More about Continental Garden Reef Resort
Not an Intercontinental!
My girlfriend and I both appreciate the quality reputation of Intercontinental Hotels, and for this reason when we were planning our Easter vacation to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt we allowed our travel agent to book us at the "Intercontinental Garden Reef Resort" there.
Our travel agency booked the reservation through an Egyptian travel agency, unaware that the Intercontinental property in Sharm had been sold to an Egyptian company a few weeks before our trip. My girlfriend and I both checked the Intercontinental website during the first week of April to find information about the Sharm property. The "Intercontinental Garden Reef Resort" was listed on the Intercontinental website as an Intercontinental property during the few days prior to our departure. The website carried pictures of the Resort and other information that we found reassuring. We were looking forward to our stay in a top-quality, Intercontinental property.
Imagine our surprise when, arriving in Sharm el-Sheikh at 2AM, we were greeted at the airport by a driver from the hotel wearing a shirt with a logo stating "Continental Sharm el-Sheikh." The driver could not explain the discrepancy in names, and took us to a bus marked "Continental" for the transfer to the hotel. We arrived at the Resort and found that the "Inter" had been removed from all of the hotel's signage. At the reception, we asked what was going on and were informed that Intercontinental Hotels had sold the property. Since it was now almost 3AM, and there was nothing we could do in the middle of the night to reconsider our choice of hotels, we reluctantly checked in.
Immediately, we noticed that the hotel's standards had dropped. The staff were poorly-trained, poorly-groomed, unfriendly, and did not speak English well. The room furnishings and amenities were of poor quality -- local products, not international brands. The breakfast buffet had no international-standard food, just local dishes. This was clearly no hotel for international travelers, and it was far below the standard we expect from Intercontinental. (As if to tease us, there were still some staff dressed in Intercontinental logos, and other items such as the key cards and napkins still said Intercontinental.) Our efforts to change hotels were unsuccessful because of the tourist rush in Sharm el-Sheikh over the Easter weekend, and we had no choice but to stay at what should be considered at most a 3-star hotel. For us, the Intercontinental Resort was the destination and purpose of our trip, and this letdown ruined that vacation for us.
I complained to Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts about the fact they had continued to list this property as an Intercon even after it was sold to an Egyptian company that allowed the standards to drop. (Intercontinental has now removed the property from its website.) They gave me 7,500 Priority Club points in compensation.
Paradise in Sinai
I had a great time at the InterContinental Garden reef resort. Absolutely beautiful hotel. Staff was very sweet and fun. Sea was magical. Great vacation.
Hotel Is beautiful with stunning entrance and lobby overlooking the red sea. In the background the majestic Sinai mountains. Grounds are amazing with date palms, climbing bougainvillea.There are two large pools. Rooms are nice and clean and simply decorated.
Food was excellent. All very fresh and tasty, but if you do not like arabic food or fish it would not be ideal for you. All inclusive buffet was also excellent. The best restaurant in the hotel is El Harmin. Excellent lebanese food.Be careful with what you eat, because of the intense heat and salty sea, it is so easy to get sick. Do not eat lettuce and be very picky with meat. Also brush your teeth only with bottled water.
Snorkeling is like a dream. Water is very clear and you can see hundreds of colorful amazing fish and coral. Just in front of the hotel is amazing coral reef. The water has high salinity about 40 percent *content of salt and temperature never drops down below 20 Celsius. It is an unreal beautiful world.
In august the outside temperature is a bit too much, unless you enjoy the thermometer above 40 celsius all day. August is the hottest month. The air conditioning was more then sufficient in the room.
Egyptian people are extremely sweet. It is a very different culture so you just have to be more respectful. Even having said that, I have to mention for Americans it might be little more tense then for europeans. As I have witnessed smiles fade after people said they come from United States.
You will get hassled at the markets, but not bad. You can get some amazing deals on egyptian cotton, scented oils and decorative items. Everything is quite inexpensive even at the hotel with the exception of alcohol. Most of the tourists in Sharm come from Italy and Russia. Taxi: you have to set a price before you go. Sharm does have a Las Vegas feel to it, simply because it is all newly built for tourists.
