Posts Tagged With: Semiramis

Semiramis Pavilion opens at Semiramis InterContinental Hotel

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou recently inaugurated Semiramis Pavilion meeting centre that he toured while announcing plans to promote tourism in the coming months as well as the initiative of the green energy in tourism and hotels sector. The cutting ribbon inauguration ceremony was attended by Ahmed El Gindi, managing director, Semiramis Hotels Company, Raymond Khalife, board member, Semiramis Hotels Co. Amr Fouad, board member, Semiramis Hotels Co. and Sameh Sobhy, general manager Semiramis InterContinental Cairo.

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Photo shows from right to left: Ahmed El Gindi, managing director, Semiramis Hotels Company; Raymond Khalife, board member, Semiramis Hotels Co.; Egypt’s Minister for Tourism Hisham Zaazou; Amr Fouad, board member; Semiramis Hotels Co. and Sameh Sobhy, general manager Semiramis InterContinental Cairo.

“We are delighted to see the Semiramis InterContinental Cairo welcoming local residents and travellers from further afield,” Zaazou said.  “With its central position in the heart of Cairo the hotel is an important contributor to tourism in Egypt. We look forward to seeing the hotel continue to thrive this year.”

Designed by Tony Chi, the Semiramis Pavilion combines efficiency and luxury for business clients in an uncluttered and modern environment. The Semiramis Pavilion features smart interactive whiteboards, high-speed 30MB Wi-Fi and seven multi-functional and flexible meeting rooms as well as four private offices.

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Semiramis InterContinental Hotel

“We are looking forward to a busy summer period ahead. We just received the ‘Global Partners in Safety Award’ and we are being recognized among other hotels as being a safe place for our employees to work and our guests to stay. With such an amazing team we are sure the hotel will continue to thrive,” said Sobhy.

InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (IHG) has been present in Egypt for more than 25 years. IHG operates hotels across four of its brands – InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites – and remains absolutely committed to this market.

Categories: Cairo, Egypt, Hotels, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Semiramis InterContinental Cairo Hotel launches its Spring Festival

Semiramis InterContinental Cairo launched recently its Spring Festival, 99 Spring Festival, where local guests and foreign travellers can enjoy a variety of offers, ranging from weekend stays to engagement party packages – all for prices ending in 99.

99 spring festival

Throughout the Spring Festival, food-lovers are invited to indulge in all-you-can-eat offers at the hotel’s various food outlets, including the Italian restaurant, Pane Vino; the Thai restaurant, Birdcage; and the Lebanese restaurant Sabaya, all for just LE 99. Those looking for light bite in a relaxed atmosphere can take advantage of the Tea Garden’s Time Out Tea for two and enjoy tea, mini sandwiches and sweets, all for just LE 99.  Seafood lovers can also enjoy a Sushiramis Platter with 12 pieces of sushi for LE 99.

Thai Cuisine at Semiramis InterContinental Cairo HotelPhoto: Semiramis InterContinental Hotel

Thai Cuisine at Semiramis InterContinental Cairo Hotel
Photo: Semiramis InterContinental Cairo Hotel

Enjoy Lebanese cuisine at Semiramis InterContinental Photo: Semiramis InterContinental

Enjoy Lebanese cuisine at Semiramis InterContinental
Photo: Semiramis InterContinental Cairo Hotel

 

Eat sushi as much as you can for LE99Photo: Semiramis InterContinental Hotel

Eat sushi as much as you can for LE99
Photo: Semiramis InterContinental Cairo Hotel

For those who want to relax at the weekend, the hotel is offering two weekend getaway packages, one for families and the other for couples and individuals. The Family Weekend Getaway provides the perfect opportunity to take a city-break with the family – guests can take advantage of two rooms for just LE 999, including breakfast, a set menu dinner for two at Pane Vino and free parking. Couples or individual travellers can book one room for just LE 699 and enjoy breakfast, dinner for two and free parking.

