We booked the Premier le Reve Hotel & Spa in the resort of Sahl Hasheesh, just south of Hurghada to celebrate Mrs Mitchell’s 50th birthday. We had spent ages pouring over the hotels on offer in Egypt, as we wanted guaranteed sunshine and warmth yet a wonderful place to celebrate the move to the next decade and be the special holiday we both wanted.
We finally selected the PLR because it was in the Thomson a la carte range which offers “Luxury at its best with top quality hotels in select locations of 4T & 5T Hotels of high standards of service, excellent facilities and superb cuisine”. We thought we had it cracked with the promise of lavish properties and indulgence.
The extras that the a la carte hotels offer was great, the premier check in, the airport lounge, the extra luggage, the in-flight meal, the taxi transfer to the hotel. All very welcome.
The arrival into Hurghada airport is very frenetic, and it is worth getting your visa before you arrive. Eventually found the Thomson rep’s after following the trail of ‘see my friend over there’ by the handling agents for Thomson eventually arriving at the car park outside the airport. The drive from Hurghada airport to the hotel took about 45mins, although our driver was a Jenson Button apprentice. The worse bit of the journey is the 800m of speed humps / sleeping policemen when you enter the area of Sahl Hasheesh.
We arrived at the hotel full of enthusiasm, looking forward to being pampered and spoilt. The reception / foyer area is impressive.
The first thing I need to say, is that unlike other reviews about this hotel, it was certainly a lot more busier than indicated by other reviewers with all of the ‘open’ rooms occupied.
The hotel staff (guest relation officers / managers / supervisors) acknowledged they have problems and that they have a shortage of staff, and that they are struggling to meet the expectations of their guests. The Thomson rep’ acknowledges the problems with reluctance, and was prepared to take a Customer Service Form from their customers to follow up when they return to the UK. However, the hotels does try to do their absolutely best to try to put the problems right when you speak to them about it. But it might take an hour or a day to resolve, and then the standards will be up for a day or two then slip. Thomson need to work very closely with the hotel if they are not to continually miss-sell the 5* a la carte, which is the top of the range hotels that Thompson currently marketing the PLR as. The Thomson blurb and updates to customers needs to be refreshed to reflect the facts. Sadly we did have several problems as the hotel did not live up to the dream.
Our room was wonderfully large. An 8 foot bed that was one of the most comfortable ever. Large bathroom with separate bath and shower, we did not have any problems with hot water but it did take a while to find it on the shower control. Small separate dressing and storage area, and to be honest this was too small. Tea and coffee making facilities, minibar etc. Overall a good impression. We found that the rooms where not made up until late – the worse being that we had to sit on the balcony for 30mins from 1815 when the room had still not been made up and had not been vacuumed for days. The water, soft drinks or tea / coffee are not always replenished; you might get a bottle of water and some coffee, then another day tea / coffee and soft drinks and no water, etc etc. There is very limited power sockets in the room [ but we always take a power adaptor and gang socket]. The mini bar is only stocked with soft drinks. The air conditioning was very good. T
We are not over fussy with housekeeping, and know from experience that it’s best not to look in the corners. But the hall way of our room, the wardrobe / storage area, bedroom room, certainly looked like they had not even seen a vacuum cleaner for days let along given a good clean since the last guest. In fact the only day we saw or heard a vacuum was the day we sat on the balcony whilst they cleaned the room. The lovely red rose bud in our room lost its appeal when it was dead on day 2 and teaming with baby spiders on day 4. The lads where run ragged, but young Egyptian lads need direction on what and how to clean. There were just too many rooms and not enough trained staff.
The choice of food is not good, and with 200 or so guests the range was pretty poor and finding something nice to eat, or ‘superb cuisine’ was very disappointing. The restaurant seemed to be offering a small range of food for the mainly largely Eastern European market. There was little variety and it was pretty much the same thing day in day out. Certainly not the superb cuisine we had been lead to believe and where expecting. The chefs will cook something special if you are unable to find anything to eat, which happened on several occasions to me. The a la carte restaurants are hit and miss, but they will get there, one hopes. Even my hubby who will normally eat anything was finding it difficult and boring. To be very honest, we have seen better choice of AI buffets in 3* hotels.
The pool side snack bar was a guy with the same a donar kebab coming out every day, this was set up daily just outside the restaurant the was also the pool toilet, and produced dry donar meet in a dry bread roll. This was the only snacks on offer and not worth bothering with. Not that we like snacks, but with the lack of decent food it was tempting, but only the once!!
Fruit salad (what was left over from breakfast) was brought round mid morning. As were canapés. These where often hi-jacked by some guests so that we only got any on 4 of our 7 days.
On most occasions we would go into the main restaurant, and there would be dirty plates or glasses on tables, or they would be only partially made up with things missing, ie one glass, 1 knife short etc – this was the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was not one off, but the norm. Again the waiters are trying their best, but they could just not cope with the number or expectations of guests.
It was not unusual to ask for a drink, or coffee, or something similar, and an hour later the waiter would appear his eyes widen as he remembered what he had forgotten. The delay was normally caused by more demanding guests taking over and the less demanding being forgotten. The staff have not the skills to deal with the over demanding staff, and there is not sufficient ‘supervision’ to step in and assist the junior staff.
