With demand for winter sun holidays about to surge, it’s time to refresh your knowledge of the North African region.
Here are some of the latest resort and hotel developments in Egypt, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia.
Sun International’s first resort outside Southern Africa opens on November 15 and will be showcased at World Travel Market next month. The $1.2 billion development on the Red Sea Riviera includes three five-star hotels, a spa, children’s club and salt-water swimming lagoon.
Each of the hotels at the Port Ghalib resort, below, has a distinctive character. The 309-room Palace is a luxurious retreat with 13 royal suites, the 347-room Sahara Sun Sands is based on 12th century traditional Egyptian designs and decorated in subtle desert tones and the 292-room Sahara Sun Oasis is aimed at families.
The hotels are located on the corniche, a half-mile stretch of waterfront restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops and a traditional market. Visitors can enjoy a sunset cruise around the lagoon and deep-sea fishing expeditions and special boat charters are available.
The resort is served by Marsa Alam airport, which is a five-minute drive from the centre of Port Ghalib. Tour operators featuring the Sun International resort include Thomas Cook Signature.
Meanwhile, the five-star Sofitel El Gezirah in Cairo is being completely refurbished under the supervision of French designer Pierre Yves Rochon. The 443-room property is due to reopen next month.
Operators have been expanding their programmes to Egypt, with Superbreak adding 18 new properties on the Red Sea coast to its portfolio, bringing the total number featured to 61.
Attraction World has also introduced a tour from Aswan to its add-on options. Clients can take a 45-minute flight from Aswan to Abu Simbel to see the great temple and the 20-metre statues dedicated to Egyptian pharaoh Rameses II.
Abu Dhabi-based Reem Investments has signed a deal with the Moroccan government to start work on a 200-hectare tourism development in the Ourika Valley area, just outside Marrakesh.
The project will include three hotels, holiday villas, houses, a golf course and shopping centre and is expected to create around 6,500 jobs. United Arab Emirates investment is also funding development in the Bouregreg valley outside Rabat. The project will include a marina and new hotels.
Also new on the hotel scene is the five-star Royal Atlas Hotel and Spa in Agadir, below, and the three-star Royal Atlas Nouasser airport hotel.
The number of flights to Morocco has increased following last month’s launch of Aer Lingus’s weekly service from Dublin to Agadir. GB Airways will also start a twice-weekly service from Gatwick to Fez this winter.
Kirker Holidays has introduced Libya to its 2008 programme. The operator is featuring an 11-night itinerary departing between April and October 2008. The tour takes in Leptis, Magna, Cyrenaica and Ghadames, the most southerly post of the former Roman Empire. Prices lead in at £2,160 per person.
The Libyan government has launched a sustainable development project to protect the mountainous region of Djebal al-Akhdhar in eastern Libya. The Green Mountain Conservation and Development Authority was founded last month to direct the scheme and secure foreign investment.
Forest fires and urbanisation have destroyed vast swathes of the region’s forestland, which now amounts to only about 180,000 hectares compared with 500,000 hectares 20 years ago. The World Wildlife Fund describes the region as one of the 10 last paradises of the Mediterranean.
Audley Travel and Cox and Kings have introduced tailor-made tours to Tunisia from September 2007 and January 2008 respectively. Cox and Kings has eight group itineraries planned, including an eight-day Carthage to Kairouan tour which includes five nights at the five-star The Residence Hotel.
The Residence is also the site of the country’s newest golf course, opening next month. The nine-hole course precedes the property’s 18-hole course, due to open in June next year.
Meanwhile, Iberostar has opened a five-star hotel in Tabarka on Tunisia’s northern Coral Coast.
The 500-room Iberostar Tabarka Beach has a casino, thalassotherapy centre, à la carte restaurant and Moorish cafe. Other new hotels include the four-star boutique property Tunisia Palace, housed in a former Tunis bank. Wigmore Holidays has added the 48-room art nouveau hotel to its winter 2007/summer 2008 programme.
The 60-room Palace Hotel Ben Guerdane has also opened south of Djerba.