The Health club at the hotel would be my only complaint. Even though very inexpensive.
I purchased a package of four 1 hour massages for 85 euros, but was hassled constantly about how many massages I had left. The person at the desk was even trying to tell me that I had a problem with my back and that I needed to get more massages, even though I know he did not talk to my masseuse prior. It was run like a street market at old sharm. Not a pleasant experience for a health spa. I hope they sort that out soon.
This hotel was a great place to relax and have fun. There are plenty of things to do for a week or two.
Not as bad as recent reviews
We had allready booked before christmas for this hotel and where a little concerned as to the recent reports. However we found this hotel on our weeks bed and breakefast stay to be compraible with anything we have had before. The hotel is quite large in both accomadation and facilites, and although we agree that in maintaince of pools, roads, paths, etc. it lacked the pristine care of other hotels we have been in this did not ditract from our enjoyment of the complex as a whole. Quality of food was average, although breakfast was uninspiring but edible. We had room service sometimes and where pleasently surprised.
I myself dive and was overjoyed to find the dive centre franchised to the hotel offered shore dives throuought the middle garden reef. The group is the Nautilus chain, main branch Dominica, where we sailed from for 1 days boat diving package to tiran isles. I must mention the friendliness and accomidation of the dive staff in this hotel, who made my 1 hour forays into the middle garden so easy and enjoyable. All my kit was cleaned,dried,stored and laid out for use at every dive event and the prices where what i consider reasonable. I only paid for my complete 1 weeks diving package on the next to the last day. Wonderfull, many thanks to Diego and all his staff.
The quaility of room care may have been a little lax, sometimes dusty, mini bar replacement slow, safe malfunction 1 day wait for replacement eprom board, but these where minor niggles rather than dissapointments.
We eat in the el Hambra restraunt and the beach restraunt and the lagoona and did not find anything to complain about. But I would say because of the ease to get into Naama from this hotel, we made the right choice of meal plan.
On our last day we noticed that all names on signs and buses had the INTER painted out to reflect the new title CONTINENTAL. Whether this hotel is in the process of changing its ownership as other posts seem to suggest we are not sure about and I cannot see this hotel now listed on INTERCONTINETAL worldweb site. But I can honestly say that we found our enjoyment of a weeks chilling break not hampered by any of these changes and as usual the honesty and the courtisy shown by the eygiptian staff to us ( unlike the russians) to be first class and I would have no resevaations about using this hotel again. Divin on MT
We had a wonderful honeymoon here from the 8th June 2006 for two weeks.
The weather was lovely every day and the hotel and staff -definately 5*!
The hotel is very impressive with a lovely entrance area set around a courtyard before going into the large lobby. Excellent security with all vehicles being checked before going up the drive. The hotel is like a little village all the rooms are spread out from the main lobby and well lit at night. Set in lovely gardens with a stream going down the centre of the gardens from the top pool. There are elevators from the lobby to the top pool and more elevators outside to take you down to the horizon pool.
We had a sea view room and the room was furnished to a high standard with excellent room service daily. The fruit bowl on arrival was a nice surprice and the bringing of gifts to our room such as happy wedding cake was a lovely gesture. Excellent laundry service clothes picked up as soon as you ring them and delivered a couple of hours later.
We were b+b board. We dined in all the restaurants the food was lovely and the lobster from on the rocks restaurant highly recommended. Even if you want something thats not on that restaurants menu the staff will bring it to you from one of the other restaurants. Reasonably priced for food and drinks. Mini bar in room same price as the bar, and restocked regularly.
We would definately recommend having a massage in the beach hut, it was really relaxing and would have one every day.
The health club at the top pool was well equiped even going into the bathrooms there was a surprise with a hot tub and jazucci in them!
The hotel was not busy and we spent most of the time at the top pool and we had the whole pool and jazucci to ourselves everyday for two weeks. Most of the guests stayed at the horizon pool were there was pool activities by the animation team daily. There were plenty of sun loungers and parasols at both pools and at the beach. Towels were provided at all the locations by giving in your towel card.
