Taba Heights on The Gulf of Aqaba
A truly self contained hotel with its own beach and casino. The accomodation is beautifully maintained and well laid out. Everything about this place is great. In particular though the staff and people associated with the hotel are truly welcoming.
An honest review of he Sofitel and Taba Heights.
We (23&31year old)went on holiday to Taba Heights in the first week of November. We had a brilliant holiday, met lots of nice people and enjoyed the great weather. We chose this destination based on the reports of good weather and value for money, compared to the canaries for example. Heres our very honest review.......
Egypt, especially Taba is great value for money compared to other short haul destinations, we paid £320 pp for 7 nights 5* HB accomodation flying from Manchester. Food and drink is fairly cheap, however bottled beer and spirits are expensive, around £3.50 for a stella and £3.50 for a shot, without mixer! The Sofitel do a happy hour, from 17:30 unitl 19:30 where you BOGOF, so have a few drinks before your meal. We spent about £150 between us in the week this included a good lunch in the pool bar everyday and all drinks we had in the day and in the evenings in the bar.
The weather in November is excellent, i think it was 25+degrees most days. It is very comfortable and pleasant to relax in as well as playing volleyball in or walking etc. It is very breezy as the hotel is on the sea front, however this is very nice and cooling midday. We got great tans because of the wind factor!
*HOTEL & FOOD
The hotel itself is modern Egyptian decor and very pleasant. The rooms are lovely and clean and have everything you need. They do have hair dryers but if your hair takes long to dry like mine your best taking your own!
There are great facilities in the complex. We used the gym most days which was free, air conditioned and good equipment. The outdoor tennis courts are free too until 7pm so its worth taking your rackets if your keen. The unheated pool was freezing, and the heated one wasnt too warm either, how ever the weather is very pleasant so no great need to cool off in the pool.
The food however is somewhat different. There were numerous complaints made to the manager about the quality of the food. Breakfast on the whole was fine and no complaints, there was a large selection of cooked breakfasts, cereals, breads, pasteries, meats, fruit etc. The evening meal caused the complaints. The salad bar, breads, soups etc were fine. However meat dishes, vegetables, rice etc were barely luke warm and not of the best quality. We didnt complain as we always found something we liked to eat, or just and picked through the dodgy chicken and bones! But just take some immodium for safety! The desserts were absolutely gorgeous though so make sure you save a space to indulge!
Some of the staff are lovely, mainly the entertainment team and housekeeping staff, however the majority of the food and beverage staff including chefs were arrogant and completely incompetent!
Taba Heights is basically consists of 4 hotels along the sea front and not much else so dont expect much to do. There are plenty of trips to choose from from your rep though.
All in all we had a brilliant and relaxing holiday. We got great value for money, even though the food wasnt 5* it was appetising enough. We wouldnt go back to Taba in the near future as there isnt much to do and we plan to visit different countrys. There are plans for extensive developments in the area, including golf courses, shoppong complex, bars, clubs, more hotels, so maybe in a few years time we would revisit.
5 star, what a joke!
Having read reviews of hotels on the Red Sea we were not naive enough to think the hotel would deliver 5* service to the standard of most Eurpoean countries. We were not disappointed!
Having arrived at the Sofitel at approximately 22:30 we left our cases with the hotel's "porter" at their insistence, three phonecalls and two hours later, they were delivered to our room by a receptionist. By now it was 00:30 This was the start of the "5 star service"! Once we started unpacking, we realised the eight coat hangers were not going to be enough, we made do with the eight for the rest of the week!
Whilst awaiting delivery of our luggage, we ordered room service (One Club Sandwich with some fries). In any other 5 star hotel we have stayed in this would normally take at most, no more than 20 minutes to arrive. Two phonecalls and 1 hour later our order arrived.
Now to the "Restaurant". Many years ago, when the budget was a lot tighter, we stayed in some very low-end hotels, this restaurant couldn't even match those. It was disorganised, dirty, the staff were incompetent and the food questionable.
The starting point of a meal was to find a clean table that had the requisite setting to enable you to eat a meal without the use of your hands. Once you had secured a table with or without the necessary implements to eat and drink (this often meant one of us helping ourselves to cutlery, glasses and or cups from the waiting station whilst being watched by the waiters) it was time to order drinks.
