The other day I received a press release promoting what sounded like a wonderful five-star hotel in an exotic location, said to be the finest accommodation in its city.
Along with various five-star amenities such as a state-of-the-art spa and gym, six restaurants including one with panoramic views, tennis courts, and indoor pool, it promised to serve as a base for tourists exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites, taking river cruises, visiting museums, and marveling at spectacular evening performances.
The only potential downside? The name says it all: it’s the Corinthia Hotel Khartoum, serving the capital of Sudan, a nation wracked by terrorist violence and crime in recent years, including reported attacks against Westerners in Khartoum itself.
The U.S. State Department doesn’t mince words: if you plan to travel to Sudan, the department warns in an extraordinary advisory, “Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries…Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, and etcetera…(and) Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them,” among other dramatic suggestions.
A Traveler’s Dilemma
So I’m torn.
On the one hand: five-star hotel in an exotic location I’ve never visited, complete with archaeological and historical gems and Nile cruises. Sounds great!
On the other: the specter of terrorist violence and kidnappings, necessitating leaving a DNA sample with my doctor before departure, just in case of…well, it’s gotta be something bad.
What’s a travel lover to do?
Maybe you’ve been similarly torn in trying to decide whether or not to visit a particular location — even if not as striking as the contrast between the Corinthia Hotel Khartoum press release vs. the U.S. State Department advisory.
Have you wavered in traveling to Mexico, for instance, in fear of drug cartels? Does past drug-related violence in Colombia make you reluctant to visit that South American country? Does fear of terrorism keep you from touring the Middle East?
I’d be very interested in hearing your reactions to these two very different views of traveling to the Sudan. To be fair to each view, I’m reprinting both in their entirety:
Corinthia Hotel Khartoum, Situated at the Confluence of the Blue and White Nile Rivers, Lures the Untapped Tourist Market on its 10th Birthday
“(Khartoum, Sudan, June 22, 2018) Visits to the untapped tourist market of Sudan and its capital, Khartoum, have just become more attractive as the capital city’s premier hotel, Corinthia Hotel Khartoum, is offering a 10% saving on accommodation to help celebrate the hotel’s tenth birthday this year.
Officially opened on August 17, 2008, the steel and glass Corinthia Khartoum is designed to resemble a ship’s sail, while its central location overlooks the confluence of the iconic Blue and White Nile Rivers. It has six world-class restaurants and cafes including the city’s highest eatery, the 18th floor Rickshaw Restaurant.
Tourists take popular Nile river cruises and marvel at the Friday evening spectacle of the Whirling Dervishes at dusk in the Omdurman district of the city. The Ethnographic Museum and Archaeological Museum are other city diversions.
Khartoum is the ideal base from which to explore the Nubian desert to the north as this is where many of the UNESCO World Heritage sites are located. These include the Royal Necropolis at Meroe, where temples and over 200 pyramids form the resting place of the powerful Nubian Pharaohs who once ruled Egypt.
Tourism to Sudan is growing slowly, partly as an alternative to Egypt or as a ‘must-see’ once Egypt has been explored. Sudan’s archaeological sites rival Egypt’s and reflect Ancient Nubia’s influence throughout Eastern Africa over thousands of years. Sudan boasts more pyramids than its northern neighbor and tourists do not have to queue up to view them.
The tenth anniversary package includes accommodation in a room or suite, breakfast, complimentary wifi, access to the gym, pool and extensive leisure facilities including those inside the Sabratha Spa & Fitness Center
About Corinthia Hotel Khartoum
Situated at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers and in the center of the city’s commercial district, Corinthia Hotel Khartoum is a gateway to Central Africa.
The hotel, designed to resemble a ship’s sail, features 230 rooms, including 57 suites; extensive and multi-purpose events facilities; and well-equipped spa.
The spa includes the traditional Turkish bath – hammam – saunas, Jacuzzi, steam rooms, massage, hairdressers and various pampering treatments such as body massage, facial, body scrub with steam and more.
There is also a large and fully equipped state-of-the-art gym, squash courts, tennis courts, and indoor swimming pool.
The hotel also offers a choice of six world-class restaurants and cafés. Boasting the city’s highest eatery, the 18th floor Rickshaw Restaurant, and benefiting from unrivaled comfort and service in the city, as well as state-of-the-art technology, Corinthia Khartoum is the ultimate destination for business and leisure travelers.
Opened in 2008, the Corinthia Khartoum has been created with a passion for craftsmanship and an understanding of world-class service. Corinthia Khartoum is a member of Corinthia Hotels’ collection of five-star hotels, founded by the Pisani family of Malta.
The Other Side of the Equation
Now, from a U.S. State Department travel advisory dated January 10, 2018, here are the recommendations of what to do before traveling to Sudan. Keep in mind that this is for a “Level 3” (Orange) advisory — “Reconsider Travel” — and not even for a Level 4 red alert, “Do Not Travel.”
“If you decide to travel to Sudan:
- Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
- Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
- Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, and etcetera.
- Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States. Find a suggested list of such documents here.
- Be sure to appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and Members of Congress, if you are taken hostage or detained.
- Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones, so that if you are taken hostage, your loved ones can know specific questions and answers to ask the hostage-takers to be sure that you are alive and to rule out a hoax.
- Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.
- Erase any sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that could be considered controversial or provocative by local groups.
- Leave your expensive/sentimental belongings behind.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Crime and Safety Report for Sudan.
- U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
Reconsider travel to Sudan due to terrorism and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk. Please read the entire Travel Advisory.
Do not travel to:
- The Darfur region, Blue Nile state, and Southern Kordofan state due to crime and armed conflict.
Terrorist groups continue plotting attacks in Sudan, especially in Khartoum. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting foreign and local government facilities, and areas frequented by Westerners. Terrorists groups in Sudan have stated their intent to harm Westerners and Western interests through suicide operations, bombings, shootings, and kidnappings.
There is a state of emergency in place, which gives security forces greater arrest powers. Arbitrary detentions, including of foreigners, have been reported across the country. Curfews may be imposed with little or no warning.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Sudan, as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization from the Sudanese government to travel outside of Khartoum. The U.S. Embassy requires U.S. government personnel in Sudan to use armored vehicles for official travel. Family members under 21 years of age cannot accompany U.S. government employees who work in Sudan.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.”
Now, readers, what do you think? Would a U.S. State Department warning like the above keep you from traveling to a destination on your bucket list? (maybe that’s a poor choice of terms in this case.)
Not necessarily the Sudan, but a place you’ve always wanted to go?
And would you draft a will, leave instructions with loved ones for funeral wishes, and leave DNA samples in case they’re needed?
Please leave your answers in the comments section below — and, if you find this an intriguing question, please share this post on social media.. Thanks!