Andy Mossack reports back from the Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay on Egypt’s Red Sea coast.
4 pm and the Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay’s well-heeled guests are assembling on its private beach for the resort’s sundowner beach party. Beanbags, a fully stocked bar, a cool DJ and of course, the headline act; yet another glorious sunset over the Red Sea. Some of my fellow guests have dressed up for the occasion, modelling designer resort wear and sunglasses, while others are content to simply stay in swimsuits, enjoying the vibe.
I have to admit I’m completely seduced. The music’s perfect – soft tunes for all tastes – there’s a warm gentle breeze, and I feel we’re like a small-town community, briefly brought together to collectively celebrate Mother Nature bedding down for the night.
Somabay is Egypt’s new and exclusive kid on the block. An idyllic luxury estate of resort hotels and activities taking up a whole peninsula of Egyptian coastline with the Red Sea lapping on all three sides. Built from the bottom up as a high-end holiday destination, there’s a Gary Player-designed championship golf course, a professional diving centre for scuba and snorkelling, world-class wind and kite surfing, and enough sandy beach to satisfy the earnest of sun worshippers.
Perched at the very summit of all this fabulousness is the Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay, an absolute haven of luxury living. 325 guestrooms are horseshoed around a huge complex of pools and bridges, leading out to a private beachfront where guests are suitably pampered with comfy sunbeds, towels and bottled water, each sheltered by an individual windbreaker.
The Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay’s footprint is so impressive it could be a small village. One entrance is discreetly tucked away behind the small commercial centre by Somabay’s Marina (a tidy clutch of retail traders and restaurants) and I only realise I’ve crossed into the Kempinski universe via a sign by a small bridge.
No mistaking the main entrance though. A stunning lobby scented with mango and vanilla is an impressive enough introduction, however, the legendary Lady in Red greeting is the cherry on the cake. These traditional Kempinski guest relations ambassadors are always on hand and easy to spot in their striking red outfits. I’m greeted by George, a male counterpart, his black suit decorated with a blood-red pocket hanky. We enjoy banter and discussing other appropriate outfit accessories. Red bowtie and shoes perhaps? George happily ponders these options while getting me checked in and we rain-check future attire concepts.
My junior suite is a very impressive space housed within the Laguna Club Lounge building. Dominated by a huge bed appropriately attired in regal rouge tones as is the rest of the room. The large corner bay is filled with a rounded velvety banquette and a table laden with delicate Egyptian pastries and fresh fruit. Double doors lead out onto a generous balcony where Somabay’s gentle breeze brings constant respite from the heat of the sun. Back inside, my bathroom space is equally satisfying. A large bath and separate shower room, and twin sinks separated by high-end toiletries.
The Laguna Club Lounge access, (which is offered with Club Room and higher categories), provides a peaceful oasis of calm and five delicious full food services each day together with soft drinks and local alcoholic beverages. There’s a shaded outdoor patio and a private pool. It is the ultimate way to enjoy the best of Kempinski’s world-class hospitality in your own exclusive enclave.
All good then, so a quick change later and I’m exploring the pools and beach. There’s a lazy river winding its way around this enormous water complex, complete with pools, bridges and even a faux beach area for those who can’t muster the energy for the few brief steps over to the real beach. Over here, each small piece of sunbed real estate is protected by its own windbreaker and serviced by an attentive team bringing fresh fruit and water around or a full bar service if needed. There’s also a menu of rentable equipment on offer too, from snorkels to kite and windsurfing and everything else in between.
As is the case with the rest of the hotels along Somabay’s peninsula, the 3km-long promenade runs along the beachfront connecting the marina to the Orca dive centre and the championship golf course beyond. It’s a useful track for joggers and walkers, and there’s a lane for electric bikes which are available for rentals along the route. There’s also a regular free shuttle that runs from end to end too. This is the thing about the Somabay peninsula, everything is compact and accessible.
After a hard day at the beach, I’m more than ready to face the mountainous task of the dinner buffet at The View, Kempinski Soma Bay’s main restaurant. Aptly named I would say, sitting atop the estate with the illuminated water complex stretched out below looking fabulous. A food temple awaiting its flock to climb up and indulge in everything culinary. It is indeed a feast fit for a pharaoh. The breads table dominates the lower floor area, literally covered with far too many varieties to count, while a few steps up, long rows of fresh salads await. And behind all this, multiple food stations manned by white-hatted chefs patiently cooking to order various forms of culinary wizardry.
I take a table outside on the balcony, distant lights twinkle from a ship on the distant horizon, while the night sky puts on a star-studded stellar show.
It is a meal of seismic proportions, seemingly food for every palate and dietary need. And the best bit? I have to go through it all again at breakfast.
Spa worshippers are catered for in the indulgent Thalasso Spa complex over at the Cascades Hotel next door. The biggest spa in the Middle East awaits; sixty-five treatment rooms within a 7,500 square metre facility.
So, back at that beach sundowner party, the sun has begun to dip behind the distant mountains and there’s groups of people in the sea silhouetted against a golden backdrop. The music has taken on a more reverential vibe as we all watch the sun slowly disappear. As the last ray sinks, the mood is gone. Just like that. The show’s over and after a last round of drinks, we all head back to our rooms to change for dinner. But we’ll all be back tomorrow night and do it all over again. Can’t wait.
Images (C) Andy Mossack and Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay.
Tell me more about the Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay
Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay, PO Box 15, Safaga Soma Bay, 84711, Egypt
T+20 106 880 1990/1/2/3 E: Info.Somabay@kempinski.com
From £141 per night for a Double Resort View Room on a Bed & Breakfast basis. Half and full-board packages are available.
easyJet flies a regular service to Hurghada airport which is 30 minutes from Somabay.
Visas to enter Egypt are US$25 available at the airport. Be sure to carry the exact amount in dollars to avoid paying any higher fees in local currency.