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Fri 28 Mar 2008 04:00 AM

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Alexandria luxury

The Four Seasons is playing a role in luring top-end business travellers from the region.

Luxury Travel News finds out how the coastal city's newest luxury property - the Four Seasons - is playing a key role in luring top-end business and leisure travellers from across the region.

Alexandria is rapidly becoming the destination of choice for top-end business and leisure travellers according to management at one of the Mediterranean city's newest hotels. And the property itself - the Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano - is playing an integral role in this phenomenon, as well as the general development of the Egyptian coastal hub.

Our strategy is to position ourselves to be one of the finest and first choices for the traveller visiting Egypt.

"The minute Four Seasons is involved in a city is the minute that you see more development in that city, because it encourages so many businessmen, and even governments, to look at this city with more vision to develop it," explained the property's director of sales and marketing, Ashraf El Manawaty.

"We are combining memories (of when the hotel was the place to visit in the 1930s) and a new level of service culture, and that is a unique aspect of the property in this city."

He added: "The hotel itself is a huge complex - with 945 apartments, a shopping mall and cinema complex - and then the hotel itself (with 118 rooms and suites). We are talking about a complete package for the traveller with whatever they are looking for. This is really going to be the social centre of the city".

El Manawaty explained that two of the hotel's biggest attractions were the 2500m2 spa spanning two floors - "the first real upscale destination spa in Alexandria" - as well as it its food and beverage offering.

"We have nine in our first phase, and when we finish our second phase of development, we will have another three," he said. "With 12 outlets that gives massive dining options spanning Mediterranean, Italian and modern dining."

Phase two of the property's development will add a beach, a beach club, private villas, a marina, a pool and tennis courts into the mix.

"It is going to be an icon for the entire country, with the best accommodation and beach facilities," said El Manawaty, a firm believer that "the more you offer luxury to the clients, the more the luxury clients will come to you".

"Our strategy is to position ourselves to be one of the finest and first choices for the traveller visiting Egypt or the Middle East. The design of the hotel and the facilities we are offering are ideal for either business or leisure," he added.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Government has started to take some "serious steps" towards developing the infrastructure both in Alexandria and on the country's north coast, according to El Manawaty.

"There is a plan to develop Borg Al Arab airport because the requirements and need for this airport are growing day by day," he explained.

"The government is also trying to clear the water in the eastern harbour so there are more opportunities to dive and see the 'Sunken City' (ruins that have been submerged, including the mythical palace of Cleopatra). If this happens, Alexandria will be on top of the world as people come and see the legend of Cleopatra."

Plans are also in motion to run a train line from Alexandria to Cairo, which would allow clients to take a train to see the pyramids and museums and "even have a meal at one of the Four Seasons properties in Cairo before returning to Alexandria", said Al Manawaty.

But general manager Stephan Killinger, has even grander plans:

"My dream is - and this depends on the airlines which are starting to service Alexandria - to one day start your journey into Egypt via Alexandria, like the old days when you used to arrive by ship and then travel down to Cairo. We would like to start this idea again," he revealed.

In the meantime he noted that when the property opens its beach, Alexandria would "really become a summer destination".

Killinger said Four Seasons was working closely with the Egyptian Government to "build more excitement about Alexandria as a destination".

The government had already started being "more active in looking at tourism [in Alexandria]" and was looking to improve infrastructure with better airports and attractions, he said.

By making Alexandria a sought after tourism destination with top-notch facilities, the hotel would reap the benefits by attracting consistent business year-round, he added.

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