My wife and I returned from staying at the Sea Cliff Resort and Spa in Zanzibar. We spent 11 nights at the hotel on our honeymoon. Having left England with snow on the ground, sunny days with 33 degrees C weather were exactly what we were looking for.
We arrived at the hotel to be greeted with much-needed cold towels and an icy juice drink, before being met by an affable porter (Issa) who showed us around the hotel on our way to our room. Being led out onto the terrace to see the view over the infinity pools, pier and the sea was a great introduction to the hotel. We had declined to opt for the honeymoon package, instead choosing an extra night through our travel agent, but were astonished to find that the hotel knew we had just been married. The first sign of this was the flower arch around the door of our room; on entering, we also found that we had a bottle of sparkling wine, a voucher for a couple's massage, one for a romantic dinner for two and a book about Tanzania and Zanzibar.
Speaking of our room, it was smart and well equipped, from an easy to use safe deposit box to a flat panel TV with satellite channels. The ensuite bathroom had a large shower cubicle, almost set up as a wet room, and the balcony gave us a good sea view over the garden in front of our building. The room was cleaned daily, with the maid leaving an intricate folded design or flower petals on our bed almost every day. In addition, we had a turn down service. I have never previously seen the point of these, but having returned to our room after dinner on our first night and found the air conditioning had been switched on, the (mainly decorative) mosquito net around our bed drawn and the bed turned down, I'm converted!
We spent most of our days by the lower infinity pool, which has plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas. In addition, there's a patio with tables under shade where you can eat lunch, and staff who will pass by your sun bed to see if you'd like a drink. There is another bar at the end of a pier below the eponymous sea cliffs, which is the perfect place to watch the sunset in the evenings with a cold drink. The main bar is up at the top level of the hotel, and with its comfortable sofas is a pleasant place to spend the evening with a drink or two. We opted for the all-inclusive package, which meant we had our pick of food and drinks during our stay. Some seafood dishes at the bar would require a supplement, but the standard food on the menu was good enough for us. The same goes with non-local spirits, but the local lagers (Kilimanjaro and Safari amongst others) were fine by me.
Breakfast and dinner were spent at the buffet restaurant, which overlooks the top swimming pool and has a fine view of the sea. Each evening had a theme, from Asian food to Italian to my favourite, Zanzibar food. As well as an excellent selection of dishes on the buffet, a veritable army of happy, smiling chefs were waiting behind the grill to offer you anything from grilled seafood to build-your-own omelettes. I'm very much an omnivore, and didn't find a single thing I didn't enjoy, whilst my wife is a vegetarian and had plenty of choice every evening for food.
Two nights per week, there was also live entertainment. Normally, we don't enjoy this type of thing on holiday, but the acts (one night, acrobats; the other, a local band and dancers playing traditional music) were very good, and made a great accompaniment to dinner.
We visited the spa for our massage the day after we arrived, and we thoroughly enjoyed the relaxing treatment. My wife was spoilt for choice in choosing another treatment from the spa's brochure, and visited them again before we left. The resort also boasts other facilities including a sports and exercise centre, watersports, horse riding and a twice-daily shuttle to Stone Town, but having been so tired before arriving we stuck to just enjoying the sun by the pool. Likewise, we didn't visit the resort's beach in our time there.
All of this made the Sea Cliff Resort a good hotel. What made it a great honeymoon was the staff. The porters, the security guards, the gardeners, the maids, the waiting staff... everyone was happy, smiling, friendly and welcoming. Whilst all the staff speak good English, we were delighted to find that everyone was willing to help teach us small bits of Swahili, day by day. In turn, they were delighted that we made the effort to learn it!
Special mentions must go to Amani, who we saw every day by the pool, and Joaquim, who waited on us every night at the restaurant, for their friendliness and helpfulness throughout our stay. And to all the staff at the hotel for making a wonderful honeymoon.
Asante sana - kila kitu poa!
- Also Known As:
- Sea Cliff Hotel
- Sea Cliff Resort And Spa
- Sea Cliff Hotel Zanzibar
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