Less than 30 minutes from the border of Israel lies a village built from the ground up to support Red Sea tourism from around the world. The small village of Taba, Egypt lays inland from the sea. Although the area the tourists see is rarely the city itself but instead tourist flock to Taba Heights, the epicenter of tourism in the area. Taba Heights includes a small town with condos, restaurants, and shopping but again, its draw is really the Red Sea, scuba diving, and the four resorts within the compound: The Hyatt, Sofitel, Marriott, and Intercontinental.
sunrise over resort
When we first arrived at Taba Heights from Dahab, security was extremely tight. Each car was searched by security before being allowed into the resort area. The search included cars being investigated for bombs (both in the trunk and the undercarriage) and the Egyptian drivers was authorized to enter only after leaving his identification with security. As passengers, we were required to show our passports and verify where we were staying. Although it seemed a bit much, Islamic terrorist groups have attacked hotels in the past in Egypt and the locals are doing everything they can to keep tourists safe and keep history from repeating itself.
Once we arrived at the hotel, our taxi was stopped by a road block about 300 meters from the entrance and we were shuttled to the lobby via golf cart. A quick scan of our luggage and we were immediately greeted by warm smiles of the receptionist. We were offered a seat while they confirmed our reservation, copied our passports, and did everything else that is required of check in. The only odd thing they asked for was a copy of my Marriott Platinum membership card. I did not have this, but was able to e-mail them a screen shot from my Marriott smartphone App. While we waited, less than 3 minutes for the entire process to be complete, we were welcomed with some fruity non-alcoholic beverage and offered a Platinum welcome gift. Mohamed, the lead receptionist, was extremely polite and proficient, thanked us for our stay, and then walked us to our hotel room. He was extremely friendly, made appropriate small talk, and thanked us many times for staying at the Taba Heights Resort. He also informed us that he had upgraded us to a two room suite overlooking the ocean and he really hoped that we would enjoy the room.
View from room’s balcony
As we entered the room, my jaw dropped. This was by far the largest hotel room I had EVER stayed in! The hotel room had a foyer, a large living room, a full five-piece bathroom, a powder room, two balconies, a coat closet, two desks/work stations, and looked out at the hotel compound and ocean. The décor was simple but the room and view was overall STUNNING! Then to top it off, there was a large fresh fruit plate awaiting our arrival in the living room. Even before I could finish exploring the place, Mohammed was thanking us again for choosing his resort, when one of the resort’s managers knocked on the door. Waleed, the front desk manager, came by our room to ensure we were comfortable and to make sure the bed arrangements were alright. I had requested two beds, but this grand suite only had a king size bed. To honor my request, a second bed had been brought in, and was already made in the far corner of the bedroom. Everything was splendid! Never before had I been escorted to my room by the front desk manager and team! This was an amazing touch and really made me feel special!
View from the Lobby bar overlooking pools and ocean
camels walking on beach in front of resort
Hotel Room: The hotel room was very nice, yet slightly dated. It wasn’t the most updated hotel room, yet the furniture was in good shape and everything functioned properly. The room was extremely large, and, in fact felt empty at times and even echoed when one spoke loudly. The walls were fairly bare and the TVs are old. Despite this, everything is well maintained and the simplicity is nice. After all, who spends a lot of time in the hotel room? I know I certainly do not! The most important part for me was the bed was extremely comfortable and the water pressure was strong! Not to mention, having two toilets and two showers was a huge win!
stand alone shower + tub/shower combo in master bathroom
Video Room Tour
Frush Fruit & Platinum Gift of nuts and wine
Dining options: The resort has moved to an all-inclusive concept, primarily catering to tourist groups and charter flights/group packages from Europe and Russia. All three meals were served in the hotels large main restaurant and snacks were offered around the property at the pool bar, lobby bar, and night club. The menu changed daily and for a resort of this size, I would say the options were plentiful and delicious. It was never a 5 star dining experience, as each meal was a large buffet, but the staff were very efficient; drinks stayed filled, plates were quickly removed, and the food was tasty! The dining experience somewhat reminded me of being on a cruise, with more class and flavors!
