Scattered Christmas lights coupled with a Santa Clause sledge perched on the marble cascade near the main entrance under the palm trees are probably the only things to remind you it’s winter here.
There’s the sea on the horizon, there are reefs in the sea, and fish swimming in the reefs. In Sharm-el-Sheikh swimming pools are warm, the temperature outside is +20 Celsius, while the snow, frost, slush and mud are far-far away, somewhere back in Kyiv.
Sinai is lively in its own way — without a flow of Russian tourists, with a safety gate at hotel entrances complete with a mandatory scan of all cars with metal detectors and luggage examination.
Tourists are scarce, and any suspicion that there might be a threat against their safety might totally cut short the thin flow of travelers accepted by the local airport.
Sunrise GS Arabian Beach Resort is a five-star hotel on the shore of the Red Sea, complete with several swimming pools, a tennis court, a music hall and spacious grounds; currently, it’s a nice budgetary alternative to expensive Ukrainian Carpathians — and it still preserves the joys of warm latitudes.
The rooms here are spacious and light although lacking any luxury of novelty, but they’re clean and tidy nevertheless. The cleaning staff is available almost round the clock, sometimes even on the verge of obtrusiveness — as soon as you show up in the corridor, a chamber boy (all operational hotel personnel is male) will be running after you to ask whether you need any cleaning in your room. Yes, he has just finished cleaning there and even made a swan figurine out of your beach towel, but what if there’s anything else he could do for you? You’ll experience this several times a day, so get used to it.
In general, the hotel personnel is friendly and communicable but still requires too much of your attention. Wave it away as a local characteristic feature and enjoy Egyptian origami made of towels in your room. By the way, the chamber boy who erected real towel sculptures for our friends in the room next door never made us anything, so I don’t really know whether to cry or feel happy about the virgin cleanness of our towels saved from this kind of art.
What’s truly good about Sunrise GS Arabian Beach Resort is its swimming pools. The largest one is a cluster of family entertainment with its own bar and burger grill outlet, separate mini pools for children, animators, blasting music, morning aerobics and all that merry hype that creates the effect of a happy beach vacation.
For those who love to get up in the morning and dive into the pool instead of having a shower, there are separate villas with suites that have their own swimming pools.
And there’s also a private swimming pool for VIPs with deck-chairs under purple canopies.
The best one among swimming pools is the relaxing pool with no music, animators, or children (at least nobody under the age of 16), but there’s heating, palm trees, blue sky over your head and nonstop delivery of drinks from the coffee bar right to the swimming pool nosing.
Alas, the situation with gastronomy at Sunrise GS Arabian Beach Resort is quite gloomy. The food outlet at the hotel is represented by a common restaurant with a buffet and several a la carte restaurants on the hotel grounds where it’s practically impossible to book a table despite a number of electronic booking machines in the hotel lobby and an online booking option at the hotel’s website.
How people get there is still a mystery to me because the doors leading to those gastronomic temples were opened for us only after the intrusion of the hotel’s marketing department. Still, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t book a table on my own either using a booking machine in the lobby or the website.
The food in the common restaurant starts its life cycle at breakfast and ends it at dinner (I would very much like to believe that anything not eaten is thrown away in the end of the day). Visually, tables and buffets are loaded with snacks, but when you have a closer look at it, it is only the salad section with vegetables that looks trustworthy and edible enough.
There’s fish deep-fried for lunch and then deep-fried again for dinner until it turns into a rubber ball of dough, unpalatable fruits — either unripe or overripe, factory-made bakery products laid out on the trays day after day until the icing on them goes musty.
The only thing that will save you is waffles for breakfast — they’re made in the morning right before your eyes. These are served with a gigantic bowl of Nutella, and once a week they get an addition in the form of small bowls with perfect jams — of figs, dates, berries and honey. Also, evening grill is good when chefs serve Egyptian quails, mutton kebabs and seafood products freshly roasted.
The a la carte outlets provide better food (it goes true for Hindu and Thai restaurants), perhaps this is why it’s so hard to get into them — they have nice-looking crockery and the food laid out on them looks much tastier.
Well, you will certainly have no remorse for spending an extra hour in the swimming pool instead of breakfasts, lunches and dinners! The one thing made perfectly here is cezve coffee served on the terrace of Churchill bar.
The beach at Sunrise GS Arabian Beach Resort is clean, tidy and nice. There’s even some good ice cream in the beach café. Here you can also play a game of petanque (on certain days of the week) or table tennis (any hour of day or night).
You can dive into the “open sea” from the pier and admire the reefs and their dwellers, or dive with an aqualung and a diving instructor to accompany you (for a fee), or do some snorkeling (free of charge if you have your own mask).
A SPA complex, a gym with all the necessary sports equipment, a tennis court (also free in the evening) and a small football field, with the food that ranks merely passable, turn Sunrise GS Arabian Beach Resort into a health resort and detox hotel — if you avoid the all-inclusive free alcohol and Nutella, that is.
I should say, once you check into the hotel, there’s no need to leave it until departure — the airport is close, and it’s another advantage of the hotel location.
The reefs here are truly beautiful, there is a diving center operating at the hotel where you can rent a mask, an aqualung or hire an instructor; the two-floor villas with suites are drowned in flowers; if you want parties with music and dancing — go to the main restaurant; if you want quiet and the sea waves at your feet — go down to the beach; and the wonderful sea sight at sunrise is everyday for free.
Just find some strength in you to wake up with the sun!
Sunrise GS Arabian Beach Resort in Sharm-el-Sheikh explored by Olga Kari and Anton Lazutin
Text: Olga Kari
Photos: Olga Kari, Anton Lazutin
Karifood would like to thank Sunrise GS Arabian Beach Resort hotel, Sharm-el-Sheikh, and Ready&Go! transfer partner for traveling arrangements.