Acquiring some tea or coffee at breakfast or ordering a drink was challenging. Your holiday may end before you get any service, and this is no exaggeration. On average, you will wait at least 15 minutes before being acknowledged by a waiter even though you may attract their attention.
The food was luke warm, plates were cold, there were often no descriptions of what dishes were and many of the food "warmers" were never restocked once empty.
Also very impressive, was the fact that the waiting staff, would setup trays to clear tables throughout the restaurant. On a number of occasions we had to ask them to move the festering piles of waste food they had scraped into mounds, out of our line of sight. This was usually greeted with a look of absolute indifference. Don't know about you but our idea of eating a meal doesn't involve looking at piles of someone elses waste food. There were adequate waiting stations throughout the restaurant, but these were unused.
We didn't go to the Sofitel, Taba Heights expecting 5 star service, but we did expect reasonable 4 star service. As you can tell, this was not the case.
The holiday's only saving grace was the weather. If you want a stress-free holiday then avoid this hotel at all costs.
Rest and relax
If it.s a restful holiday and you want and to chill out then there is no where better than the Sofitel Hotel in Taba Heights. The hotel is set right on the beach and all rooms are sea facing. The staff are always helpful and courteous and it is perfect for a relaxing holiday, especially this time of the year waking up to sunshine every morning.
One piece of advice though - Do not book what is advertised as a 'junior suite'. Although there is a bath and tea making facilities the room is only slightly larger. The biggest disadvantage though is that the balcony is shared with the room next door! There is no partition betweem the two balconies and absolutely no privacy!It is also situated at the very end of the hotel a long way from the pool and the dining room. We did have a plate of fruit and a bottle of water delivered to our room every day but we could have bought an awful lot of water and fruit for the extra £16 per person per night that we paid!
We had a fantastic week at the Sofitel. The hotel is superb and the rooms amazing. Surely the best in Taba Heights. Food was excellent although the buffet could have been a little more imaginative. It seemed to be the same each day -however we could not fault the food or the way it was cooked and presented.
We liked the pool area and the hotel did heat one of the pools which were quite cold otherwise.
Rooms were kept spotless and the room boy was very discrete. In fact we only saw him when we checked out and gave him his well deserved tip. The bar and restaurant staff were lovely - so friendly and you must ask them to show you their bar teaser tricks with tooth picks and cocktail sticks.
The dive centre was fine although if you are an experienced diver like me, you will find the diving a little tame. However, the guides did buddy me with the most experienced diver in the group each day and gave us freedom to do our own dive which was nice.
Given what we paid and the weather out there and the quality of the hotel and staff you would be hard pressed to find better value for money anywhere.
"Plonker in toilet drama at Gatwick"
Last minute holidays dont come quicker than this. Booked Thursday, flying high Friday morning. Well, eventually, after a routine holiday drama at Gatwick Airport, when some dozy twonk decided to light up in the toilets under the smoke detecters. Thus resulting in the evacuation of South Terminal Departure Lounge. Should the responsible party be reading this now, I was not amused.
After the trauma getting through the queues at Security and running through the Departure Lounge to what seemed like Gate 187, we arrived on the plane, gasping for air, sweating like pigs, with 8 minutes to take off.
Taba Airport is tiny and run by the military, and contrary to popular belief, we didnt pay for a visa to Taba, it was free.
"Cocktails, Mocktails & Fish"
Taba Heights is a quiet resort, unlike Sharm which Ive heard is the Benidorm of Egypt. I have not been so can not pass judgement, but I wanted a relaxing escape with plenty to do within a week, which is what I got. On the agenda was of course, Petra, which has been on my ticklist for a number of years. Throw a bit of snorkelling, quad biking, pina coladas to boot, and bob's your uncle. Except he wasnt of course, he was a bloke we met on the plane, who along with his missus shared my love of cocktail lists...
If you ever want a week of bumming in the sun, this is the place !!! No clouds for a week, just sun and the sea !! There is nothing around the hotel no bars, resturants just a hotel next door. So for anyone that needs a week of nothingness to chill this is the place to be. Oh and if you like diving its meant to be good for that too !!
"Taba and the Sinai."
