We actually specifically booked the Amani Tiwi beach resort despite there being no reviews as it was still under renovation after a terrible fire a few years ago. The risks were obvious but we were just happy to be visiting Kenya and so we knew that we'd have a good time regardless.
The trip from the airport is tough, particularly after such a long flight. The reason such a long transfer is given is due to a ferry crossing that can take 15 minutes but on one occasion it took us almost 3 hours (strikes, ferry breakdowns etc). The actual journey from the airport to the hotel is less than 45 minutes removing the ferry from the scenario!!!
The excitement of arriving in Kenya was so huge that actually we didn't care about the long transfer - driving through the villages was an eye opener and actually for me quite inspirational. As we swung into the resort, we knew we'd hit the jackpot and the beautifully presented staff ready to greet us was welcome and we saw by their happy and genuine faces that we were in for a treat. After a lovely cold flannel and a cocktail we were all given out keys at the same time and taken straight to our rooms.
Whilst nice, the room we were in 7305 was actually a little dated, small double and single bed with mosquito nets around the top. All rooms have a pool view which is stunning. The only minor comment is that I felt the single bed is unnecessary for most guests and I feel that all those I spoke to would have rathered a much larger double bed (once the net is over bed I couldn't sleep with my partner as it was just too claustrophobic!!). In fact, ended up being moved in any case as the flaking walls ended up being a bit of a damp problem so they needed to refurbish the room. We were upgraded for our trouble into a delux room (block 9) - this was much more like it. A huge bed, lovely bathroom with a jacuzzi bath (although our jacuzzi didn't work!). They even gave us a bottle of wine too for the inconvenience which was appreciated but not necessary.
The pool is out of this world. In three main sections all linked by a river style pool which you can swim down the entire circuit. At one end is a super swim up bar which was mainly hosted by the beautiful Grace, Hamisi, Omar and sometimes Jacob. These staff are invaluable and are genuinely happy to do whatever it takes to ensure your happiness, comfort and not to mention your state of inebriation!!! The pool guys who often go unnoticed were brilliant, the pool was cleaned within an inch of its life every day and throughout the course of the day. They are happy to put your towels down in the same place everyday and are again just genuinely delightful people.
The food, well - we're quite critical in general but I have nothing negative to say. Whilst some moaned that there was a limited selection - that was what I liked. Whilst there was always plenty, fresh crunchy veg (never overlooked) and several meats and fish - due to the themed food evenings it meant that everything was cooked to perfection. There was lovely fresh fruit and breads along with soups which were all handmade every day. Breakfast was great, eggs as required, freshly griddled bacon, cereals, pastries etc. Lunch we always ate at Belle Vita which was an Italian that was not part of the all inclusive but they had a small all inclusive menu including minute steak, grilled red snapper, spaghetti, soups and salads. This restaurant is on the beach and the breeze is welcomed.
The entertainment - hmmm, some of it was great, some of it was good and some of it was inappropriate. The great stuff was the Masai Warriors and the acrobats along with some of the dance groups. There was one however which made most of us feel we were at string fellows! The enthusiasm of the girl dancers was plain to see and not appropriate for a family hotel!
The location, great - the private beach is pretty although very hard to get out to sea due to the vast amount of coral which was precarious and off putting. The resort is on its own, to get any other bars or restaurants you would need to go to diani beach or Ukunda.
The facilities - there is a fabulous dive school on site called Baracuda and they will arrange boat trips, dolphin safaris, Padi courses and many others.
The staff - well this is where I can't say enough. Truly, the most wonderful staff in any hotel or restaurant I have ever been to. They are interesting, genuinely happy, hardworking, fun and when you get to know how hard their lives are compared to ours and yet how positive they are I found myself being ashamed of our hospitality in the uk and also of my meaningless moans in my day to day life!!! I can't name then all as there are too many but also I forget but I'll do my best:- Grace, Zainab, Metano, Diana, Jacob, Bernadette, Omar, Hamisi, Janet, Gorgeous, Lilian, Joyce and Mustafa. Quite frankly, everyone there was amazing. There in fact was only one person who I didn't feel complimented the resort but with a team so wonderful, their failings will easily be hidden and hopefully won't affect the success or the standard of the hotel.
We got engaged on our last night and bar a hiccup at the end to do with a bill for a bottle of Moët for £220, we couldn't have had a more special evening (guys, if you're planning a special occasion, stay away from the champers!!). This issue has now been resolved by the management so we are happy with the end result.
Trips out - things to do:- firstly go on safari and use J T Safaris and please do double check thatnitnis Julius Tact Safaris as there is an imposter using his name and not offering as good a service. We went to Tsavo East and West with George who was fantastic. We stayed at the Satao Camp which was wonderful. Described as a tent but was stunning, beautiful en- suite shower room and great veranda. George was so knowledgable and we were in a private jeep for 2 which was a larger and more robust vehicle than any other we saw during our safari and all other tourists were cramped in a smaller van (2 wheel drive which is simply not good enough) and they paid more with Thomson and other tour reps. Go direct to Julius Tact and he will arrange everything for you.
We also went to the Forty Thieves Bar in Diani Beach which was stunning with live jazz and fab atmosphere. We then visited their sister restauarant called Ali Barbours also known as The Cave. Stunning cave with chambers with fine dining. Check it out on line. We also went to a traditional eatery in Ukunda called Rongais (spelt wrong) but they do roasted meats on the fire and is an experience worth having (if you don't mind flies!!)
So.....I'm getting bored of my own words here and for those that know me, I could go on and on and on.......to summarise:- for the holiday of a lifetime with excellent customer service and wonderful cultures to learn about I cannot recommend Kenya enough and the Amani Tiwi Beach is set to be one of the best resorts in the south.
Pay for the deluxe room if poss but be warned - the better rooms are at the noiser end of the resort...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.