Egypt hotel goes alcohol-free, creates women-only floor

Egypt hotel goes alcohol-free, creates women-only floor

Hotel at second largest Red Sea city takes a drier approach to tourism
Locals flock to a public beach in Hughada in this 2010 file photo. The Red Sea city is a popular destination for local and domestic tourists.

Egypt's first 'dry' hotel has been unveiled in the popular Red Sea city of Hurghada, according to news site Al Bawaba.

Les Rois, a 183-room three-star hotel, has been voluntarily alcohol-free since Saturday when it held an official ceremony that involved pouring alcohol away and smashing bottles. A video posted on YouTube shows the event.

Earlier this year, the Egyptian government announced plans to curb alcohol licenses in parts of the country.

Hurghada, about 400 kilometers southeast of Cairo, is the second largest city on the Red Sea coast and is very popular with tourists.

In the wake of the proposed licensing restrictions, some tour operators have expressed concern a ban would negatively impact tourism in Egypt.

International tourism has long been a mainstay of the Egyptian economy, with United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) figures showing it generated $10.1 billion in 2012. Though UNWTO data showed a 17% increase in tourism arrivals to 11.2 million in 2012, the sector has been struggling to prove the country is still safe to visit in the wake of the 2011 revolution.

The Luxor balloon flight accident in February did not help tourism efforts.

More on CNN: Luxor balloon flights resume

Les Rois' management hopes the hotel's new alcohol-free status will draw international visitors that are more in keeping with Egypt's Islamic values. 

"The idea of launching a hotel without alcohol is not to adhere to any particular movement but rather to provide a new kind of tourism," Yasser Kamal, the owner of the hotel, told MENA (Middle Eastern New Agency).

Kamal added the hotel remains open to all visitors regardless of their religious affinity.

The hotel's website hasn't been updated to reflect the change, saying it still boasts two bars and an English pub.

In addition to the alcohol ban, the hotel has also designated the entire top floor, including a swimming pool, as a female-only area.

The top floor will be patrolled by female security officers.

The hotel has not responded to requests for additional comment.

Les Rois, El Hadaba El Shamaleya Road, Hurghada 84111, Egypt 
 

Qin Xie is a London based freelance journalist and trained chef. When not infiltrating Michelin restaurants as a kitchen tourist, she writes about food, drink and travel. Her work has appeared on Yahoo, FT, The Times and of course CNN. She has also just started working on her first book.

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