- Travel and Places
Aqua Blu Hotel
Aqua Blue Rainbow Slide
Resort and Waterpark
The Aqua Blu Hotel, Sharm el Sheikh, is located in Orm El Seid just 25 minutes from the airport. There are over 500 rooms spread over a 140,000 sqm site. The Aqua Blu Resort has over 60 slides, with 45 kids slides and the rest suitable for adults and kids over 10. There are daily animation activities and sports facilities such as tennis, basketball, football and darts.
The main restaurant is called the Cave de Roi, which offers a wide selection of hot and cold food for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a range of all-inclusive wines, beer and spirits. All Inclusive dining can also be had at the Mediteranean and L’Asiatique restaurants which serve a wide selection of international cuisine including Tandoor cooked meats. All restaurants have a pasta station and an egg station for breakfast. The all-inclusive drinks concept offers local beers, wines and spirits with the beer being the local Sakora beer. Spirits and spirit based cocktails are also part of the all inclusive concept and include gin, vodka, brandy and whisky. The hotel also serve a type of Martini and Ouzo. There is a small Italian Restaurant where you can enjoy the all inclusive drinks with your made to order pizza.
There are no shortages of places to get a drink on the complex and the modern “Billiards” bar (February 2012) offers a seating area opening out onto the street, but only accessible from inside the hotel. Whilst sitting outside here you may also pick up free WIFI from the pub over the road! There are several bars on the complex meaning your sun lounger is never far away from a cold beer. Drinks are served from 10am until midnight at different bars sometime during the day. Stronger beer (from the bottle) is served at the Lagoon Bar during the day and Billiards Bar in the evening. Take your own plastic pint glasses and the bar staff are happy to serve you an all inclusive pint. Soft drinks and coffee are also freely available throughout the day and the Columbus Bar serves an excellent cup of coffee and also serves milkshakes.
The food is of good quality and there is plenty of choice. At breakfast you can have your eggs freshly cooked in front of you at the omelette station, complimented by fresh pastries and croissants. Tandoor cooked meats are a regular feature in L’Asiatique in the evening and there is always a wide selection of potatoes, rice and vegetables on offer. The Cave De Roi has a daily theme for evening dinner as well as a barbecue each day.
Your kind of holiday
Do you prefer to relax by the pool or have lots of fun and activities
533 rooms and bungalows
All of the 533 rooms at the Aqua Blu have their own en-suite bathroom facilities with shower, washbasin and toilet. Standard family rooms sleep up to a family of five with bunk beds. There are also some exclusive two bedroom family rooms as well as 13 bungalows.
All rooms feature safe deposit box, hairdryer, English TV channels, direct dial telephones and air-conditioning. Rooms are cleaned daily and there is a daily change of bed linen. Rooms also have a fridge which is topped up daily with bottled mineral water. Baby cots are available and there is 24 hour room service available.
The promo rooms usually sleep up to 3 people, and feature panoramic window. However promo rooms advertised with some agents may often been standard hotel rooms which also have balcony with garden or pool view. The rooms have a bright contemporary style and rooms are currently being upgraded to feature flat screen TV.
WIFI is not available in most rooms, you will need to buy a code from reception which is about £4.00 for 30 minutes or two days access for LE200. Free internet is available in the Moka cafe bar from 6.00 pm until midnight but it is not very good. Personally I would use a local internet cafe or Champions Pubs just outside the hotel. Champions pub is free if you buy a drink and also has a free pool table which you pay LE70 in the hotel for an hour. To watch BBC iPlayer in Egypt is really easy to do with a laptop.
How much is a packet of cigarettes in Sharm?
This is a list of items purchased and the price paid in January 2014. The supermarkets and petrol station by the hotel all charge fixed prices so you do not need to worry about haggling or being overcharged. Venture further afield into Naama Bay or the Old Market and you will get to put your negotiation skills to the test. It is also possible to barter at Soho Square and Il Marcardo.
You can get a good deal on cigarettes at the hotel, but you may need to haggle. The hotel taxi service is very good and they charge a fixed price so there is no need to haggle although you can often get a cheaper price outside the premises.
Remember that you only need a visa if you are staying for more than two weeks or plan to travel outside of Sharm el Sheikh itself. This isn't made clear on arrival so just keep walking to passport control if you do not need it.
- There is a cash machine and note exchange machine in the hotel lobby. £20 will get you 23 Egyptian pounds.
