Radisson Blu hotel resort , El Quseir , Egypt – Asaad another customer service hero.

Posted in Travel on October 2nd, 2014 by John Coxon
asaad Radisson blu

Asaad , “just” a gardener or an  eco warrior ?

From the perspective of management  , (and indeed myself working at times for clients providing photography based PR and marketing media support )  an enterprise’s good name hinges on not just  few in higher profile roles but the ” foot soldiers” too because the brand’s image and reputation can be enhanced or ruined in one on one encounters with say if  just one individual  falls short of the mark (as with a chain, only as strong as its weakest link.) The Radisson team do not seem to have any staff who do not exceed  expectations and here is another example of that I want to share.

Radisson Blu El Quseir

This kindly modest hard working  man  , Asaad,  is one of the small army of gardening staff helping to keep the hotel resorts beautifully planted garden areas and its fauna in pristine condition in what would be for anyone who loves gardening a really harsh and unforgiving climate in what was a formerly barren desert area beside the Red Sea. ( I am not great at remembering names but handy that I shot some photographs of him during my stay with my professional gear and so, home again, was able to enlarge the photo on my laptop and read his name from his staff badge !)

Radisson blu landscaped spaces

He , it seems to me,  is typical of all the staff at the resort and this story illustrates the qualities that seem to be in the DNA of all the people the hotel employs.  I had fallen a few days earlier, cut my head and knee but also lost a fair bit of the entire outer skin around the base of my heal and so was forced to walk around on the ball of my foot which eventually caused discomfort  and cramp I my calf muscle on that leg.  I needed a walking stick !

Radisson blu el quseir flora

I often like to improvise and here I had to as I couldn’t leave the resort ( here as carer for my elderly mum)and the hotel shops did not sell walking sticks . Naturally I thought that at the hotel’s   eco farm area near the main gate , behind the football pitch ,  where tools were kept , plants raised and materials stored, I might find a stout bamboo cane .  I found one that came close but was a tad soft and yet  I asked Asaad if I could take it .  With a few gestures and showing  him the dressing on my heel ,  he could see I needed something better and smiled and said “Carpenter.” He  signalled me to follow him.

radisson blu el quseir staff

It was a fair walk and as I passed one of the date palms  I saw a freshly fallen one on the lawn , I  picked it up . Asaad pointed up to the dates above with obvious pride . and took a cautious bite but it was ripe and I finished it . It was delicious ! ( all around the site there are palm  dates  growing, clusters  managed and  enclosed in netting bags so they can be collected easily, kept from damage ready to be harvested  and used in the kitchens ) He indicated that I came back later he would give me a small  bag of the dates to eat .

radisson blu el quseir date palms

I wish I had my camera with me as I usually did because this area of workshops (engineering and woodwork)  was like the back lot on a film set with things needing repair or kept for spares and recycling  in the yard , things like a fibre glass  quite large camel and elephant  that has seen better days! Once inside Asaad found the carpenter and they went looking for a piece of timber that would do the trick. Asaad came back with a length of  1 inch by 1  inch rough sawn pine. He then got some abrasive paper and began  smoothing off one end .  He smiled and presented it to me. I asked if I could keep the sand paper with a view to doing sime more rubbing down later and it was no problem . I walked back with him towards the farm , shook his hand warmly and said my thanks again in Arabic  then he went back to work and I went to the main building to catch a coffee.

Asaad Radisson Blu el Quseir

I  had first seen Asaad   at the huge and impressive fish pond in front of the main building with a pool net tackling the ever present menace of intrusive green algae floating on the pond surface encouraged by high temperatures ,strong sun light and shallow waters.

A Picasso Triger fish, swimming in the large hotel eco fish pond as the algae you see here on the surface begins to rise to the surface as the water temperature  rises around noon

A Picasso Triger fish, swimming in the large hotel eco fish pond as the algae you see here on the surface begins to rise to the surface as the water temperature rises around noon

He was always smiling but so hard working yet whenever I raised my camera he always waved and shouted back a greeting. I could always recognise  him a mile  off because he was the only staff member that always wore a  hat  to protect his head as he worked outside.  I marvelled at his dedication to this thankless task , a daily battle with nature that took a couple of hours of his every day .

