So, El 3atal had the brainstorm that for one last brief respite of summer we should take the Beans to Aqaba. Now I haven’t been to Aqaba since El 3atal and I got married like 15 years ago. Frankly, I haven’t heard the best things about Aqaba. Not much, it seemed had changed. I heard of service that rivals the mediocrity plaguing Amman’s five-star hotels. And, the town was as run-down and shady as so long ago… Well, granted the town is the one I remember. However, we didn’t stay in town, so it was a non-issue for us.
To set the stage, let me describe the Aqaba I remember… it was essentially a one-horse town. When we walked through the slightly seedy shops, I got cat calls, stares, and hoots. Back then, there weren’t Americans on every corner, in every supermarket (what supermarket?) and such. In Amman, I got looks of the sort typified by those who had never seen a blond, but never felt degraded or gross. Aqaba back then was… well… almost Amman today. Aqaba today… well, we skipped the shops and the town in general. We enjoyed a great time at one of Jordan’s new resorts. We spent a few days at the Movenpick Tala Bay resort.
The resort was absolutely beautiful. It features stunning views, lovely pools, and something for each age group. They had a great water slide that helped cement the Beans burgeoning swimming skills (kudos to their summer swim instructors in the US). They had a deeper pool with floating goals for older kids (and younger adults). And they had two pools with no kid-features for older guests. They also had a huge chess set that the Beans enjoyed exploring with Baba.
But really, what makes me reevaluate Aqaba as a destination is this… the service at the hotel was excellent. The staff was multicultural including numerous Africans and Filipinas. Even the Jordanians employed in the hotel had good service skills. I didn’t get creepy come-on vibes, no staring from the lifeguards, nothing. The buffets were plentiful and tasty. And, perhaps best of all, the place was not crowded. We often had the water slide to ourselves.
All-in-all the experience was a great capstone to our packed summer vacation. We had restful relaxation with good service and good food. We were far enough from home that it was a getaway and close enough that the Beans didn’t spend every minute of the trip asking if we were there yet… All in all…