- English Newspapers LE 25 - LE 45
- Taxi to Airport LE 100 (pre booked transfers can be got for £7.00)
- Taxi to Old Market LE 30
- Free transfers to Soho Square (ask your rep) or pay £30 return
- Carton of cigarettes at the hotel LE 180 - LE 250 (Regal, Lamberts)
- Local beer at the Champions pub LE 17 - LE 25
- Packet of playing cards LE 10
- 20 cigarettes at the supermarket costs around LE 21
- T-shirt from hotel shop costs upto LE 65
- T-shirts from LE 20
- Nike Air trainers LE 200
- Replica football kit LE 120
- Converse shoes LE 70
Egyptian pound best exchange rates
Egyptian Pound Exchange Rate
Money matters, especially when on holiday. Egypt is fantastic value for money at the moment. The exchange rate for the Egyptian pound is very favourable, you can get LE 10.50 to one English pound and around LE 7.00 to one American dollar. In the UK Marks and Spencer offer competitive high street rates on foreign currency exchange. You can check the rate online and collect from your high street store. The best exchange rate is in Egypt itself. You will get about 10% more by exchanging your sterling in resort rather than buying Egyptian pounds in the UK giving you around £10 more spending money per £100.
You can now use Skype and Facetime in Egypt which means having free WIFI close by is a great way to cut the cost of calling back home Top up your Skype credit before you go and you can call the UK or USA for pennies per minute by connecting to a local WIFI network. At the time of writing the Champions Bar right outside the hotel had free WIFI for all customers. Even without an internet connection, you can also stay in touch with family back home very cheaply. Your family back home can call you at the hotel and ask to be put through to your room. What they need to do is use an international access number such as Best Minutes, and they will be charged as little as 3p per minute. Not bad when you consider it costs over £2.00 per minute to call home from Egypt and at least £1.25 to answer your mobile. If you take an unlocked phone and buy an Egyptian sim card they can call you direct, anytime!
Booking your flight and accommodation separately can save you money especially if you book flights well in advance. Our last holiday at this hotel cost less than £1600 for two weeks, 2 adults and 2 children, all inclusive. To bag a bargain you need to book flights as soon as they come on sale
Things to do in Sharm
Whilst Sharm el Sheikh is a purpose built tourist resort, there are still many interesting and genuine places of interest from shopping to sights of histroical importance. A trip to the old market is a must if you want to experience haggling first hand. You need to drive a hard bargain and be prepared to walk away if you are not happy. A taxi from the Aqua Blu to the Old Market is about LE25 and you can arrange for the driver to pick you up at a set time. There are however plenty of taxis just outside the market. There are some local crafts available here but in the main the things you buy here are the same as what you can buy anywhere else in Egypt, but at a much higher price. There are also stores selling cigarettes and beer but again no different to anywhere else. You will be invited into every shop you walk past but you can bag a bargain if you haggle hard enough.
If your tastes are more cosmopolitan, a short stroll or five minute taxi ride to Il Mercato may be the order of the day. Here you will find McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks Pizza Hut and a variety of well known brands and outlets. There are plenty of restaurants and a small number of street stalls but you will not get any hassle and the whole experience is laid back and relaxed. You can also get your mobile phone unlocked and have an Egyptian sim card installed to cut the cost of calling home. Soho Square is a bit further out from the hotel but has a Duty Free shop and several other shops selling clothes, shoes and souvenirs. There are several bars here including the Ice Bar but they are quite pricey. Our preferred choice was the large seating area where there is regular entertainment and waiter service. This is also opposite the fountain which has a regular light and music show which is pretty cool to watch.
There is also a small shopping centre called the Dahab Centre, located a short distance from the Aqua Blu. Out of the hotel and turn left, go past the shops and keep walking until you get to the petrol station. Take a left and walk for another few minutes and you will come to the Dahab on your left. It is a large white building that consists of a number of small retail units selling anything from fresh vegetables and spices to postcards, stamps and alcohol. There is also an internet cafe and toy shops. On your way to the Dahab Shopping Centre you will also pass a large supermarket which has a good range of gifts as well as your staple holiday needs. The other large supermarket, which is good for household goods, can be found by crossing the road here and walking to the end of the street opposite.
Camel riding can be booked with your holiday rep at the hotel reception. You can also book the desert star-gazing trip which will also include a short camel trek to a Bedouin village. You will also get to buy some local handicrafts from the Bedouin people who will set out their stalls, on the floor whilst you are there. The star gazing itself is relatively brief but the trip overall is enjoyable despite the relatively long transfer time.
There are other options for camel riding, including a single camel, at the front of the Alf Leila Wa Leila (1001 nights/Arabian Nights) show, which is very close to the hotel. The camel at the Old Market is beautiful BUT you can easily get talked into sitting on this camel, without having aagreed a price. If you want to ride this camel around the market, agree a price first but my advice is avoid this particular option.
Quad biking is also a desert must and there are plenty of options. Most trips give you a couple of hours on the bike, which you will also ride from the bike centre to the desert, allowing you to experience the roads, first hand. Whilst you don’t get to ride particularly fast, it is a good exxperience and you can also take your older kids on the bike with you. The sand buggies are also a good afternoon out and we paid about £20 this year by booking around the pool.
