September 08 2011
Today I made a quick visit to see some of the A&K team in Egypt. I often find myself flying to places for a matter of hours, then getting back on a plane to go somewhere else. After years of doing this I am now quite used to it. The plus side is that I’m not anywhere long enough to get jet lag, and the time spent travelling allows me to catch up on paperwork, including researching new, wonderful places to go and things to do. Didn’t quite make it to the gym this morning but I figured I could use the facilities at the Four Seasons Cairo First Residence, where I usually stay.
I landed mid-morning and drove to the hotel. I have been here quite a few times, but the view over the Great Pyramids never fails to amaze me. I love the hustle and bustle of Egypt, it has such a vibrant atmosphere and walking through the bazaars is a great experience and always a good chance to pick up some presents, although you need to have your best haggling head on.
I checked in and went for a swim; these days this is probably the only activity where you cannot be interrupted by your phone ringing, although I am sure it won’t be long before this changes.
Next I had a meeting with Amr Badr, our managing director, and a few other executives who run A&K in Cairo. Our guests who travel here can do everything from a camel ride around the Pyramids to a dip in the Red Sea to experiencing a Bedouin evening. We have clients coming here from just a day or so to up to a week, so we have to make sure we have different programmes and opportunities to suit everyone. After a while we adjourned to the restaurant at the hotel (where they do the best jumbo shrimps) to continue the meeting. Once we finished, I had time for a couple of calls to the office in London to check with Caroline that everything was OK, and to catch up on some emails. I am planning to visit my sister in Montana at the weekend, so started to finalise my travel plans to see her as well.
In the afternoon I went to see the guys who run our luxury cruises along the Nile. We have several boats, but I jumped aboard the Sun Boat IV which has floor-to-ceiling windows. I love it because you get to see the history of Egypt coupled with all the modern amenities you could want, from air conditioning to internet-ready computers. We also operate a no-mobile policy in the public areas of the boat to make sure that swimming isn’t the only way to find refuge from ringing mobile telephones.
We had a really good discussion about how things were going and how we can make things even more interesting for our guests. Then it was back to the hotel – and then I braved a visit to the bazaars. The temperature was in the seventies, which is fine – and warmer than the temperatures we have been experiencing in England lately, even at the height of the summer.
Even though I was determined not to buy anything, I ended up purchasing a lovely wooden chess board. I was quite pleased with myself, as I got it for about £5 less than the opening price – although I guess it was still over the odds, judging by the smile on the man’s face.
Then I had dinner with some clients who happened to be in town, and made sure they were having a great time before heading up to my room. I checked my emails, spoke to my wife and was almost asleep before my head hit the pillow.