Swim up beach bar at the pool was lovely in the mid day sun.
We went on the two day trip by plane to Cairo, we stayed in the le meridien pyramids 5* it was a nice hotel but we definately preferred intercontinental. We went with longwood holidays and were the only people on the trip with them to Cairo, we had a brillent tour guide called Ashref he really made the trip for us. It was great doing our own thing on the trip as there was no others with us.
Going into Namma bay was easy as the free shuttle bus goes once in the day and several times in the evening. We always just booked on about an hour before it was leaving and had no problem getting a seat on it. There was always seats on the return journey from Namma also. We used the limo service from the hotel any other time it was a bit more expensive than a regular taxi but well worth it as its a nice air conditioned comfortable car.
We went to the el salamlek bar in the lobby every night it was well air conditioned and a singer there most nights. Evening entertainment in the other restaurants was from musicians and dancers.
The staff in the hotel were excellent and made our honeymoon special. They even rang us when we landed in manchester to make sure we had a safe journey and still ring us for a chat and we will definately be back to see them soon.
Resort was lovely and relaxing
We booked this holiday at very last minute (5 days before we left) through a diving travel agency. This resort had everything we wanted; 5 star, large enough resort to have a good walk around, house reef, choice of pools with a dive center attached to the resort. We had been to Sharm El Sheikh before and wanted to stay on the resort. We were not that bothered going to the town again. The resort has a few good restaurants to choose from. The only thing is, the Mexican restaurant was closed. We assumed that was because it was off season. We mostly went to the outdoor one.
The resort has a PADI dive centre, Diamond Diving. We were hoping for more info on this diving centre before we left but, found none. We were pleasantly suprised to find that the day we arrived, we were able to book a whole weeks worth of diving. They have thier own house reef (Middle Garden). The whole diving experience was lovely. We had a choice each day to either dive there at middle garden or go on a boat dive. Very relaxing and the staff helped with taking the tanks to the jetty, which was a relief as I can't walk anywhere with that tank on my back. Our dive guide, "Speedie" catered to our diving needs. He didn't rush us and that made it more enjoyable. We would definitly go back and stay at the resort.
Are they afraid of silence and quiet?
Excellent setting (with great house reef), above average staff (really mostly great!), but... if you are looking for a quiet laidback holiday resort, this is not the place. Animation and music (outdoors) goes on until midnight or 1 am. If you like to sleep with open windows, you'll stay awake if your room is in the 'wrong' section. For a diver who needs to get up at 6.30 am this is not really great. Reception people though were very helpful to find me a different room (which turned out to be much quieter!). Also during the day, nowhere on the beach was there a really quiet music-free spot (either coming from the seaside bar-restaurant or one of the pools...). And then this muzak-music everywhere, in the restaurant, on the outdoor terrace... It drove me crazy! One should at least have the choice to go for the action or choose peaceful relaxing rest...
Very disappointing, except for great dive centre
We stayed here for a week in a deluxe beachfront room, as we had enough reward night points to stay for free for one week. We had previously stayed at the Four Seasons in Sharm, so weren't expecting that kind of luxury, but definitely expected better from the Interncontinental. I really cannot understand how previous reviewers have rated it 5 stars.
My main gripe was the total lack of peace and quiet which made it impossible to relax and unwind, and the food, which was truly awful. Seeing as these are two major enjoyments on holiday, it made the experience quite unpleasant at times.
First the issue of peace and quiet. Isn't the whole point of going on holiday to get some peace and relaxation? With a hotel like the Intercontinental which is a world reknowned brand of around 4 star plus, I had expected at least for the poolside area to be of a good standard, and to be relaxing. Not so. On my first morning, I wandered to the pool side, book in hand, to hear very loud dance music at 10.30am. This goes on all day every day until 5pm with pool activities. It is very noisy and completely impossible to relax. On going to the beach, we found more music. There is another pool in the resort which is thankfully quiet and was a saving grace, but it's set back from the seafront (no ocean view) and is a little bleak looking. Generally the pool areas are okay but looking tired and in need of refurbishing a bit. The white plastic loungers weren't great, and the mats that went on them were pretty scraggy. That said, it was possible to relax on at the alternative pool and the best option.
