Savoy Hotels & Resorts International is well represented in Egypt’s famous holiday destination: Sharm El Sheikh, “a true paradise for those who love nature and water sports”. They provide a wide choice of accommodation to suit the varying needs of guests and the company has been enjoying a successful time at the forefront of Egypt’s tourism boom. Emad Aziz, Chairman of the Savoy Hotel and Resort tells us more:BTN: First of all, please tell us what is unique about the Savoy Sharm el Sheikh as a resort? For example, the Royal Savoy and the Savoy Villas.
EA: Royal Savoy provides truly exclusive services and the most personalised style of hospitality. It has the most spacious, luxurious Villa’s in the Middle East, each with its own pool and Jacuzzi. Every villa has a state of the art interior. The hotel has spacious rooms, mostly with pool or sea view. It has accommodation for all including families, couples, honeymooners. There is enormous culinary variety, with quality cuisines for our guests to enjoy/experience. We have a number of bars with different styles and designs. The sandy beach with its Red Sea coral reef beyond. We have our very own “Soho Square” with a mile of quality entertainment. There is so much to talk about here.
BTN: The last three years has seen the resort win major awards, including several World Travel Awards, can you tell me what they mean to you?
EA: In my view strong facilities and a personalised service come second to nothing. I am very proud of my highly trained team, who leave no stone unturned in their efforts to surpass the expectations of even our most demanding clients. The awards are a tribute to them.
BTN: What sets Sharm el Sheikh apart from other Egyptian destinations?
EA: The list is a long one; easy access; charter flights from all destinations; Red Sea Coral Reef - the most preserved example in Egypt; well-balanced accommodations for all budgets; well-balanced food, beverage and entertainment offering; a truly international atmosphere with ex-pats living here and staff from all over the world.
BTN: The new Arabian Spa and Wellness Centre sounds very impressive. Has it attracted a new clientele?
EA: Certainly, we’re seeing new business from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. We will further enhance it with the addition of a Turkish Bath very soon.
BTN: When people stay at the resort how does it put them in touch with Egyptian culture?
EA: We have developed CULTURAMA, an interactive 180 degree cinema screen with a sophisticated programming that shows the richness of Egyptian history starting from the first Pharaonic dynasty, navigating through the eras to the present day, crossing all kingdoms and all civilizations (Pharos, Coptic, Islamic, Ottoman, Kings, and Presidents). This project is unique and promotes and encourages visits to all the sites shown during the 45-minute presentation.
BTN: You have spoken before about new developments in the entertainment centre. How are they coming along and how is the area changing?
EA: We have developed various new restaurants, bars and shops. These include ‘Soho Square’, which has five specialty restaurants, Africa’s first Ice Bar, a night club, casino, six-lane bowling alley, ice ring, Culturama, numerous coffee bars and ice-cream shops and a 50 lot shopping arcade.
BTN: How are your current occupancy levels and how do these compare with previous years? Also, can you see a change in the general level of tourism in Sharm el Sheikh?
EA: In general we have enjoyed a very healthy occupancy over the current season, and we are doing our best to maintain our positive partnership with our suppliers, developing a strong relationship with our guests. In comparison to the previous year, we definitely felt the business flow increase by at least 20-30%, in terms of room nights & rates. Over the past couple of years Sharm El Sheikh has welcomed so many new entertainment sites, such as Merkato, L’estrada, El Khan, and our upscale Soho development, that I feel confident that Sharm El Sheikh will remain a destination that suits the requirement of a wide variety of travellers sectors.
Sharm El Sheikh is also well positioned as a MICE destination with its record hosting a wide range of international political and economical conferences, meetings and forums. Savoy is a pioneer in this area with its luxurious state of the art Egypt Hall, which was the largest and most technically sophisticated facility upon its inauguration. We’re introducing another 9 breakout rooms as part of the Soho development. Sharm El Sheikh, Savoy and the Egypt Hall will then be able to host up to 2000 guests for an event. So I’m happy with the growth of tourism in Sharm across all sectors of the tourism business.
BTN: Is the Savoy Sharm el Sheikh affiliated with any hotel association? Is this a beneficial arrangement?
EA: Savoy Sharm El Sheikh is a world of its own, a world of quality and personalised services and rich hospitality. Sharing the Savoy name with other quality properties around the world is a benefit and we liaise with Savoy properties in major cities such as Zurich, Rome and Moscow. We share the same ambition for quality and hospitality. We are keen to develop an association reflecting the upscale quality of the Savoy name. Also, membership of the Egyptian Hotels Association gives us a strong positioning within the destination. Finally, being part of the South Sinai Investors Association gives us a strong positioning when discussing any development in Sharm.
BTN: What are you goals and priorities for the coming months? And what is your vision for the next three years?
EA: Investing in the intermediate break of the season, where we usually experience a more moderate flow of business. We do always use this opportunity to maintain the quality and status of our rooms, restaurants, and all the property’s facilities. Overall though our goal is to be the recognised leader in the hospitality industry here in Egypt.
BTN: With such radical developments in the Middle East, how do you think the hospitality industry is changing? What do you think Egypt’s role is to be in this?
EA: Sharm el Sheikh and the Middle East started a radical development about 15 years ago and now we see other countries coming up in the hospitality industry, countries such as Jordan, Abu Dhabi and so on. In this arena Egypt was the leader, but competition is always developing so Egypt does need to continue investing in marketing and promotion. The product is good - Egypt is well known for its rich history and different historical sites, and ancient Egyptian history is well known worldwide. Egypt has twelve months of good weather and has very safe record. It has a wonderful people who are very curious to learn about other cultures. People are warm and friendly and most speak two or at least one other language. It is moderately priced and has a considerable amount of high standard hotel services. We believe that it makes one of the best destinations in the world, and it shows with the amount of booking we received last year. Egypt is focused on having political and social stability and maintaining a healthy environment and atmosphere for sustainable development.
BTN: Finally, what project or coming events are you personally most excited about?
EA: Our Soho Square project will bring Sharm el Sheikh firmly into the 21st century, providing one square mile of high standard dine & wine entertainment for all ages, as well as the highest standard of shopping.