Dive Into Egypt’s Soma Bay By Hannah Norman
I’m staring out across a calm sapphire sea, barely distinguishable from the sky, with a glass of something sweet, syrupy and strawberry-flavoured in my hand. The sun is blazing and all I can hear is the gentle sound of the waves lapping at the shore. This could be the Caribbean. This could even be the Maldives. But it’s not – it’s nowhere near. I’m actually just five hours away from London. Welcome to Soma Bay, a peninsular in eastern Egypt that dips invitingly into the crystal-clear Red Sea.
This serene – and surprisingly quiet – finger of land has been turned into a postcard-picture resort, which has already been bought into by several big hotel chains, the most majestic of the current crop being the Kempinski. Morocco is frequently touted as the place to escape to for a long weekend, but with the Kempinski’s reception styled much like a souk bar, with decorative oil lamps and enormous sprays of flowers (and did I mention the glorious weather?), I would implore you to travel to Morocco’s continental cousin here instead. My room afforded me views across the enchantingly lit lazy river to the sea and mountains beyond, and a cosy bed (so big I could have got lost in it) with huge cloud-like pillows ensured the best nights’ sleep I’ve had in ages, nodding off to the sound of the sea little more than mere metres away. Bliss!
By day, it’s very tempting to retreat to one of the sumptuous loungers by the pool and just do absolutely nothing but luxuriate in the sun. With obliging waiters on hand to attend to your every whim, gastronomic or otherwise (curry by the pool, anyone? Yes, really!), it seems almost expected that you’ll want to indulge in a spot of laziness. However, adventure beckons and this is certainly the place for doing that. For golfers (and beginners), the Gary Player-designed Challenge and Championship courses allow for some truly breath-taking holes, with fantastic panoramas across the Bay and spectacular sea views whichever way you care to look.
Soma Bay is also the world’s premium destination for kite-surfing, and, therefore unsurprisingly, the world kite-surfing championships are held here every year. The guys at the Kite House claim they can turn you into a surfer with just 5 days tuition, and whilst our morning on the beach was a huge amount of fun, it was more inspiring to watch the couple of seeming pros who were out taking on the calm, performing clever leaps and tricks that made us disproportionately jealous.
However, for a more relaxing adventure and for a real highlight of your holiday, I completely recommend snorkelling in the Red Sea. Soma Bay’s house reef provides an amazing opportunity to come within inches of gorgeously coloured fish and spectacular coral. A truly serene, slightly surreal experience, this was a perfect way to spend a morning, blocking out noise and stress to appreciate the beauty of the Bay at its most staggeringly visceral.
All this adventure, however, is hungry work, and we were completely spoiled for choice when it came to gourmet. My personal favourite, however, has to be Bamboo, located at the Kempinski. Executive Chef Mehmet Koyuncu and his team served the smoothest butter chicken curry, and the most delicious vegetable sushi (yes, such a thing evidently does exist!). Baked ice-cream for dessert, washed down with fine Egyptian wine, was surely the perfect end to a lovely evening.
Soma Bay is a truly beautiful part of the world, and the perfect place to come to escape from it all. The combination of sun and sea (and Spa!) was unbelievably reviving, and we were already looking up flights to come back before we’d even left for the airport to go home. But every paradise on earth has its downsides. The internet here is ridiculously elusive, but short of running around waving your phone in the air to try to get some sort of Wi-Fi signal, the best thing to do is to treat this as a real escape – from work, from worry, and from the weather back home. Switch off and do nothing, or get out and do everything. Either way, this is entirely restorative – and it only means taking a couple of days out of the office (although, of course, a week may be more in order). Your frazzled, stressed self will thank you for it.
Seven nights staying in a Lagoon View Room at the 5* Kempinski Hotel in Soma Bay on a Bed & Breakfast basis is from £635 per person. Upgrade to Half Board for an extra £145 per person. Prices include return flights from London Gatwick, airport tax, 20kg baggage per person, private transfers and airport meet & greet service. Prices are subject to availability and may change without notice. Call 020 3384 0030, email [email protected] or see www.holiday-designers.com for more details.
Kempinski Christmas & New Year Package
Prices start from £68pp per night and are subject to 24.32% taxes and service charge. Offer valid for stays from 18th to 31st December 2015 for stay dates up to 10/01/2016 (minimum stay 7 nights)
Choice of luxury accommodation
Limousine transfer from and to Hurghada International Airport
Daily breakfast at The View Restaurant
One bottle of local sparkling wine per room per stay
Christmas Gala Dinner for stays including 21/12/2015
New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner for stays including 24/12/2015
New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner for stays including 31/12/2015
Free soft drinks mini-bar in guest rooms
Free access to hotel fitness centre including Gym, Jacuzzi, Sauna & Steam Room
To book, click here.