Thursday, 7 May 2015

Stella Di Mare - Sharm El Sheikh

Recently (February) the family and I visited the 5* Stella Di Mare Hotel and Spa in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt for a two-week holiday in celebration of my Mum Vicky's 50th birthday.

There were six of us in total, my partner, Glen, and I and the baby, my brother Daniel, and of course my parents occupying three rooms.

Set in the Naama Bay area of Sharm, the hotel is in a peaceful and tranquil location and our fortnight here was a truly relaxing holiday. We occupied two double rooms and one twin, and each was adequately comfortable. Ours had a king sized bed, a couple of mini armchairs and a small table plus adequate clothing space in the wardrobe, dresser and bedside tables. We were also afforded a spacious bathroom with bath and shower. Each room was allocated a particular man who would do the room cleaning each day and who was happy to assist with any other particulars - we needed extra clothes hangers and the hotel hadn't yet put in a travel cot for Bridget for example, but these were soon remedied. Our rooms were cleaned every day, and they, like the rest of the hotel were kept immaculately clean at all times. 

Beautiful grounds of Stella Di Mare

In the lead up to Stella Di Mare

There are two main pool areas, one a family area and one a more grown up, couples and group area with swim-up-bar and loud music. We mainly kept to the family pool but did frequent the other one a few times too. Staff at both were excellent. Towels are provided for the pool or beach areas every day too. There was an animation team who put on various activities each day - as we were in a group we didn't really get involved but it's nice to know it's there if you are so inclined - also they didn't harrass you to join in either as in some resorts. 

My brother and I did join in with the daily stretching that took place a couple of times, this always attracted a large crowd and took place on some of the grass area of the grounds that overlooked the sea - a beautiful place for some yoga-esque activity. 

View over the pool from the bar

Daily stretching

The hotel has a built in spa with free use of the gym including daily exercise classes, steam rooms and sauna plus a heated outdoor jacuzzi pool which was lovely - and is adults only too, so very relaxing indeed. We also made use of the paid for spa activities, booking a course of massages for the family and my mum visited the hair salon for blow dries a few times too all of which were of good value for a five-star hotel. 

Jacuzzi pool beside the spa

In addition my Dad, Les took the PADI diving course at the on-site dive school too which was around £450 and which he thoroughly enjoyed. Food at the hotel could be taken in different places. There was the main buffet restaurant of the hotel where breakfast and lunch was served and then the evening meals tended to be themed to various nationalities which didn't much appeal to us, but we were happy with the alternatives.

Breakfast was always a fantastic offering of various nationalities dishes. A vast array of bread and pastries were baked on site daily and were excellent, there was a pancake and waffle station with every type of topping one could wish for and I can certainly vouch for these as I was a regular at this station - the man who made these daily was very friendly and accomodating too - he was happy to cook for a little longer if, like me, you prefer your pancakes a little more crisp than anaemic. There was also lots of fruits, cereals, yoghurts, granolas and the like too - all of good quality. On the hot stations you could find the likes of eggs benedict, turkey bacon, chicken and beef sausages and various types of beans too and there was of course the egg station where you could order a fresh omelette, or eggs any way you fancied. So a great selection and the staff in this restaurant were again really accommodating and they made such a fuss over Bridget too, which we thought was a nice touch.

Lunchtimes in this restaurant too were perfectly adequate but as with most buffet restaurants, we found that you had to get in there early to enjoy hot food, so we mainly eat in the other areas where food was cooked to order - but that said, we did enjoy some fantastic food in there at times. Dishes of note included the whole baked salmon with a dill flavoured Hollandaise sauce and the roasted chicken which was beautifully and delicately spiced and moist and juicy throughout. Lunch could also be ordered at the beach bar and in the Asian restaurant which also overlooked the sea so we headed to these most days. This was a varied menu ranging from salads, pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, wraps and the like. I must thoroughly recommend the chicken sharwarma wrap which was excellent and the chicken wings which we ordered every day for the table to share as they were just so delicious and crisp on the outside but with tender and juicy meat.

Evening meals could, as I've mentioned be enjoyed buffet style in the main restaurant or there were two other options, both waiter service style. The Asian restaurant which had dishes such as Thai Green Curry, Seabass and vegetables in a ginger sauce, Pad Thai and a few other dishes. We eat here a few times and I have to say on the days where a little too much alcohol had been consumed the night before, the Green Curry was an excellent hangover cure.

Our favourite though, was the Mediterranean restaurant where the food was fantastic and was matched only by the service. As we eat in here a lot, we got to know the waiters well, and our favourite was Ali, a 20 year old who literally couldn't do enough for anyone and could be seen working at breakfast, lunch and dinner and always with a smile - they do work hard.

Dishes enjoyed in this restaurant included the fillet steak, sea bass with roasted peppers, prawns in a saffron sauce, duck breast, seafood pasta and an array of other delicious items. We didn't once have a bad meal here. There was a singer in this restaurant too and it made for quite a romantic and elegant setting. 

Beef carpaccio

Seabass with roasted peppers

Prawns in a Saffron sauce

Fillet steak

Entertainment was provided in the ballroom each night but as we were in a group we preferred to enjoy a quieter drink in the main lobby area and chat among ourselves, enjoying the gentle piano music - the pianist was there every evening too and really did set a wonderful scene. 

We enjoyed ourselves whole-heartedly at the Stella Di Mare and would definitely return - it's the perfect backdrop to some guaranteed winter sunshine.

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