11 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
We were looking for a holiday location w...
"We were looking for a holiday location with unspoiled beaches, good weather and good food, and decided to go to Egypt becuase it seemed to be the shortest distance travel wise with a 2 year old in March. It was a choice between El Gouna or Soma Bay, and we opted for Soma Bay as it seemed to be a bit quieter, which is what we were looking for.
Overall opinion was fantastic! I would (and have) recommended this hotel to anyone. It is not for young people looking for a lively nightlife, but if you have a young family, or you are a couple (old or young), this is a lovely place to spend your holidays. The hotel is literally in the middle of nowhere, you drive through flat desert land and suddenly, you arrive at Soma Bay. The resort area of Soma Bay is still in the process of being developed and there is a lot o building work going on at the beginning of the resort, but the Sheraton hotel is at the other side, and so very quiet. It has it's own area of a private beach and the sand is very soft, ideal for young children. The pool is a very good size and there is also a private children's pool with lots of water toys and a small playground. The kid's club building is also housed in this area and although it is mainly for kids 4+, my 2 year old was welcomed. In the evening, there is a mini club disco (8pm), located in the club next to the restaurant. My daughter particularly loved the half an hour of singing and running about (it also tired her out before bedtime!!!), and would get very excited every evening at the prospect of having a boogie. The entertainment staff were very polite and friendly, and although not British, they spoke good English.
The rooms are of a good size and we were lucky enough to get a room on the ground floor so we had a patio area outside the room. It was lovely to sit on outside your room in the evening and chill out.
Stafff throughout the hotel are very efficient and polite, nothing was too much trouble. There are three restaurants, the main one for breakfast and dinner, an outside restaurant, located near to the pool and beach for lunch, and an a la carte restaurant, also open in the evenings. We eat at the a la carte on our first night and felt it was not particularly great, others may disagree, but the main restaurant had far more choice, and was of a very high standard. In fact, for a buffet restaurant, the food is probably one of the best I have even eaten in. My husband works in the trade in the Uk (F&B Manager in a 5* hotel, and even he was impressed). The quality and variety was great, and there were different themed nights on different days of the week so there was plently of variety. Ice cream galore for little ones, and all soft drinks and local alcoholic drinks were also included in the package. I was very impressed with this hotel and would definately return.
Outside in the hotel grounds, there is a gym and sauna, regular exercise classes for those who want it, and also various sporting activities. We met several people who returned to this hotel year after year...THere is also a diving school located next to the hotel for those wanting to go diving, and a running track or those who want to go jogging.
Generally, there are not too many Brits in this hotel, which may be a problem for some, but it didn't bother us. There are a lot of Swiss, Austrian and Germans, a few Italians and a scattering of Brits. It is an upmarket hotel, and not for those looking to get drunk every night...
We stayed here for a fortnight in March and the weather was very warm, not too hot, which was ideal to get a tan, but not too hot for little children.
There is something here for everyone wanting to chill out and relax, in a safe and secure environment. People constantly ask me if there are any problems with health issues or stomach bugs, and my reply is always this "you get what you pay for, and if you stay in cheap and cheerful places, then don't expect the hightest standards'. At Soma Bay, you are paying for a quality product, and I personally feel that this is what you get.
I have given this hotel 9/10 and not 10/10 for 2 reasons: firstly, the a la carte restauratn is not that great, and secondly, the shop, located just off the lobby area, is too small and very expensive. It does stock nappies/ tolietries etc... but they are far too overpriced. We took the hotel shuttle bus into Hurghada one day for a look around. If you have never been to Hurghada before, I would not reccomend it. It is full of typical tourist tat shops selling cheap and cheerful t shirts etc...We only went to get the nappies and could not wait to get back to our haven of tranquility.
~ A lovely hotel. "
- Travel date: Sat 13th of September 2008
Can be chilly
"I went with a long-time friend and travelling companion with whom I take an annual get-away-from-it-all winter holiday. We are both well travelled and holiday regularly with our respective partners. We enjoy a sit-by-the-pool-do-absolutely-nothing experience and look for something that's sensibly priced. We want somewhere clean, decent food, good facilities. We like to be able to exercise indoors and out and enjoy good pool/gym/spa facilities. We're not interested in night-time entertainment or excursions. We're not boring, just exhausted! Honest.
We've been to Egypt for 3 years on the trot, and I have a horrible suspicion that we'll go again in 2008. Sharm (OK as long as you don't leave the hotel in our opinion) although the snorkling is truly magical, Taba (we were lucky with nice weather) and now Soma Bay.