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Asaad’s colleague brushing the rocks and pond sides to free algae so it could be netted and removed

 

Asaad had, it became apparent to me,  a set of additional responsibilities as he appeared to spend a lot of his time at the eco- farm area  to the left as you enter through the resort’s main road entranced , looking after the  Egyptian chickens in their fox tight enclosure.

 

Radisson blu el Quseir eco farm

and the  ducks and geese who have their own private shaded swimming pool and a large enclosure nearer the farm green house, which they share with six Egyptian tortoises.

I’d come to the farm to take pictures and Asaad was in the domed greenhouse and as soon as he saw me came out to great me and wanted to show me round clearly very proud of his work and role , willing to help inform and educate. I asked about the tortoises as I couldn’t see one but he quickly found one hiding  in the grass by the fence having checked their hutch and not finding them there! He instinctively  held it up for me to photograph.

Radisson blu el Quseir eco farm

It was a tad camera shy but Asaad showed great patience !

highly endangered Egyptian tortoise the hotel are helping conserve

highly endangered Egyptian tortoise the hotel are helping conserve

He set it down and we waited and hey presto out its head came and I seized the moment !

Radisson blu el Quseir eco farm

The scientific name for this species is testudo kleinmanni ( Kleinmann’s tortoise) click on the image to learn more about this creature.

These tortoises the GM , Frank told  me, as did  the information board on the enclosure  when I set out to photograph it, , are in the top ten of the most endangered species on the planet .

Radisson blu el Quseir eco farm

 

Asaad is at the sharp end of the hotel’s project to help conserve and possibly breed these lovely shy creatures.

One of three experimental fish farming tanks

One of three experimental fish farming tanks

He also is in charge of experimental project to fish farm in three huge vats form which the dropping polluted water is filtered and then pumped through hoses into a framework of inter -connected white pvc pipes with cut out holes to hold pots so that food plants like tomatoes can be grown in the domed polythene tunnel green house for hotel kitchen use.

Radisson blu el Quseir eco farm

 

The  accommodation here is so good even the water birds have their own shaded luxury pool !

Radisson blu el Quseir eco farm

 

A big thank you to Asaad for being so helpful, kind and informative and going the extra mile for this guest and a great ambassador for the hotel . Gardener hardly seems a term that describes the diversity of roles Asaad fulfils manages , he’s an Eco Warrior !

I am in the process of compiling another  video to add to the ones I have already made providing information and insights into the hotel, it’s character  and features , the next will focus on the landscaping, planting and gardening in a large series of great photographs made into a slide show movie.  Meanwhile I have made an album of those garden based photographs over on my Flickr account . Please visit the album by clicking on the image below  and thanks  for your visit . Regards  John   .

radisson Blu El Quseir

Radisson Blu Hotel Resort, El Quseir – wonderful beaches & ideal for snorkelling & so much more.

Posted in Travel on September 29th, 2014 by John Coxon

Some essential information for guests and those considering a first class beach holiday experience.

radisson blu sunset

Radisson Blu Hotel Five Star Resort,  El Quseir, Egypt  – always uncrowded pristine and beautiful coral reef beaches  perfect for all year round sunbathing, swimming , snorkelling and diving on site-  A personal view from recent  first hand experience including some essential information and tips ( here in italics ) for guests and those considering the very best in  first class beach holiday experience.

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I have just returned from a fortnight’s stay at this wonderful top of the range hotel resort in Egypt and whilst I like to swim and snorkel, I have never been one to sit and sunbathe as my 91 year old Mum still loves to do ( whom I travelled with as her carer.)

