Jordan is one of my favourite countries to visit. Not only have they really done tourism right with the wide range of accommodation options as well as the general infrastructure that makes it easy to travel throughout the country independently, but the service cannot be beat wherever you find yourself. Add to this the fact that Jordanian people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever come across and you’re onto a winning combination of all of the points of travel that make it truly memorable.
I spent some time in Aqaba – a historic Red Sea resort town, set amid Tala Bay with stunning views of both Egypt and Israel easily seen just across the way. Aqaba is home to numerous fantastic hotels and accommodation options, but the one I want to tell you about is Tala Bay Resort.
With King Hussein International Airport only thirty kilometers away, the location of Tala Bay Resort couldn’t be better. It’s situated south of the main city of Aqaba, meaning it’s quiet, secluded but with the option to go into the city if you wish. The hotel also runs a shuttle service for those flying with Royal Jordanian Airlines – the national carrier of Jordan, so it makes arriving seamless, stress free and easy. The hotel is situated right on its own stretch of sandy beach, making it an ideal place to just kick back, relax and take a load off with a drink in hand watching the mesmerising waves of the Red Sea.
The rooms at Tala Bay Resort are decorated with a homey but modern feel with colour schemes that compliment the scenery surrounding the hotel and beyond. The desert landscapes go perfectly with the interior design of the rooms, all of which come with free high speed internet access as well as flat screen TVs. My particular room was facing over the Red Sea, and it provided some seriously spectacular sunset views, often a myriad of colours as the sun disappeared behind the mountain landscape of Egypt on the other side of the sea.
Tala Bay Resort has a variety of rooms – including suites and apartments for those who really want a home away from home feeling. I had a deluxe room with a huge bed with some of the softest pillows I think I’ve ever encountered. It’s safe to say I slept like a baby while at Tala Bay Resort.
The food on offer at Tala Bay Resort is hugely varied. Whether you want something local, western or even Thai or Indian cuisine, they have it there. Aziab is probably the main restaurant and offers buffet service for breakfast and dinner, allowing you a whole different array of options according to your different preference. I particularly liked the live omelette station at breakfast, allowing you to watch as professional chefs add anything you want, the perfect way to start a busy day.
The bars ‘Sunset Deck’, ‘Baywatch’, ‘Kenzi Lounge’ and ‘Dugout Bar’ are all great places to catch snacks, a small meal such as lunch or enjoy a cocktail after a long day of beach lounging, exploring the area or partaking in the numerous watersports available. The Dugout Bar is poolside with swim up service, making it a great spot for those who want to cool off but without having to battle the waves of the Red Sea and enjoy a cocktail or beer while they do it.
The Sunset Deck is the perfect place for those who want to sample one of the common aspects of Middle Eastern culture – the shisha pipe – as they have numerous flavours of tobacco on offer and also serve a variety of drinks. I particularly liked the Sunset Deck as it’s got amazing views over the sea and is the perfect place to unwind with a drink while watching the different colours of the sunset take hold. To be honest though, almost everywhere around the resort was ideal for watching the sunset – they’re colourful and idyllic in the area. Perfect for photos. Tala Bay Resort also offers an option to add full board to your room price which is a handy addition, but I chose not to take this option so I had slightly more flexibility in terms of where and when I ate. For those who don’t mind though, this is a fantastic option and really can help take the guesswork out of meal times, allowing you to truly relax and just enjoy your time away.
One of the most sought after experiences for anyone travelling to Jordan is a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra. Located only an hour drive from Tala Bay Resort, Petra is one of the world’s most unique archaeological areas dating back to around 300 BC and was the Nabataean capital. Day trips are possible from Tala Bay Resort on request and is well worth a visit, especially for those, like me, who are history buffs and love old historical sites.
Diving is also one of the most popular activities for anyone who comes to the Red Sea area. Home to vast expanses of beautiful coral caves and reefs teeming with mesmerising and lush marine life, it’s no wonder many diving lovers come for a holiday and end up making the region their home. Sinai Divers Aqaba is located right next to the resort and offers guided dives, safaris and courses for those who want to get more up close and personal with the sea life in and around Aqaba in ways other than snorkelling. I have to say that the snorkelling was some of the best I’ve seen in the world and it’s easy to see why the Red Sea is continually mentioned as one of the top snorkelling or diving sites in the world.
The grounds of the hotel itself are huge and landscaped meticulously with gardens as well as five swimming pools. Walking around the gardens just to explore was an enjoyable early morning activity prior to breakfast and really set up each day nicely. With the five pools to choose from in the afternoon, I had no trouble at all finding a way to cool off as the mercury got a bit up there. Beware if travelling in the summer months in the region as it can be almost unbearably hot, but great air conditioning and the multitude of great swimming options – pool or sea – help a lot.
For those who want something a bit more exciting and adrenaline pumping parasailing and kitesurfing amongst other activities are available in the area and are hugely popular throughout the Red Sea region. While I didn’t do anything quite that exciting, I did take a boat trip around Tala Bay which showcased some of the amazing mountain scenery against the blue sea waters, something I can definitely recommend, although I definitely suggest bringing a bit of sunscreen.
So if you’re looking for the perfect getaway by yourself, with a partner or spouse, with friends or you’re travelling for business, Tala Bay Resort is the place to stay while in Aqaba. Not only is it welcoming, a home away from home and a gorgeous spot, but the choices between food, drinks and activities will keep you fed, happy and entertained – no matter how long you stay.