Egypt is the hottest destination billionaires are traveling to this year, according to boutique luxury travel agency Original Travel, which plans trips for high-net-worth individuals.
The country came in first in Original Travel's ranking of top destinations where billionaires are headed in 2019, which it determined by looking at the number of bookings and performance; the latter was assessed by a combination of feedback and client inquiries. Their 2019 bookings for Egypt are set to triple last year's bookings, Amelia Stewart, brand ambassador for Original Travel, told Business Insider.
You don't have to look far to see Egypt's appeal: It has a rich Pharaonic history and plenty of iconic landmarks, not to mention Greek, Roman, and Islamic influences to explore.
Like most travelers, billionaires visit Egypt to soak up its sights and history - but they do so while taking advantage of Egypt's plentiful luxury offerings, from fine dining restaurants in Cairo to beach resorts along the coast of the Red Sea.
Below, see what's propelling billionaires to visit Egypt - and what they're doing when they get there. Prices indicated for hotels are representative of rates booked two months in advance.
Egypt has something for everyone, Stewart said: "Most people consider Egypt as a must-see destination in their lifetime. And there are those who return time and time again."
The best time to visit is typically October through March. "A common misconception is that you shouldn't visit during Ramadan, but in fact the Islamic month of fasting is festive and it's fun to break the daily fast on the streets at sunset with all the locals," Stewart said.
Part of Egypt's appeal is that it's full of new discoveries, according to Stewart. For instance, Alexander the Great's final resting place may have recently been discovered in Alexandria, the city he founded.
Located on the Mediterranean, Alexandria is both historic and contemporary. It's home to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Alexandria National Museum, the Montazah Palace Gardens, and the Stanley Bridge.
But, according to Stewart, the vast majority of Original Travel's Egypt bookings are for the Steam Ship Sudan. It cruises along the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, stopping at archaeological sites, temples, and tombs.
Luxor — previously the ancient city of Thebes — is home to bucket list destination Valley of the Kings. Once a burial site for queens and royal children, it features over 60 rock-cut royal tombs filled with colorful hieroglyphs and cave paintings.
Luxor is also home to sites like the Temple of Hatshepsut, the Colossi of Memnon, and the Temple of Karnak, considered by many to be the largest temple complex in Egypt and one of the largest in the world.
Near Luxor, travelers can stay at luxury boutique hotel Al Moudira, which features hand-painted murals and rooms inspired by Egyptian history. Luxury suites run about $271 a night.
Or they can take up accommodations by the sea on the Oberoi Philae, a luxury Nile cruise boat between Aswan and Luxor that appears to be booked for the year.
Aswan is south of Luxor. Nearby in Nubia is Abu Simbel, an ancient temple complex consisting of The Great Temple and The Small Temple.
One luxury offering in the area is the five-star Mövenpick Resort Aswan, located on an island in the middle of the Nile. Its most luxurious room, the Royal Villa with a Nile View, costs $466 a night
Original Travel also plans itineraries for the area surrounding Cairo, Egypt's capital, where there's a ton to explore.
"From the little Tentmakers' Souq (Cairo's only remaining covered market for beautiful handcrafted embroidery work) to the smart galleries and boutiques in Zamalek, Cairo is bursting with historic monuments, museums, and buildings," Stewart said.
Home to many foreign dignitaries, Zamalek is an affluent neighborhood in Cairo. The Cairo Opera House, SafarKhan Art Gallery, and Le Pacha 1901 — a floating boat with 10 restaurants — can be found here.
Cairo is also becoming a hot foodie destination, according to Sarah Reid of the Independent. It offers thousands of restaurants, including fine dining establishments Saigon Restaurant & Lounge and Fayruz Lebanese Restaurant.
There's also Zitouni, which offers traditional Egyptian cuisine in the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza. Rooms here can cost as much as $938 a night for the diplomatic suite. Prices are only available upon request for the three higher-level suites.
As the 2020 grand opening of the relocated Grand Egyptian Museum in nearby Giza approaches, Stewart expects momentum towards visiting Egypt to build. It will house over 100,000 Egyptian artifacts and will be the world's largest museum devoted to a single civilization, she said.
The museum is being built overlooking another classic — the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, an iconic, world-famous site. It's the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World still standing.
Travelers can stay at the luxury resort Mena House, a hotel from the colonial era that features 40 acres of landscaped gardens and old-world grandeur, for views of the Pyramids straight from their balconies. Its best room, the Grand Deluxe room, costs $199 a night.
Not far from Cairo is the Red Sea. Original Travel arranges diving trips at the coast of Sharm el Sheikh or Hurghada to explore wrecks and reefs.
Visitors have multiple luxury resort options to stay at on the coast. The Oberoi at Sahl Hasheesh consists of spacious bungalows inspired by traditional Arabian architecture. Here, a royal suite with private pool averages $777 a night.
There's also Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay, which resembles a Moorish fortress. It has a health club, spa, and four tennis courts. A presidential suite here can cost as much as $2,016 per night.
For those looking for more private beach destinations away from the popular Red Sea resorts, there's also Agiba Beach in Marsa Matrouh and the Fjord of Taba.