There are many private beaches sprawled across Egypt’s second largest coastal city Alexandria, either completely free or with a low-cost entrance fee. But only a few exclusive beaches offer the luxury of not forcing beach-goers to sit tightly crammed together like sardines along a small stretch of sand.
One exclusively private beach which was quite literally created from scratch is the Four Seasons San Stefano beach, with its hotel looming in the background. Designed in a crescent-like shape, the entire building is a complex of luxury apartments, the Four Seasons hotel and a mall with cinemas, a food court, restaurants, and cafés.
Getting to the Four Seasons San Stefano beach may look like quite an adventure, what with a whole two-way road in between the hotel and the beach. Even though a traffic-light-slash-pelican-crossing was recently added, it still feels like quite a hassle getting to and from each location.
But surprisingly, the architects at Four Seasons San Stefano beach thought of everything. There is an underpass that connects the residential apartments and hotel straight to the beach– quietly, smoothly, and swiftly. Hotel guests are allowed entry but only apartment owners who have paid a hefty beach membership lump sum with an annual maintenance fee are allowed access to the beach.
Upon entry to the Four Seasons San Stefano beach a member of staff asks for either your hotel room number or your spa membership number. Four Seasons San Stefano beach also offers a day-use access fee that is well over 150 EGP.
Although the Four Seasons San Stefano beach is quite exclusive, it doesn’t feel pretentious like some other beaches in Egypt. Perhaps it is the flowers and palm trees that greet you as you exit the underpass that gives off a sense of ease.
Or perhaps it’s the manicured lawns and pretty flower pots. Or the fact that the population mainly consists of laid-back tourists on their vacation.
The Four Seasons San Stefano beach has a children’s playground, a fish restaurant, and a café. The café’s peak hours are during the evenings with large screen televisions, live music, and puffs of smoke from the many shisha pipes being consumed.
You can also order food from the comfort of your own lounge chair at Four Seasons San Stefano beach. While this burger, costing 90+ EGP, was juicy on one day, the next time we ordered it, it was tasteless and as dry as a rock. It’s clear that there are different chefs on different days and no consistency on how the burger should be cooked and seasoned. What a shame, especially considering the price.
But it’s all about the beach, isn’t it? And this is it at the Four Seasons San Stefano beach…a man-made beach that didn’t exist ten years ago. Although I prefer natural white-sandy beaches with natural rock formations, this one isn’t too shabby.
Since the Four Seasons San Stefano beach opens at 8 am, I found that the best time to go is at around 8 am to 10 am. That’s when I find the beach at its quietest, so you can choose the best place to sit, have some relaxation time, and pretend that the beach is all yours.
Because there are other parts of the Four Seasons San Stefano beach that haven’t yet officially opened the lounge chairs are a bit close to each other –considering that this is a luxury private beach– so when it is busy, especially on Thursdays and Fridays, it can get a little uncomfortable, especially for the amount of money you have paid. This issue is incomparable to other beaches, however, where there is literally no space between chairs.
On the plus side, the sound of the waves hitting the shore is louder than the noise of the road behind, so the rest of Alexandria often feels like a distant dream.
At the Four Seasons San Stefano beach there is a bit of a descent into the Mediterranean waters. Even when you look towards the shore you can see that the beach is a bit of an incline. This is probably intentional, to stop the sea from rising too far, especially during the winter when the beach is closed. Because of the incline, it is a little hard to climb out of the water if you are a little rusty in the health department.
There are security guards with guard dogs to protect the borders of the beach. This is obviously to prevent intruders, non-membership visitors and fishermen from sneaking in the private Four Seasons San Stefano beach.
Since there are two man-made reefs made from rocks that curve around the beach at a distance, making the beach on a bay, fishermen and the public are free to access those areas.
A downside to windy conditions in Alexandria is that the waves bring in the litter. I even spotted an eaten watermelon! Although I have seen the friendly staff clean some parts of the beach, sometimes they are quite laid back with other parts of the Four Seasons San Stefano beach that people use. They have used the excuse that “If we clean up now, the waves will only keep bringing in more litter.” On one occasion, we’ve had to ask a staff member to clean the sand in front of us since it was full of litter and sharp items that are dangerous to step on with bare feet.
This aside, with the iconic building in the background, you never really forget where you are in Alexandria.
A basic set-up on the Four Seasons San Stefano beach are the lounge chairs that are covered in towels, with a rolled-up towel placed on the head of the chair to act as a head-rest. Very comfortable.
Strangely, this part of the Four Seasons San Stefano beach, although completed, isn’t occupied by lounge chairs yet. I think it makes more sense to space out the lounge chairs so that there is more space between people. But so far, this part of the beach is largely unoccupied.
Conveniently, you don’t need to walk all the way back to your room or apartment to visit the bathroom or have a shower after a swim. There’s one right on the beach.
The bathrooms are next to the entrance to the Four Seasons San Stefano beach. There are pretty petals hanging from the rooftop. There are also smaller bathrooms right in front of the beach.
The bathrooms are luxurious and air-conditioned. But not on one Thursday when a nursery came for a day use. It was so hectic, there were dirty diapers discarded on the floor; tissues in the sink. The poor bathroom attendant had her work cut out for her, rushing around cleaning after them. The nursery teachers didn’t really care about their inconsideration that others had to use the bathroom. I would avoid visiting the bathrooms if there is a school outing on the beach.
There’s a changing room with clean towels and a laundry basket for when you’ve used a towel.
If you’ve taken a swim, there are showers! It’s a little weird that there’s no latch to secure yourself inside the shower to ensure privacy, but it’s a practical feature nonetheless.
Not only is it quite spacious inside…
It also has everything you need, from hooks to hang your towels, to shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel dispensers.
Sometimes when it’s a windy day, I’d rather sit by the Fours Seasons pool than have sand blew into my eyes and mouth (has happened!)
The pool area is for hotel guests and overlooks the street and beach. There’s also an indoor pool.
Did I mention it’s an eternity pool? It looks like it merges with the sea in the distance.
But I’d choose the sea over the pool any day. It has exciting waves.
Calming waters to recharge your energy.
And cute things to spot in the sand, like this little footprint!
Despite the few limitations of the man-made world they’ve created here, the sun setting into the sea is quite a spectacular vista.
Perhaps it’s nature’s way of showing that no matter what man gets up to, with the sun and the sea, nature will always be an inspiration, and at the center of it all.
Four Seasons San Stefano beach
399 El Geish Road
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