There are many different ways that you can see the unique and unusual fish that live in the Red Sea. The easiest, and least expensive, is to snorkel at the Beach Albatros hotel. The Beach Albatros hotel is the sister hotel to the Aqua Blu hotel and the beach is for the exclusive use of these two hotels. The water is not deep and you will see many different species of fish. There is a jetty which you can swim under BUT beware, the jetty is very sharp, if you cut your hand and need stitches it will set you back £150. For the more adventurous an organised diving trip or a professional diving course might be the best option. Organised boat trips also stop for snorkelling. Tiran Island is our favourite which we always try to fit into our schedule
Sightseeing in Egypt
The most obvious place to visit in Egypt is of course the Pyramids of Giza and Sphinx. Cairo by coach costs around £45 and starts at 1.00am. You will need to purchase a visa if you wish to travel outside of Sharm. A visa can be purchased at the airport on arrival or your rep may agree to fetch one for you at the time of booking your trip. EU and US nationals do not require a visa for stays in Sharm eleven Sheikh lasting less than 15 days providing you do not leave the area.
Sharm to Cairo takes about 6 hours. Most Cairo day tours include a trip to the National Museum in Cairo, Papyrus Institute and a trip on the Nile. The visit to the Pyramids usually takes place late in the afternoon, after lunch. There is an extra charge to go inside one of the pyramids. The inside of the pyramid is like a narrow tunnel which slopes downwards. The’re is a small opening in the side of the pyramid which serves as an exit and entrance. once inside you can explore several small caverns and chambers.
Shopping at the Sphinx is incredibly cheap, especially compared to Sharm el Sheikh standards. You can bag your holiday souvenirs here but be prepared to haggle with the best and be careful, the people here do not enjoy the same standard of living as those in Sharm el Sheikh.
The big slides
Twister I and Twister II
Two slides that twist and turn for 50m before splashing into the water.
High-speed “free-fall” slide, 51m length and 11.55 m high.
Race to the bottom on this high speed slide, 41m long / height 8.75 m.
Challenge the 42.22 m long speed slide that features a breathtaking 11.53 m free fall into the cool water below.
Water slide of 41.15 m length and 11.55 m height, part of Atlas Tower slides in the centre of the park.
This long slide of 98.45 m length and a height of 11.55 m twists and turns, ride solo or in a double boat.
The flying boat is 41.5m long and 10.00 m high.
Space Boat Tube
The blackness of space with a 47.5m length and 13.00 m height.
As the name suggests, features two enclosed slides that catapult riders into pitch black spirals of darkness. You don’t know which way you’re turning next, and you don’t see a thing until you hit the final splashdown! Amusing water game with 106.16 m length and 11.55 m height for adults only!
Get ready for the thrill of a lifetime on the 112.74 m long and 11.55 m high slide! For adults only!
Share the fun with your whole family in this water game with 115.55 m length and 11.55 m height.
It is a slide for thrill seekers, not for the faint hearted
It is 23.75m long and 9.90m high
Up Hill Flying Boat
A water slide with a length of 52.63 m and a height of 8.5 m.
(This is just a selection of the many slides on offer at the Aqua Blu in Sharm el Sheikh.
Aqua Blu restaurants
Where to Eat
L’Asiatique Chinese & Indian
Cave du Roi Restaurant
Cafe Bar (hot snacks 3pm to 6pm)
Cafe Mac (hot snacks from 12.00 until 5.00pm)
Food Court Restaurant (extra charge applies)
Getting a Drink
Kids Pool Bar
Columbus Coffee Bar
Coffee Bars (old Clubhouse and one outside)
Jazz Bar (night club, charge after midnight)
Billiard Bar (not operational)
‘L’ Asiatique Chinese & Indian Restaurant features eastern cuisine, tandoor cooked meats and outdoor cooking. It is inter-connected with the Mediterranean Restaurant which offers international food choices and griddle cooked meats. Both restaurants feature indoor and outdoor seating and are self service. Tipping will get you waiter service from the bar. The Cave du Roi Restaurant is the largest restaurant at the Aqua Blu and has daily theme evenings featuring meals from different countries. There is a wide choice of hot and cold food as well as daily display cooking. All three restaurants serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Italian Restaurant offers a quieter dining experience and is much smaller than the other restaurants. There is still plenty of choice as well as made to order pizza with a selection of toppings. The newly fitted Cafe Bar (old Club House) serves ice cream, pancakes and cakes from 3pm until 6pm.
Cave De Roi is greatly improved in 2014 with some good quality barbecues and an overall improvement in quality and presentation. The Arabian theme night is particularly good with Kofte kebabs much better than you get at home. The desserts are greatly improved this year too with local delicacies such as baklava a daily treat. Restaurants now also serve donuts at breakfast as well as pancakes cooked to order.
Useful numbers and contacts
This is a list of in resort telephone numbers that may be of use whilst on holiday in Sharm should there be an emergency.
- 0693600311 Tourist Police
- 0123134158 Search and Rescue
- 06936911900 Police Station
- 0693600554 Ambulance
- 0693600660 Fire Brigade
- Hotel Tel: 20-69-3665993/7
- Hotel Fax: 20-69-3665998
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.pickalbatros.com/aquablusharm
All images in this article are the property of Craig Michaelson, publishing as craiger-m