Radisson beaches

As a professional photographer the resort supplied me with countless opportunities to get so many wonderful photographs and thus in free time, while Mum sunbathed by the pool,   I documented the resort in great detail . Also, as an independent on-line journalist,  I also took a constructive  impartial look at the resort as a hospitality business and resort and compared it , from the perspective of personal experience , with what the brochures and tour operators said. It exceeded all expectations in every way.

radisson blue beaches

Radisson Blu Experience in hundreds of photos I hope to tempt you to try it yourself

You can check out any of several albums with hundreds of those photographs  I uploaded to my personal Facebook, and, as my focus in this entry, one of a series about the hotel ,  is largely the hotel resort’s magnificent beaches you might like to start here on the basis that a picture paints a thousand words  Beach Area Album or view a selection on my Flickr pro account here as a slideshow  Beach Photos

The Resort’s ample sun sea and sand assets

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The Radisson Blu at El Quseir is one of the most southerly modern  Red Sea hotel resorts and very likely one of the top one hundred hotels in the world. it was created and funded by a Swedish philanthropist wishing to create a tourism industry for the deprived local town of El Quseir and to support the local economy and community in a variety of ways while minimising impact on the environment- employing 250 local people on site.

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(The hotel and the Radisson group take ethical, responsible  business and care of the environment very seriously. more on those practices can be found in my previous detailed blog entry here )

Jewel in its crown , wonderful beaches , coral reef and crystal clear sea.

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One of its priceless assets , equal to its fantastic committed staff , is its glorious private Red Sea coastal strip consisting  of one long bay-like coral sand beach with roped in swimming area and  three smaller more intimate cove like beaches  facing the reef which  totals some half a mile long ( 800 metres plus)

At the three smaller cove like beaches near the reef  jetty the hotel has deliberately placed only a few permanent parasols and loungers so these spots are extra peaceful  for guests and often you may well have this area to yourself. privacysmall small coves there are few parasols, so ideal for people who like

At the three smaller cove like beaches near the reef jetty the hotel has deliberately placed only a few permanent parasols and loungers so these spots are extra peaceful for guests and often you may well have this area to yourself. privacysmall small coves there are few parasols, so ideal for people who like

On my count , based on looking at a G Map satellite view of the resort , there are some 128 permanent separate thatched parasols , well spaced out , with woven wind breaks and at least two sun loungers  under each .  (In addition the resort has three adult pools (and one smaller one for very young kids)  which have a further 50 or so parasols again often with two loungers.)

uncrowded bliss

uncrowded bliss

 

Not only does the hotel take great pride in its clean beaches it also has  a raft of  embedded green  policies to protect the environment  also helps to protect the reef’s  varied but fragile  marine life by encouraging guests to follow their guidelines to help look after the reef.

Why you never feel “so wish there  were  more spaces at the beach.”  

Whilst the  hotel has some 250 guest rooms and at full capacity accommodates some 500 people anyone preferring to sunbathe by the shore is never going to have any sense of crowding ; effectively you feel you are sharing the beach zone with only a few adding to the overall relaxing nature of the resort. As shall we say, creatures of habit ,  we tend to get into a routine on sun and sand holidays based on wants, needs and personal and family preferences  thus some people prefer  poolside locations and others the beach.

Radisson blu landscaped spaces

Some guest will  remain on site for their entire stay as I did and my elderly mum, on her tenth visit to the resort. she,  having taken in all the excursions available over that time  finally finds everything she actually needs actually on site.DSC_1601

With a number of people using the resort as a luxury base for a range of excursions and the size and layout of the resort , once those that remain on site are installed at their favourite sunny spot, the rest of the resort has the feel of being almost deserted yet with a range of friendly maintenance staff constantly doing minor repairs, cleaning and sweeping the public areas  and tending to the gardening to keep the place spotless.

Spoilt for choice

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Always there’s some beach of your own and plenty of free space to relax and never the need for a sun lounger scrum or early morning towel touch downs you get in smaller hotels or those that have insufficient space and loungers.