We stayed at the Sheraton which ticked all the boxes and we also had an amazing spa afternoon at Cascades and went there for dinner on a couple of occasions.
Our room was spotless, the staff courteous at all times. Food was fresh and plentiful. The hotel was very quiet end Jan beginning Feb so there wasn't much of an atmosphere in the restaurants and the Italian restaurant not worth the extra cost.
It was very cold some evenings (more like I've experienced in Luxor and other desert locations) and it was too cold to go out for a run first thing in the morning.
It was possible to shade from the wind on the beach, but too cold to sit in the sun by the pool and far too cold to swim in the pool which was a shame as it was superb and we enjoy swimming.
We thoroughly enjoyed the stay - but do take warm clothing for the evening at this time of year."
- Travel date: Wed 25th of July 2007
"I have been at the Sheraton Soma Bay at least ten times. It is always the same wonderful experience, no matter the season or the occupancy rate.
While you could get real discounts at first, it is obvious that more and more people will always come back, so the occupancy and the prices increase.
However it is still a super bargain to be with such wonderful hosts. Everybody from the waiter to the manager are lovely people who love and enjoy their jobs.
The location is wonderful, peaceful, with the clear see and not the usual packs of hotels around.
Security is tight, you will cause some poor security guards a headache if you walk around the hotel yourself. :-)
Will always come back."
- Travel date: Fri 20th of July 2007
Very Relaxing and Comfortable
"My husband and 15 year old daughter spent four nights here. The rooms were a bit beat-up or dated (not sure), but everything functioned properly and was generally clean.
We were on the all-inclusive plan which worked as mentioned by previous reviewers. We also took advantage of the transportation to/from the airport -- this was the BEST deal. The person who met us, immediately got our visas and moved us quickly through the queues (we lined up for passport control while he took our passports and visa money to the visa desk -- he was visible at all times). On return, it was even more amazing. He used a lane to get through security that was not open to others! We were screened as fast as we could get our stuff on the belt.
The info about the snorkling, the pier, etc. is all true -- beautiful.
The time we were there, we chose not to use the beach as there was a large flotilla of purple jelly fish right on the beach.
The staff was very friendly. The buffet got a bit crazy at times -- waiting a long time to get your beverage. The food was varied, but sometimes not too warm. We enjoyed the Italian restaurant a couple nights.
There is not much sightseeing, so if you are not into scuba, snorkeling, golf, or pool lounging, probably best to make it a short stay.
We thought our time was just right!"
- Travel date: Thu 17th of May 2007
"I have just returned from two weeks at the Sheraton Soma Bay resort and had a fantastic time. We took our 20 months old baby with us and had no problems what so ever. The staff were more than helpful and friendly and the facilities on site were great. The hotel itself is very private. It is set on its own private beach. There is a path along side the beach going up to the nearby Robinson Club hotel, and to the other side, the path leads up to the pier, where you can walk along and see the coral (an amazing site- early afternoon is best to see fish). My husband played Boccia on the beach most days (!) and also had catamarining lessons. He could not say enough about the staff. Best of all for me, were the Activities staff, all of whom made a real effort with our daughter. There is a private area by the pool just for young children, with a shallow pool with toys in, a sand pit and climbing frame and swing. There is also the 'No Mummies club' located in this area, where older children can spend time painting and having fun. In the evenings, there is the mini disco for children, and again, my daughter was welcomed and had the best time. It was a great way of tiring her old before bedtime!
We took a trip into Hurghada on the hotel shuttle bus one day. It was pretty much as we expected, long streets selling lots of tourist souvenirs. A couple of hours here was more than enough.
The hotel itself has two shops located just off the main lobby; a jewellers and a souvenir type shop, which also sells tolietries including nappies and personal hygiene products.
Overall, we found the hotel to be very clean, well maintained and well organised. The rooms were lovely and spacious. We had a room on the ground floor, which was ideal for our little one.
I would definately recommend the hotel to anyone looking for a relaxing holiday."
- Travel date: Sat 24th of March 2007
The Most Amazing Holiday Ever!!
"Fabulous Five Star Luxury!! great facilities! great location, and the fabulous thallasso centre just next door (health spa). It was the most relaxing tranquil place in the world. everything was perfect.
