With sunshine virtually 365 days a year and winter weather far more reliable than traditional winter golf escapes, consider Egypt for your next break.
As one of the most historic modern countries in the world – it arose in the 10th millennium BC as one of the world's first nation states – it's fair to say Egypt took its time in becoming a tourist attraction.
In the 1950s, no more than 100,000 tourists visited, but after a concerted effort to attract more holidaymakers from the mid '70s, Egypt's combination of outstanding climate, newly-swish hotels and peerless historical attractions saw numbers dramatically increase. Reaching 1.8 million by 1981, they leaped to 5.5 million in 2000 and then a record 14.7 million in 2010.
These millions of tourists have flocked to Egypt for the past three decades for a variety of reasons. Many come to simply enjoy the superb weather and laze by the pool in the many appealing hotels. There are a myriad resorts boasting highclass hotels in which to relax and recuperate; swimming pools, spas, scuba diving, kitesurfing, fine cuisine, leisure facilities, opulent bedrooms and evening entertainment; Egypt can match any destination in the world for high-class hotels. But inevitably given the historic nature of the country, it can also comfortably satisfy the demands of the more adventurous and curious traveller.
Indeed, Egypt boasts tourist attractions few can match – headlined by the ancient monuments of the Nile Valley, the legacy of the pharaonic era 5,000 years ago. This highly-civilised society built large numbers of monuments and temples so skilfully that they remain standing to varying degrees today.
These celebrated sites include the Pyramids and Great Sphinx at Giza, the Abu Simbel temples and Valley of the Kings near Luxor. In the capital Cairo, the main museum and Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha are feted, as are the attractions of the unique Sinai Peninsula.
When there are such healthy tourist numbers, golf tourism very often follows and that is the case in Egypt. Centred around the main tourist areas of Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh are four resorts all offering something a bit different. This is what you could expect to find at each of them...
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Cascades at Soma Bay
Soma Bay is an exclusive resort on the eastern shores of Egypt with some of the most beautiful sandy beaches of the Red Sea and panoramic views of desert mountains and blue skies. Luxury hotels, championship golf, and worldclass amenities such as a thalasso spa, a diving and kitesurfing centre all make Soma Bay – which is surrounded on all sides by the sea – an ideal place for relaxation and recreation.
The Cascades Championship course provides a sporting as well as a social focal point for guests. The Gary Player-design offers beautiful contrast between the lush green of the fairways against the azure Red Sea waters and earthy desert tones. Soma Bay's challenging, fun, and beautiful course boasts an aesthetic design and was the first course open for play on the western Red Sea coast. The 6,998-yard desert-links course with extensive water hazards is protected by 73 bunkers and has water hazards on nine holes – including The Red Sea itself. Player has described the 18-hole course as "the Red Sea Treasure". The Cascades clubhouse includes extensive facilities including a well-stocked pro shop.
Stay in luxury
Soma Bay offers four beautiful resort hotels: La S Residence des Cascades Golf, Spa & Thalasso Resort (soon to become Westin Soma Bay Golf Resort & Spa); Sheraton Soma Bay Resort; Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay; and The Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge. Each resort has distinct characteristics but all offer the renowned Egyptian hospitality. La Residence Des Cascades has 249 graciously-appointed rooms and suites, all with views of the sea and golf course, as well as a wealth of dining options and daily programmes of activities.
As well as the beach on the Red Sea and the championship golf, take advantage of the fitness centre & gym, a Racquet Club with floodlit tennis courts, squash courts, plus water sports including diving, snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing & kite surfing. Famous Red Sea coral reefs are easily accessible from a 420m jetty that extends from the Dive Centre to the house reef while the Cascades Spa & Thalasso is one of the regions largest. Treatment highlights include an Aquatonic Pool, saltwater lap pool, fitness and nutrition programs, hydrotherapies, seaweed wraps, underwater massages and beauty care treatments.
An hour south of Hurghada Airport near Safaga.
Madinat Makadi Resort
Offering stunning views of the sea, mountains and beautiful landscapes, Madinat Makadi is an ultimate leisure complex on the shores of the Red Sea. This fashionable new destination is situated midway between Hurghada and Safaga. Built in 1998, the resort's immense natural attractions are backed up by a myriad hotels with the Steigenberger Makadi Hotel the pick. The complex has a superb spa as well as tennis courts plus the "Souk" Makadi, consisting of a variety of shops, world class restaurants as well as entertainment outlets.
Designed by John Sanford, the Madinat Makadi is an 18-hole championship course. There is also a ninehole par 27 Short Course to enjoy. Overlooking the exotic Red Sea coast, it extends to 7,500 yards – one of the longest in the region. The course is surrounded by residential units, lagoons, beautiful scenery and three salt water lakes that are connected by two cascades and are especially wellpositioned hazards. Five holes overlook the Red Sea and three boast a view of the lakes. The clubhouse complex boats an outdoor pub, a 6x15m pool and an a la carte restaurant which offers breathtaking views of both the course and the beach. The Golf Academy has a 80-bay range, three separate complete challenging practice holes (Par 3/4/5) and a nine- hole Par 3 Executive course. The golf academy has a reception, class rooms, changing O rooms, a bistro bar and a sun terrace.