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The whole carefully thought out organic landscape design of this resort  has a feeling of interlinked well planned spaces in harmony with each other and this is a big fourteen hectare site. It is  the complete opposite of those cynically more tightly packed resort sites that  seek to pack in as many rooms as possible to maximise profit from all available space. There is absolutely no way at any time of the year the beaches are  going to be or seem remotely crowded and neither are any of the pools .

Of the hundreds of beach shots I took it really is pleasantly unusual that there were so few people in the sea at any one time , testament to that relaxing spacious feel you get here all the time.

Of the hundreds of beach shots I took it really is pleasantly unusual that there were so few people in the sea at any one time , testament to that relaxing spacious feel you get here all the time.

During my stay over two weeks I rarely saw more than twenty or so people actually swimming in the sea or snorkelling at any one time  and rarely more than I’d guess more than 50 actually sunbathing on the beaches at any one time. (the big three pools are really big and never crowded at all either)

Radisson Beach Towel Card System

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* You won’t need to bring beach towels with you in your cases so extra space for other things in your luggage– the resort operates an efficient  towel card system – you use that card to collect your towels from the upper adult swimming pool towel post and simply return them after use and retrieve your card ready for the next day.

Friendly, helpful & courteous Abdou, in charge of the towel system. find him at the towel desk beside the top adult pool.

Friendly, helpful & , ever smiley  courteous Abdou, in charge of the towel system. Find him at the towel desk beside the top adult pool.

Refreshment and Re-hydration

Radisson blu beach bar

The Radisson Blu is hot all year round with daytime temperatures often peaking around 93 or 94 degrees from noon onwards and the sea breezes tend to be very warm too. *So you will need to drink plenty of liquids, especially bottled water .

Radisson blu beach bar

There are a number of small ,thatched ,wooden structured beach bars spaced strategically along the beach strip providing chilled bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks from early morning till dusk and if you are all inclusive these are all free.

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Smoking

radisson blu - shisha smoking

 

*Cigarettes can be bought on site at the hotel shop nearest the toilets and doctor’s clinic and surgery. Smoking in rooms is not allowed  nor is it in closed spaces and anywhere inside the main buildings but every outside table in eating and bar areas have ash tray glazed clay pots and there are clay pots all around the resort pathways for recycling and one for cigarette butts.

Beach tent with Dive Centre building to the rear

Beach tent with Dive Centre building to the rear

 

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Sea view from the beach tent

There is, near the Dive Centre , near the reef access jetty a very  large  tent beautifully decorated throughout with authentic Egyptian fabrics and furnishings with a bar ,  a cool space providing shade and relaxation with large comfortable low seating and a large number of traditional smoking devices the shisha which enables devotees and those wishing to go native to smoke tobacco passed through water.  (Contrary to common belief smoking the shisha is not safer option than cigarettes and the water through which smoke passes does not filter out harmful elements)

inside the beach tent

inside the beach tent

Activities

radisson blu volley ball

There is a permanent beach volley ball court on the sand  and  flat areas to play other beach games including beach boules as well as a safe dedicated kid’s adventure type play area in the sand .

Beach shower in between date palms

Beach shower in between date palms

 

There are a number of conveniently located beach showers to rinse the  salt water off when you come out of the sea and maybe also cool down where temperatures all year round range from the mid 80’s to mid 90’s.

a number of safe kiddy play areas like this are located both in garden areas amidst the accomodation and also one on the longer beach.

The beautiful reef and responsible use of it

This coast is coral reef and it is carefully protected and hence the marine life in the shallows when the tide is in is extraordinarily varied and rich in diversity of often colourful coral  reef fish and diverse other marine life and the waters are pristine and crystal clear and hence ideal for safe snorkelling.  
Radisson Blu sunset
*You do need to wear swimming shoes to protect your feet when paddling in authorised parts of the reef lagoon  to protect yourself from sharp coral debris and some of the marine life that is poisonous or stings.
Wear sturdy soled swim shoes to protect feet from harmful marine life and sharp coal debris and small rocks.

