Buying the name, putting those cherries everywhere, booking Dj stars and glamorous dancers... Well, it is not! The franchise concept is a hard task (ask Pacha Rotterdam!). A symbiosis between the mother brand in Ibiza and its affiliates is necessary to succeed. Pacha Sharm El Sheikh is the perfect example of a successful marriage - in the open-air, and loaded with passion for music, love and tolerance...
“Pacha Sharm has the essence of Pacha Ibiza with a twist of 1001 Arabian nights” says marketing director Maya Challita. The Voice wanted to know more about their story, so read on as we catch up with Maya…
Hello Maya, you operate as marketing director for Pacha Sharm, how did you get that dream job? What’s your background?
My husband, Adly El Mestekawy, was one of the first Egyptians to live in Sharm el Sheikh back in 1982. He started a small business by building huts and a snack bar for divers coming to discover the wonders of the Red Sea. From there he developed the first Egyptian hotel, built with white domed roof, different levels, all around a central courtyard with a fire camp where divers gathered at night to have a drink and listen to music. He also opened in the hotel the Bus Stop - one of the first nightclubs in Sharm el Sheikh. As for me, I am half Lebanese and half French and before moving to Sharm, I was living in Paris and working as a sales manager for a tour operator. I moved to Sharm in 1998 to live with my future husband and immediately started to work with him as sales and marketing director for the hotel and the restaurants.
The Voice had the chance to check it out; the location is just unbelievable in the open-air! Can you tell us more about the set up?
In 1999 we developed an idea of transforming the courtyard to an open-air dance floor and started turning the hotel into a nightclub at least once per week under the name of Bus Stop. Meanwhile, Adly built another amazing venue The Echo Temple, nested between two Moon Mountains in the desert of Sinai, just a few kilometers away from the hotel. Pacha Sharm is an all year-round open-air club, with a mega party space capacity of 3,000 on the dancefloor. The first floor is the VIP section with tables and suites over looking the dance floor and a lagoon shaped swimming pool with waterfalls. On top there’s another level with white domed rooftops, cushions and Bedouin tents under the shining Sinai bright stars.
How did you become member of the Pacha family? Why?
After our first visit to Ibiza in summer 1999, my husband was amazed by the architectural similarity and from there he approached Pacha with the idea of becoming a member of the family. As a first step, we started to host Pacha Ibiza nights mainly on NYE with resident DJs such as: Sarah Main, Angel Linde, Juan Diaz and Wally Lopez, and with the help of Mark Netto. We continued on working as promoters for both clubs and it was only after a visit to Riccardo Urgell in October 2003 that we had the final approval for the franchise. In April 2004, we held three nights of festivities for the official opening of the first Pacha in the Middle East and Africa...
We believe Pacha Sharm has the essence of Pacha Ibiza with a twist of 1001 Arabian nights.
Sharm El Sheikh is often called the City of Peace; does it reflect your crowd’s attitude?
Sharm el Sheikh won in 2001 the UNESCO prize of City of Peace. It's a beautiful beach resort destination located on the Red Sea Riviera, three to five hours away from Europe with sunshine all year-round. It has a very cosmopolitan ambiance uniting Eastern and Western Europeans with Egyptians and Middle Eastern people and this creates a perfect gathering to enjoy dance music as the international language of love, peace and co-existence.
It was a busy weekend then, hosting Pure Pacha with Pete Tong?
Yeah last week we had a brilliant Pure Pacha with Pete Tong. It was during the celebration of end of Ramadan. The Egyptian crowd really appreciated him.
"The Pacha here is quite something, aside from Ibiza I haven't seen anything quite like it... Its almost entirely outdoors as it never rains and features so many different levels and compartments that you could go for a month and still discover something new. Respect to the resident DJ Ouzo for playing really well and looking after us." Pete Tong
What else do you have in the pipe for the coming months?
The next big date is New Year's Eve with the Yoshitoshi label and Behrouz. As for 2005, we are still finalizing the details, but the main big event will be the first year anniversary of Pacha Sharm.