Stay in luxury
A wide selection of four and five-star hotels are available with the Steigenberger Makadi Hotel the pick of the selection. It boasts elegantly-furnished rooms equipped with modern facilities. Regarded as the finest hotel in the region, the service, surroundings, the comprehensive spa and quality of the food is superb. So if you are seeking an oasis of calm before and after your golf – with a lovely pool and pool restaurant to relax by and enjoy – the Steigenberger Makadi Hotel should be your choice.
One of the main attractions is Souk Makadi, a modern shopping complex that retains all the atmosphere of the traditional Arab Souk. There are more than 145 outlets, offering everything from jewellery to perfume and the latest fashions to traditional ornaments. The resort is also home to world-class restaurants, gyms and health clubs in addition to less exciting but still very welcome facilities such as supermarkets, banks and medical facilities. The aqua park features 50 different slides, including a 19m free-fall. The beach and house reef are spectacular.
Thirty minutes south of Hurghada airport.
El Gouna Golf Resort
El Gouna has a real sophisticated charm and feeling of elegance about it. Relaxing and picturesque, the upmarket Red Sea resort is situated on a series of islands connected by lagoons and bridges. A championship golf course on the edge of the Red Sea, set amid a multitude of lagoons, forms the centrepoint of this exclusive and unique resort. Steigenberger lies on a peninsula with a turquoise-coloured lagoon and a private beach. The hotel is 10 minutes from the city centre with its miles of shopping, restaurants and bars.
The magnificent championship course – voted the most environmentally-friendly destination in Egypt – will quicken the pulse of every golfer. Designers Gene Bates and Fred Couples have routed it skilfully so that it appeals to both professional and beginner, with six tees to choose from. The holes wind around lagoons and carefullyplaced bunkers on fairways lined by desert rough. And of course you play to the backdrop of E amazing Red Sea or mountain views.
Stay in luxury
The resort has 17 hotels, with The Steigenberger located within the course. It boasts 268 rooms, all facing the course. There are three restaurants and four bars.
There are two main areas for nightlife in El Gouna, both offering a wealth of shops, restaurants and bars to explore and enjoy. One is located around the marina where all the luxury yachts are moored, thus giving it a very upmarket feel while the other option is styled in a 'downtown' fashion like an upper Egyptian village. As well as shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, it also boasts a free open-air cinema. There's also access to great diving, kitesurfing, a cable park, spas, lovely beaches.
North of Hurghada, 35 minutes from the airport.
Jolie Ville Golf Resort, Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm el Sheikh is possibly the best known of all of the Red Sea resorts and for good reason. With glorious year round temperatures, idyllic beaches, luxurious hotels and the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea on your doorstep, Sharm el-Sheikh is an ideal destination for all. The Jolie Ville course enjoys panoramic vistas of the surrounding Sinai Mountains. Its central location at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula makes it an ideal point of return from other trips in Egypt.
The Jolie Ville course can be used by guests of all Sharm hotels and is one of the best in Egypt. Opened in 1997 the track stretches to 6,623 yards and its lush green fairways contrast dramatically with the rugged desert and the clear blue sea waters. Designed by John Sanford, it features hundreds of exotic trees and 18 man-made lakes. These water hazards attract a variety of exotic birds, nine of which are on the endangered species list. There are four sets of tees, a double-ended practice centre, and a famed Golf Academy. It has hosted the European Challenge and Seniors tours. The Jolie Ville Golf course has matured to be one of the best in Egypt and has won the World Travel Award for Egypt's Leading Golf Resort for 5 consecutive S years since 2009, a title voted for by 11,000 tourism experts, hoteliers & tour operators.
Stay in luxury
The main golf hotel is the Maritim Jolie Ville while for absolute luxury there's the Four Seasons. The Royal Savoy, Savoy & Hyatt are also popular. Maritim Jolie Ville Golf Resort's bright, colourful rooms feature tiled flooring and Egyptian-style rugs. They include a private balcony and satellite TV. Some rooms have panoramic views of the Red Sea. At the Sushi Lounge, guests can enjoy sashimi and vegetarian dishes. There is also an Americanstyle bistro, and a disco for evening entertainment. There is a private beach, three pools and four tennis courts.
A key attraction of this vibrant and lively resort – which has a 'European' feel – is the upmarket evening entertainment in Soho Square with shops, restaurants, casinos, bazaars, nightclubs, bars, bowling, and ice skating. There is also incredible Red Sea diving & snorkelling, go karting, waterparks, boat trips, quad biking, camel riding, desert safaris and nearby antiquities to visit.
5 km from the airport and 7 km from Naama Bay.
Your guide to Egypt:
Year-round sunshine, temperate weather, and mild winters and summers. Daytime temperatures average mid to low 20s in winter and low 30s in summer. Dry desert winds keep humidity levels low and maintain maximum mean temperatures so it is comfortable year-round, especially in the Hurghada area. January average temperature is 20˚C by April it is 28˚C, October is 29˚C, and November 25˚C.
Spanning the north-east corner of Africa and the south west of Asia, courtesy of the V-shaped Sinai Peninsula, it is the only country to share a Africa-Asia border. Most of Egypt's territory lies within the Nile Valley. With 89 million people, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa (and the 15th in the world). The majority live near the banks of the Nile, where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert – most of Egypt's territory – are sparsely inhabited. It has iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings.
Egyptian pound (12 to every £1)