I'm a seasoned hotel reviewer by profession and this is my first write-up on Tripadvisor. So fab was our two week holiday at Sharm's newest five-star hotel that I felt compelled to tell you all about it... This is surely a hotel that deserves to be in Sharm's top 5 five-star hotels? I can only assume that not enough people know about it yet.
If arriving at night, don't be put off by the naff electric blue sign at the entrance, because this hotel is pretty special and luxurious inside and out the back, with most rooms boasting a sea view which is unusual for a hotel (I'm privileged to have stayed at a few luxury hotels, for work).
My boyfriend immediately recognised the hotel's polished interiors were based on the design of The Titanic, and we were both blown away by the ocean views from the marble foyer.
Every evening a striking (Ukrainian?) lady pianist serenaded guests in the lobby. We never heard her playing the same song twice, her repertoire was so huge. It was a real treat to sit in the bar and listen to her before or after dinner.
A HOTEL THAT LISTENS...
Our initial room overlooking Naarm Bay was spacious and clean with a spacious balcony, but we were obligingly moved to a corner-facing ocean-view room which we preferred - thanks to the hotel's gracious front of house manager. The way he listened to our needs/comments was impressive and appreciated, and was indicative of the high service levels by staff everywhere at the hotel.
FRIENDLY CONSCIENTIOUS STAFF
An especially big shout out to our charming, conscientious cleaner Mahmoud Zeid (who surprised us daily by making astonishing animal origami with towels) and the terrific smiley waiters at La Terrazza restaurant (e.g. Mahmoud Mohamed and Gamal and the talented chefs who produced an amazingly varied daily buffet feast during our Half Board fortnight stay). We never tired of the endless buffet counters and their exquisite presentation and tasty hot and cold meals.
Worried about hygiene here? Don't be, the hotel is so clean it puts many notable European five-star competitors to shame. However, despite ample usage of antiseptic wipes and hand gels (especially after handling Egyptian money) we did unfortunately get stomach cramps and problems for a few days, but we put this down to one crazily-hot day sightseeing trip to Luxor, and our trips in to Naarma Bay, and not down to the hotel which looked extremely clean as I say.
Strongly recommended to minimise a bad tum (it's kind of impossible to avoid in Egypt. So if you suffer from chronic OCD, you may not find Egypt the most relaxing destination!) :
- Drink plenty of room-temperature bottled (with plastic seal intact) water. Nestle and Schweppes seem to be the most trusted brands sold here.
- Buy intestinal antiseptic and anti-spasm Drotazide capsules from a Sharm pharmacy (don't pay more than £2 GBP a pack)
- Ask for 'real mint tea' at La Terrazza restaurant at breakfast, and eat dry food, e.g. rice, bread and grilled meats with no sauces for a couple of days until better - this worked for us. A friend who lives in Egypt had advised us to dine early at buffet meals, but with the refrigerated presentation units and efficient air-conditioning at the Stella di Mare, we turned up when we were ready, timing it with the excellent entertainment that kicked off at 9pm at the poolside podium. Wonderful nightly singers and dancing by professionals made our holiday feel very special. It was tastefully done and varied daily, from Saidi dance to belly dancing (ironically by a blond Ukrainian, which wasn't particularly 'authentic' but I suppose will have delighted the hotel's Arabic guests).
- Close your mouth when in the shower, and brush your teeth with mineral water only.
- Wash your hands and use hand wipes, particularly after handling Egyptian money.
- Decline ice, particularly when in Naarm Bay. The Stella di Mare assured us that it uses imported mineral water for all food preparation, but we avoided ice and icecream as a cold temperature shock can trigger stomach problems anyway.
PEACEFUL (YET NOT FAR FROM NAARM BAY)
Location: We'd chosen Stella di Mare in part because it is mercifully not on bustling Naarm Bay itself (Naarm is rammed with hotels and tourists), yet is conveniently only five minutes away by taxi/shuttle bus if you want to shop or smoke hubbly bubbly in a bar there as we did a couple of times (a free hotel shuttle is offered four times daily at reasonable times).
Other pros to the hotel? The softest Eygptian cotton sheets I've ever slept in. Astonishingly silky. Also some great snorkeling right at the hotel, thanks to a beautiful stretch of coral reef. I thought i'd hate snorkeling but was actually blown away by the beauty of so many colourful fish and the clarity of the water without even having to leave out hotel!
