IT is the unique epic quality of Egypt which draws in the tourists every year.
Having explored — I like to think, Indiana Jones style — the temples of Luxor, the pyramids of Cairo, the Valley of the Kings and having travelled to Abu Simbel, a symbol of this country’s rich and fascinating heritage, there was only Sinai left to explore.
Yet Sharm El Sheik, a modern beach resort in this biblical and mystical land, which until having been, I did not find appealing.
But the charm of Egypt is very much evident throughout Sharm, the Red Sea, the desert and the mountain ranges of Mount Sinai and even reflected in the size of the hotel complex.
Staying at the luxurious five diamond rated Royal Savoy, part of the Savoy Sharm el Sheikh, it quickly became apparent that this was more than just a hotel resort for those who want to chill out and enjoy the year-round sunshine.
Though if that is all you want to do, the resort lends itself perfectly to that — sunbathe at poolside, head to the beach or indulge in the on site pampering facilities.
The Royal Savoy, with its four poster bedroom, beautiful views and jacuzzi, is the perfect romantic break for those who do not wish to lift a finger.
But it is also the ideal base to combine adventure with romance and luxury.
Large family rooms in the main Savoy mean children are more than welcome.
Villas are also available with private pools.
And that’s the beauty of Sharm, it’s a place to escape and still absorb the wonder and mysticism of this country.
It provides a base to explore — including diving in the Red Sea and even novices do not miss out.
Billed as one of the best diving resorts, visitors can travel to Ras Mohamed National Park to snorkel or dive. Quad biking in the protected mountain range of St Catherine’s is a modern way to explore this biblical land, camel riding is a slower and traditional way of exploring the desert. Egyptian hospitality can be enjoyed en route by enjoying sweet tea in a traditional Bedouin camp.
Although I did not get a chance to see Mount Sinai or visit St Catherine’s Monastery during my four day stay the party’s Cosmos rep said it was possible to do from Sharm and worth seeing.
Other parts of the country can be explored from the base together with Petra in Jordan and Israel.
A quick walk or a buggy ride away is Soho Square, where holidaymakers can party until the earlier hours.
Chill out in the Ice Bar, rejuvenate at the Oxygen bar or eat at one of the many restaurants, ranging from Chinese to Indian.
That is of course if the restaurants in the hotel complex have been exhausted, from Italian, to Hot Rocks, where you can choose and cook the meat to your taste, while watching belly dancing.
The area, a protected UN Zone, with lack of Government buildings means it has escaped the recent political turmoil in Egypt — and I certainly felt far removed from, and had no worries about, the political situation.
FACTFILE ■ The four day stay was booked through Cosmos Holiday. Prices for a seven night stay at the five star Savoy Hotel Sharm El Sheikh are from £615 per person from Manchester.
■ Prices include return Monarch Flights, transfers and seven nights bed and breakfast accommodation.
■ To make a reservation ring Cosmos Holidays on 0844 573 4261 or visit cosmos.co.uk.
■ Monarch operates year-round flights to Sharm el Sheikh from Gatwick and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from just £248 per person return. For further information or to book Monarch Flights visit monarch.co.uk ■ Information on the Sheikh Coast Diving Centre and the activities it organises can be found on sheikhcoast.net ■ Information on the Royal Savoy can be found on savoysharm.
com and nearby Soho Square on sohosharm.