Let’s start with the obvious: living in the desert is dry and lacking… water. Enter Aqaba – a wonderful city in Southern Jordan right on the Red Sea. The drive from Amman (Jordan’s capital city) is about 3.5 hours. The road conditions could stand to be improved in certain stretches but overall it’s an easy drive. As usual in Jordan, watch out for the (highway) speed bumps!
Prior to vacationing in Aqaba, I had never seen the Red Sea. The water was much clearer than expected and they even had a few reefs!
We’ve been to Aqaba twice now and stayed at the Kempinski Aqaba. Both times we went with the “full board” room rate. For those of you unfamiliar with the various rate terms they tend to use:
- Full Board – Inclusion of all meals along with a room
- Half Board – Inclusion of 2 meals (usually breakfast and dinner) with room
- Room + Breakfast – this one’s pretty self-explanatory
- Room – Just the room
- All-Inclusive – includes drinks, all meals along with room
The exact inclusions vary from hotel to hotel so always make sure to check the rate details of a room you are trying to book. Some hotels include breakfast but do not state so in the room rate. Others may define “all-inclusive” as meals and drinks EXCLUDING alcoholic beverages (this is especially something to check for in regions where alcohol is not widely served.)
But enough about room rates – back to the Kempinski Aqaba. Our full board rate included all our meals along with non-alcoholic drinks. The advantages here are that we didn’t have to think about where we were going to eat and it was easier to budget in advance. The downside is you feel a bit stuck at the hotel since you have already paid for your meals there. In the case of the Kempinski Aqaba we really didn’t feel stuck! The food at each meal was wonderful. They also served different meals in different locations so you weren’t always eating in the same place!
From food to fun: for a family with a 3 year old this place had plenty of it! The hotel offers several beautiful pools – including a heated kiddie pool that’s shallow. One of the pools is a swim up bar – with my son loved as much as we did! The pools and swim up bar where a perfect option for the afternoons when it was just too hot to sit on the beach. We went in July and the temperatures generally hold steady at over 100 F.
Speaking of beaches, the hotel has the best one! Much of the coast line is more rock based. Not here! They fly in white sand that’s SO SOFT – so soft that I preferred to put a towel directly on the sand as opposed to a lounger. But even white sand gets hot in the extreme temperatures here. So we spent our mornings at the beach and our afternoons either napping in the room or at the pool.
You may have heard me talk about “Jordan nice” before. That is to say, the people here are extremely friendly! Aqaba proved to be no different! My son stood out on the hotel dock looking longingly at all the boats for about 10 minutes. A local with a few friends in a speed boat saw him and pulled up and offered us a ride. They took us all the way out to see the giant container ships my son had been eyeing – he loved the up close and personal look!