On December 27 we packed our suitcases, left the Christmas tree and all the trimmings behind, and headed for Egypt.
We headed for sunshine and a New Year’s Eve party on the beach.
That right there was a pretty awesome thought after years of huddling together against the cold and marking the new year with frost on the windows.
This year we would be applying sun lotion and basking in the warmth of the Egyptian sunshine and head off on an all-inclusive family holiday to Egypt.
We were invited to ‘test out’ an all-inclusive family holiday with First Choice.
I confess, we have never really fancied an all-inclusive break. Visions of mediocre food, people getting drunk on free booze and us getting bored after three days because we’ve visited every restaurant available and sampled all the activities.
But First Choice assured us it was nothing like that.
So, we left ourselves entirely in their hands and they chose Egypt for us. The Red Sea Holiday Village in Sharm El Sheik sits right on the beach front and boasts a wealth of things for kids to do.
It sounded spot on.
The place was perfect.
Two-storey apartments are set in well-tended grounds which meander down to the beach where volleyball, high wire climbing and a whole lot of relaxing can be found.
And it really is that picturesque. What you can’t see are the mountains in the background which perfectly frame the resort as the spectacularly blue sea laps around it.
We had the best week. Dan and Mia were never once bored, the husband and I were totally relaxed and we came home feeling that all-inclusive could be the way forward for us.
Why? Well, let me share some of what we discovered here and why we now look at an all-inclusive break in a new light.
I’m writing this as part of First Choice’s All You Can Campaign with the aim of showing just some of the experiences that can be had on one of their all-inclusive holidays.
We had a blast filming our experiences – sending the kids up on the zip wire with a GoPro camera on their helmets, riding a camel with a selfie stick, diving with the GoPro on my wrist (I seriously failed on that one!)
You can also check out what Lou and her family from Little Green Shed made of Fuertaventura on their adventure.
Many of the activities just weren’t up our street and the children just wanted to go off and do their own thing. However, the point being there is a lot of choice.
From the zip wire which flies over half the resort down onto the beach, the water walkers (zorbing style balls which let you walk on water in the pool), table tennis, volleyball, football, tennis, water slides, archery. The list goes on and on.
There are also lots of organised activities and games organised by the First Choice staff which the kids can join in with if they choose.
I’m also counting in the spa under activities too!
No you don’t have to have treatments around the pool (the husband was just being quickly shown here how threading can control his rampant facial hair!)
The on-site spa is quite basic but lovely if you want a his and hers massage, a manicure or have your hair braided as Mia did in the pictures below.
The spa staff do wander around the village sun loungers looking for new customers but they are friendly and chatting and don’t pressure you into having something you don’t want.
This was a big issue for us in that we thought it wouldn’t be up to much and we’d get bored with where and what we ate.
Inclusive means you get full board buffet meals plus selected visits to the other five restaurants on site.
The food at the main buffet restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner was excellent – everything from salads and pasta to fish, different styles of meat dishes and vegetarian options. Loads of different bread options, a specific area for younger children and puddings to make your eyes pop.
You could opt for plain and simple (roast chicken, jacket potato, salad) or something a little more adventurous (beef tagine, rice, grilled vegetables).
There are five other restaurants on site (including Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, Mexican) but you can only visit these once a week.
This building below is a restaurant overlook the sea. Just lovely.
The grounds are constantly being tended, it’s clean, wonderful to walk around and everything is kept to a very high standard.
The pools are fabulous – although the biggest one wasn’t heated while we were there in December and it was just too cold to play in.
There are two other heated pools however – the Activity Pool where it’s busy and there’s music playing and the Quiet Pool where you are left to your own devices.
Down on the beach there is also a private pier where at the end you can hire small boats to go out and view the fish or just dive off the end and view the fish there!
Not as in if you leave the complex you will be at risk; not at all.
But a few years ago I had a bad experience on a camel in Tunisia (they wouldn’t let me off unless I paid more money) and have always been very wary of getting on again.
On site you know the camel (and his owner) are approved and the price is pretty much set.
You can also buy souvenirs without having to venture outside the complex if you don’t want to (some people really don’t like to haggle and the Egyptian way of selling so it’s perfect for them).
The village offers something for everyone. Somewhere to join in poolside quizzes and fun activities, somewhere to lie back and read in peace, somewhere to feel the cool breeze off the ocean on your cheek, somewhere to feel like you’re the only person there.
The world outside the village
If you venture outside you will find a multitude of shops and bazaars and McDonalds and tours and just a bustle of noise and colour.
Shops are called ‘Asda Price’ and ‘Local Tesco’ and vendors rush out to greet you as you walk past. They’re all very friendly and will give you the Egyptian patter, but just be polite and say no if you’re not interested.
We walked down the road to another First Choice village with a water park attached. You pay a nominal amount to enter for the day, but you will be issued with resort wrist bands so you can eat here just as you would at your own complex.
Finally, you can also read about our adventure diving in the Red Sea, which we did as part of this holiday.