The strenuous snorkelling regime, the incessant lugging of heavy plates after plundering buffets at every meal and the hours spent languishing round the Intercontinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort’s sparkling pool precariously balancing my book (or my head on my neck) have finally started to take their toll.
In an effort to save my body and skin from irreversible damage and make sure I survive our last two days in paradise (if only barely), Rebecca has ordered me to the hotel’s exclusive Six Senses Spa. Of course I protest (albeit a bit limply), but as COSMO’s business development manager, Rebecca doesn’t take no for an answer (and could probably even teach pyramid hawkers a trick or two).
We decide on a Cleopatra Facial – after all, the legendary queen of Egypt reputedly had flawless skin because she often bathed in milk and honey – to be followed up by a back massage.
My therapist Bua, from Thailand, is an absolute angel with a firm, feather-light touch and treats me to the most wonderful facial. She exfoliates my skin with crushed almond, smothers it in a milk and oat mask, refreshes it with cucumbers and rejuvenates both my face and arms with a languorous olive oil massage.
Thankfully though, she doesn’t torture me with a Thai back massage – I had one of those in Krabi in Thailand two years ago and suffered back and neck pain for three days afterwards! No, Bua gives me one of those soothing deep massages where afterwards you toy with the idea of blowing your entire salary just to keep the masseuse’s hands kneading your body. Yes, I’m an unapologetic massage whore and the way to my heart is through my shoulders and neck (swoon!).
Two hours later I emerge as my old self and famished from all the relaxation (I assume?). It’s Egyptian night at Souq Al Hana restaurant so we’re all in for a real feast. I also happen to be a pudding whore, so unfortunately I spend a large part of every meal hovering around the pudding buffet – in fact, I always visit the puddings first to satiate my greedy eyes and then retreat to the main meal options.
Tonight the tables are groaning under traditional Egyptian puddings. There’s Konafa, an angel’s hair pastry topped with whipped cream and crushed pistachio nuts, the coconut cake Harissa and Becklawa, which are little round balls that taste just like koeksisters. But I must behave myself so I peruse the main meal tables and load my (first) plate with Koushari, a combination of rice, spaghetti, macaroni, black lentils, chickpeas and onions, Okra Tagine, which is a tomato stew containing the local marrow okra, and Calamari Tagine. One chef opts to inform me that calamari is ‘good for six’. I finally manage to work out that he means ‘sex’ when he elaborates further with ‘You can go all night’. Priceless information indeed.
But the winning dish of the night is undoubtedly the Beef Schwarma. Chef Mustafa Mohammed explains that the beef is marinaded for an entire week in a mix of orange and lemon juice, white vinegar, nutmeg and garlic. Rebecca and I can’t help but load up on two of them and manage to find out that they will be served the night before we leave Egypt – such luck!
The rest of our evening is spent watching dancers perform different traditional dances including a regal pharoah number, a Nubian jig and sensual belly dancing. Triple wow!
P.S. If you want to know more about what InterContinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort has to offer you, click here.