On the first night we arrived, we had dinner in their "fine dining" lebanese restaurant. I should have realised what a treat we were in for (not!) when the menu offered "beef with herpes" instead of "beef with herbs" - I kid you not!! This was truly one of the worst meals I have ever had, in fact, I took one or two mouthfuls and had to fill up on bread rolls (a common theme throughout the week!). I eat fish but not meat, however, generally I am not a fussy eater but finding anything worth eating across the 3 restaurants was very difficult. The next night we decided the try the buffet at the Olive Tree restaurant in the hope that we could see the food first and mind find something nice. Another major disappointment. The food was tastless, dry, hardly any variety. The only thing available to me was dry tastless fish goujons or salad. I have stayed in numerous hotels in the world from 5 star+ luxury to basic bungalows, but the food here was some of the most disappointing I've experienced in terms of standard and variety. I really did not expect this from the Intercontinental. I ended up having spagetti with tomato sauce (another staple I came to rely on in the week!). It was rather tasteless and again, ruined another dinner. The next morning for breakfast I went alone as my husband went diving. On arriving at 10.15, a lot of food was packed away (although breakfast supposed to be on until 10.30am). I took a piece of toast and a bowl of bircher muesli, the latter didn't taste nice at all, so I went back for more toast. By the time I got back to my table, everything had been cleared away, despite the fact I had left my bag and book there, my tea and orange juice unfininshed. So I had nothing to put on my toast, and no more drinks. By this point, I really had had enough of the food situation there and really wanted to just check out of the hotel altogether. But instead, I relied on eating pasta and the greek salad at the beachfront restaurant was nice. We also frequented the Hyatt's restaurants next door (a short 5 minute walk across a connecting bridge) - here we experienced lovely dinners, where you could also buy Western wine at around £26 a bottle, which is very reasonable for Sharm. At the IC, they sell no western wines, so it was a relief to find some nice food and wine at last. The Thai restaurant is particularly good at the Hyatt but you have to call ahead to book.
The one excellent thing about this hotel is the dive centre and Speed the fantastic dive master who couldn't do enough to help us. He arranged a couple of days out on lovely big boats which had loads of space, unlike many of the other operator's boats which appeared packed. He really looked after us and the diving was also pretty reasonably priced for such a personal service. The only downside was we had to pay cash as they do not take credit cards and you cannot charge to your room.
Our room was also quite nice and had a great sea view, but I would not have wanted to stay in some of the standard rooms that we saw.
In a nutshell, I wouldn't go back, and it would make me realy consider whether I would use Intercontinental again. I'm surprised someone from their global head office doesn't make a visit to see how they are running the place.
If you are used to staying at 4 or 5 star accommodation, and enjoying relaxing holidays with good food, you will be sorely disappointed with this place.
Intercontinental Garden Reef Resort
Am going with my family to Sharm later in the year and would like to know if anyone has stayed at this hotel. Specifically can you snorkel/swim straight off the beach or is there a pier or causeway like at other hotels. I stayed at Radisson in March and it was wonderful but was slightly disappointed that I could not swim straight off the beach but had to walk to the end of the pier in order to get in the sea.
Any advice gratefully received
Re: Intercontinental Garden Reef Resort
The whole shore in Sharm is like that - there is no any exeption. At some hotels there is a tiny strip of sand where children could swim, but depth is only 0,4..0,6 m - so it is hard to swim for adults. It is very dangerous to walk further.
As I've heard Garden Reef Resort has only piers ( I am not shure). At my hotel (El Faraana Club) there were no piers - and that was bad: one need to swim (better to say crawl) carefuly to the deep place.
But for children it was great.
Re: Re: Intercontinental Garden Reef Resort
Yes, I've checked at hotels.egyptclub.ru (sorry, in RUssian ;)) - Intercontinental have only piers - no other way to swim.