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From Hurghada to Andermatt

El Gouna Town

‘Orascom is creating new resort towns outside its native Egypt.. Nevine Coutry tells Sydney Paulden

Orascom is a name to watch out for. It is a group of companies based in Egypt, with interests in telecommunications, construction and development. Orascom is planning to spread its wings much wider. Its division most relevant to the MICE sector is Orascom Hotels and Development.

It is best known for its developments that are complete resorts. El Gouna, for example, at Hurghada on Egypt’s Red Sea beaches. This resort boasts 17 hotels offering over 2,700 rooms, with many internationally recognised names, such as Steigenberger, Sheraton and Movenpick. El Gouna has now been in existence for over 20 years and has become a self-contained town, home to around 25,000 residents as well as many thousands of visitors.

Groups staying in one of the hotels are able to make use of facilities in the others, especially for memorable dine-arounds.

‘About 45 minutes flight from Cairo, El Gouna has not been affected by Egypt’s political troubles that have grabbed the headlines around the world for so many months’, says Nevine Coutry, Business Development Manager for Orascom Development.

However, it does mean, she accepts, that there are some very favourable deals to be negotiated and it could be well worth their while for organisers to go to El Gouna to see for themselves how things are.

Nevine says that a stay in Taba Heights can take in three countries. ‘It is possible to take day trips’, she says, ‘to Jerusalem in Israel and to Jordan’s pink rock city of Petra’.

However, it is also understandable that Orascom is diversifying rapidly, setting up similar comprehensive facilities. ‘Morocco, the UAE and Montenegro will have Orascom-style developments in the near future’.

Now, remarkably, Orascom has announced its plans for the establishment of a completely new comprehensive, self-sustainable Alpine resort town in Andermatt, Switzerland. It is to be located 120km (75 miles) south of Zurich, 1,440 metres up in the mountains, at the crossroads of three major mountain passes, the Gotthard, Furka and Oberalp.

The Andermatt Resort, covering 1.5 million sqm, will be the site for six 5- and 4-star hotels with a total of 844 rooms, almost 500 apartments and 30 private villas. Unusually, properties will be available for purchase by non-Swiss residents.

The resort will feature ski lifts, an 18-hole golf course, all-season swimming pool and an extensive sports centre. Andermatt, claims Orascom, will be an attractive MICE destination – for meetings and incentives – at any time of the year.

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