Couples looking for the perfect venue for their special day are in for a treat with the hotel’s unique Wedding Offer. For bookings of more than 500 guests, the hotel will gift the lucky couple a two-night stay in one of the hotel’s Royal suites, as well as breakfast and dinner for two in one of the hotel’s restaurants.  For weddings of more than 140 guests, the hotel will offer the couple a two-night stay at the luxurious Presidential Suite, including an indulgent morning breakfast and romantic heart shaped cake.

Lucrative wedding packages at Semiramis InterContinental at SpringPhoto: Semiramis InterContinental Hotel

Lucrative wedding packages at Semiramis InterContinental at Spring
Photo: Semiramis InterContinental Cairo Hotel

For engagement parties, couples can get a two-hour party, including drinks, photographer, videographer, flowers for a maximum of 99 guests for just LE 9999.

Other offers at the hotel include a Meeting Delegate package with a daily delegate rate of LE 99 for all meetings or events with a minimum of nine people.

Meeting packages during the Spring Festival at the hotelPhoto: Semiramis InterContinental Hotel Cairo

Meeting packages during the Spring Festival at the hotel
Photo: Semiramis InterContinental Hotel Cairo

Those who want to keep their body fit, the Spring Fitness package offers a monthly membership at the hotel’s state of the art health club for just LE 999.

“We are excited to be welcoming guests to Semiramis InterContinental Cairo, and we are looking forward to the busy spring period ahead.  The Spring Festival will add extra value to our guest experience, and offers local residents and travellers from around the globe alike more reasons to visit the hotel,” said Sameh Sobhy, general manager, Semiramis InterContinental.

Categories: Cairo, Egypt, Hotels, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Queen of the Nile: A Historical Tribute to a Landmark Hotel

Cairo has undergone so much change in the last 40 years that it is difficult to visualise what it once was. Before a decree was promulgated for the protection of the historical buildings of Cairo, a great many hotels were demolished to make way for new ones. Semiramis was one of them. This was a great loss because it was landmark of the city, a meeting place of the intelligentsia, a place where afternoon tea on the broad open terrace overlooking the Nile was a tradition. In the foyer air was circulated with huge ceiling fans, and Nubian servants with red tarbooshes and tight cummerbunds hurried hither and thither serving clients.

The book, Queen of the Nile: A Historical Tribute to a Landmark Hotel, was written by Adel Sabet, King Farouk’s biographer and cousin, and is not only a book on the history of a hotel in its heyday, but shows to what extent it was witness to the history of tourism in Egypt; what travellers were like before World War I; their favourite tourist destinations, and how all this changed in the period between the two world wars and afterwards.

Semiramis Hotel was inaugurated in 1907 in Kasr El-Doubara, an area of gardens and gracious town houses. The ruling Khedivial family made the beautifying and developing of the cities of Egypt matters of priority and in Kasr Al-Doubara and its Garden City extension the process reached something of a climax.

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The front of the Old Semiramis Hotel

There are no gardens in Garden City today, and its winding circular roads are so congested with traffic that it is difficult to visualise a time in which it deserved its name. The book describes the large number of aristocrats who lived there and the hotel that was designed to be palatial, with a luxury unexcelled, a home for royal visitors, prestigious celebrities and world figures.

The hotel was the brainchild of Swiss hotelier Bucher-Durrer who owned a chain of hotels in Europe including Rome Quirinale, the Palace in Milan and several prestigious hotels in Switzerland. He purchased 6,000 square metres overlooking the Nile in the vicinity of Kasr Al-Doubara, in a prime position between the palace of the Walda Pasha and Kasr Al-Nil Palace.

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Charles Baehler, former owner of the hotel

During the last years of the 19th and those of the early 20th century, Cairo attained a social apogee. To the well-heeled, affluent and well-connected, a winter in Egypt was a social adventure difficult to resist. “Cairo’s winter world was one of great receptions and intensive socialising,” the book says. “Every major hotel held a splendid ball at least once a week. Thus the Semiramis Ball was on Saturday, Shepheard’s on Wednesday and so on. In the great lobbies of the hotels, be-fezzed pashas and great archaeologists mixed with world famous leaders of society, distinguished authors, stars of the entertainment world and the swinging aristocracy of Edwardian Europe.”

