Palm Royale Soma Bay
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Historical Traveler Reviews Sevin Pension Hotel Bodrum
Fantastic relaxing time, highly reccomended for water sport lovers
My boyfriend and I stayed with Mark Warner at the above hotel. It was amazing and worth every penny.
The watersports on offer by Mark Warner are fantastic and the staff exceptional. My boyfriend and I both had beginner lessons in windsurfing and sailing which were very good fun. Although the resort does typically have high winds which are enjoyed by the more experienced we had no problems as beginners. Only once were we turned away from the windsurfing as it was too dangerous for beginners.
The range of equipment on offer is vast and it is all brand new. We never once had problems taking out equipment at any time of the day all week, probably because the rest of the hotel was empty. The Mark Warner staff launch all your equipment for you, so you need not worry about setting anything up!
I highly reccomend the water ski-ing but make sure you wear appropriate bottoms!
The hotel although very quite was beautiful. However, if it wasn't for the Mark Warner guests it would be empty, so don't expect a busy, lively resort. The evenings were dead. However to their credit all the restaurants and facilities were open.
The pool is huge and very clean, but cold.
Neither of us could fault the food on offer - it was excellent. The drinks are a little pricey so make sure you stock up on Duty Free before you arrive. Note that the Duty Free shop in Egypt will only except cash! Expect to pay London prices for your drinks once they add all their taxes.
My only advise would be to avoid Hurgada - we were not impressed by our evening trip there. We both felt extremely intimidated by the town. You would probably be fine as part of a larger group but certainly don't venture to the old town on your own it is not worth it.
Overall it is 5* luxury and I would return tomorrow!
Top holiday with Mark Warner
I went with my girlfriend to the hotel with Mark Warner. The Mark Warner staff were good with the transfer and welcome meeting. The dinghies and windsurf equipment exceeded my expectations, there are better dinghies than in the brochure (including a high performance Laser Vago which I wasnt expecting) and the windsurf kit is far better than stated in the brochure.
The hotel was great, we ate in the buffet every night but 1 (when we visited the lebanese restaurant). I thought the buffet was very good, although a number of people did have stomach aches, I avoided any food that wasnt cooked and didnt have ice in my drinks and I was OK, I suspect those that did get ill ate the salad and had ice in their G&Ts.
I wouldnt recommend it to someone who wanted to learn to windsurf or sail as its too windy for that but if you are already good at either then its definitely recommended. It was a great holiday as I am an intermediate windsurfer and I learnt to waterstart and got in the footstraps for the first time.
I wouldn't stay here again
My boyfriend and i stayed at the intercontinental in Hurghada last autumn. I have to say that it did not live up to its 5 star claim.
Firstly the room allocated was below average. The bathroom was not clean, and the there were split floor tiles. We originally requested a sea front room and paid extra for it... but when they gave us another room, it was facing the car park. We finally settled reluctantly on the 4th room given - and we are not picky by nature!!!
The hotel facilities was fine, but the staff were not efficient. Room service took almost an hour for some drinks. The food menus were very basic, and expensive for what they were.
We had a fantastic holiday overall, but the hotel itself was little more than 3 star quality.
Let me begin by thanking Mark Warner for a lovely time in Abu Soma. At the same time however I must confess that I would probably not go again. Why is this?
The hotel is advertised as being 5 star; the hotel is 5 star but the hotel staff are not. I liked the staff very much, friendly and wanting to please but I did not really expect to have to telephone on several occasions to have the room cleaned, dirty glasses replaced etc etc. I quickly learned to lower my expectations, accept that "coming immediately" meant "coming some time in the next 20 minutes" and as a result had fun. Food and staff attitudes were both excellent.
The resort is billed as being a water sports resort which it is -kind of. High winds make it unsuitable for beginners and the low amount of MW staff means that the amount of training available is extremely limited. My wife tried to get onto the sailing course but since there are only 12 spaces for the whole week was unable to. 12 spaces is a pitiful number. The private training offered at the beginning of the week was withdrawn on Wednesday and Thursday due to staff shortages. I would add that the Mark Warner staff were brilliant. The windsurf trainer Ed was a great guy and a capable trainer (not always the same thing) and the people running the kids club are heroes, my son Joe had a ball.
