Club Med Luxor – Villa Bella Donna
We stayed here for five great days in mid September 07. The place grew on us as the five days progressed. We arrived very early in the morning and were, at first sight, a little disappointed by our room, which had a view of the Nile (Room 172) – it was a little small and dark and, despite claims that the ‘village’ had been entirely refurbished, was tatty in places. However, in the morning when we awoke and opened the curtains to see the Nile in all its splendour with hot air balloons being launched on the opposite bank, our expectations and spirits rose enormously. The setting is superb as the village is set back from the Nile bank by a private quay and the club’s garden. Other hotels along the river push right up to the Nile and some have their swimming pools so close to the Nile steamers’ landing areas the hotel guests must be breathing in diesel fumes for most of the time.
The grounds are well laid out with its fabulous pool and swim-up bar at its heart and overlooking the Nile. The pool is better than at Columbus Isle, Kani (Maldives) and Le Riad (Marrakech). At this time of year there were only about 30 guests staying and so we had the place much to ourselves and enjoyed the personal attention of the GO’s and other staff. It really is a friendly village and we were on first name terms with everyone. One major strength of the village is the friendliness and ambience created by all the staff from chefs and cleaners to Abdou and his team in the Office. Valérie Berthon, Chef du Village, was on leave but her team managed well in her absence, especially Moussa, Geraldine, Chouchou, Corrado and Aurelie. Moussa clearly has the potential to be a future Chef du Village for Club Med as he was very polite, charming, well organised, approachable and helpful. He was also in charge of sports and ran the daily aqua gym sessions.
The village is ideally placed for all the key sights – Luxor and Karnak Temples, Luxor Museum, the Valleys of the Kings, Queens and Nobles, etc. and the visits arranged through the club’s excursions’ office are excellent – if pricey! Our guide for all our trips ‘Ali’ was brilliant – very knowledgeable, had a good sense of humour and was ready to involve you in the ‘story’ of the locality. On each trip there is an unannounced diversion to a local trader or specialist eg. selling alabaster carvings or perfume oils. Very few people on these visits were tempted – these trips seemed ‘unofficial’ as we were not told about them before. Some of the guests took the whole day trip to Cairo to visit the national Archaeological Museum (Tutankhamen), a mosque and the Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza. It was going to be a long day including a flight to Cairo but we chose to miss this one out for another time. Those that went said it was fantastic but very tiring.
It is much cheaper to organise the trips yourselves, if you are of a mind to. For example, we arranged a boat trip down the Nile to Luxor Museum and back (half a day) for less than half the price charged by the excursions office. The caleche (horse and carriage) trip to see Luxor at night is fascinating as you see Luxor from many different angles including driving through the night souks. As we were in Egypt at Ramadan the town came to life at night. Moussa accompanied us on this visit and his presence was reassuring as, at times, you were literally cheek by jowl with local people at night, especially in the souks. Try the Coucher du Soleil’ felouque trip which takes you up the Nile as the sun is setting which provides spectacular views of the locality including the opposite bank where life seems to have been frozen in time with children rowing boats onto the reed beds to cut reeds for their animals. The herons along the river are plentiful and beautiful. On the Club Med quay is a felouque owner, Captain Ali, who is really friendly and engaging – ask for him to take you down to Luxor or for the setting sun trip in his felouque called ‘Sara’.
There is only one restaurant but it is run by a very friendly team of chefs and the Chef de Chefs was charming and keen to please. The range of food was wide and of good quality – if anything it could be more varied in style. Though every evening was a different themed event in the restaurant, there was little difference from one night to the next. The caramelised bananas are to die for! Particularly good waiters were Hassan and Montesar. Hassan was very helpful in ensuring that we had a table for two each evening. At last – a Club Med village that appreciates that, at times, people want to eat as a couple in a more intimate setting than always on large tables of 8.
The bar/pool area is great and is the social centre of the village. One of the bartenders, Tony, is the best we’ve seen in all our Club Med visits – he is really friendly, keen to please, remembers your favourite drinks and is always on hand to teach you some Arabic – ‘Choukrane!’ As important, he is very organised and is constantly ensuring that the bar area is clean and hygienic. The coffee is excellent and ‘nibbles’ are provided before meals though there was too much white bread with the snacks. The range of drinks was reasonable but not extensive eg. no Baileys to go with your BMW cocktail or with your late night coffee. The local beer was of good quality.
As said before, the Club Med brochure describes the village as entirely and elegantly renovated but this is a bit generous as closer scrutiny shows that a lot more need be done. Improvements for the room we suggest include a mini-bar and your own iron/ironing board as we found at Columbus Isle, Kani and Le Riad. The bathroom was pretty cramped and uninspiring – elegant it was not. We recognise that this is a 3 Trident village but some small changes would make a big difference.
This was part of a two village trip for us as we also stayed at Club Med El Gouna – Mer Rouge for three days before flying back to France via Cairo. To transfer to El Gouna we had to arrange, via Abdou in the Luxor office, for a private air-conditioned mini-bus to take us on a four hour journey through desert terrain. This cost 70 euros for the two of us. As there have been some terrorist activities in the past the whole of Egypt seems to be patrolled by armed ‘Tourist Police’ – this was the case at all the archaeological sites near Luxor and at every hotel and road junction. Our four hour trip to El Gouna was no exception. We left the Club Med Luxor at 0730 and were taken in our mini-bus to a central point in Luxor where about 20 coaches and 15 minibuses met to take part in an armed escorted convoy to El Gouna. It really was an incredible sight being part of this armed convoy travelling through the rich greenness of the Nile valley before crossing the arid desert landscape to the Red Sea. We stopped halfway for toilets and the inevitable souvenir shops and cafeterias strategically placed in the middle of the desert along the Luxor-Hurghada main road..
- Also Known As:
- Club Med Louxor Hotel
- Club Med Louxor Hotel Luxor
- Club Med Luxor
- Luxor Club Med
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Luxor, in Upper Egypt, the land chosen by the god Amon-Râ, plunges you into the heart of its history and mysteries. Standing on the eastern bank of the Nile, opposite the Theban Necropolis, the Club Med Village is a kilometre away from the town. Opposite stands the Temple of Karnak and beyond the pink mountains, the royal tombs. When you get back from your visits, you will be able to sit at the swimming pool bar and soak up the romantic atmosphere, admiring the river's bronze-coloured waters. ... more less