It was not the most well thought out holiday. It became very obvious that we desperately needed a break. Sun and sea were of paramount importance. At this time of year, one has to choose somewhere that is reasonably far away to get the weather. Egypt at 5 hours away is good like that. And we like Egypt.
The trouble with the resorts in Egypt is that they are so geared up to All Inclusive it is difficult, and potentially expensive to do it otherwise.
It would be tempting to write a catalogue of what went wrong, hyping it to make it seem like a saga of disasters, but that would be exaggeration. It is just that we are likely to remember two very negative elements far more than the positives. The hotel, the Pyramisa in Shark's Bay, Sharm el Sheikh had a great number of positives. Having booked it, I read a lot of tales on Trip Advisor, and, despite applying necessary scepticism, had many qualms. None of which were justified.
It is a beautifully designed hotel, except that, like holiday hotels everywhere, the walls between rooms, and to the communal areas, are so thin that it was impossible not to hear every footfall and quiet conversation, let alone the noisier elements. It was everything I expected of African 5 star, which isn't European/North American 5 star, and get used to it. It was scrupulously clean, the food was varied and edible if, ultimately, not very exciting. Service was superb. Yes, we take measures to ensure good service, but that's life. We were tipping 60 LE a day, between the restaurant, bar and room cleaner. That's about 5 UKP. Worth every Piastre. But we accompanied our tipping with courtesy and politeness, which we believe to be as important.
We were glad we went when we did, and not later, because towards the end of the second week, the children began to arrive in droves. There were numerous perfectly well behaved children with attentive parents, and a good few more who were well-behaved but noisy. And then there are the horrors, for which I blame the parents. For example, the brats from hell whose parents allowed them to run up and down screaming and shouting, and slamming doors in our corridor for three quarters of an hour up to midnight and again for quarter of an hour at 1 am. And the various children permitted to run around the bar and restaurant, swinging on one's chair or interrupting one's conversation/thought process as the idiot parents peer gormlessly inactive. I inadvertently hit a small child as she ran under my elbow. For a split second I was horrified but she careered into a very large man who had not so much stepped back as shifted his balance to his back foot. This was by the hot soup.
Then there is the delicate issue of international relations. It's lazy to characterise people by nationality, but I do believe that stereotypes exist and persist because they have an element of truth. Fortunately we were spared the Brits Abroad syndrome, the getting drunk and falling over. Admittedly, our next door neighbours had a habit of arguing drunkenly at half past midnight, but they left after a few days and their replacements only had loud (Italian) conversations at 6.30 am and 6.30 pm.
The majority of guests split 50-50 between Brits and "Russians", the latter certainly including Ukrainians and Lithuanians and doubtlessly other former Soviet Union nationalities. And a small minority played up to the "Russians Abroad" syndrome. But despite the pushing and rudeness (aimed mainly at the waiting and serving staff), I would far rather experience "Russians" en masse than Brits (although what's that thing about applauding when the plane lands...?). We had a pleasant evening drinking with a group of Ukrainian lawyers, and had previously watched a Ukrainian group drinking session with admiration. Apart from a loud but short toast every twenty minutes or so, they got very very drunk and other than offering their vodka to neighbouring tables did not encroach on anybody else's space or relaxation.
I have become resigned to hotels' addiction to constant thud-thud music and would be curious to know whether anybody actually appreciates it. We favoured Beach No. 3, ostensibly the quiet beach, where people went to read or sleep. But at times it was bombarded by thud thud from four sources, the Pool and Beach number 1, as well as the adjoining hotel and the public beach. I don't see why it has to be amplified to be intrusive for such a distance. There was a Kids Club and Disco on site, surely they would have been better sites for thud thud. Even if the volume was lowered, the the bass wasn't, and for me there is little more annoying than computer generated percussion. Proper drums I like, because the rhythm is human, and the drummer has a heart beat, and breathes. The fact that the 'music' in question is without any merit, is repetitive, and is reminiscent of the worst examples of Eurotrash disco crap from the late 70s early 80s doesn't help. In contrast, in the bar in the evening, it was obvious that people were dancing to My Way, to tango and salsa; we were chatting with a woman who said she doesn't mind a bit of Chris de Burgh (not really my taste, but my point is, I don't see a CdeB fan wanting thud thud disco music). Of course, many people had mp3 players, but it is actually even more annoying to hear thud thud above one's own selection. I would imagine that in a hotel of over a thousand people from various nations and of many different ages, the diversity of musical tastes would be quite considerable.
The things-that-went-wrong will be in another entry, and the holiday highlight will be yet another!