ARRIVAL: After an impressive drive way rich in colours (bourgainvilla) we were very warmly greeted by Paolo and seated in a large thatched, open building (which also serves as one of the bars on site and is also a centre for booking tours etc) for an efficient check in while we sipped our refreshing drink and freshened up with the statutory towel provided. My request for a full sea view room was taken into consideration together with my mobility problems. Many thanks to Paolo for his help. A golf cart took us to our room.
ROOM: Please note that the accommodation is tiered in three levels. Level 3 in my opinion has uninterrupted views of the sea and the hotel grounds. It is closer to the main dining room and the reception areas. I have mobility problems and the walk to the dining area from Room 302 was not a problem. Level I is closer to the beach and the hotel pier. Golf cart assistance is available from all levels - simply call reception and they will oblige.
The room is large and comfortable with easy chairs and ample storage space. Tea making facility, television and mini bar stocked with soft drinks and beer. Netted, large bed (good quality linen and duvet) which was decked daily with flowers. Fairly large, marbled bathroom with a walk in shower and bidet. Good quality toiletries. Quality of towels depended from day to day.
Although Zanzibar uses the three pin plug this hotel caters for two pin plugs. Reception kindly provided us with an an adaptor. The air conditioning is quiet and effective and overall a very good sleep quality was enjoyed.
The sliding doors open out to a patio area, grass lawn balcony with beautiful floral bushes. Trellis dividers between rooms near the patio area. Otherwise it is one huge balcony - impressive. The views and in particular of sunset are breathtaking.
The room was spotless and welcoming with the exception of the shower - there was a thick layer of unsightly mold where the door glides on the bottom track. This was quietly pointed out to the room maid who took prompt action and spent an hour cleaning the area. Many thanks.
The main dining room is arranged in two sections: the enclosed area is air conditioned and this area leads to a large, open thatched dome structure with good views of the sea and the gardens. Smoking and non smoking areas in the latter. Surprisingly for an all inclusive the quality of food is good and the wine (South African) reasonable.
All meals are buffet style although drinks and beverages are served at the table. There was a very good choice at breakfast: fresh fruits, juices (unfortunately not fresh), variety of continental and local breads, cereals, waffles and pancakes, omelettes, cold meats, cheeses, sausages, beans etc.....Excellent coffee. Lunch and dinner catered for all palates and this is one of the few hotels where vegetarians needs are fully met. A huge selection of salads, meats (duck, chicken, pork, beef, lamb), fish (fresh catch of the day fillets such as tuna and sword fish, prawns, octopus, squid), fresh fruits and truly a large selection of desserts. Dishes ranged from pasta, osso bucco, rissotto, roasts, stews to curries, including local swahili dishes (Zanzibar mix,pilau, samosas, ugali, cassava, plantains etc). oN Fridays the hotel hosts an African night and more local dishes and drinks are on offer.
Snacks and drinks are available at the poolside. With the exception of icecream we found the quality of 'set' lunch served here to be mediocre. Inn the evening this area serves as the pizza restaurant for which a reservation has to be made. We did not try the Seafood restaurant but the feedback from fellow guests was positive.
All the bars and cafes serve good quality drinks and for special brands there is an additional cost. Make sure to sample the cocktail of the day.
EVENTS AND ENTERTAINMENT:
In addition to the visits and tours to Zanzibar town, the hotel provides a range of sporting facilities, Swahili lessons, lessons in playing Bao (a local game of strategy and musical entertainment in the evening or just simply chilling on the pier in the Sunset bar or the shisha bar....
Avoid booking trips and excursions via individual hotel staff who may approach you. We were offered a village visit (to include car,the Mnarini turtle conservation, Nungwi village, basket making, boat building, fishing village) at 120 dollars per person which I declined as it was too steep for us. The same excursion arranged via the Mnarini conservation group cost 30 dollars. Whereas I am not in the business of penny pinching the unrealistic pricing did not inspire confidence.
The free wifi connection is excellent and we were lucky to have connection in our room as well. Telephone calls within Tanzania are not charged. Much appreciated.
THE GROUNDS and THE BEACH:
Stunning, stunning......We took the golf cart to familiarise ourselves with the layout of the sprawling gardens before spending time each day covering a section. The gardens have been very tastefully designed and landscaped with an amazing collection of tropical plants and trees.Truly spectacular, bursting with colours. The gardens attract a variety of beautiful tropical birds.The whole is exceptionally well maintained by a dedicated team of ground staff. Do pack mosquito repellent particularly for use in the evening.
There are two beaches! Yep. At the 'base' of the hotel near the pool a beach has been created with palm trees and other tropical plants. This area is raked and cleaned every day. Good quality loungers under makuti (thatched) umbrellas or palm trees. Again the quality of the towels varied from day to day. Hakuna matata. At various points wooden steps lead down to the beach proper and what a beach! Sheer bliss to take an early morning walk on white, powdery, clean sand. Early morning turn to the right (if facing the sea) - delightful walk and the coral formation rock face is stunning. The sea is most inviting - warm, crystal clear and very calm. It is possible to swim even at low tide. Unlike the east of the island where sea urchins abound this side of Nungwi is relatively free of them. However, one guest who was walking out towards the sea at very low tide unfortunately walked on on and it wasn't pleasant. Several guests had reef sandals/shoes - a good idea if you can pack a pair.
If you continue walking on the left you will come across a few beach stalls selling the usual holiday gifts. A word of warning - on seeing your 'bracelet' (all guests have to wear one!) the price will increase from 10 dollars to 100! Buy in Zanzibar town or in the hotel shop or be ready to bargain...
The whole area is patrolled by security guards and we were always at ease especially walking on the clean beach early in the morning (evening walks are not advisable.)
All staff from groundsmen to management were most unintrusive but helpful and courteous. The management team are most visible and even have their meals with the guests. Each departmental head (housekeeping, kitchen, entertainment etc) made contact and always enquired if things were fine. Quick service was exerienced eg a replacement bulb, golf cart assistance.
Attitude of waiters and waitresses varied. If tipped on a daily basis they went the extra mile. We always prefer to show appreciation at the end of a stay and were not so well looked after on the beach or in the bars. Small dollar bills will come in handy. There are no ATMs in the area. Reception will change our money only in Tanzanian shillings.
Our thanks to all staff for making our stay so memorable and in particular to Paolo (Trainee manager) who looked after us so well, to Agatha, Miriam, Ally and Naina (restaurant) and to Chef Babbu who made us a very special, exquisite and delicious Zanzibari dish 'samaki wakupaka' with coconut rice on our last day.
Ask for a room on Level 3.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.