The tours were great. Both Barakuda diving and Marhaba do good jobs, but both from a customer service point of view and also from a business model point of view seem a little eccentric. Barakuda does full day dives on Monday and Wednesday....fair enough. However Marhaba also does its two main tours (Luxor and desert safari) on Mondays and Wednesdays. I have suggested to Mark Warner suggest that the diving remains as it is with Marhaba doing the tours on Tuesday and Thursday. This would enable guests to do more, increase profits all round, and enable parents to go diving on Wednesday and still see the kids show. That aside the tours were great. If you like diving I recommend Tobia Arba a shallow dive around 7 coral pillars, prolific fish life and good coral. Tobia Hamra has a pretty coral garden but is not as good in my view. I did not have time to dive the Salem express alas.
We took the day trip to Luxor travelling by coach (approx 4 hours). Well worth it and I would recommend it in preference to the flying option as you see more of the desert and the land outside Luxor. Be warned it is very hot and I would not take kids younger than 13 as they might become hot bored tired and fractious. The temple of Karnak is fantastic and unexpectedly colourful, and the valley of Kings is wonderful. Do go Tutankamen's tomb even if the guide says don't, though this costs an extra LE70. The demo making was Papyrus is interesting.
The desert safari is billed as romatic ....it isn't. It is great fun however. It begins with a madcap race across the desert. Our guide decided to climb out of the car when it was going about a 100 to hang on the outside...nutter and I was not impressed. Still the drive was fun. You then arrive at some Bedouin with camels, go for a ride which to my surprise was comfortable and pick up some general info relating to the Bedouin. A trip to another camp was with some pseudo folklore (self contradictory most of it) and a quad bike ride across the desert. For speed freaks be warned it is not fast. For the terrified be warned you need to keep up. My wife did not and was close to being left behind. To avert this she and another were put on a bike in front of a Bedouin who roared off to the head of the queue at top speed. This was followed by an excellent dinner and more star gazing followed by the charging across the desert return. The desert and its mountains are very beautiful.
A last note.....yes the temperature is 40 degrees plus but don't let that put you off. It is not as bad as it sounds.
Had we been beginners with our hearts set on water sports the holiday would have been a washout, as it was we all had a fine time.
Not so splendid isolation.
Like other reviewers we were at the Abu Soma with Mark Warner ( two adults and two children). As usual the Mark Warner staff and facilties were excellent , However , much of the Club atmosphere and intimacy of traditional MarkWarner holidays was absent from this resort.
The hotel itself is extremely impressive as far as the fabric of the building is concerned but unfortunately this in itself does not make it a good hotel. My overriding impression was of an isolated, soulless, bleak, windswept place lacking in any sort of atmosphere. This was compounded by the the worst piped music I have ever had to suffer. A constant, depressing funereal dirge summed up by my 10 year son who said it sounded like the music they played when the Queen Mother died!
The main restaurant is a cavernous echoey hall with the feel of a works canteen and eating there is not a paticularly pleasant dining experience ! The food I would describe as adequate, being neither good nor bad but certainly not 5 star standard. Mark Warner clients should be aware that the $10 supplement for the other restaurants sounds OK but be prepared . As a family of four our restaurant "supplement" was working out at about £60. Drinks are very expensive and by the time you've bought a bottle of wine and a couple of soft drinks each for the kids you will have spent another £32 on top of your $40 supplement. The specialist restaurants were however pretty good and had live musicians who were also very good, particularly at the Greek Restaurant and made a refreshing change from the aforementioned piped music.
The doctor is indeed excellent which is just as well as I had a very bad dose of gastro enteritis. So bad in fact that I ended up in the hotel surgery with an intravenous drip in my arm !! This was the only holiday where I have come home weighing less than I did at the start of the holiday. Serious stomach upsets appeared to be the norm and I spoke to many other guests who had been ill. This really is not good enough in a so called 5 star hotel.
The highlight of our holiday was when we actually left the hotel on our day trip to Luxor by air. I would recommend this to anyone at Abu Soma but I would pass on the "Mega safari" which was disappointing.
. We would not go back to Abu Soma nor would we recommend it to others. If you want the true Mark Warner experience I would recommend you go to one of their other resorts.
By way of comparison, last year we paid the same money for a proper all inclusive holiday in Mexico which was fantastic and infinitely better than the Abu Soma experience.
