I really wasn’t sure what to expect in Egypt.
Having travelled the world for over 17 years as a model, I’ve been fortunate to visit some amazing countries for shoots. But Egypt is a country I had never been to before and, yes, there were nerves considering all the negative publicity Egypt has been getting since the revolution.
Even my grandmother asked me did I really think it was a good idea to take my son James!
Hand in hand: Alison and toddler son James take a stroll on the sand next to the Kempinski hotel
We flew from London Gatwick and the flight was an easy five hours. We flew on easyJet, and they are fantastic. A bit like the old Ryanair, though, as you are only allowed one piece of carry-on luggage – so we had to check in James’s case.
But other than that I really enjoyed the flight.
I love their on-board menu as they have great healthy options and coconut water, which is my travel essential, especially for flying, as it’s great for rehydration.
When we arrived at the airport it was a little chaotic with lots of men holding boards with people’s names on them.
This is where flying with a company like Holiday Designers makes a difference. Our driver picked us up and put our visas in our passports and immediately made me feel safe and well looked after.
You need to make sure you have in cash for each visa. James was a little tired and fell asleep in the car on the way to the hotel. Soma Bay is about 45 minutes from Hurghada airport.
It was dark when we arrived, but the entrance to the Sheraton was very impressive and beautifully lit. We settled into our room and headed straight for dinner, as we were starving.
We ate in the Italian restaurant and I had the set menu.
If you are staying full board you don’t need to worry about extra bills at the end of your trip, and I do always recommend this option as costs can creep up otherwise.
An oasis on the edge of the water: Alison and James spent part of their break at the Kempinski hotel
James was so excited.
When he saw the pool he was speechless, and wanted to go swimming straight away (yes in the dark). The next morning at breakfast he didn’t even really eat because of the excitement.
He went to the kids’ club in the Sheraton on the second day and I headed over to the spa. It did not disappoint. The Cascades Spa & Thalasso Soma Bay is recognised as the best in Egypt, and one of the largest in the world.
The Thalasso Tonic Hydrotherapy Pool contains 830 cubic metres of sea water sub-divided into a number of distinct zones – with water jets, currents, counter-currents, showers and bubbling baths.
Each one is designed to provide comfort and to regenerate and tone a specific part of your body.
It’s amazing for breaking down cellulite and fat – so, needless to say, instead of the recommended 20 seconds when the jets were at my legs and bottom, I took considerably longer.
The man who was working there quickly understood what I was doing. We both burst out laughing.
In one of the areas I tried, he told me to swim with the current. It was an amazing experience, as the current moves you around really fast. But then he asked me to walk against the current, and that was tough. But he said it’s amazing for your legs. I wish we had a Thalasso in Ireland.
Ready for a quick dip: James prepares for a snorkelling adventure – and a meeting with Nemo
When I got back, James was smiling from ear to ear, eating pizza and chips in the kids’ club.
James loved Ahmed who ran the club. They played football and built sandcastles while I relaxed. The beach at the Sheraton was out of this world. I couldn’t stop pinching myself as I stared into the crystal clear blue waters.
James and I went on adventures, crab hunting – and finding dinosaur bones and teeth (coral, really). We even found dinosaur tracks (birds, really) as James said they have three toes.
He was so excited and couldn’t believe how lucky he was.
We found a crab and a jellyfish. I absolutely love discovering things through a child’s eyes. Children really make you appreciate the beauty in everything.
We did a mixture of beach and pool for the rest of our stay at the Sheraton. We loved both. James had his new swim-fin, which gave him great confidence in the water.
There were a lot of Europeans there, but I was amazed that the British and Irish have yet to really discover Soma Bay. It’s so close and so beautiful, and it ticks so many boxes.
If you want a family holiday where you can relax and feel confident that your kids are safe and having fun, Soma Bay is ideal.
We transferred to the Kempinski for the last three days. Wow, what a welcome. The hospitality was incredible. We stayed in a hotel within a hotel!
Okay, so let me explain. There is a club within the Kempinski hotel called the Laguna Club. It has its own restaurant for breakfast and dinner. We had an ocean view, which allowed us to see incredibly breathtaking sunsets. If you want luxury, you must stay here.
Beautifully designed: Alison also stayed at Soma Bay’s Sheraton Hotel, with its extensive swathe of space
They even offer a selection of pillows, scented baths and great children’s amenities.
Again, we favoured the beach, as it was simply stunning. James made friends with lots of other kids, and he had a ball while I relaxed watching him.
James had the biggest bubble baths ever. The bath looks out to the ocean and James said to me ‘mum I can see how beautiful the sky looks from here’.
He passed out most evenings very early, so I used to sit on the balcony reading a book.
The kids’ club in the Kempinski was fantastic. They offer a full daily schedule, and you can drop the kids off and pick them up at your leisure.
When they were down at the beach James joined in, or joined them for a movie in the afternoon. But as he’s my buddy and I’m also a child we played on the beach and built sandcastles most of the day.
Our final couple of days were full of adventures. James went snorkelling right out in the ocean.
I couldn’t believe it. It was quite windy but the instructor was amazing. At one stage I thought James was panicking, but he was trying to get his snorkel out of his mouth to inform me he had seen Nemo and also Dory… but she probably wouldn’t remember.
Water features: There are plenty of pools for splashing, and sunloungers for a few hours’ relaxation
We also rode on camels and went on a glass-bottomed boat. It was so much fun. There are also lots of day trips you can take to Luxor and even Cairo, but we stayed put as I needed a rest.
For a winter sun break Soma Bay really is perfect. A five-hour flight and you are in paradise. The water is crystal clear and the beaches have the most beautiful white sand I have ever seen.
The one thing I noticed is that, although these are big hotels, they don’t feel overcrowded.
Everything is very well designed, and even on the beach you have great space between the seats.
Everywhere is very family-friendly, and no matter what your interest, as a family, everyone will be happy. If you are sporty, a diver, a golfer – or if you want to visit one of the leading spas in the world or simply chill out and relax, you can do it all in Soma Bay.
Travel Facts: Plan your own escape to the Red Sea
Holiday Designers (020 3384 0023; www.holiday-designers.com) offers seven-night breaks at the Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay. Breaks in Laguna Club Rooms cost from £830 per person, for stays before 31 October 2015, if booked by 31 January 2015.
The price include return flights, airport tax, 20kg baggage per person, private transfers and airport meet-and-greet service.
Prices are subject to availability.