An authentic oriental architectural design that takes its guests back in time to the enchanted Arabian Nights; Al Moudira Hotel in Luxor has managed to gain popularity in a short period of time, attracting worldwide icons like Mick Jagger, Kate Moss, and Christian Louboutin. Aiming to explore the hidden gems of Upper Egypt, General Manager of Al Moudira boutique hotel Zeina Aboukheir sits with Invest-Gate to share her hotel’s success story, highlighting her views on the hospitality sector’s current status and challenges.

“The most divine hotel and garden,” described world-renowned Fashion Designer Christian Louboutin in his interview with Vogue Magazine back in February 2011.

How did the Al Moudira story begin? And what made it successful?
We started our business in 2002. We bought the land and built the hotel from scratch. This area was a desert back then and began construction immediately.
The success came because of the hotel’s uniqueness. Aside from its design and ambiance, it is the rich heritage the city of Luxor carries that gave us an edge. We sit in the middle of a magical city of great culture and antiquities that tell stories of the many civilizations of Egypt. Here, you have so much to see and do. The weather, too, is a plus especially during the winter. I believe this wraps up our whole success story.

Where does the name Al Moudira come from?
During the construction phase, I was the only one in charge and following up on the site. Back then everyone called me ya moudira, ya moudira, which in Arabic means the Manager; hence, came the name Al Moudira!

Who is the Architect/designer who delivered such authenticity to the place?
We hired the very talented Architect and Islamic/Arabic Architecture specialist Olivier Sednaoui, who delivered such arches, domes, cupolas, and beautiful volumes, you see today.
Between the agriculture land and the desert, each hotel room captures its own décor and style, but all feature patios of flowers and fountains.

What is special about the hotel’s location?
Al Moudira is a boutique hotel that is situated on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor and is four kilometers away from the Valley of Kings, the Valley of the Queens, and the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. Guests can get to the hotel from Luxor East Bank by car, as well as, by ferry down the Nile or by the multicolored shuttle boats.

What facilities and services does Al Moudira provide?
The hotel comprises 54 rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant. We also offer massages, in addition to other services like free Wi-Fi and on-site private parking. We make your experience very relaxing and secluded, while enjoying modern facilities.

How is Al Moudira perceived internationally?
We received Certificate of Excellence Award from Tripadvisor back in 2014. We also have lots of great reviews in magazines and websites. Al Moudira hotel was mentioned among important touristic destinations in the Time Magazine’s article entitled “25 Trips to Take in Your Lifetime.”

What are the nationalities of visitors you receive?
The majority of our guests come from USA and Europe, especially from Italy and Spain. A few times, we hosted Arabs; and we are expecting some Chinese tourists soon.

Are there less popular sites but still top spots in Luxor that you recommend to your guests?
Luxor is full of places to see some are more popular than others. I usually recommend The Ramesseum Temple and Deir El-Medina because they are really exquisite yet do not share the popularity of Al Karnak, Hatshepsut Temple, Valleys of Kings and Queens, etc.

When is the hotel’s peak season? How is the flow of tourists going?
Our season is usually from September to June. The flow of tourists is getting a little bit better this year compared to the past period since the 2011 uprising.

What are the current challenges in your opinion?
Because of all political events of the past seven years now, we remain struggling with low tourism flow, due payments, and responsibilities towards our employees. We have to fight to pay for our workers; we never want to lay anyone off because they have families. It is a little hard and I am hoping it will get better soon.

How did the EGP floatation affect the tourism and hospitality sectors, especially your business? Did you increase your rates?
Our rates are already in USD. The restaurant rates went up 75% because of the increased food prices. However, the room rates went down 20%.

What do you think the government should do to attract tourists and boost hospitality sector?
The government is already working on handling the security issues and doing a lot of publicity for Egypt.

Do you believe that tourism has begun to recover? How do you see the touristic scene in Luxor nowadays?
The hospitality sector has been dead since the 2011 uprising. But finally, this season is starting to pick up a little.
Egypt is exceptional and does not need publicity because it is unique and rich in culture, landscapes, seas, and deserts. So tourism will recover when tourists feel it is safe and secure.