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Flying out from Gatwick at 10:45 am Wednesday 1st week of May 2005 with Britannia Airways, was my wife, daughter and myself. We booked the whole package 6 months previous through Portland Direct who are part of the Thomson holiday giants. We were off on a really excellent, exotic and truthfully unforgettable 14 day holiday to the 5 Star Jolie Ville Movenpick Hotel on Crocodile Island in Egypt. Situated on a private island, 4 km from Luxor surrounded by the beautiful and clear River Nile. Prices at Portland Direct for the same two weeks Bed and Breakfast in May 2006 are £389 per adult and £327 for first child. Movenpick was founded in 1948 and employs 13,600 people around the world, it is a Swiss Hotel chain with 53 hotels in nineteen countries. The one we are going to was built in the early eighties.
The flight was on time and we landed 4hrs 45mins later at Luxor International Airport, as we left the plane that's when we knew we were in sub tropics the heat was in the eighties and it was 6:30pm , we were then promptly hurried from the transfer coach in to the passport control area where we had to queue for a short time at the visa kiosk. They cost us £10 each and the stamps were stuck in our passports and then stamped by one of the officers at passport control, you can get your visa well in advance from the Egyptian Consulate in London website :-http://www.egyptianconsulate.co.uk/visas.html but the cost will be £15 each, we then made our way to the luggage reclaim carousel this took about 15 minutes until our cases arrived. Be careful here because there are a number of Egyptians that try to grab your bags and cases before you have a chance to pick them up yourself, if you insist that you can manage them yourself that's when they hold their hand out for a tip.
Transfer times would normally be 25 minutes to the Island which is 15km away but we had to drop off others at 5 different Hotels around and in Luxor so we arrived 1hr 10 minutes later. While driving through Luxor you can spot quite a few Police and Army sentry points strategically placed and scattered all around the city quite comforting really as they are there mainly for us tourists. After dropping off all but seven of us we headed 4 km out of the city towards Crocodile Island we turned right from the main road and stopped at a checkpoint and within seconds we were away again. We had to cross a very narrow bridge, that was just wide enough for the coach, that took us onto the Island. The Hotel is set in 24 acres of lush green gardens where they grow their own fruit and salad produce. At the entrance to the hotel our cases were left for the staff to put our bungalow numbers on and we had to go through a security check, like the ones at all airports,
Pictures of Luxor (Egypt)
at reception you are greeted with a very warm welcome and a very cold drink.We were given maps, of the Island which showed you all you needed to know and to where our bungalow was situated. There are 332 rooms altogether with 21 bungalows, each one designated with a letter of the alphabet, with 16 rooms per bungalow and all on floor level no steps at all. Our room was P14, we found with ease following the shaded walkways that spread out in all directions to all the bungalows, was definitely one of the best positions to have as it faced the River Nile and the West bank with beautifully kept gardens and trees just in front of our terrace. It was so peaceful with the Herons coming in to land in the trees along the Nile and the lizards scurrying about at our feet around the bushes, oh heaven.
All rooms are air-conditioned, very clean and brightly decorated with a bathroom with bath/shower and tiled throughout. We had two single beds, which we promptly pushed together, and our daughter Rebekah had a fold down bed that she said was very comfortable. Rooms have:- Air conditioning Bath/shower Colour Satellite TV Direct dial phone Electrical adapters Full size mirror Built in wardrobe Laundry service Hair dryer Iron board Modem data port Radio Mini fridge (with two large bottles of water) Safe
Leaving the air-con on full 24 hours a day helped keep away the dreaded Mosquito's, they don't like the cold, and we don't like them. We did use mosi spray on an evening especially being that close to the Nile and we needed it because we had the odd meal at the terrace restaurant this was well lit and attracted lots of them, luckily we were spared thanks to the spray. If you are buying mosi spray get the one that has Deet in it because this seems the most effective. Off to the bar now.
The newly built Crocodile bar is next to the reception area and the Jolie ville restaurant, it has plush seats with tables and is very relaxing with the local Egyptian solo artist crooning out an Elton John number only noticeable because of the background music. They sell local beer, Sakara and Stella bottle beers and all the usual spirits and soft drinks. You could have a wide selection of bar meals, cakes, ice creams, (a speciality), tea and coffee from 11:00am onwards to 01:00am. The exchange rate is £10 = LE100 Egyptian pounds, and a bottle of Stella costs £2.30p the average price of a meal for three with drinks was £30, the average price for a bottle of local wine is £11. The waiters are always on the go and are very friendly they look after your every needs. Tips are expected and go towards their very low wages which are about £3 per week, we tipped at about 10% of the bill which we thought was fair. We took Egyptian pounds with us and had no problems with that in fact it made life easier because most prices are in Egyptian pounds, they do have an ATM in reception if you ran out of cash.