Words cannot discribe the feeling on being able to snorkel straight from the jetty at your hotel. and i am not just talking average snorkeling, IT WAS AMAZING... we even saw a morray eel only about 3 metres away from us. I have snorkelled in many places around the world including The Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Amedee in New Caledonia, but this was even better, and free with the accomodation"
- Travel date: Sun 18th of March 2007
Forget the winter
"We stayed at the Sharaton Soma Bay for 2 weeks in January on an all inclusive option with our usual rest, relaxation and golfing agenda. The hotel conforms to the general layout of many others (reception on the left, bar on the right, restaurant downstairs), has a lovely swimming pool, clean beach, all of the public areas are extremely well maintained and the staff are very helpful. The standard rooms are a good size, clean and comfortable however the bathrooms have a shower only. We did view a suite which offered very little more other than a separate dining area, not really much of a benefit if you are on an all inclusive option, and a bath but these come at an additional cost of â¬100 per night which makes for a pretty expensive bath. There is little to be said about the location that has not already been mentioned by other reviewers.
Hotel occupancy during the time we were there was around 45% so plenty of spaces by the pool and on the beach. Breakfast is buffet style and lunches are served at the beach side grill. Dinner is either buffet style, with a different theme each night but still a little repetitive, or in the Italian restaurant which offers either one fixed 4 course menu which changes each night as part of the all inclusive package or gives you a â¬16 credit against the a la carte menu. Looking at the prices â¬16 would not have gone very far but we found that the fixed menu was of good standard and variety. The restaurant itself was always very quiet with only a few other occupied tables. We are not sure why as we much preferred to eat here, where we were served throughout, and away from the buffet which sometimes resembled more of a canteen than a restaurant.
Our all inclusive deal included daily tennis court hire for an hour which we took advantage of several times and would otherwise have cost â¬10. Racquet hire is also â¬10 each and tennis balls a further â¬10 so it could become a little expensive if you have not brought your own tennis equipment. There is a health club at the hotel and I had a good and very reasonably priced neck, shoulder and back massage following a round of golf. One thing to note is that the hotel employs very few women. My massage was given my a man and not everyone would have necessarily been comfortable with that so make it clear when booking your treatment whether you prefer a masseur or masseuse.
As you tend to find when on holiday, the golf course was very busy, you would be well advised to book your tee times in advance and a 3 or 5 round package works out much cheaper than individual rounds. The combination of windy conditions and putting surfaces more like glass than greens makes the round more interesting and there are some spectacular views of the Red Sea.
While we were there, the day temperatures were around 20 â 22 degrees C, sunny throughout and could also be quite windy. At night it becomes chilly so take something a little warmer for the evening.
Finally, this hotel is about half the distance and about half the price of a similar standard in the Carribean and for two weeks you just forget it is January. That alone makes it well worth the visit and we would return at the same time of year again. Give it a try."
- Travel date: Tue 6th of February 2007
Excellent for relaxation and service
"Airport - Hurghada Airport too small so be prepared to queue.
Hotel - We stayed All Inclusive which we found excellent value for money. All meals fantastic.
Room - We were on the ground floor with a resonable view. The room was nice and spacious and the bathroom included a large walk in shower (no bath). Satellite TV and tea & coffe making facilities also included.
Breakfast - eggs cooked to your liking, fresh orange, pancakes , full english breakfast etc.
Lunch - Steak included on AI.
Dinner - Choice of buffet , set menu in the A lacarte restaurant or a credit of 16 euro per person at the A la carte restaurant.
Drinks/Snacks - Drinks on AI included Beer, local wine, soft drinks, fresh juice and mineral water. Mini bar is also included!. Afternoon tea/cakes everyday. You could also get ice cream, (either served in a dish or choice of lollies/cornettos from fridge) and melon was also available on the beach.
Beach - Plenty of sunloungers. Waiter service - just raise a flag and they come and serve you. They will also serve your lunch on the beach if you really don't want to move.
Snorkelling - Only off the jetty (no fish in the sea which directly faces the beach)
Entertainment - Hotel puts on some evening entertainment. Also water sports centre on beach to hire snorkelling equipment, wind sufing, glass bottom boat and snorkelling trips. There is also a gym with sauna and fitness equipment.
Overall - Excellent service. Great hotel for a quite and relaxing holiday. Nothing really to do outside of the hotel other than spa or golf!"
- Travel date: Fri 15th of December 2006
"My wife and I stayed at this hotel(resort) for 7 nights from the 20th October 2006.
