My Travel Monkey is all about my adventures at home and abroad, so I thought it would be fitting if I kicked off the very first of this regular new feature, Holiday Snapshots, myself this week.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Holiday Snapshots will showcase any holiday, weekend away, travel story that you, the reader, would like to share. Not only am I hoping it will be a lovely opportunity to remind yourself of the wonderful times you had – a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but it might inspire others to do something similar – or venture somewhere they’ve never considered before.

So without further ado – here are my Holiday Snapshots…

IMG_1963What do you look for in a holiday?

I like a little bit of everything. I always want to be able to relax on a sun lounger by the pool or on the beach but, after a few hours I tend to get bored, so need to break up the hours with some snorkeling or sight-seeing; or trying to find  a nice spot to eat lunch/dinner and sink an evening cocktail. Obviously, this was pre-Monkey. So now, it revolves around our son and what he wants to do – obviously trying to sneak in all of the above when he’s napping or asleep!

Where did you go?

The Red Sea region in Egypt.

Why Egypt?

If you follow My Travel Monkey regularly, you’ll know that my husband and I are somewhat cursed by the rain god. So, we wanted to go on a family holiday that would have guaranteed sunshine. Because it was later in the year we knew we’d have to go further a field for good weather, but we couldn’t afford to go too far.

We made the right decision. It was HOT! Some days it hit over 40 degrees. Thank God for air con and thank God, Monkey wasn’t too perturbed by the heat. In fact, he loves it!

IMG_2070Who went?

Just the three of us.

Where did you go?

We decided to choose the resort of Taba, for two reasons. Hubby and I went for a week in Sharm El Sheikh several years ago and, although we had a fantastic time, we do like trying out different areas, rather than going to the same place. Also, I found a fantastic deal and really liked the look of the hotel, which had favourable reviews.IMG_1968

What hotel did you stay in?

We stayed in the Hyatt Regency and managed to secure an excellent deal through Travel Wasp. With the recent political troubles occurring in Egypt – the tourism industry is suffering terribly – and the Red Sea resorts are no exception. At the time we went at the end of last year, the Foreign Office allowed travel to the area, and we did not feel unsafe while we were there.

The Hyatt was spacious and the grounds were particularly stunning – from the manicured gardens to the pool areas. The hotel rooms were a little dated, but that didn’t bother us. And, while we were there for one week, this huge hotel only had 48 guests in it, including ourselves!

With five different pools, it was ‘millionaire’s swimming’ as my husband described it. Meanwhile, the staff couldn’t do more to help or make our stay pleasant and enjoyable. There were several areas that were closed, and the food options were limited, but who could blame them. There simple wasn’t enough of us to warrant it.

We met several holidaymakers who were repeat visitors and they couldn’t speak highly enough of the hotel and its staff.IMG_2057

Was the Hyatt child-friendly?

The hotel did have a kids’ club, but due to the intake of guests, this wasn’t available. The Hyatt provided travel cots and there were plenty of highchairs available in all restaurant areas. The staff were very accommodating as far as Monkey was concerned, particularly the waiters, who would play with him daily, chase him around and blow up balloons for him. They would often show us photos of their children – and tell us how much they missed them, as they all work on eight-week rotations before they can have a week off to go home and spend it with their families.

Obviously, the pools, the beach, the lagoon and mini-playground set back from the beach, gave Monkey ample things to do. And he particularly liked the onsite mini-supermarket because it had a plethora of toys, inflatables and tat which he was attracted to on a daily basis.IMG_2038

What was your most memorable moment of the trip?

We decided to take Monkey out to the jetty to see the fish. It was a little bit windy that afternoon and as hubs was swinging bubs around, one of his crocs flew into the sea! The problem was, this was the only pair of shoes I had packed for him… (I know stupid me!) The tide was quickly washing it away and we were both panicking. A kind guest who was snorkelling tried to swim out and grab it but it had gone too far into the shallows and coral reef.

We quickly ran back up the jetty and on to the beach, following this damn shoe. Eventually the wandering croc started to come into shore, but as guests aren’t allowed to step on the coral, I had to commandeer the  services of one of the scuba diving team – who nonchalantly took of his flip flops and wandered in and rescued it. He must have soles of leather! Hubs and I laughed a lot about this later on. You would have thought Monkey had fallen into the sea, the way we were acting!

Was it good value for money?

We thought so – which was in essence why we decided to go there. Due to the political troubles, the prices to Egypt in general have reached rock bottom. We managed to get a week’s full board, flights and accommodation for around £450 each.

Your top tip/s for the area?

• Taba is built in the middle of the Sinai desert for the purposes of tourism. There’s a marina,a golf course and several big hotels. On the stretch of beach where the Hyatt is located, there are several famous chains that run next to it including the Sofitel and the Marriott. If you book a day in advance, you are able to get a voucher for the ‘dine around’ option and go and sample the restaurants in these hotels at no extra cost.

• If you want to get around to the other resorts and visit Taba Heights itself (although it was a ghost town when we were there) there is a free shuttle bus that runs between each hotel. Check with the timetable but it’s a regular service, that runs daily until late at night.

• The city of Petra is doable in a day’s excursion, and there are several tour companies that can arrange for you to visit this ancient wonder of the world. It’s just a matter of crossing the border into Jordan. Unfortunately, we didn’t go as we knew it wasn’t a trip to be done with a toddler in tow.IMG_2067

Which Snapshot is your favourite and why?

It’s the photo of us together in the pool and the only one of us as a family. We had to ask another guest (when we located one) to do it – but Monkey refused to cooperate. As you can see from the face he’s pulling!

Would you go back again?

If you want a relaxing holiday in the sun, then Taba Heights does exactly what it says on the tin. And if you’re savvy enough to search out a bargain, then there are definitely some deals to be had. I would go back again, but not necessarily to the same hotel.

And since we’ve been, I believe the threat in the area has stepped up a notch and it may not be safe to travel there at the present time. Although, I’m sure this will change at some point. Check with the FCO website for the most up-to-date advice.

What are your five holiday essentials you couldn’t live without?

• A kindle, if I get a chance to look at it!
• An ipad
• My sunglasses
• Antihistamines/cream as I always get bitten by mossies
• My iPhone, as more often than not I use this as a camera, rather than the fancy SLR one that I own, as I can never be bothered to lug it around with me!

If you would like to be featured on Holiday Snapshots, please email me at ting@my-travelmonkey.com and I look forward to including your travel stories.snapshots