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“Relaxed resort with a view to kill for” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Sea Cliff Resort & Spa

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Sea Cliff Resort & Spa
5.0 of 5 Resort   |   Mangapwani, PO Box 1763, Tanzania   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #46 of 143 Hotels in Zanzibar
Amersfoort, The Netherlands
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
51 hotel reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
74 helpful votes 74 helpful votes
“Relaxed resort with a view to kill for”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

Sea Cliff seems amazing on the photos on the website – in reality it looks even better. All in all, this is a very relaxed resort and we definitely recommend it for a carefree vacation in the sun. Yet, they would have all the ingredients to create a resort with a touch of luxury by addressing a couple of areas.

1) Strengths
The resort is built on a wide stretch on the waterfront with a fantastic view. This setup not only maximizes the sea view from the grounds and rooms alike, but also allows enough sun loungers. They are spread so that you’ll always find your own peaceful spot. Also, location on the West coast of the island pampers the visitor with a sunset every evening. Best place to enjoy the sun going down: their jetty bar that is a wooden deck on the sea with a cool lounge feel.

We had an all-inclusive package and you obviously choose this option when seeking for an effortless, relaxing vacation. We loved how easy it was to get a bite or a drink or to be active: just visit the gym, do some tennis or pick a kayak, hop on a shuttle to Stonetown.

The Balinese spa they have onsite is very high quality and comes recommended.

2) Average
Before saying more about service we want to underline that staff is very friendly, helpful and do their very best. It is nothing but a management issue that the service is a bit wobbly. We understand that staff members probably have not had any opportunities for client experiences themselves – a starting point that calls for very strong training and working continuously as a team to improve the quality of service. Most of the times the lack of experience together with very limited English language skills resulted in staff that seemed quite startled with their tasks (especially at the buffet).

Food comes in a large variety and even for vegetarians there are always enough options in the buffet. A chef makes you an omelet in the morning, fresh lunch wrap or a pasta for dinner as you wish. The quality is, however, “vacation food”, no fine dining here. Something we couldn’t get used to were bees that had taken over the breakfast buffet. This is something we never saw before in resorts in Europe, Latin America, Caribbean or Asia – surely there is a way to get rid of these bees?

3) Areas to improve
Rooms are big and tastefully decorated and they come with good basic amenities. Where there is nothing wrong with the original design of the resort, it seems they’re low on the maintenance budget. You see the effects in bathrooms as well as quite worn out textiles everywhere: bed linen, mosquito net, curtains, beach towels, staff uniforms… It may be Africa, but clients travel and compare resorts globally and in that playing field shred mosquito nets or bleach stains in beach towels are something that instantly put off the luxury you’d like to experience at such a special place.

Another issue is their “all-inclusive” program. We’re used to all-inclusive meaning what the name suggests. Here it meant “selected foods and drinks inclusive”. This was never made explicit to us not in our travel agency briefing nor at arrival to the hotel nor in the guest services catalogue in the room. So, we were taken by a surprise at the end of the stay they wanted to charge us for some wine and sparkling water we thought were included. The person at the front desk didn’t speak enough English to handle the situation, but the manager called in took it with style and removed the items from our bill. Another thing is that you still need to sign a bill with prices on the receipt after every order – every single beer or soda water. The whole point of all-inclusive is that you get rid of the hassle with paying – this signing policy brings an unwanted administrative procedure to the vacation. All in all, we would recommend benchmarking with some other all-inclusives and uncomplicating the program.

4) Travel tips for Zanzibar
Safari Blue snorkeling trip is a must. The original (beware of copycats) packs snorkeling, sailing, swimming from a sandbank, lunch on the beach with a local band and dolphin watching in a full day trip. Coral is breathtakingly beautiful and you literally swim with the fish.

Doreen Mashika is a local designer whose chic boutique in Stonetown (Hurumzi Street 267-268) stands out from hundreds of shops with a fully identical souvenir collection. Her designer clothing and accessory items are not cheap, but I was very happy to purchase a unique two-piece bracelet of silver and cow horn for $150 and to support a talented female entrepreneur.

Hakuna matata!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (130)
Date | Rating
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English first
Northern California
Top Contributor
77 reviews 77 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
65 helpful votes 65 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2013

We stayed at Sea Cliff Resort for three days after a ten day safari. The facility is just lovely - beautifully landscaped, spacious, and very scenic. The staff was very friendly as well as attentive. The room was excellent and included an in-room safe as well as bottled water everyday for teeth brushing and drinking. Many of the rooms were ocean view as was our room. There are a number of activities that are included in the room fee - basically anything without a motor such as kayak, paddle boat, air hockey, paddle ball, tennis, bicycling, etc. There is also a free shuttle each morning and afternoon into Stonetown if you are interested in going to town to sightsee. You do need to reserve it a day in advance. Addionally, you can walk about a block through the well maintained grounds to a private beach which has chairs, umbrellas, and an attendant to help you with towels or sell cold drinks.

Our room price included half pension which was breakfast and dinner. Each was served buffet style with the dinners having a theme each evening (Asian, etc.) There is something for every taste on the huge buffets and the food is very fresh. Some dishes are made while you wait after you order (various egg dishes, pho soup bowls, etc.) While we thought some of the food was too salty, overall we had no problem finding healthful options. The servers were very friendly and would talk to you about Zanzibar if they weren't too busy. Since we were at the hotel for lunch each day (tours and shuttle either return before lunch or leave after lunch) this meant we had to eat at the hotel. One day we ate down by the pool and the service was very slow since the server had to go up a level to place the orders, pick up the food, and possibly even wait on some tables in the bar area. So, the next day we decided to eat in the regular dining room. You can select the lunch buffet (which was too much food for our appetites) or order from a menu, which we did. The selections were mostly unhealthy style faster foods but we did find a couple of items we could eat that were just OK. There were very few options for fresh vegetables or fruits at lunch unless you purhcased the buffet.

