A hidden seaside gem for families on the Red Sea
When we first booked our trip to Jordan I was expecting camels, desert, ancient monuments. I was not expecting, hidden only minutes from the Saudi Arabian border, to find such a beautiful family oasis in Tala Bay.
Only a short drive away from the city of Aqaba on the Red Sea, Tala Bay is a small cove of resorts, luxury villas and a marina tucked in the southernmost point of Jordan.
This post is part of our series Discover the Middle East – pop over and be inspired by all our Middle East travel stories
Tala Bay holds a unique geographic spot. Within the space of only a few miles, you will find Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Egypt meeting in this one corner of the globe – all with their claims of a Red Sea frontage.
Aqaba is the only seaport and resort town for Jordan, an otherwise almost landlocked country. This makes it a very popular tourist destination for locals and overseas visitors alike.
What to expect at Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay
Once you’ve pinched yourself you’re really here, let’s take a little look around this slice of Middle East paradise.
The resort and set up
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay is an extensive family resort of the quality you expect from the Mövenpick chain. Set between towering mountains to one side and its own private beach on the Red Sea to the other, the resort has been meticulously landscaped into the scenery.
Lots of small paths and bridges wind their way around the resort. There are 9 swimming pools to explore, a lazy river with interconnecting slides between the pools, numerous bars, restaurants and activities to join in.
With so much water around us, and after a very long sweaty drive from Amman (no thanks to our hire car – more to come on another post on that one!) of course the Globetrotters took seconds to start searching for their favourite swimming pools.
We went to start with the lazy river, but quite surprisingly, even at the end of March when we visited the water temperature outside of the kid’s pools was quite chilly for our liking (though this could be years of living in the UAE making us soft!!!). We opted instead for the heated kids’ pool – the only one open into the evening as we arrived at sunset.
We did not take a stroller with us on this trip, but those that do will find step-free access around the whole property. With so many pools spread around the resort, we had no problem securing sun loungers. Most adults and those without kids were happy to place themselves around the lower pools nearer the beach with the jacuzzi!
Unfortunately (for us at least!), kids aren’t allowed in so we did not get to enjoy this facility. There were plenty of other slides and attractions to keep us happy though. The view over the beach is just stunning, and the sunsets are to die for!
From a small wooden pier, you can admire being in a corner of the world where four countries meet (though you can’t quite see Saudi Arabia its just over the next hill).
The sand on the beach, while pretty to look at, is a little coarse but still pleasant to walk along and breathe in the views over to Egypt.
We had a superior family room, set up with a bedroom and sitting area that can convert to two beds. They were able to shift furniture in advance of our arrival and make this room fit an extra roller bed to accommodate all 5 of us – with no questions, no fuss. This is almost unheard of when booking a hotel resort for our family of 5!
The room and beds were very comfortable, great blackout curtains and we had our own little balcony overlooking the pool. There are sea and mountain view rooms available too. It felt like we had plenty of space to move about in this 42sqm room
(We personally recommend to look for rooms/suites over 40sqm if you are travelling with 5).
At all the Mövenpick hotels we stayed at in Jordan (You can see our reviews here for Petra Hotel & Resort and the Dead Sea Resort & Spa) you are provided with beautiful Dead Sea beauty products in the bathroom, my skin has never felt softer… We did not get time to try the Zara Spa but definitely next time.
For the Kids
Two of the pool areas are dedicated to families. One paddle pool depth for small kids and attached to the Dana Kids Club, one deeper pool for all-around family enjoyment, well heated.
One small let down was the kids club arrangements. We couldn’t clearly see any sign explaining how it worked or what to expect so left our 4 and 7-year-old in the playroom, but we were later told that you had to pay 15JR per child to leave them there unattended, and under 4’s had to have a parent/carer.
As the kids only wanted to pop inside for an hour between swims, we did not take this option. However, good to know if you want a little parents escape as part of a larger holiday – may be to take a day excursion out to the Red Sea or Wadi Rum – you know there is somewhere safe you can leave them full of activities that are supervised.
Dining and entertainment options
The all-day international dining restaurant Najel was nice, and of the standard you’d expect of a 5-star hotel. My fussy eaters had enough to take care of their needs.
The breakfast was probably the more impressive spread than dinner, with ample choices, indoor and outdoor dining, several egg stations – a great way to start the day.
Other restaurants within the resort include Italian choice Casalingo, the poolside bar serving daytime snacks Sejan as well as a several bars and light dining options – maybe not as family-friendly but great for other visitors!
Be warned if you drink alcohol it’s ludicrously expensive for what you get, but this is somewhat expected in a resort, in a Muslim country. You are not able to bring in your own drinks, bags are scanned and it’s apparently illegal.
On the plus side, soft drinks and water in the mini bar fridge are free and refilled daily. If you get the chance, order a drink down at the pool bar though, and get it delivered on rollerskates!
The resort is immediately adjacent to the Tala Bay marina where you can find several restaurants catering to western tastes as well as local cuisine and a small convenience store. This is also where you can charter boats from for diving and snorkelling, or join a Red Sea tour if you don’t want to drive back to Aqaba.
Globetrotters Recommend Mövenpick Tala Bay
If I had any hesitations about whether it was worth the long drive down from Amman to Tala Bay, they were immediately quashed when we set eye on the Red Sea at sunset.
Everything about the resort is exactly what you’d expect for a luxury break. The grounds are beautifully landscaped – one of the prettiest we’ve seen – and there are a variety of family and adult pools for complete relaxation and a few thrills too. Our only regret? Why did we only book two nights!
I won’t deny though, it is remote. Living anywhere other than Jordan, Aqaba and the Red Sea is a long way from anywhere else in the world. But oh so worth the journey.
Tala Bay has many feels of being in an upmarket European resort town but without the ridiculous price tag and crowds. Bonus points definitely go to Mövenpick staff for having the right sized room to accommodate our family of 5, ready set up as requested and without having to continually ask for extras or book a second room. I wish more resorts were built to cater for families this way.
Top Tips and Recommendations
- The resort gets very busy on weekends with big crowds from Amman making the drive down to enjoy the much warmer weather ‘down south’. If you can book mid week and away from school holidays you’d likely have the run of the place.
- Although Google maps might take you on a back truck road avoiding driving through Aqaba, I wish we had entered from this side, a far more picturesque view. The driving through the craggy mountains is also quite stunning too, but only shaves a few minutes off your long drive.
- I would recommend spending a minimum 2 days / 3 nights. 2 nights just weren’t enough. After enjoying the resort, we didn’t get any time to get out on the water which would have been great or explore the rest of Aqaba. You can also use Aqaba as a base to explore other southern parts of Jordan including Wadi Rum and Petra.
Fast Facts and Booking
Location: Tala Bay is 15 minutes drive south of Aqaba city centre. It is 20 minutes drive from King Hussein International Airport or about 4 hours south of Amman and Queen Alia International Airport (AMM). You are also not far from Eilat in Israel if you fancied adding another country to your trip! Eilat International Airport is in fact the closest. Check Cheapest Flights Now!!
Rooms: 302 classic, superior and deluxe rooms – 145 family rooms and suites
Price: From $200USD per night for a superior room in low season’; $300USD+ family rooms. You can add breakfast, half board, full board.
**Check lowest prices now using comparison tool Hotels Combined – we have seen much cheaper deals on here than the standard rates.**
Other Inclusions: Free valet parking, free wifi, free minibar
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