Alcohol & Drinks: Like most all-inclusive resorts, all local spirits are included in the cost. Drinking hours were from 11am to 11pm. The local spirits were strong, but not the quality that I have grown accustomed to sipping, I would advise you not to drink anything neat and water the strong pours down with soda or juice. Despite this, why complain about free drinks; with enough soda one can easily mask the taste of bad vodka or rum and to be completely honest I never had a hangover. So I either didn’t drink enough or the alcohol wasn’t all that bad. Other options include red & white wine, although, avoid the rose; all they do is mix the red and white wine together, beer, juice, and soda. The staffs working the bar were friendly, fun, and learned many guests by names and drinks. I was impressed by everyone!
The Resorts Amenities: Looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, then this hotel has everything for you. The beach goes for miles in each direction and offers amazing views of surrounding Jordan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The sand is warm year round and the sea is comfortable for swimming no matter what the season. If you’re not a fan of swimming in the ocean, no problem, as the large pool encompasses most of the center grounds of the hotel and offers great places to sneak away from the crowds, even while swimming. The pool also offers a water slide to keep children and adults of all ages entertained!
For those of you who are looking to get pampered, the resort Spa offers a Jacuzzi, steam room, and sauna! There’s no better to end the day than relaxing and detoxifying at the resorts spa, complimentary for guests! Then for those of you who like to splurge, the spa offers all the traditional offerings at extremely reasonable prices; not like the overpriced traditional hotel spas. The staff is extremely professional and although they try to upsell you, once you inform them that you are not interested they do not push any further. The spa also includes a great gym and has cardio and weight machines along with free weights to help maintain your exercise routines. Plus the gym looks out at the mountains and red sea, providing a wonderful view while pumping iron!
When the day is over, and you’ve relaxed or worked out, or drank too much, head down the Hotel’s disco. Enjoy complimentary nightly shows and dance the night away as the in-house DJ spins music to get your feet moving and your hips gyrating!
Hotel Dance Performance in the night club
The hotel also offers tennis courts, volleyball, a kid’s jungle gym, a kids club, and more amenities than I could truly remember or explore in my two day stay at Taba Heights. Despite spending the majority of my time lounging at the beach or indulging in the spirits and food, I will never forget the professionalism of the staff! I felt as though everyone knew my name, knew who I was and what room I was in. The hotel was not even operating at 25% of capacity, but still I never was treated the way as I was by the staff at the Taba Resorts Marriott. I am not sure if it’s because they are used to serving charter groups/guests without Marriott status or if it’s because the hotel was so empty they personalized their services to everyone. Either way, everywhere I went I was greeted by staff, waved to, etc, and every one greeted me by name. It was a unique, yet odd experience. Even my friend got a lot of laughs from it, and he started greeting me and serving me “Anything for you Mr. Horan, Here you are Mr. Horan, anything else for you Mr. Horan” and would mimic the staff and bow a little while bring me drinks from the bar. It was a great stay, provided some great laughs, and I honestly hope I can return to this extremely beautiful hotel in the near future!
view from weight room/gym
locker room & spa showers
For those who are looking to stay at the Marriott Taba Heights Resort, there are a couple of options to reach the hotel overland or by air. Taba does have a very small international airport, primarily served by charter flights since the revolution as tourism has decreased. Another option would be to fly into Sharm el-Sheikh and hire a cab for around 400-500 Egyptian pounds (~45-55 euros) and approximately a 2 hour drive. Another quick option is to fly into Eilat, Israel and then cross into Egypt at the Taba border crossing. When we crossed the border, there was NO wait and it took less than 15 minutes to leave Israel and taxis eagerly await tourists on the other side (the same was true when entering Israel from Egypt, no wait and extremely easy).
If you’re in Southern Israel, I would HIGHLY suggest leaving Eilat and visiting Taba Heights. The beaches are nicer and the hotels are equally as nice or nicer for ½ the price. The 5 star resorts in Eilat are well over $200 a night and are not inclusive of food and drinks, meanwhile, the Marriott Taba heights can easily be booked for as little as $60 a night. The resort is safe and the hour or less commute from Eilat is extremely easy and worth it!
map of resort