We did take a walking tour of Stonetown which we signed up for at the concierge. The guide was very knowledgeable, arrived on time, and answered all of our questions with no holds barred. We even had a friendly discussion on religion comparing Muslims to Christians and Jews.

Nothing in Tanzania is reasonably priced if you are American. For example, regular post cards were $1, $2, $4, or $5 EACH depending on where you purchased them. We did find a place where we could buy some at 2 cards for $1 - still not great when you think about buying postcards in San Francisco, CA, for around 4 or 5 cards for $1. However, this is not specific to this resort as all hotels and restaurants seem to have the same kinds of prices.

We enjoyed our stay spending time kayaking, swimming in the pools and playing a couple of games of Scrabble. They have a library of games you can check out. One disadvantage of this hotel is when you leave the grounds you are on a longish dirt road that leads to the main road. There is nothing else in the neighborhood except private homes so, if the hotel doesn't have something you need, you will need to take the shuttle into town to get it.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2013

I recently attended a wedding at SeaCliff Zanzibar, and was blown away by the service. The GM (Abre) and most of the team were very helpful throughout our stay, except for one or two staff who I believe were a little frazzled by the large group. The bride organized everything herself with the help of the hotel staff, and on the day of her wedding was relaxed and happy. Throughout the wedding you could see Abre and his team checking in to ensure things were going well, which I thought was fantastic.

We were welcomed with fresh mango slush to drink and a refresher towel - which got the weekend off to a good start. The massage I went for on my last day was lovely, though the music was not as relaxing as I would expect at a spa, but that is easily remedied. I would also advise that they place a bowl of their beautiful flower arrangements for guests to gaze down at while receiving their massage. The masseuse was very pleasant and experienced, and when I started to feel a little unwell was very helpful and attentive - charging me for only the 43 or so minutes she'd done, and not the full hour - I was pleasantly surprised.

I felt that guests are given good value-for-money as their breakfast has various choices, without being over-the-top. There truly was something for everyone, and I could very easily spend more than a weekend there, given the many activities available. On the first night (Friday) many of us congregated around the bar area and the live music and accommodating staff really helped get us relaxed and ready for the wedding the next day. A note to the hotel: You may wish to have an iPod docking station at the bar for guests who want to enjoy a few more drinks together and a bit of a dance after the band stops and the bar is about to close (making sure the docking station doesn't play too loud, of course).

I wish the rooms were a bit bigger, though it is not normal to spend a lot of time in one's room when at such a beautiful setting, and I LOVED the thick curtains - for the first time in a long time I slept past 7am. I wish the soaps and shampoos were a little less 'wholesale' - they were not as pleasant to use/indulgent as I'd hoped. However I cannot fault them for this, given that it is a resort and this sort of thing exists more in smaller/boutique hotels, though they may wish to look into this. Otherwise, they really seem to have thought of everything - and if I were not such a fan of more 'boutique-style' or 'rustic-chic' places, would choose to go back for a long weekend.

Room Tip: Choose a room upstairs - they feel slightly bigger, and have great views of the beach and the boats...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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Tetbury, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2013

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!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
UK
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
36 hotel reviews
Reviews in 41 cities Reviews in 41 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2013

We stayed here after an exhausting 12 nights in tented camp on safari.
We upgraded to a junior suite for $50 a night - money well spent in our opinion.
You get a fantastically positioned room with panoramic views and a large bathroom with bath and jucuzzi.
Food and facities excellent. Pools lovely - if rather shallow!
We were all inclusive. Food excellent - especially the a la carte lunch.
Not sure why ice cream was not included - we queried this with the manager - blamed children!
There weren't any children there in January! - he said it was being looked in to.
Snorkelling - none nearby. $40 car journey then $45 each. We decided against it.
Twice daily free shuttle to Stonetown - 30 minute journey - good for a visit. Wouldn't bother staying there though - we also used the recommended guide at $10 - an excellent 3 hour walking tour of Stonetown.

Room Tip: I would recommend the upgrade
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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NAIROBI
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2013

The hotel has an excellent services, well thought off architecture, nice swimming pool and beautiful rooms. Sundown er dhow ride is a must go if you want to enjoy Indian ocean romance when the sun is going down.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Jena, Thüringen, Germany
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013

This place had a lot of things to do. I like to keep a little bit active during my vacation to account for lounging around and overeating. There was a pretty decent fitness centre and I was able to rent a bike pretty cheap. I had some nice little excursions my bike and it was nice to come back and chill out in the pool.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Sea Cliff Resort & Spa

Address: Mangapwani, PO Box 1763, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#14 Top resorts Hotel in Zanzibar
#24 Spa Hotel in Zanzibar
#28 Luxury Hotel in Zanzibar
#37 On the Beach Hotel in Zanzibar
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Sea Cliff Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 120
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Driving into Sea Cliff Resort & Spa you know you have found something special. The 4 km road through a coconut plantation that leads to the hotel is a reminder of the Zanzibar of old. Peace and tranquility, no other hotels or busy roads just open space and palm trees.As you enter the courtyard filled with tropical flowers and palms the view of the ocean stands before you. With our traditional makuti roofs and Arabic towers lit by brass lights you know this is not a typical hotel. Its an hotel built with our location in mind. It is a unique combination of modern facilities mixed with the original exotic architecture of historical Zanzibar. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sea Cliff Resort And Spa
Sea Cliff Hotel Zanzibar

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