The entertainment was pretty abysmal. Whilst the Thomson website says that Egyptian entertainment is pretty low key, and we did not go there expecting large stage shows, singers who could not sing in tune or players who could not play was very tedious day after day. The daily 2 hours of the saxophone by the pool during lunch should have given a relaxed feel, but he played the same things every day, it was too loud, and the playing was very hit and miss, even worse when he decided to sing. The piped music was still playing, so it made for interesting eclectic mix to listen to and not the for before and after lunch relax the hotels probably envisages.
The furnishings, pool side sunbeds, and generally are an excellent quality. But sadly, after just a few months look worn, damaged and worse for wear. Things where breaking whilst we were there and no repairs where being made. The worse day, was the one day when there was far too many guests for sunbeds – sunbed wars – resulting in the farce of guests fighting over sunbeds and then finally sunbeds being shipped in and guests tearing the wrappers off the sunbeds and running off with the beds, and then the same when the cushions arrived. They left piles of rubbish everywhere, which the staff then got a right royal rollicking over and staff where pulled from everywhere to clear up the mess. It was a right shambles!! Still 2 days later 120 eastern European guests left and it was a much calmer place and at least 2 sunbeds per guest!!
There is only one shower with 4 heads serving the pool area and beach, and one toilet (in the snack bar which is also the sea food a la carte restaurant); there are 2 cubicles, one male one female both in the same room. So by the end of the day they are not the best. We found it easier to head back to the room.
The general finishing and quality looks great, and the appearances are not far from delivering the 5* a la carte dream that travel agents are selling customer. But look just under the surface and it’s not very good at all, the finishing and standards are not what you would expect, and even allowing for being the hotel being in Egypt, it is no way a 5* a’la’carte. It will at the end of things it will be a nice 4*. The ultra all inclusive is actually what most would call all inclusive. You expect more, but sadly it does not deliver. This is such a shame. It really does shatter the wonderful dream that the PLR can and should be. Both Thomson [who are selling the hotel] and PLR need to address this quickly.
The staff are wonderful, hard working, attentive and try their absolutely try their best. They are a great bunch of people. They lack direction and / or training from those that should be guiding them. There are an awfully lot of managers and very few are actually giving the staff what they need; only the guy who seems to be in charge of all the bars is.
Slowly, all the guests, well the English ones, where going down with upset stomachs, ranging from a few extra trips to the bathroom (as in our cases) to doctors and drips for others we talked to. The more guests in the hotel, the more the risks seem to be.
The worse bit is that there are no fire doors on any of the floors, but apparently Thomson overcomes this by putting guests on the ground floor or only near fire exits on the upper floors. Not sure where they would stand legally as a company should the unimaginable happen. Still, the sprinkler system is in place and flooded the carpet outside our room on the 3rd floor during our stay, as the walls were drying out the wall paper was peeling off and the plaster underneath cracking!
If you walk along the beach to the south, right next to the skeleton of the building next door, just past the hotel boundary, and look back at the hotel, you will see that one side is just not finished, no windows, empty, and waiting to be completed. That’s what the right hand wing is empty then!
The concept of the hotel is great. It could so easily be the sort of places that adult couples can go to relax in the sun with no kids or over zealous animations team.
The hotel is aiming for a high standard. The area will be wonderful in a few years time, and providing that the management do not allow standards to slip further, and get on top of things before it is too late, the hotel will be wonderful.
Guests have expectations based on what is sold, and for a special occasion these expectations where not met.
Other than the PLR there is nothing in Sahl Hasheesh other than another hotel. Forget the blurb in the Thomson website or brochure. . . . . . . . . it’s one of the best purpose-built resorts along the Red Sea Riviera. Well it might be one day when it’s finished. No piazza or bars, boutiques, souvenir shops and cafes surround the square, and certainly no cinema, and the marina, botanical gardens, water park, “sunken city” and golf courses are still just plans. The palm-lined promenade is just a slightly uneven brick weave road, with no palms, lights between the beach sand and building sites. The probably be within a year or two. The ‘old town’ is not a wandering distance, and is pretty low key not the lively night scene, with restaurants offering food from around the world and plenty of bars to keep you up all hours – that’s Hurghada a 40min drive away. The “fabulous white sandy beach” is not what these words conjure up; its golden course coral sand with lots of rocks and stuff that could be concrete retainer. . . .
We were told beforehand that in this brand new hotel some items would not be available, like the casino, the disco and the Egyptian restaurant, and that the area was remote. But certainly not as barren a location that is still more desert and building site than resort. But according to the hotel management, the hotel still in a “soft” opening phase and having a 80% occupancy of eastern European nationals. Now the EEs really do know how to dress for dinner, putting us brits in the shade, and then they also know how to eat and drink, and how to jump queues and ensure that little food it left except on their plates, which was not a great problem as the food was not that wonderful!! The dress code is generally smart casual, and there are no dress codes, which was surprising especially for the a la carte restaurants.
PLR has real potential to be a 5* a la carte property, but both the hotel and Thomson are not meeting the mark at the moment.
PS - Have tried to post a review on the Thomson site, but no luck after 3 tries!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set in extensive landscaped grounds, this luxury hotel leads you from pool to beach to sea in one beautiful vista. With Premier's unique Ultra All Inclusive standards, you can dine in one of seven different restaurants, enjoy a relaxing drink in numerous bars or swim and play in a choice of pools or on the private beach. Each evening entertainment is offered or spend some quality time in the hotel's spa facilities. This is affordable luxury in a superb Red Sea setting ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Premier Le Reve Hotel And Spa
- Premier Le Reve Hotel Hurghada