What can i say. Amazing. The people, the hotels, the scenery, this place has it all. It's lovely to go somewhere with loads of people and shops and loads to do and see, but this was just perfect, not busy or an out and about destination but enough of the essentials that you need to make it a fabulous holiday. When you arrive in Taba heights, you are cut off from most other communities. I've not been into the main parts of Taba (apart from on transfer) but all you need is in your resort. You arrive at the airport, get off the plane and think wow it's chilly. I started thinking have they taken us to the correct destination. Nobody explained that you are up in the mountains and when you get off the plane you're so many thousand feet above sea level. You get on your coach and have a police escort to your resort. Setting off into the night you pass through huge mountains either side of the roads. Winding down for about a twenty minute journey you arrive at some gates, like you're going into a military camp or something. A soldier gets on board and checks everybody's passports. He is friendly though and approachable, reassuring everyone not to be alarmed as they are here for your safety. Once through the gates you arrive at the hotel. In Taba heights there are 5 hotels but were 4 when i went. Each of them are massive and not all high rise but spread out like little villages. The landscape is open desert with a spectacular backdrop of mountains and steep hills rolling down to the gulf of Aqaba, tail end of the red sea. Looking from any of the hotels or the beach you can clearly see the landscape of Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia on the other side of the sea, clearly enough to see the cars moving on the other side. The beaches are lovely and sandy but in places do get a bit rocky. The red sea itself is gorgeous, clear and full of coral reefs just a 20 meter walk in from the shore and in about 4 feet depth of water so non swimmers can be amazed by the sites of the wonderfull marine life on offer. Picture yourself swimming around in finding nemo and that's about what you can expect in colours and varieties of fish, from little to large and rays, sharks, dogfish, sea snakes, barracuda, turtles and so on. Don't let it worry you, most of the fish you'll come accross will keep their distance. There are dangers of course, as in any marine life but you can buy books on what to look out for or the locals will tell you. I went, i'm fine and considering that along with the great barrier reef in Australia and parts of the Caribbean this is the best and most popular dive and snorkelling site in the world, you must see it for youself.
"Hotels in Taba heights, and things to do."
I stayed at the El Wekala three corners resort, 4 star. The hotel is set out like a village with lots of different Egyptian type villas scattered around the gardens which go on for miles. On entry to the hotel you notice everything is immaculate and clean. The staff are the friendliest bunch of people i've ever met and give you the best possible welcome and service you could ask for. A man takes your cases to the reception and once your room is sorted takes them to it for you. The standard room we had was spacious and comfy with bath and shower, kingsize bed and balcony big enough for 10 people to sit on. The air con. was also very good and you could enjoy the fact that it did actually manage to cool the room down as many don't seem to work very well. The restaurants there were nice. You had the main room where you had the all inclusive choice, which had pretty much something for everyone, from burgers and nuggets to traditional Egyptian salads and meats. There was also the al a carte. which you had to book and pay extra for but it was well worth it and gave you something different to try. Also in the hotel was a host of boutiques, stools and shops. There was anything from kodak photos development shop to off license, to supermarket, to souvenirs, to fragrance etc. Next door there was an Indian/tandoori pub, which the food was beautiful and also had a big screen for the football. Back in the hotel the pool was also amazing. Huge, clean, and plenty of space round the pool so you could always find space and sun loungers always available, free and with free towels that they issue you to save having to bring down your own. There was three bars and all of them were manned by the best and friendliest staff you'll ever meet. Cocktails available on the all inc. and a nice draught lager, i was in heaven. At the beach, 5 mins away on the free shuttle bus which runs every half hour you'll have your own private stretch of beach and beach bar serving food and drink all day. Other hotels in Taba heights are the sofitel, marriott, hyatt regency and the new one which i can't remember the name. All these hotels are 5 star and magnificent looking buildings. Taba heights is a paradise in the middle of the desert where guests from each hotel are encouraged to visit and use the ammenities of the neighbouring hotels, which adds to the options of your dining whilst on holiday. Not to forget the championship golf course that stretches down the hill from the three corners to near the beach. Although Taba heights is a quiet and relaxing destination, if you love the sea there's plenty to do. There's the snorkelling and scuba diving with a PADI dive site and school at the beach and a full watersports programme further down the beach with red sea waterworld. Here you can do banana boats, jet ski's, para gliding and more. You can go quad biking out into the desert, through the mountains of the Sinai desert. You can book excursions to Cairo to see the pyramids by coach or plane and go and see the burning bush and lost city of Petra. You can also book to go and see the dead sea, the strangest of seas where the salt content in the water is so high you'll float, but can't stay in it for long without doing your skin damage. All in all there's plenty to do in and around Taba.