On arrival at Hurghada airport we thought we had made a big mistake, lots of building work and cranes everywere. However, after our interesting 45 minute drive to Soma Bay ( the taxi driver could not quite make up his mind which side of the road to travel on ) our fears were dispelled.
The Sheraton Soma Bay has a very imposing driveway past the nearby golf course. We were quickly checked in by freindly reception staff and shown to our room. Although the room looked up to the standard usually offered by Sheraton we did not like the location. We returned to reception to request another room. The next room was much the same except this time it was on the 3rd(top) floor, same view of nearby construction site. We returned to reception not very happy. This time another friendly staff member said she had another room which needed cleaning and perhaps we should look at the room before deciding to accept. On viewing this room which overlooked the gardens looking towards the main beach we quickly decided that this room would be ok. 45 minutes later after a drink at the main bar we were advised that the room was now ready and our luggage would be delivered asap.
At last our holiday could commence. After this initial irritation everything else from thereon was excellent. The food was good and very varied every day in the buffet restaurant and the beach restaurant was superb for lunch. The staff in all areas of the hotel were very helpful, friendly and did not appear to be looking for tips.
The beach is very good with safe swimming in warm water and walks in every direction are interesting. The sports facilities are good with all the usual activities catered for. There is even a Scuba diving school adjacent to the hotel were this 58 year old who thought he was passed it learned to dive. What an experience, I was staggered by the under water world, the millions of colourful fish and wonderful display of coral.
This place is perfect for people who want a quiet peaceful holiday for there is very little in this area other than this hotel, but for us that was fine, just what we wanted.
Finally, the weather........from the moment we arrived to the time we left Soma Bay, we did not see a cloud, it was wall to wall sunshine and about 28C."
- Travel date: Wed 22nd of November 2006
"Stayed at this resort Hotel at begining of September 2006
We spent a great week here at this hotel, which has stunning views over the Red Sea, especially from the reception area.
At the moment this hotel is basically the resort. Very little of the other parts are any where near finished, the Hyatt looks to be at least a year away from being completed, and the Marina, whilst able to moor some boats, is looks again a year away from completion, with no shops or restaurants. There is also a dive hotel being built next to the Sheraton, which also some way off completion, although the dive centre next to it is open and running.
The only other facilities in the resort is a Robinsons all inclusive (Germans only I believe) and Thalasos/Golf centre, reputed to be truly excellent, but didn't try.
You are almost completely relient on the Hotel for dining. There is a dine around program, but this is not publicised, we only found out about it on last day after checking out.
The Main restaurant is Buffet stye in the main, but you can eat al a carte, if you are not on a meal plan (two courses and 3-4 beers worked out at about Â£30 sterling - very good portions) Buffet (themed each night - seafood, japanese, french etc)worked out at about Â£22 sterling for 3 courses of as much as you could eat (but like all buffets, the food is not as hot as it could be, normally cold by the time you get half way through, plus the cost of drinks, beer is about Â£2.50 for a pint bottle and wine (local - red is better than white) Â£12 sterling approx.
Bottled water (1.5l) is Â£1.30, as there are not shops in the resort you will have to pay hotel for this.
There is a second restaurant, Italian in type, again prices similar to the main restaurant, more seafood on the menu. If you are on a meal plan you can have the set menu here as part of your meal plan.
Breakfast is probably the best meal of the day, being the usual huge selection of fruit, cold meats, breads of all types, the omlettes cooked to order are excellent as are the pancakes and waffles with maple syrup!
This Hotel really is excellent, the main down side being that if you are expecting Sheraton quality beds, you will be disappointed, the floor is nearly as soft!!
The rooms are a good size and well appointed, with good quality fixtures and fittings, certainly better than other Egyptian hotels. Good bathroom. We had a partial sea view room, which was really full sea view, with a balcony with a couple of chairs and a table, also a small settee and armchair in the room with a table. Room also had tea/coffee facilities, (not mentioned on Sheraton website) - take your own milk - long life!
The main pool is huge with a swim up bar, there are plenty of sun loungers and sunshades around the area, and there are several covered pergola style areas which are great in providing slight cover from that fiersome sun. The only slight gripe is that there do seem to be the usual problems with towels at dawn on sunbeds at times (again seems to be the Germans/Eastern block habit)
The beach is fantastic, with plenty of good loungers, sunshades and windbrakes for the gusty breeze, it never feels cold, but it does blow! Although the beach does feel slightly regimented with the layout of the loungers etc being somewhat fixed in several straight rows. There a couple of bars and restaurant pool/beech side.
