Abu Soma Intercontinental Reviews

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★★★☆☆

“Hotel: ”

Written on: 08/03/2009 by Ligeo (1 review written)

Hotel:
Great place for soaking the sun and the sea. Well managed with really pleasant and helpful staff. I think it is the greenest of all the resorts in Hurghada. Spacious rooms - great lay out such that almost all rooms have great sea views and balcony. Lying in bed watching the night-lights across the bay, or waking up watching the turquoise blue sea were such great pleasures. Don't know what other 5star hotels are like, but this one certainly had the opulence to make it one. Mini bath tubs " so no romance there! Plenty of beautiful pools, but only one is heated. Who cares " head for the sea! Don ' t take any towels " plenty of fresh towels every where for the beach.

Hygiene: Cleanliness is generally very good - however full of dust (expected for a desert land). Contrary to most reviews, did not have any stomach troubles (stick to bottled water). Did not wash mouth with bottled water either (but did religiously use Listerine after using tap water!)
Food:
We went to the Abu Soma Intercontinental on a half board package (buffet BF and Dinner). Plenty of choices, although nothing special to write home about (i.e., no exquisite top chef cuisine - clean and good food and plenty of it to keep you happy). Included meals can only be had from one restaurant (the main one - Cafe Stella) - but in fact, the others were always empty (Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Sea food - closed) - so I would not want to be the only customer there any way! BF includes drinks. But, for included dinner, you need to pay for drinks including water. Water is expensive at LE15 per 1.5ltr at the hotel. If you can, buy a whole crate full, before you leave the airport. Besides, everything has around 12% service charge and 10% sales tax on top. And if you charge it to your room, another 2% on top! " So, pay cash at the restaurant.

Shopping: These are independent shop keepers who pay a rent to the Hotel. Because the resort is located a cool 50USD taxi trip from the nearest town and shopping center, they know people fall for the trap. And we learned from experience what a trap it was. Paid LE250 for 400 grams of Egyptian Hibiscus tea (Karkade) from the Hotel spice & exotic oil shop. Thought it was a good deal when we haggled it down from LE400. Only until when next day a manager at the hotel told us it costs no more than LE30 per 500 g!!!. They generally hike up the price some unbelievable 15 to 20 times what locals would pay. And they do this at all shops there - mainly because they know that people who come to a 5* hotel are reasonably affluent, probably have very little local knowledge, and are trapped in the resort due to its remoteness from other shops, and lack of competition. Of course it is the basics of a free market in action - but to me this was sheer disgusting robbery. If you really want to buy souvenirs, my advice is to try and include it in a paid excursion to Hurgadha ( £25pp day trip) and venture in to the town bazaars - sure, they will all quote sky high prices - at least you have the choice of different shops to compare and decide. A third option is to try and get to know one of the local hotel staff (they all expect and get tipped any way - and ask them indirectly, how expensive are things etc - . Finally, unless you really know the value of something you are buying, or are desperate, never pay more than c. 30% of the price they quote. We also later found out that shopping at airport (departure) was a relatively better option - plenty of shops with lot of choices - and certainly prices more close to real life. To break our heart, we found the said tea bags being sold at fixed price of Egyptian Pounds 14 for 100g!! We were stupid and learned our lesson... Also, don ' t fall for buying any exotic items (oils etc) they sell on the beach " not genuine.

Water sports: Great for surfing, etc etc, diving & snorkelling. If you are planning to take a diving lesson (facilities at the resort), and are doing it for the first time, insist on getting your initial training at a pool. I went to open water when the sea was choppy (Force 4 according to instructor, who thought it was ok), and was asked to jump in to some 3-4m of pounding sea! " Jumped, panicked and bottled it!!! But the guys were great and offered to do it again another day (I chickened out!) and so they charged me only half ( ' 40 instead of ' 80).

Semi-submarine trip: Not worth it at £27 (GBP). The sales material has some colorful photos & videos- but you are unlikely to see them on the trip - most corals looked Grey (dead?) and there were not many fishes. I suspect the amount of powered boat activities in the vicinity have started to impact the marine life. London aquarium (for those who can go there) has more marine life at £13 (two for one if you take London trains!).

£70 (GBP) Trip to Luxor - one day bus trip, great lunch and generally pleasant albeit long trip - 6-7 hour drive. Great tour guide from hotel (Marhaba Travels) who was really in to his subject. But, most tombs are closed for restoration/maintenance. Also, need to pay LE100 extra to see Tutankamen's tomb (and corpse). Finally, unless you are an expert in Hieroglyphics, the tomb visit will be over in under 5 minutes a piece - there are absolutely no explanations in any language to say what is what - you just see the writings - the guide will not come into the tombs. - and after one or two, they all look the same (no photos or videos inside either). The temple visits were great. However, the mini bus driving was scary to say the least. The highway to Luxor is mostly single lane; but with different speed limits for different types of vehicles. So vehicles are in a way forced to over take - and overtake do they do - at one point, our mini bus was overtaking another truck, which was overtaking another lorry - and I started saying my prayers...! Having said that, in the seven hours of driving, never came across a single accident - but in the one hour we drove back from Gatwick to our house on the famous 3 lane M25, we passed a really awful car crash! The guide will take you to a village factory that hand makes pots, bowls and statues out of all kinds of famous stones " Alabaster, Onyx, Basalt etc. And then you have a chance to buy them. They say it is fixed price " don ' t believe a word. They quoted LE1000 for something and someone in our group bought it for under LE400!

We went with Mark Warner " great package " great staff, and very well managed overall. No complaints at all (cramped flight is what you get for what you pay " and non stop weeping babies (lot of them) " that ' s what babies do " so no complaints there either). Their local partners (Marhaba Tours), were also great. Tip " if you book local tours etc through them, ask and you WILL get discounts! Its like, haggling and tipping is a way of life.
Overall, the resort is best for just doing nothing " and for water sports " although I personally would not support motorboat activities, as I think it wont last long. If you have shopping in mind, think again.

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★★★★★

“Having just returned from a fabulous week at the...”

Written on: 19/08/2006 by ChrisN (1 review written)

Having just returned from a fabulous week at the Intercontinental Abu Soma (booked through www.mosaicholidays.co.uk), we felt that we should add a comment or two to encourage others to visit this hotel.

Facilities:
Restaurants - good variety of food and always well presented.
Pool and beach are all kept amazingly clean, and provide all that you may need for a wonderful holiday.
Horse and Camel Riding.
Diving - The on-site diving centre (www.barakuda-diving.com) offers good value diving, and as a PADI OW diver, I had a couple of relaxed easy dives.

Staff:
The hotel staff, from the gardeners to the management, are friendly and courteous without appearing to be putting on an act for the benefit of the customers. The cleaners keep your rooms clean, and even turn down your bed. The waiters almost have a sixth sense in anticipating your needs, and the management appear to run a smooth, seamless operation.

Additional trips:
We took a couple of trips with Marhaba Tours (local agents of Mosaic Holidays) and can only say that the organisation and content of the trips (overnight trip to Luxor and snorkel trip to Sharm el Narga) was faultless, and the tour guides knowledgeable and friendly.

Conclusion:
Can I go back please? We are planning another trip for Christmas, and we are almost certain to use the tour company and the hotel again.

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