"Sealife, sand life and the locals."
Whilst down at the beach it's a good idea to get some light reading done on the safest ways to enjoy yourself. You'll be able to pick up a little souvenir book for a few quid and identify the fish you'll see. Most of the fish that you'll see will be harmless and it seems the bigger ones are the wimpy ones and the small more daring. The first suggestion for safety would be get some beach/swim trainers. You can buy these there for around a fiver. In some places it can be very rocky going into the sea but once past the rocky bits there's beautiful sand. One tip would be go along the beach until you can see where the locals have cleared a walk way into the reefs, the bit of beach owned by sofitel is the best. You can also walk down past hyatt regency and there's a jetty where even if you don't want to get wet you can see the fish below you. When in the water you'll see so many different types of fish but you have to be aware of the dangers. On the coral itself you can get small stings but not too severe. To avoid this simply don't touch anything red. Another tip for the red sea which helps you avoid an unwanted sting is don't touch any coral. As soon as you touch it it dies, and it's local law that you aren't allowed to walk on it or pick any up. If caught removing anything from the beach or trying to get shells, bits of coral or any local jewellry back out of the country you'll be fined up to £2,000. It sounds harsh but a large piece of coral can take hundreds of years to form and in an instant could be destroyed, so you can understand why the Egyptians are so proud of the main reason they get tourism and want to protect it as without the money they would struggle much more than they already do. Other dangers are lionfish, you'll see these in al books. They are pretty looking fish but have venom spines in their dorsal fins and can give a nasty sting. If you see a lionfish just keep your distance and you should be fine. They're very distinctive so don't think you won't be able to tell them from other fish. Sharks and barracuda will be in the deeper waters and unless scuba diving, you probably won't see them. Turtles are common in the red sea, although i didn't see any in this region. The red sea is the saltiest and warmest sea in the world and home to the largest amount of different species of fish. Sea snakes can sometimes be spotted. As with any snakes in foreign countries, these can be very dangerous so if spotted back off and let them be. I spotted one off the beach in Taba heights, about 5-6 feet, quite thin and a beige and black striped colour/pattern. To this day i still don't know what type of snake it was. Dolphins are supposed to be common in the deeper waters but again, i didn't see any. Out of the sea there's not alot of movement or life as it's simply too hot. We went to Taba in may and the temp. reached 43 degrees in the sun, about 39 in the shade, and was about 27 degrees at night. In august temps can rise to about 47-50 degrees by day, 35 degrees at night. The locals who worked in and around the hotels were fantastic people, very friendly and great fun. The locals on the roadside can be letchy. Also the shop owners can be pushy and will try to get you in their shops. If you're not interested just politely say no thank you or la shukkran( no thanks ) they should leave you alone. Remember, they are just trying to make a living. The Egyptian lads working in the hotels. These lads work about 14-15 hours per day in the blistering heat 7 days per week for a month to 6 weeks then have a week or 2 weeks off to go and stay with their families. Usually they travelling to Cairo, about a 6-8 hour drive or Luxor and Aswan which are even further. They earn a mere 350 Egyptian pounds a month, £35-00 and rely heavily on tips. They do all this hard work, not knowing if they're to make enough money to provide for them and their families, but still work all those hours in the scorching sun with a smile on their faces and provide service like you'd only find elsewhere on a cruise ship.
Sofitel Taba Heights opinions please
I have booked for my girlfriend and I to stay at the Sofitel Taba Heights next week 16th June 05 for a week and wondered if anyone had stayed there before because I cant see much info about it. I understand the Hyatt and the Marriot are close by, can I pay for drinks in the bars in the evenings with a credit card ?
Are there any shops close by where I can buy Cold drinks/Water snaks that we can take to our room ?
Any updated info would be a great help.