Egypt has been absent from the luxury travel agenda for quite some time. On the Red Sea coastline, however, sits the thriving eco-community of El Gouna. Georgie Bentley-Buckle checks into the region’s newest hotel, The Chedi El Gouna, to see how sustainability combines with sunshine and sushi.
Hotel Review: The Chedi El Gouna, Egypt
On a private stretch of sandy shoreline, 22 kilometres north of Hurghada, The Chedi is the latest sustainably minded resort to arrive in Egypt’s eco-town El Gouna, a zero-waste, self-sustaining community and the first African town to win a Green Town Award.
Opening in October 2022, the hotel partnered with the Egyptian tourism board to represent the Green Star Hotel Initiative, and has turned heads towards this lesser-known Egyptian destination at an exciting time for the nation. Celebrations this year in Egypt – influenced by its location sandwiched between Africa and Arabia – include: 200 years of the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone, the anticipated opening of the Grand Archaeological Museum in Cairo, and a century since the discovery of King Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings.
Working with the local neighbourhood, The Chedi El Gouna minimises its ecological footprint with low-energy building standards, energy-saving technologies, and by recycling 100 percent of its water.
Blending into the arid landscape, 82 rooms and suites have been crafted in keeping with The Chedi’s understated aesthetic. Each follows a tranquil design concept, from the widespread Junior Garden and Sea View Suites, finished in marble and bespoke natural furniture, to the smaller Beach Front Rooms with the warm sea air.
Towards the rear of the hotel (ideal for guests seeking a higher level of privacy, away from the hub of the hotel), the low rise Garden Suites are wrapped in bougainvillaea and elegantly frame the Red Sea on the horizon.
Honouring the region’s landscape, The Chedi’s neutral design palette reigned over our Sea View room, with warm wood furnishings, crisp white bedsheets, and its central bathroom finished in smooth grey marble and spacious double rain shower. Sliding doors open onto a small but comfortable terrace peering over the cobalt ocean strewn with kite surfers, and The Chedi’s private beach peppered with terracotta-coloured parasols.
Escape the heat with a dip in the pool – from the main pool among billowing cabanas, to the central shallower pool – or a trip to the spa. With four single suites, two couple suites and two hammams, Asian influences, focussing on balancing the mind, body and spirit, create a blissful afternoon. Choose from hammam rituals, detoxifying skin treatments and therapies led by an excellent team providing an authentic experience aligned with The Chedi’s concept.
Next door, an impressive gym is home to Technogym treadmills overlooking the pool and ocean, alongside weights, rowing machines, leg curl and chest press machines and spinning bikes, as well as a section for yogis with lighter weights and mats.
A water sports haven, kitesurfing aficionados flock to El Gouna’s coastline, and The Chedi’s concierge can arrange sailing and jet skiing for guests. Beneath the Red Sea’s surface, fishing, snorkelling, and diving await, including nine PADI certified dive centres with access to the best sites. For a more relaxed watery experience, enjoy a leisurely lagoon boat trip touring the myriad of canals lined by private waterfront villas, hotels, and elegant marinas.
For a touch of Tulum, jump into one of the local tuk-tuks and head to the Casa Cook beach club on the other side of El Gouna. A laidback luxury hotel with a chic beach club, hammocks sway in the salty breeze while cool kite surfers dine on bowls of refreshing gazpacho, fruity cocktails, and fresh salads to a soundtrack of relaxed summer tunes.
The beaches and water sports perhaps shadow the hushed beauty of the desert that surrounds the community. To discover what lies inland, jump into a Jeep for an afternoon adventure with Mountain Goat excursions. On a driving tour and hike into the Egyptian desert, we navigated an ancient dried-up riverbed filled with fossils and watched the tangerine sun drop below the horizon before bright stars lit up the inky African sky.
The Chedi El Gouna’s main restaurant is set with natural stone flooring, teak wood, and local marble. Central to the swimming pools, find a buffet of international dishes led by local techniques and ingredients, including Arabic mezze enjoyed daily. Tucked behind the cabanas with a breezy Saint Tropez style setting is The Beach House, a place for lazy lunches and oceanfront dinners. The Mediterranean menu of fish and meats includes tacos, artisan pasta and ciabatta sandwiches, best enjoyed with a crisp glass of rosé and jugs of sangria.
It’s upstairs, however, that The Chedi’s Asian culinary character flourishes. Here, fine-dining Japanese restaurant Nihon is set beneath the stars, with darker undertones wrapping around a central bar and open kitchen, lit dramatically by flaming heaters. Start with an excellent spicy chicken salad, fragrant Tom Yum soup, or fruity ‘dynamite’ prawns. The sushi, however, steals the show; try dragon, California, or spicy tuna rolls, and nigiri and sashimi can be selected, from tuna to salmon, sea bass to eel. There’s also a selection of pan-Asian dishes, from the familiar Thai green curry to miso salmon. The matcha panna cotta dessert is a must, topped with mango and chia seeds.
THE FINAL WORD
In the sustainable eco-oasis of El Gouna (a modern-day town conceived only 30 years ago), The Chedi El Gouna draws Egypt into a new era of luxury travel on the Red Sea, embracing Egyptian culture while showcasing the brand’s signature intuitive luxury and timeless design.
BOOK IT: Rooms at The Chedi El Gouna start from £173 per night. chedielgouna.com
Featured image: El Gouna Red Sea Labranda Club Paradisio.