I had read the glowing reviews of Game Fish Lodge here on Trip Advisor and was looking forward to a comfortable, quiet, and intimate place that my wife and I would enjoy. We ending up being rather disappointed, however.
Upon arrival at the lodge, the first thing we noticed that the beach in front of the lodge was unswimmable due to the vast amount of seaweed around. The photos we had seen on Facebook as well as here on Trip Advisor were misleading, having shown clear, blue waters. Accordingly, we had to take taxis to nearby Kendwa beach in order to enjoy pristine blue waters which are swimmable at all times. While Kendwa is only 3 kms. away, taxis in Zanzibar really overcharge as compared to other parts of Tanzania. You're lucky if you can get a taxi to bring you from Game Fish Lodge to Kendwa for only TSH 10,000 (around USD 6). Others charge at least TSH 15,000. Colin, the owner of the lodge along with his wife Lesley, does bring guests to nearby beaches for free when he is not otherwise out on game fishing trips.
Other reviews here speak glowingly of Colin and Lesley. While we agree that they are a very nice couple, others may prefer a less intrusive atmosphere where guests enjoy a certain sense of anonymity. Game Fish Lodge is literally a mom-and-pop operation, where Colin does everything from bringing guests to and from the airport and Stone Town, cooking meals, fetching water from town to fill the lodge's water tank, and organizing game fishing tours, and Lesley is the one who prepares breakfast and carries out other chores. As there are only 4 rooms at the lodge, the couple tries to create an atmosphere of one big happy family where everyone has dinner and drinks together. Couples, however, may prefer more privacy and having dinner on their own, where they are not forced to mingle and make small talk with strangers. Moreover, as the couple has only one vehicle, Colin will often carry out errands while taking guests to and from the airport or Stone Town, which the guests paid for ($50 from Stone Town to the lodge; $60 from the airport to the lodge).
Moreover, as the couple does pretty much everything themselves, guests may be placed in a situation where requesting for service is almost like asking a favor, as guests are treated more like guests in a home rather than occupants of a hotel. One becomes almost ashamed to request for service you should be entitled to for what you pay. We observed the other guests were even helping out in the kitchen, when in our opinion, we were paying for the service ($132 per room per night) and therefore expected to be served. The situation would be different if I were staying at a friend's or relative's house for free.
The dinner, while tasty, is overpriced at $15. The photos on Facebook and Trip Advisor of full platters of lobster, crabs, and fish are misleading, as the dinner we had consisting of only fish, vegetable pasta and 2 types of potatoes. While dinner is said to be dependent on the catch of the day, you're far better off eating at some of the restaurants along the Kendwa beachfront (avoid Cello's at all costs; We heartily recommend the White Sands Hotel restaurant). A platter of 3 huge tiger prawns with rice or chips at White Sands cost only around TSH 12,000.
The lodge also ran out of water during our stay, and therefore we had to wait for Colin to fetch water from town before we could take showers. Colin explained that the water supply is incredibly scarce on Zanzibar, so I don't know what the situation is with other hotels on the island. We also didn't have any electricity throughout most of our stay, and the generator was only turned on for a few hours at night. The rooms have no air-conditioning, and at $132 per room per night, you should be able to get an air-conditioned room elsewhere. Zanzibar is hot all-year round, so if you don't have a fan or air-conditioning as you sleep, especially with the mosquito net down around your bed, it can get very uncomfortable.
The breakfast is hearty. There are crepes with fruits and honey, sausage, and eggs. As Colin tells the guests that they can have breakfast at any time, and Lesley cooks each and every breakfast herself, it will take some time before your breakfast is served.
Thus, all in all, I would not recommend this hotel. It is expensive for what you get, especially considering that the beach in front of the lodge is not swimmable (it may be different at other times of the year). I would suggest that you just find a proper hotel or lodge along Kendwa Beach where you can just walk to and from the beachfront, and you have a choice of numerous restaurants and bars.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Game Fish Lodge is located one hour’s drive from Stone Town towards the north-east peninsula of Zanzibar, along the scenic Nungwi Coast. The Lodge looks out onto a radiant expanse of shimmering Indian Ocean and down onto one of the finest and most unspoilt beaches. You are offered privacy, peace and tranquility while watching the Indian Ocean. The beach is fringed by a wide and thriving coral reef. The azure waters offer a paradise for both snorkeling, scuba diving and game fishing enthusiasts alike.Game Fish Lodge with its easygoing atmosphere will mellow you out in no time. It is a place to escape to and relax. The location of the Lodge allows you the seclusion of perfect tranquility yet close enough to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Nungwi Village. Beautiful sunrises are an everyday thrill for the early riser and moonlit nights, listening to the ocean, create an unforgettable experience.RoomsAll the rooms have their own patio with a wonderful view of the ocean and surrounding coconut trees where you can sit and enjoy the beauty of Zanzibar. The rooms are all en-suite, fully tiled with hot and cold water, television, DVD Player with a wide selection of DVD’s. The rooms have standing and ceiling fans. Mosquito nets ensure a peaceful night’s sleep, with the sound of the ocean rounding off a relaxing day in paradise. Laundry services are available. ... more less