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The Red Sea's charming Sharm revisited.

Byline: STEPHEN CARTER

EGYPT'S Red Sea resorts seem not only to have survived the European recession, but to have thrived despite it.

Last year I reported on the Hilton Sharks Bay Resort in Sharm El Sheikh. I went back there this year to renew friendships and check out the 300-plus room extension that was being built in 2008.

The new building is up and running and landscaped gardens that surround it enhance the whole hotel campus.

The amenities and service have, if anything, improved on last year.

General manager Matthew Mullan and his deputy Wilfrid Guilleux seem deeply committed to keeping the charm in Sharm.

Executive chef Eddie Starkey, serving up to 1,400 meals each breakfast, lunch and dinner time, has his work cut out but runs the service with military precision and top quality food.

The hotel complex boasts all the usual luxury amenities for a relaxing stay: bars, a beach, pools, restaurants, entertainments from the 'animation' team, snorkelling from the jetty, glass bottomed boat trips and - one of my favourites in the new extension - a shop selling designer casual clothes and footwear.

It's run by Nasser Fawzy Farah, who runs the jewellery shop in the original hotel building.

For the adventurous, nearby Naama Bay can be reached by the hotel shuttle bus, which runs from early evening until almost midnight.

You could make your way to Old Sharm, the original fishing village, a further 10 minutes away. Taxi fares are reasonable but you need to agree a price before you set off!

A recent addition to the area, about a 10-minute stroll from the Hilton, is a spot called (for no good reason I could determine) Soho Square.

It's the only dancing fountain in North Africa, and the water jets move in time with music at set times of the day.

The spot is set off with lovely gardens with quirky statues and a number of shops that have sprung up in the last two years or so.

The Hilton's phone is 20 69 3603333. you can email for details and reservations on sharmsharks@hilton.com and their website is www.hilton.co.uk/sharksbay Red Sea FACTS. The Red Sea is the only enclosed coral sea in the world. It is the saltiest living sea in the world, with 41 parts of salt per 1,000 parts water. It is also the warmest on average, ranging from 19[bar]C to 30[bar]C. More than 1,000 species of fish live in it - more than in any other body of water of comparable size. The sea stretches 2,250km from the Suez Canal in the north to Yemen in the south. It is up to 350km wide and has more than 2,000km of fringing reefs. The sea grows wider by half an inch each year

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* A GEM: Jeweller Nasser Fawzy Farah at the Hilton Sharks Hotel GLOWING: The pool and hotel extension at Hilton Sharks Hotel, Sharm el Sheikh
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Nov 14, 2009
Words:497
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