Hotel has a lending library of books by the pool if you run out of reading, but british books seem to be in strong demand, we put in quite a few of ours and managed to get a couple back, books went out within and hour of being deposited, there are other language as well but not as popular.
Evening entertainment is of poor quality, seem to have a lot of singers who sing in English (out of tune) although there first lanuage is normally something like German or French, they do try but unfortunately don't suceed.
English guests are in the minority here there are Germans/Italians/French/Norweigian/Russians/Polish, although English is the First language after Egyptian they all speak, even the likes of the Germans have to speak English to the staff!
The coral reef is stunning and there is a pier that goes right over it and the colour of the sea has to be seen to be believed, it is such a turquoise blue. There is plenty of diving and snorkling, that we believe is very good but as not strong swimmers we didn't do, but can recommend the glass bottom boat, about a hour being taken all over the reef cost Â£8 sterling per person, well worth doing.
The hotel has better than average sports facilities for Egypt, the gym was reasonably well equipped with 2 treadmill, 2 bikes, 2 steppers and weights/freeweights. The only problem is the airconditioning is just not cold enough, we have never sweated some much in our life, must have lost lbs. There is also water/towels in the gym.
The hotel also has 4 outdoor tennis courts, an artificial lawn set out for croquet (somewhat bizarre) and squash court, unfortunately with these 3 there are no towels or more importantly NO water, which could be a real problem in the heat. The squash court is air conditioned, but they only turn it on when you play, so it doesn't get very cool and it has to be said it is also very dusty, we had to get them to clean it as we were slipping over.
We got a good deal on this hotel by booking direct, and there was not a problem getting picked up at the airport - 45 min transfer time (Â£17 sterling approx) We also stayed the week before at the Sheraton El Gouna (more to do in the resort, but not as good a hotel although I believe if you are into kite surfing, El Gouna is a better bet as there is a beach set aside especially for this) taxi transfer between the hotels was approx Â£20 sterling, good value for 1hr journey
Great holiday for a week, but not longer as there is a complete lack of facilities outside the hotel. We would recomend the place if you want a quiet holiday or go for the water sports. Would say more a couples rather than family resort."
- Travel date: Thu 28th of September 2006
"We returned from 2 weeks at Soma bay on 25 August 2006.
The hotel really is of a high standard and the food was excellent - the breakfast possibly one of the best I have had anywhere in the world - so a big thank you to the chef cooking the eggs! Be prepared to be entertained by the sparrows who welcome any crumbs that you leave.
The waiting staff were very attentive and friendly. Dinner in the evening could be very hectic trying to secure a table. Large groups of Italian guests tended to reserve tables so that they could all sit together. Also the nicest place was to sit outside at the restaurant which could prove to be very hot and humid. It is worth tipping as it does tend to ensure you get a seat quite quickly the following evening.
The hotel is very isolated and I would say not really suitable for families with teenagers. Our son is 15 and although we dive the evening entertainment was very restricted. The nightly shows were of a very poor standard. We found this surprising as there is no where else to go. Once the new Marina is up and running it could become quite a lively place. I would say the resort is trying to develop along the lines of El Gouna.
If you fancy a trip to Hurghada it takes about 45 mins. Here I will offer a word of advice - the hotel advertises a daily shuttle at 10am and 5pm - they also offer a service at 8pm every night which isn't always advertised. If you have a minimum of 3 people they run the return service for 9 euros per person. Our tour rep did not tell us this and the first time we went we paid Â£40 return for a hotel taxi. (If there are only 3 people going you get the same taxi for 27 euros!)
If going to Hurghada ensure that you asked to be dropped in Skalia and not Downtown. Downtown is a not particularly nice area ,full of souks and shops but we found we were virtually the only tourists there.
The beach is truly wonderful and the snorkelling at the house reef was amazing. Emperor Divers offer a really proffesional service. Many thanks to Margaret who was a wonderful guide - my husband and son so enjoyed the drift dive.
The beach beds are comfortable and you can have as many towels as you need. A word of warning - I would say that 85% occupancy is Italian guests who reserve sun beds by paying the beach attendants to lay out towels for them in the mornings - so be warned if you want a bed along the front!
The one disappointing factor is the general cleanliness of the grounds - rubbish tended to lie around the perimiter of the grounds and the gardens weren't very well tended.
All in all a truly wonderful holiday and I hope my review helps."
- Travel date: Mon 28th of August 2006