We - my girlfriend and I - extensively consulted traveller reviews before booking a fornight at Dream of Africa (DoA). We came to the conclusion that the very occasional very bad reviews were the exceptions that likely proved the rule, and are happy to report that this was indeed the case. Some of the reviews here are very hard to comprehend, so unlike any aspect of our experiences are they. DoA is characterised by outstanding staff, food, and facilities, and when the cost of the holiday was broken down, was extraordinarily good value.
1. Food. Not only plentiful, but also of very high quality, much more so than expected: good restaurant quality. There were five courses for lunch and dinner, including a buffet for starters and desserts, although the number of guests became so few that starters and desserts in time were prepared to order. There are even snacks and hot meals to order in between meal times, all inclusive. Drinks are much as one would expect at an All Inclusive resort, and were absolutely fine, and certainly plentiful, though I struggled with the house red. Other wines are available to purchase.
2. Staff. Without exception models of friendliness and helpfulness. The manager was around everyday and always asked when passing if we were happy. I hope the company realises what tremendous assets they have in the staff, with the names of whom - Lucas, Newton, Victoria, Edward, Mubarak, Moses, Hosea - we became very familiar during the course of the stay.
3. Size. DoA is small - only around 70 guests can be accommodated - although when we stayed there were never more than a dozen or so. Even with greater numbers, the atmosphere would remain one of informality and intimacy.
4. Facilities. Not only do guests have DoA, but also access to the three other hotels of the chain; the DoA bracelet one wears allows access and food and drinks from the other hotels, but guests from those hotels are not able to access DoA, which is a self-consciously luxury resort. We visited the others, but only once.
5. Condition. The entire resort is spotless and the quality of provision - rolled flannels for drying hands in the beach lavatories, cotton tableclothes, the pool and pool area, pre-dinner cocktails and snacks, etc, etc - is of a uniformally very high quality.
Worst features (and these are minor issues which even taken together don't amount to a serious criticism):
1. Location. The beach isn't a selling point. The sea is contained in a shallow lagoon, in which seaweed predominates. The 'beachboys' are neither unpleasant nor threatening, but are a nuisance if one wishes to be left alone on the beach, particularly close to the hotel (security guards very effectively keep the hotel's own raised beach area free from anyone but guests). DoA is part of a four-resort chain, all of which are bunched along the beach, with DoA at one end. The largest - Tropical Village - is the closeset, and much more family-orientated, with 'animation' and group activities; the music from various pool-based activities and the evening entertainments can be slightly intrusive.
2. Wifi. Wifi provision is good - and usually reliable - in the bar and restaurant lobby (only available there), but it would be a major asset if it were present in rooms, particularly as the TVs have only seven channels. The TVs are good for international sport, but I personally missed very much BBC World and/or CNN and would recommend that DoA obtains them.
3. Some may complain - we didn't and don't, but did overhear one such complaint - that the resort is both very quiet and very international. There were only two other British couples there during our stay, with other couples being Russian, Belgian, Dutch, American, Italian, etc. The Malindi tourist area is very heavily Italian in character, and the vast majority of tourists one encountered anywhere outside DoA were Italian. These points probably need to be known.
4. Children. DoA is an ideal resort for adults and couples; there are more suitable destinations for those with children, and the three children who were there during our stay were conspicuous.
1. If you're spending many days at DoA, the safaris bookable from the lobby ares very highly recommended, and better value - and much more convenient - than many available in Malindi. The accommodation on our safari was good, but nothing like as good as DoA.
2. Don't book excursions and trips from the beachboys.
3. Take pens and notebooks for children on the street and on safari - too often they're given sweets by tourists. The conditions in which some of them live are very poor, though the investment in schools is obvious - more so than in dentists - so pens and paper are much appreciated.
4. US dollars required for entry and exit from the country at the airport.
5. Plentiful, and potent, anti-insect sprays and potions are required. One of our party (me) had never been so ravaged, even in the tropics.
6. Tipping is a slightly awkward affair. No tips are expected - or offered - during the stay, but it's clear that staff hope for - and most certainly deserve - gratiuities as guests prepare to depart. Whether one disburses these to individuals or leaves a general tip in the box by reception is a decision we wrestled with: staff clearly prefer the former, but not all staff were present on the day of our departure. We rather sheepishly left a collective tip at reception as we left for the airport.
So, DoA is a wonderful resort, which we were sad to leave. We won't be going back, purely because there are so many other places in the world to visit; we can, and are very happy, however, to recommend DoA without reservation, as it were. It's very hard to imagine how it could possibly have been better (the points about location, above, being beyond the powers of even the most helpful manager). Our only misgiving is that we've been spoilt, and everywhere else after this will be compromised by comparison.