Wear sturdy soled swim shoes to protect feet from harmful marine life and sharp coal debris and small rocks.

 You also need them or flip flops or slip on sandals when walking on stone paths, even across the wooden bridges over the eco streams because the surfaces are  often too hot to walk on barefoot. *Bring mask, flippers and snorkel even for a novice the coral shallows at high tide are safe and a wonderful site all that thriving marine life beneath you. You can purchase snorkel gear from the hotel shop of the dive centre .
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The Radisson’s coral reef is in fact a ledge going out from the beach on average about 100 metres where the depth suddenly drops  to some 50 metres and ideal for scuba diving. At low tide the coral reef is largely exposed  with some rocky pools close in to the shoreline but with the incoming tide  it is covered to waist high depth mostly and teaming with a variety of reef fish making it feel like you are snorkelling in an aquarium. It is simply stunning.

crystal clear safe shallows of the Red Sea directly in front of the resort

crystal clear safe shallows of the Red Sea directly in front of the resort

Underwater Photography

saw these whjen snorkelling but this picasso triigerfish I shot in the resorts man made eco fish pools.

saw these when snorkelling but this Picasso triggerfish I shot in the resorts man made eco fish pools.

 

The water is incredibly clear so you can get nice shots simply shooting creatures in the very shallow pools  but *you might wish to take a waterproof compact camera with you as I did ( I bought a Nikon S32 for around £50 with me) – *always use flash underwater and don’t use  optical zoom and get as close to the fish as you can without touching them and try to get level with them if you can.
species of butterfly fish are in abundance in the reef shallows at high tide - this using my compact waterproof Nikon S32- hard to get really in focus I found.

species of butterfly fish are in abundance in the reef shallows at high tide – this using my compact waterproof Nikon S32- hard to get really in focus I found.

Don’t expect pin sharp images from a compact  but it is great to have your own record of your under water adventures.
radisson blu beaches
(For those who want to get better quality images, *it is possible to buy waterproof housing for the larger DSLR which cost around £250 )

Access for more experienced snorkellers and Scuba Divers – the resort jetty

In order to protect the fragile  coral eco system and its wonderfully diverse  marine life  you can’t walk on the reef at low tide thus they hotel has constructed a long wooden jetty.  This has retractable steel gangway at its end which the lifeguard  ( on duty till sun set after which you can’t swim) lowers to the sea surface to enable snorkellers and scuba divers to access the water without the need to walk across the precious coral.

radisson blu beaches

There are warning flags due to some strong currents but also strong sea breezes which create glorious surf breaking on the reef edge shelf edge  but *when the red flag is flying great caution is advised . Mostly those are on shore winds which make it rather hard to stay in one place when snorkelling and hard to stand up in the shallows.

Guideline for guests of respect for the reef

Guideline for guests of respect for the reef

Posters in several languages are situated on the jetty and around the beach area and resort explaining how visitors can help protect the coral. It is against the law to take shells and pieces of coral from the reef and subject to heavy fines if you are caught with these things in your luggage by customs at the airport. you can only swim and snorkel to the left of this jetty.

On site Dive Centre

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There is a Subex Dive  Centre on site offering scuba and snorkelling tuition with expert  and experiences instructors as well as offering excursions to other popular diving sites .

Soemtimes a diving instructor will come and chat to you about what's on offer in terms of excurisons or lessons but won't hassle you.

Soemtimes a diving instructor will come and chat to you about what’s on offer in terms of excursions or scuba and snorkelling lessons but won’t hassle you.

 

Some of these excursions may be cancelled if there are not sufficient numbers signing up. Tuition for diving and excursions can be booked from the office at the Dive Centre or via one or two members of their staff that  tour the beach offering those facilities to those interested.