There was no real "beach" (with waves) to speak of at the Stella di Mare, but this was compensated by an attractive home-made stretch of sand with loungers, and easy-access pontoons. Two swimming pools with shaded loungers and attentive life guards (who spritz you with rose-petal water and served water-melon cubes to cool down!) were a nice touch and added variety.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Down-sides? The strict rule about not bringing in to the hotel your own food and drink - bringing water from outside is prohibited, which is ridiculous given that the hotel charges 20Egyptian pounds for a 1.5L bottle (about £2.50 GBP!) + that tourists have to clean their teeth in the stuff + are advised to each drink at least two bottles a day in the 37+degree heat, we felt the hotel's price markup was a rip-off, but this is apparently standard in five-star hotels in Sharm (to put this in to context, a large bottle of water costs only 3 (£0.35GBP) Egyptian pounds in Naarm supermarkets).
Why not sell it at a more reasonable markup in one of the hotel shops on level 3, at say, 4 or 5 Egyptian pounds a bottle? Guests would still pay that price for the convenience, but not feel robbed if they've already forked out a fortune to stay at the hotel. Or, why not do as one five-star hotel up the road does and give guests a complimentary bottle of water daily? That would be hugely appreciated and show great customer service.
It was also madness, we felt, to prevent access to the pools after 6.30pm by flooding them with chemicals and chlorine so early. An evening swim would have been romantic and fun, but we didn't dare risk a skin-rash! A bit disappointing as the 'beach' areas were also closed off in the evenings, presumably to protect the coral.
Our only other gripe was the inflexibility of going Half Board at this hotel. There are two other fabulous-looking a la Carte restaurants on-site (one serving fine-dining Mediterranean food, the other boasting a romantic position right on the waterfront). Both were woefully empty during our stay, and we both felt we knew why:
Why would Half Board guests (other than those for whom money is no object) pay for an a la carte dinner on top of the £15-25GBP+ they are already paying a day (each) for dinner every day? At the time of writing, Half Boarders are offered a paltry 10% off at these a la carte restaurants + a free bottle of local Egyptian wine, but this still didn't make financial sense for us I'm afraid.
The good news is that a brand new efficient Belgian Food & Beverage director joined the hotel in our second week. Hopefully he will flex up the rules and allow Half Boarders to pay a supplement at these a la carte restaurants. As much as we were curious about the other restaurants' offering, luckily we were perfectly content to dine at La Terrazza for the whole two weeks, as the food there was varied, beautifully presented and served by charming and efficient staff. But in an ideal world we'd have loved to pay a supplement to dine elsewhere in the hotel a couple of times.
The Stella di Mare was blissfully quiet during our entire stay (if you don't count the annoying beeping from the security systems fitted on all bedroom doors). Except for a smattering of British couples, Arabic families and a plethora of Russians, we virtually had the place to ourselves, or so it felt!
But I have no doubt that business will pick up for this fine hotel once word catches on. This is a real hidden find for couples and families alike, and despite the minor teething problems mentioned above, we will not hesitate in recommending it to anyone wanting a memorable sunny holiday away from the madding crowds. I actually shed a tear as I was leaving!
A final shout out to Emma-Jane, our brill Sharm rep from First Choice, who was a hard-working superstar and helpful sweetie. Always approachable and on-hand at 10am to help us with any niggles, nothing was too much trouble: Thank you - there's no doubt you helped make our holiday a special one.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This luxurious 5-star full resort is located nearest to Naama Bay. Gourmet dining, expert diving lessons, and evening entertainment, all with stunning views of the Red Sea. The rooms at Stella di Mare Beach Hotel and Spa feature a contemporary design, and are fully modern with flat screen TVs. Each room includes a private balcony or terrace. Stella di Mare has a state-of-the-art PADI diving center and training facilities on-site. A lavish 600 square meter spa and Wellness Center offers guests full relaxation. Saunas, steam baths, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi are available. Guests can swim in the Stella di Mare's grand outdoor pool, with panoramic views of the surrounding area. The Stella's acclaimed a la carte restaurants offer a variety of dishes from Mediterranean cuisine to Sushi, all prepared by a team of highly-trained international chefs. We also offer guests the chance to play golf on our fantastic short course. Guest's can play whilst enjoying spectacular views of the clear blue sea and can also benefit from our professional golf instructor. The Stella di Mare Beach Hotel and Spa also provides its own evening entertainment program, featuring local Egyptian belly-dancers and international singers nightly. The Resort is located just 10 km from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport. Free parking is available on-site. Hotel Rooms: 298. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Stella Di Mare Beach Hotel Sharm El Sheikh
- Stella Di Mare Beach Hotel And Spa