The El Gouna resort, which sits at the entrance to the Gulf of Suez on the Red Sea, reveals Egypt’s luxurious side. So if you’re looking for an authentic Egyptian experience, the El Gouna resort on the Red Sea coast isn’t for you.
In the days before we had children, we travelled all over this north African country and nowhere have we ever experienced anywhere so clean and well-organised. Don’t get me wrong. We love Egypt – heat, dust and all – but we also love a little luxury, and El Gouna has pyramidfuls of the stuff.
A privately owned town with high-quality hotels, villas, apartments and moorings for yachts, El Gouna is much more than a luxe beach retreat. For a start, the layout is as airy and wide-open as the desert sky. The architecture feels sympathetic to its environment and none of the buildings are more than three storeys high.
Cars are rare, which, as well as making El Gouna wonderfully tranquil, means it is ideal for inquisitive children. Our two – Will, seven, and Hattie, six – were able to run around freely, enjoying views of the beautiful coastline without once causing us to panic.
El Gouna gets a lot of large family groups, and we noticed grandparents were just as well looked after as their offspring… and their offspring’s offspring.
In our family, each member has a different definition of what constitutes fun – and a valid argument as to why kiteboarding is better than spa treatments, or lying on the beach better than a swim across the lagoon. But here, everyone can do as they please.
We stayed in the Mövenpick Resort and Spa, which managed to feel intimate despite numbering 554 rooms and suites, bars and four restaurants. While there, we swam in at least four different areas, but each time we felt as though we’d found a secret corner.
The kids loved the place, with the evening entertainment options being a particular hit. Our six-year-old daughter found herself joining in enthusiastically with a big-lunged chanteuse as she belted out the Egyptian version of ‘Call Me Maybe’. And our seven-year-old son watched goggle-eyed as a fakir lay down on broken glass and invited members of the audience to walk up and down his body.
We spent days hanging out at the lagoon, where the water is shallow enough to suit the youngest of bathers. Our kids jealously eyed kitesurfers out in the bay; wishing they were old enough to seek such thrills. Luckily, they were soon placated by the inland options: the go-kart circuit, the play park with mini-golf and the tennis courts.
Will and Hattie were exhausted every night and their attempts to stay up late increasingly feeble. We were pleasantly shattered, too. Collapsing into a deep sleep has never felt more indulgent.
Food: Dining was equally good fun. Mövenpick’s food options encompassed Thai, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Western dishes, and we noticed a particular emphasis on fresh seafood plucked daily from the Red Sea.
Wherever we ate, there was a huge selection of food, sometimes overwhelming – but ideal for picky children with clear ideas about what they will and won’t eat.
How to get there: easyJet flies from London Gatwick to Hurghada International twice weekly, from £200 return. Hotel airport shuttle from £10 per person.
Travel time: 5 hours and 20 minutes.
Where to stay: Mövenpick Resort and Spa. A spa family room from £170 per night, including breakfast.