Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria: Seaside seclusion on Egyptian shores

The luxury five-star hotel has been around for over a decade. (Supplied)
Updated 07 October 2019

Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria: Seaside seclusion on Egyptian shores

  • We test out the new beachfront suites at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano

CAIRO: Many a property development commercial has used the cliched statement of offering “city within a city” living, but at the new beachfront accommodation at the Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano, this statement couldn’t ring truer.

The luxury five-star hotel has been around for over a decade, and the building is considered something of an iconic landmark in the Egyptian port city. And when it comes to service and hospitality, it remains unrivalled — just ask any seasoned traveller to Alexandria. Reviews across the broad spectrum of hotel sites online also back this up.

Over the years, the property has acquired a loyal fanbase of local ‘staycationers,’ Egyptians living abroad, and GCC and Western visitors. The sea-view rooms are a big draw, while the private beach is the only one in the city that’s on par with international seaside resorts. Some of the best beaches in Alexandria are on the North Coast, but they are at least an hour’s drive — possibly two — away from the main city, and difficult to get to if you’re not with family or friends who know the area.

Over the years, the property has acquired a loyal fanbase of local ‘staycationers.’ (Supplied)

But who needs the North Coast, really? With its new accommodation offering, we have a feeling that the Four Seasons’ fanbase will only get bigger.

Earlier this year, the hotel launched 16 beach suites in a new extension. In fact, a complete revamp of the private beach area has taken place. Gone is the old seafood restaurant (imaginatively named ‘Fish’), replaced by a new eatery, called (equally creatively) Beach Restaurant and Lounge. An infinity pool has been added — a seawater pool located directly on the beach and overlooking the Mediterranean — with private cabanas. Kids get their own pool as well, plus a new larger play area.

But it’s the rooms that are the main attraction of this overhaul. With its own beachside area for check-in — separate from the main reception in the hotel across the road — we were quickly transported to our suite on a golf cart, and at the very moment we arrived it felt like we were no longer in Alexandria. The incessant traffic noise was replaced by the calming sounds of the sea’s waves. The chaotic streets replaced by views of greenery and well-maintained flowers. Each beach suite has a mini garden, tended by a dedicated team of gardeners.

Earlier this year, the hotel launched 16 beach suites in a new extension. (Supplied)

Available in either one-bedroom or two-bedroom, The beach suites — available with one- or two-bedrooms — feature a living room with sofa bed, widescreen TV, minibar, and Nespresso machine, plus a double bedroom (or two) and two bathrooms. Some nice add-ons are included, such as flip-flops in addition to the usual slippers.

All rooms open directly to the beach, giving you the option to either enjoy the sea, or lounge around in the garden (there are loungers and a table with chairs outside). There’s not much else you’ll need, really. In fact, during our stay we did not bother walking to the main property, despite the fact we could use all of its offerings too, including the spa, gym and additional outdoor pool.

Each beach suite has a mini garden, tended by a dedicated team of gardeners. (Supplied)

We also had the option to visit the main hotel for food. If you reserve a beach suite with breakfast, then you can have your morning meal by the beach at, er, Beach, or at the all-day dining restaurant, Kala. While Kala offers a breakfast buffet — and a very good one at that — we couldn’t resist the fresh air. The only drawback to Beach Restaurant’s breakfast is that it’s a set menu, and they don’t seem to take into account the number of people dining. For example, there were two of us, yet they brought us easily enough food for four. The next day, now knowing what to expect, we indicated what we wanted off the menu and asked them to halve the portions.

In case you aren’t aware, hotels in many countries are not allowed, by law, to donate food, so anything left over — even if you haven’t touched it — goes into the wastebin. Thankfully, the staff were able to pack our leftovers to go, but we think they should advise guests of the amount of food so they can decide for themselves how much to order. Sure, it’s ‘free’ and part of the package, but it’s still food.

Breakfast blunder aside, our stay was relaxing and enjoyable, and definitely one that we’d like to repeat in the future. Go ahead, treat yourself.

Global stars shine at Saudi leisure forum

Updated 34 min 3 sec ago

Global stars shine at Saudi leisure forum

  • “It (Saudi Movies) will bring Saudis closer to the world and the world closer to Saudi,” Shahrukh Khan 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia took another step toward establishing its place on the global entertainment map with a major industry event in Riyadh on Sunday.

The Joy Forum19 brought together entertainment promoters and pioneers from around the world, along with global stars such as Indian actor and film producer Shah Rukh Khan; Hong Kong martial artist, actor, film director Jackie Chan and Belgian actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The event was organized by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which signed several important agreements on the day, including a financing guarantee program for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Participants are ushered in on the first day of the Joy Forum19 event in Riyadh. (AN photo by Noor Nugali)

“Our message is for both, locally and internationally. Me and my generation suffered a lot, we had lots of time on our hands,” GEA chairman Turki Al-Sheikh said at the event.