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The wife of Agha Khan is greeted by the hotel’s famed jeweller, Onning Alixanian; Aristotle Onassis (in the middle) is shown the hotel on his arrival; the original price list and services

With the outbreak of World War I, an era ended and another started as far as the history of Egypt and Egyptian tourism was concerned. The book reveals that “Cairo took no precautions and uninhibitedly carried on its way of life. But the tourists were replaced by a new kind of visitor. The city had become the main war base of the Eastern Mediterranean battle area. Gatherings in Cairo included Australian and New Zealand armed forces, as well as soldiers from the Indian Empire and troops brought back from the muddy battlefields of northern France. The battles in the Aegean swelled the number of victims of the blood baths of Flanders and Piacardy, which claimed the lives of many young men who had attended the dancing balls of the Semiramis and other Cairo hotels.”

One of the luxury bedrooms

One of the luxury bedrooms

The reception area

The reception area of the hotel

The Queen of the Nile describes how tourists — a different kind of tourist — returned to Egypt after the war. They were less affluent and could no longer afford prolonged winters. The aristocrat from Europe was replaced by a breed of war profiteers. Moreover, Egypt had become a monarchy and the book points out that “monarchies tend to stimulate tourism”.

The tomb of Tutankhamun in the 1920s was a tourist bonanza. There is no doubt about that. The treasures of the Pharaonic king caught the imagination of the world and tourists flocked to gaze in wonder at the superb workmanship of Ancient Egyptian goldsmiths and the incredibly rich funerary furniture. Egypt also became a favourite destination for literary figures like Britain’s Agatha Christie, Finnish Mika Waltari who wrote his best-selling Sinouhi the Egyptian, Freya Stark, the noted traveller and explorer, and French writers like Jean Cocteau, Andre Gide, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Celebrities included Agha Khan with his wife who came regularly, and film stars Douglas Fairbanks and his wife. With the eruption of World War II everything changed. Cairo became the home of a large expatriate British community because it was the Middle East supply centre, and the book describes how the Semiramis and other hotels of Cairo “offered solace, comfort and entertainment to the embattled crowd of resident expatriates. They served the morale of both civilian and military personnel snatching a few hours leave from the battlefields almost within sound of the guns of Alamein where men were dying”. They began to provide a new service: ballrooms. Theatres sprang up for entertainment, and Cairo became one of the most prestigious entertainment centres of the world.

After the war, the Semiramis reverted to its role as a premier luxury hotel. Some of its old and faithful clients like the Agha Khan drifted back. A great Ismaili rally was organised in the ballroom. It was attended by Prince Ali Khan and his companion, the glamorous Rita Hayworth. The event coincided with the polo season. This prestigious game attracted the visit of the polo-playing Maharaja of Jaipur who came accompanied by his attractive wife. For a short space of time, Semiramis became the home of a dazzling group of international polo players.

Semiramis roof became the ‘in’ place for Egyptian upper-class society. To quote the text of Queen of the Nile, “Under a full moon, one danced in a magic world overlooking the Nile. One tangoed, waltzed, fox-trotted those intimate dances of the recent past. One held one’s partner in one’s arms and romance blossomed under the stars.” Egypt’s royal family were frequently to be seen there: King Farouk and his sister Princess Fayza.

Semiramis Hotel and Shepheard Hotel overlooking the Nile

Semiramis Hotel and Shepheard Hotel overlooking the Nile

After the revolution of 1952, the pace and quality of life changed. The call for a new modern establishment on the bank of the Nile was heard. Old-fashioned luxury such as the Semiramis offered was considered uneconomic. The era of mass tourism and conducted tours was about to begin.

Semiramis, and all that the name meant, has gone. The glitzy Semiramis Intercontinental with modern facilities which has sprung up in its place is particularly popular with Arab tourists and upgrade tour groups from America. Nubian waiters have been replaced by smart suited waiters. For those who remember, there is a feeling of regret for “the good old days”!

Categories: Egypt, Travel History | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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