12344 Travel Guide
A plaintive email winged its way into our inbox this week. “When does the Ritz-Carlton in Cairo open?” it asked wearily.
As well it might. You may have forgotten about the property, it’s been so long in the making. Originally a Hilton, it switched brands in 2009, with the intention of carrying out a two-year renovation while hosting guests.
That didn’t happen. In 2011, when this photo of the hotel's shell was taken, as Travel Weekly reported, it was still shuttered, due to Egypt’s political unrest. The company moved the opening date to 2013, hoping that its location near Tahrir Square would, again, be a plus point.
And so we’re at stalemate.
We're looking forward to the new year; January 1st is traditionally a day for renewed hope and fresh beginnings, and no one is taking more advantage of this than Cairo's Nile Hilton. When the clock strikes midnight (Egypt time, of course), the 431-room historic hotel on the shores of the epic River Nile will become the Ritz-Carlton Nile Hotel.
As the first Ritz-Carlton in Egypt's capital city, The Nile Hotel will have to dust off its top hat and tails to remain a leader in Cairo and keep pace with the 5-star standard of Ritz-Carlton. What does this mean, exactly? It means sweet, sweet renovation of course. Beginning in mid-2009, the hotel will begin an ambitious 2-year revamp, while continuing to host guests. Although there will no doubt be angry TripAdvisor reviews about the construction, you just can't flip a Hilton into a Ritz without a little elbow grease (and a lot of brocade).
In case you're wondering why Ritz-Carlton picked this old Hilton as their new property, we refer you to its breathtaking view of the Nile and the abundance of hookahs they keep poolside. Too bad they didn't add belly dancers to the room service menu; then they probably would have gotten five-star status without the help of Ritz-Carlton.
[Photo: Etihad Holidays]