Although I fully believe that Mark Warner is a great company to travel with I would strongly recommend anyone thinking of travelling with them to select one of their other resorts. Most of the problems seem to be out of Mark Warner's control and in support of them I can honestly say that the staff tried their best to make the experience a pleasant one. However there are a number of problems with the resort, hotel and it's staff:
- Force 8 gales were blowing for most of our stay, which is apparently normal for the resort. This is great for experienced sailors etc but bad for begginers - a lot of the lessons had to be cancelled. It also made the beach quite unpleasant at times because the sand was blowing in your face.
- The staff were obviously annoyed with the Mark Warner guests (who were pretty much the only guests - the main hotel was deserted) being fully-inclusive and therefore not tipping at every meal time etc. As a Mark Warner guest I felt I was treated like a second-class citizen by waiters etc. because they knew they couldn't get tips from us all the time.
- The hotel allows touts etc into the resort, which I think is inappropriate because the main appeal of a private beach is to avoid the letching, tacky products and annoying sales techniques that go hand-in-hand with touts (I know these people are only trying to make a living but it's still not nice).
- Some of the restaurants mentioned in the brouchure were not open, or rather they were, but temporarily placed in the pool bar etc. Also the ordamental pools had been drained because mosquitoes had been breeding in them, this gave the whole resort and unfinished look.
- Water is expensive and subject to 2% tax like everything else, bringing it to nearly £2 a bottle. This wouldn't bother me too much if it wasn't for the fact that an enormous amount of the guests (myself included) were ill with stomach complaints and therefore needed to drink lots of bottled water. Pretty much every guest I met was ill at some point in their stay, some to the extent that they we're put on drips!
- The entertainment was laughable and the hotel had no atmosphere. If you do go be prepared to make your own entertainment in the evenings.
That's it. You can see the good points of Abu Soma in the brouchure of which there are some - honest - but if visiting you will probably have to deal with the problems above too.
Five star experience
My friend and I have just returned from one week at Abu Soma with Mark Warner. Upon arrival in Egypt, and again at the resort, we were greeted by numerous Egyptian and English staff, all eager to make us feel welcome, and explain where things were - great when you're feeling disorientated after a long flight (and, for us, a four hour delay).
The entrance hall is opulent: patterned marble floors; a domed ceiling four storeys high; gold leaf, pillars, paintings, statues and fountains wherever you turn; and, in the centre a gleaming wooden bar area suspended over a large pool filled with koi carp. The room we stayed in was large, beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean. It had a large balcony with a beautiful view.
The resort itself is large and sprawling with a fair walk between the many amenities -you'll need a day to find it all! Don't miss the gym area, whirlpool bath, plunge pool and massage area! All watersports on offer were manned by friendly and informative staff. The food in the restaurant was delicious, and the waiting staff courteous and helpful. Although the weather was very hot, we were always a comfortable temperature: indoors, the air conditioning was very efficient; outdoors, a cooling wind is always blowing from over the sea (although sometimes quite strenuously!). We were gratified to see one of the waterfront staff tactfully offer to take a couple out for a free catamaran ride as he could see that they had been lying in the sun on their first day, "Perhaps a bit long." - A really nice touch.
The two hour snorkelling trip from the resort was one of the high points of our holiday - well worth the money. The diversity of marine life in the red sea is astonishing, if a little unnerving for beginners. Even snorkelling off the hotel beach we saw (amongst other things) a ray, angel fish, two lion fish (luckily well out of reach in deep water, hiding under a rock!) and many inquisitive sergeant major fish with a large shoal of babies that looked like little bumble bees!
Visitors, beware that if you are ill and need medication there is no pharmacy on resort - you will have to see the doctor which can be quite expensive. Take LOTS of anti sickness/diahorrea medication, rehydration salts and anything else you might need, with you. Also, after one slightly dodgy situation we had (which was rectified very quickly and efficiently by the hotel staff), we'd recommend you be slightly careful around beach sellers; avoid booking anything unless you're sure it has been endorsed by Mark Warner or recommended by other tourists, and don't let sellers push you into buying anything you're not 100% sure of.
All in all, a truly five star experience!
Great hotel, will be even better when remaining work is finished
We stayed at the Abu Soma Intercontinental with Mark Warner holidays (an activities based holiday company mostly catering for people from the UK) from 22 to 29 April 2005.