This eroded shallow rocky ledge is clearly the remants of the previous reef edge from an earlier geological period sugesting the  sea level has dropped over time.

This eroded shallow rocky ledge is clearly the remants of the previous reef edge from an earlier geological period sugesting the sea level has dropped over time.

Parts of the shoreline between the coral sandy beaches are actually a kind of shallow cliff face of sedimentary rocks, a couple of metres high , clearly the line of the reef  from an earlier geological period  and if you keep your eyes open you will see the imprint of fossilised coral and other creatures in the rock surface.

fossils in the rocks from former geological period

fossils in the rocks from former geological period

Fish and Sharks

Take heed.  There are , in the Red Sea some species poisonous fish and a number of shark species ( the latter do not come anywhere near the beaches ) Check out the  link below to see photo index  illustrating information of  the extraordinary diversity of fish you may see when snorkelling or diving off the Radisson’s reef or to the left of the jetty when the tide is in.  *If snorkelling off the resort beach always wear swim shoes and don’t touch or disturb the marine life and you are unlikely to suffer any injury or harm.

Click this link to illustrated web pages about  the extraordinary range of Red Sea Fish  and other creatures you may well encounter . *Beware  there are some  fish and other Red Sea marine life that are harmful to human underwater adventurers – find more here  Dangerous Red Sea marine animals  Of all these creatures the most dangerous to humans is without doubt  the aptly named Stone fish which has 13 black poisonous thorns any of which can pierce rubber and worth checking out the information about it as the first entry on that web page I shared  which includes vital first aid advice if stung by it.

sea urchins are in abundance of the hotel reef- my hand to show the size- don't touch the spikes are poisinous

sea urchins are in abundance of the hotel reef- my hand to show the size- don’t touch the spikes are poisonous

*Beware also of sea urchins which are very common in the shallows of the Radisson’s  reef and avoid innocent looking conus shells as the resident within can  deliver a sting with a harpoon like spike which can cause paralysis. *Familarise yourself in what to do if you are stung by any of these potentially harmful creatures – info on that can be found on the same web page that describes the hazardous creatures via the link I posted above.
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As a rule small shells you pick up on the shoreline will be very scuffed sugesting they are vacant and such empty shells should be put back in the water as growing small creatures like hermit crabs may very well make use of them as they grow and need to upsize but normally pristine glossy patterned shells have live occupants within and of course if you make the msitake I made here, simply return them to the nearest a rocky pool.

DSC_9526I  found this conche on the beach  clearly left by a snorkeller and again returned to a rocky pool as it can provide a haven for small creatures agaisnt other marine lidfe that preys on them. Just to re-iterate all marine creatures, shells and coral are protected and it is unlawful to take them and you will be heavily fined if you are caught with them by customs on departure and it goes without saying avoid product purchases that are shell based as it continues an irespinsible  market that impacts on the balance of the marine eco system. simply marvel and enjoy such things in natural situ.

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I had a wonderful holiday here and heartily recommend it to those wanting the very best in beach and sun hospitality, extra ordinary food, quality accomodation and exceptional staff to meet your needs.

 

Footnote  on Feedback and giving public recognition where merited .

If Please, if you travel here take the time, on retrun  to write a constructive  review however brief  for Trip Advisor for example because good occupancy rates are vital to preserve such resorts , maintain  the highest standards and keep local the fantastic local  people in work.

Modern travellers are included to be very much influenced in their destination choices and accomodation through research and reading first hand experience reviews . With the Radisson here, the General manager or front of house manager respond to every review they receive there and address directly any failings . In fact the resort rely on feedback for pointers to things that  they could improve and to avoid any risk of complacency.

Here’s are reviews I wrote on return adding a number of great photos , one here on Trip Advisor , the other on the German based website, Holiday Check , The  former let you write paragraphs of your own  chosing but the German website gives guidance in the has specific boxes they’d like you to respond to and rate.

Further published material of my own illustrating the merits of this resort will be added here tomorrow.

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