“Today you are witnessing things we have never had in Saudi Arabia. We have 300,000 visitors to our events, and our sales have hit 80 percent.

“Saudi Arabia has never seen anything like Riyadh Season, we have over 400 sponsors, which is unprecedented.”

Al-Sheikh announced that the authority had named a stadium after singer Mohammed Abdo, the “Artist of Arabs,” and another after Abu Baker Salim, the father of Khaleeji music. 

READ MORE: Three MoUs signed at opening day of Joy Forum19 in Riyadh

Drunken master

The actors expressed what it meant to be movie stars and how wide-reaching their influence could be.

Jackie Chan recalled that when he was a new actor, he often acted like a drunken fighter until he realized that he has a responsibility towards younger fans. 

Jackie Chan: no longer a "drunken master". (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“All over the world I keep drinking and fighting (in films).  I realized that I made drunken master cool — so I stopped,” he said. One of Chan's most popular movies was the 1978 action comedy martial arts film "Drunken Master".

“When you’re 20 you don’t have this inner thought — anything that makes the audience laugh you do, but later on especially (when I went) to Africa so many years ago — they started doing the drunken style — the children look up to me. So, I realized we have a responsibility to the children so all those years I corrected those actions: no dirty comedy words or action,” he said.

He attributed his awareness in being responsible for the content he produces to the fans. “I’m really thankful to the fans in making me a good actor.”

Chan spoke about his experience in acting martial arts in both the United States and Asia. “I realized we have two different markets one for America another for Asia. They are totally two different things.”

The safety measures the US takes for stunts is very impeccable making sure of the wellbeing of the actor comes first. However, in Asia it’s a different story, “In Asia when I want to do a stunt, I roll, jump (and then go to the) hospital, he said laughingly.

“It’s so difficult sometimes in the USA so many rules- Jackie Chan movies: NO RULES!” he said and received applause from the audience.


Good start

Jean Claude Van Damme gave a shout out and a big thank you to all his “brother and sisters from Saudi Arabia,” He said he got a royal treatment fit for “Kings and Queens”. He went on to reveal that his hotel room at the Ritz Carlton Riyadh was so big he could easily “roller-skate” in it.

Jean Claude Van Damme: "Let's do a movie together". (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“I’m honored to be invited here. I know it’s your first time to do this event, but I know it will have a very bright future and I hope next year you will invite more people,” he said.

He said he may not be a “good talker” but expressed his joy at being in Saudi Arabia saying. “I’m happy to be here and I hope to have more connection later with the audience.”

Van Damme remarked how that in every country in the world you have treasure actors and movies with different cultures, “In the Middle East I don’t know what the taste will be, but I know they love American, Asian and Indian movies. They have a broad taste. (Saudi Arabia) should do a movie with all of us together!”


Crossing barriers

Sharukh Khan emphasized the importance of every country telling their story through movies; “As long as we are telling the story in whatever language it doesn’t matter. Cinema crosses all barriers.”

Shahrukh Khan: "I'd audition for a Saudi movie". (AN photo by Noor Nugali)

With the opening of Saudi Arabia to the world and Cinemas, he said, “I can’t wait to talk about the Saudi films...It will bring Saudis closer to the world and the world closer to Saudi.”

“The stories that you tell should talk about goodness and people should be engaged with the content and it should bring them together. People want to laugh and sadly have to cry, to be entertained and to feel.”

Sharukh noted that Saudi Arabia has started to make movies and he’s watched the King Faisal movie, "Born a King". 

“You’ll always find gems in all movie industries and I think there’s are gems in Saudi and as a matter of fact one of the things I’d like to do is audition for a Saudi movie … Please give me an opportunity!” he said, eliciting a thunderous applause from the audience.

Red carpet

Abdulaziz AlMuzaini, co-founder and CEO of the Saudi Arabian Myrkott Animation Studio; gave a heartfelt thanks full of gratitude to King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying: “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have dreamed of this moment or this panel.”

Some of the celebrities invited to the event walk the red carpet. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

Lebanese actor Wahid Jalal, who was the voice of Long John Silver in Treasure Island, came onstage for the opening of the event. “Children love heroes and they try to imitate them,” he said. 

He also delighted the crowd by performing Silver’s famous laugh.

Some of the celebrities who walked down the red carpet were American actor Jason Momoa, star of Aquaman; Amr Adeeb, Balqis Fathi, Yusra, Boosy Shalabi, Lojien and Aseel Omran, Mohammed Hamaki, Nawal AlZoghbi, Talal Salama, Ahlam Al-Shamsi, Hussain AlJismi, Suad Abdulla, Ibrahem Alharbi, Tariq Alali and Abdulnaser Darweesh.

The gala dinner hosted 500 guests and was a private event, but the red carpet captured the essence of where Saudi is moving to culturally.