. The food was of consistently good standard, and my only bellyache was from eating 8 desserts on the first night. (I did get a slight case of the trots at the end after I had eaten a meal away from the hotel).
I lost my hearing after the first week and so had to see the doctor - all in all cost me 50USD (30usd for the consultation - added to room bill + 20USD for 3 prescriptions (you have to pay upfront - he took English money - he doesn't take credit card so take some £20 notes in case of need).
I saw about 3 mosquitoes and 2 giant ants so no problems there.
Room service was clean and efficient and I tipped 2USD a day (I tip daily rather than at the end in case the maid changes) - a bit on the high side but I didn't really know what the going rate was. Different things turned up gradually - a kettle, a bathrobe, a vase of flowers, a lilo.
The dining room staff were very helpful, though opinions varied on what went into Egyptian porridge - was assured it was wheat one day and rice the next! All the staff I spoke to thought it was a good company, and they seem to work 3-5 weeks with no breaks and then get a week off to visit their families. They live in staff accommodation off the hotel site and cannot bring their families with them. The same people could often be seen working the morning and evening shifts so I think they work very hard indeed.
I didn't do any of the holiday company trips, but when the doc banned me from swimming for 3 days I was forced to consider what to do - I recommend you discover the Max desk in the lobby - the manager Nabil is very helpful. You can hire taxis or vans with or without drivers, two of us took a car with driver to St Catherine's for a total of $80 (so if you can get more people its less) - the driver was very knowledgeable about the monastery and took us round and also the various places on route of interest. By doing it this way we didn't have to have a 1 hour lunch stop or a visit to a bazaar. I also had to go to the hospital in Eilat - by taking a taxi to Taba, transferring over to Israel and taxis the other end then getting the Max shuttle back from Taba, it cost me about £30 including the various border taxes you have to pay. Apparently if you email the Max head office, they can organise whole trips for you but take advice on what order to do things in if say you want to visit both Jordan and Israel (and a visit to Israel will neutralise any Egypt visa you have so you will have to get another one if you need it).
When crossing from Egypt to Israel at Taba, it's quite quick unless you get stuck behind a coach party - the Israelis swab absolutely everything - your bags your money everything - and put it in a Petri dish! There is an interesting photographic display while you are queuing of rock formations which bear a passing resemblance to female anatomy so that can keep you amused in the queue! A trip to Eilat is worth it if you need a quick dose of 'shops' while you are there!
Another good trip is the glass bottom boat trip - 15Euros (everything is either Egyptian pounds, USD or Euros). It takes about an hour but when they go over the deep water it is very eery.
General advice on visiting: best advice I gleaned from these boards - take 50USD in 1 dollar notes for tips because if you use the loo at the airport they will be on your case for tips right from the word go. I also kept some small value Egyptian for the return journey as they are worth less. Take some total sun block and total long sleeved cover up (and remember a cheesecloth blouse or similar is only about SF15 so you can burn through it). With water resistant SF15 I burnt after being out for 1 hour 11-12 - after that I stayed in as much as poss from 11-4.
Apparently in the internet room (which I didn't go in) there is a bookcase with some books on it which people have left behind - might be worth knowing if you finish your reading matter before the end of your stay as you can't buy anything to read in the hotel.