CAIRO: Winning the race against Dubai and Saudi Arabia, Egypt raked in the much-coveted New Millennium Award.
The annual Award, given to the top 105 restaurants, hotels, or caterers, went to Sakkara Country Club & Resort, The Concorde El Salam Hotel, and the First Mall s La Gourmandise restaurant.
Ibrahim Sami, owner and general manager of the Sakkara Club, explains that the awarding body was looking for places with something unique to offer.
They are not going to award a chain just because it s five stars, he says.
What his country club offers, is the usual club facilities but with a special focus on horseback riding, set against a natural desert backdrop.
The Club is advertised on its website as the most exclusive club in Cairo. Sakkara Club does not advertise elsewhere, however, relying on its clientele by word-of-mouth, embassies, and foreign companies.
Even its hotel is not open to tourists. Instead, club use is open only to its 680 member families and their guests to keep the club nice and quiet.
Sami explains that locals who stay at the hotel are those who enjoy nature and want to escape the city’s noise, hustle and pollution. Still, most locals are actually foreigners or Egyptians who have lived abroad.
Originally family land, the club first opened as an equestrian center by Sami s mother Laila El Derwy in 1985 so that Sami and his brother and friends would have a place to ride. In the early 1990s the country club was inaugurated.
The First Mall s La Gourmandise French restaurant also won an award this year. Hoda Khaled, Food and Beverage Manager at the First Mall, explains that the food there is made with passion, using imported ingredients.
Khaled says the restaurant attracts Maadi foreigners who pick up their bakery in the morning, businessmen holding lunches, and companies holding events or launches, as well as tourists and high-class Egyptians.
Soha Nassif, Regional Director of Public Relations and Advertising for Concorde Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh is also proud of her restaurant s quality and diversity.
The Georgian palace style of the hotel is what makes it unique, she says.
The New Millennium Awards, now in their 32rd year, are selected by the Trade Leader s Club in Madrid. Members visit sites in all countries of the world at random and as regular guests, without informing the facility of their presence.
While many African sites received awards this year, in the Middle East only one Qatari hotel was awarded, Sami told The Daily Star Egypt.
The Trade Leader s Club is an association of enterprises of over 7,000 members in 120 countries and comprising all the production and services fields of activity, and who were previously awarded by the Editorial Ofice publishing house and foreign trade magazines.