The main restaurant called The Jolie Ville is the main place to go and eat for your breakfast, lunch and dinner and has no smoking sections. Breakfast is buffet style with everything placed out for you with waiters running back and forth with tea and coffee pots filling everyone's cups as soon as they emptied. If you did not like their American type coffee you could ask for Nescafe and it was brought to you with a pot of boiling water. You had to toast your own bread but you could ask the chef for an omelette, with all different fillings, or a couple of fried eggs easy over. Lunch, buffet style, could be taken in this restaurant or the Crocodile Bar or on the Shehrezade Terrace right on the bank of the Nile some even ate light snacks around the pool. Dinner was in the Jolie Ville Restaurant or on the Shehrezade terrace and again it was buffet style but with different themed nights, one night American next night Egyptian another night Mediterranean and so on, the food was really beautiful. You could also have a meal in the Movenpick a la Carte Restaurant, offering international gourmet meals and the famous Moevenpick Swiss specialties.
The average temperature during the night is 75 degrees F 24 degrees C and daytime temperatures are around 100 degrees F thats about 39 degrees C so you can't fail to get a tan unless you go at it too fast. Having the right cream is a must as well as wearing the right clothes, staying in the shade most of the time is what I did and I got a lovely tan. Around one of the two pools on most days was where we stayed from around ten in the morning until 2pm. That was definitely enough but you need to keep having to go in the pool every twenty minutes to cool off. This pool was never packed even though it is situated next to the main hotel, sun loungers are easy to find and towels are all free for each person. The pool has a children's shallow end and the deep end is approximately 2.1 metres deep. The other pool is a short walk away past the small zoo that houses a 12-15 foot crocodile this being the last one left and where the Island got its name, with various birds of paradise, donkeys, monkeys and peacocks. This 2nd pool is an infinity pool with the edge facing and seemingly falling into the River Nile. It has waterfalls and water massage jets and is set on a sandy beach. Most families use this pool as the kids love it.
There are walks and a jogging track, you will find the routes on the maps you received at reception, there is boating , fishing, 4 tennis courts, bikes, play ground area, billiards, recreational sports court, health club and child activities. Some of these are at additional charges. There is an 18 hole championship golf course nearby this also is an extra charge. If you wanted to go in to Luxor, and eat at the other 4 and 5 star hotels like many did, then you could either use the free hotel shuttle bus leaving on the hour every hour, or you could get a taxi that costs around £2. We used a taxi but came back on a Felucca, a sail boat with a two man crew costing a mere £3.50 + a baksheesh, (a tip). You could hire these boats for the day or just for half an hour. Trips and guides also can be organised through the tour operators or through the hotel itself, which is a lot cheaper, and you could go and see the tombs of the boy king, Tutankamun, Ramesses the Great and Hatshepsut the female pharaoh and many others at The valley of the Kings and The valley of the Queens. These two valleys are on the West bank. Luxor was built on the 4000 year old ruins of Thebes and Karnak temple is the largest temple complex in the world. There is Luxor museum which is the next biggest after the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo.
Every week they have an entertaining evening at the so called Fellah's tent, where for £28 per head you are given the traditional robe called a galabaya in different bright colours and sent out on a Felucca for half an hours sailing to watch the sunset, oh and to work up an appetite. You then land at the bottom end of the Island and after a short walk you arrive at what can only be described as a really large bedouin tent. You are taken to your table and are given wine beer and soft drinks for the rest of the evening. You then get a chance to participate in the odd dance or two, then they put on a snake charming act, then there is singing and dancing and folklore shows after that the buffet starts. What a treat, it was brilliant and plenty of it, we were up two or three times and by the end of it all fully satisfied with the whole joyous evening.
If you want a quiet, peaceful and hot holiday then this is for you, no drunks no loud music but plenty of friendly people all wanting the same from their holiday. We enjoyed the whole experience this being our second time on the Island, I would recommend this holiday to all. There are lots more trips for instance to Cairo , to see the Pyramids, or you could go to the Red Sea resorts. One trip you will enjoy is The Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan for 3 nights which you can book at the hotel or with your tour operator. All the best.
Jolie Ville Movenpick Hotel at Luxor Telephone number : +20 952 374855 Pre-Travel safety advice: http://www.fco.gov.uk/ Telephone number: 020 7008 0232 A good travel pack book with fold-out map included called Globetrotter Egypt by Robin Gauldie price £7.19 at Amazon.co.uk ISBN 1843303175