The hotel is located about a 45 mins drive from the Hurghada airport (do not confuse this hotel with the Intercontinental hotel more centrally located in Hurghada). The grounds are beautiful, with palm trees, grass, lots of birds and pools of water.
The reception area is stunning, an atrium with a bar, lots of marble and statues.
The Mark Warner guests are in their own block of rooms. The rooms are large, ours had 2 large single beds in it. There was also a table and chairs and a large wardrobe. There was a TV with cable and a good selection of channels, a safe, coffee making facilities and a mini bar. The bathroom was large with a good supply of hot water. The shower was powerful. There was a clothesline over the bath for drying your swim suits. There was a balcony with sea view, and with 2 chairs and a table. The block has been designed so that everyone has a balcony with a sea view but are not able to see into other rooms, therefore each is very private. The rooms were kept spotlessly clean.
The food at the Café Stella was buffet style, with a good selection, which varied every day. There were salads and bread, vegetables, a choice of meats and fish, potatoes, rice, a huge selection of sweets and fruits. There were tables both outside and inside. The only thing which let the café down was the service for drinks and laying tables, you often had to wait a while for water to be brought to the table or for a fresh table to be laid.
There were 4 other restaurants which we could eat at for a supplement, an Italian, a Greek, a Lebanese and a seafood. We ate at both the Greek and the Lebanese, there was a good choice and the food was really delicious. The service was also good. The Greek and the seafood restaurants are currently not in their correct places as their buildings have not yet been finished. Hence they do not have a lot of atmosphere and I image they will be even better when they are in their proper places.
I thought the wine was quite expensive, £25 for the cheapest non Egyptian wine. Also if you charge things to your room they add a 1.8% charge.
The main swimming pool is stunning but be warned, is not heated and was freezing! The kids seemed to enjoy it though. There is also another smaller swimming pool by the health club which is heated.
The beach facilities were great. The hotel was about 1/3 full when we were there and you could always find sunbeds on the beach. You have beach towel tokens which you turn in for beach towels, at the end of the day you return the towels and get your tokens back.
Mark Warner have their own windsurfers, kite surfing, sailing boats and canoes, as well as games such as croquet, badminton, etc. I think other hotel guests may hire the equipment if it is not being used. There are separate areas allocated for the windsurfing, kite surfing and sailing. The sailing area is quite large. The wind varied from howling to dead calm while we were there, one day we were not allowed out because the wind was too strong. Apparently we had quite typical wind (check out www.windguru.com for wind forecasts, they have a forecast for Egypt, Hurghada).
The week before we arrived apparently there was quite a large mosquito problem. I think people left their sliding balcony doors open during the day (there were no screens) and then were bitten during the night. The week we were there they had emptied some of the decorative ponds (where the mosquitoes were breeding) and were cleaning them and fumigated every night. So do take mosquito spray, but when we were there the problem was no worse then you would expect in a hot country.
In summary, we had a great week here with Mark Warner. As it is a new resort there are some things they are still working out but overall the facilities are great (and will be even more impressive when they have finished the rest). I would return here again, though as the temperature in April was 30C already I don't think I would want to be here when it is much hotter.
Yes, you have to stay there
we was stayiing 14 days in abu soma in april with 2 children. the hotel is very excellent and have a magnific pool and beach. food in the à la Carte Restaurants was good and a really good standart for egypt! breaktfast and buffet only standart for 5 star restaurant. sometimes the quality could be better.
the pool is great, but could be more headed in the time vom november to mai.
the service personal was between poor to excellent. the hotel just openend and is on the way to get better. all time you can see "supervisors" checking the service personal.
the owner (refrigatormanufacturer in egypt) of the hotel maded a big show at the beach when he arrived and wanted to get a place and drinks at the beach. there was 7-10 people in 5 minutes there to take orders from him.... i wished to get only 10% of this service he has got in this moment...
i think there are some things they can to better, but i really think they will be better in only a few weeks.
when the last 2 restaurants (nearly on beach!!) and the lounge (executive/suite) would be ready, this hotel can be definitly a dream hotel!!
i was there with my family and we had a very good time.
would i stay ever again there ? YES, i would definitly.
please heat the pools more next winter and open the lounge and restaurants and we will stay there when it is cold in europe :-))
for the moment 4 points, but it´s only one little step to the 5 stars!
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