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“Perfect end to our honeymoon” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar, Asilia Africa

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Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar, Asilia Africa
5.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Matemwe, Zanzibar, Matemwe, Tanzania   |  
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up to 40% off | $400 pppn
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Perfect end to our honeymoon”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2012

We stayed here for the last week of our honeymoon in Tanzania and the place is amazing. It was a bit of an indulgence but worth it. From the moment we arrived we were so well looked after by all the staff. Champagne waiting for us and flowers strewn accross our room on arrival and we met Martin our butler for the week. He made our stay really special, so attentive and eager to make sure we were happy and always had everything we needed but without being too intrusive. It took a couple of days to get used to but boy do we miss it now we're home. We could call him at any time and his smily face would be there in a snap to see what we needed.....usually just two more cocktails (try the Dawas....).

We stayed in Safina and our room (villa??) was even better than we'd imagined. Big, comfy bed, huge room, beautiful big deck, bathroom the size of my livingroom at home and then a plunge pool on the roof to top it off. There is all manner of spots to lounge away the day, just ideal for honeymoon - relaxing, private and intimate.

The food was good and plentiful, even too plentiful, we had to ask for bit smaller portions by the end of the week! Martin would bring us a suggested menu before every meal and we could choose from this or change it a bit or ask for anything else we wanted within reason. We ate some great fish and lobster, mango chicken etc a bit more Tanzanian influence would have been nice though. We did do the Tanzanian night in the main restaurant which was really tasty and they also had a BBQ around the main pool and place was all lit up by candle light. Beautiful. Final night we had dinner on the roof of our villa - great food (more lobster!) & champagne under the stars. Perfect.

We had a couple of massages at the spa and lounged around on the beach a bit but mostly we were on our deck or around the rooftop plunge pool. We also did 4 dives with One Ocean - they were great, really professional (better than I'd expected). Dives were all at Mnemba atoll and there were 1000s of fish, including a few I'd never seen before in over 40 dives (a frog fish?!). They even threw in some snorkelling with dolphins between dives. The vis was only about 15m but water was still a bit choppy at the very beginning of the dry season.

All in all, probably the best place we've stayed in and hopefully one day we'll be back.

  • Stayed June 2012, 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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85 reviews from our community

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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 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Salmiya, Al Kuwayt, Kuwait
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2012

We absolutely loved Matemwe Retreat and the entire staff. What made our stay exceptional, however, was our butler Menlad. He was so kind, anticipated every need and made our stay paradise. We will never forget the candlelight dinner on our roof our last night there. Menlad even remembered what we said our favorite food was and made sure we had it as a meal, even though it wasn't on the menu. Our villa was so thoughtfully done with great attention to detail and the scenery was beautiful. I would definitely return to Matemwe Retreat and thank Celine, Moses and Menlad for a job well done!

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 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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London, United Kingdom
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2012

What an awesome stay at Matemwe Retreat. Was the perfect way to start our honeymoon. The Villa we stayed in (Leila) was way beyond what the pictures and stories of others brought across. Spacious, PRIVATE, clean with such amazing views.

With the humidity the real bonus was the private plunge pool on the roof deck. We spent a lot of our time up there either in the pool or lazing in one of the deck chairs. Salim our butler was another highlight. Never intrusive, always a big smile on his face and was there for our every need. Dont expect to do much (or anything) in terms of physical work - they wont let you :-)

We had all our meals (bar the last night Braai (BBQ)) at our Villa. While a set menu was provided, we could chop and change for whatever we wanted. Always good South African Wine available to wash it down with - and the bar bridge is always well stocked.

The snorkelling at Mnemba Atoll (just a few 100m off the coast) is by far the best in Zanzibar. We also did it in Stone Town and in Jambiani but the waters here were so clear and the reef was something else.

The reef walk and kayaking was a nice change from all our lazing at the villa and if you feeling you need to strecth the legs, play some beach soccer with the locals in the afternoon - they are more than happy to include you.

An amazing stay, amazing people (Salim, Abdil, Rashid, Moses and Team) and we will be back one day.

  • Stayed March 2012, 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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Los Altos Hills, CA
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
37 hotel reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
82 helpful votes 82 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2012

We LOVED our stay at Matemwe, even though it started with a bit of alarm. We had booked 3 nights at the retreat to relax after our safari, and on our last night at the Dunia camp, the camp manager approached me and said there had been a mistake with our booking at Matemwe. Seems like they had only booked us in for 2 nights instead of 3, and that we need to stay at the Main Lodge/Bungalow room for the first night. They offered a full refund for the first night, so hakuna matata!

We checked into the bungalow after a long day of flying in from Seronera (our plane had a flat tire!), and it was fine, tho no AC and got a bit sticky during the night. The restaurant was doing a BBQ night so we likely would've gone down to the restaurant anyways. We started our meal at the restaurant, and were suddenly approached by a waiter -- he had set up a "special" table for us. Turned out this was a private table on the beach, in a little cove, lit by hundreds of candles! They had a bottle of champagne on ice for us, brought us piles or delicious barbequed lobsters, prawns, fish, meat, and finished with the most delicious ice cream. It was possibly THE most romantic dinner of our lives :)

Next day, they moved us to the retreat around noon, and we absolutely loved the room. It was a stand-alone little house, with an air-conditioned bedroom, a huge bathroom with shower and big tub over looking the ocean, and a fantastic deck with fully-stocked bar, hammock and sofa. Best part was the roof deck with an infinity plunge pool and a huge shaded seating/lying area. The view of the ocean and across to Mnemba Atoll was gorgeous. We ended up spending most of our time up on the roof deck. There was a wonderful cool breeze all day long and it didn't feel hot at all (even though the temperature was in the mid 90's and very humid).

Our butler was great, brought us breakfast, lunch and dinner on demand, as well as lime and mint to make gin/tonic and mojitos :). My husband went snorkeling and I had a massage (a bit different than the usual but excellent), and we went for a short swim at high tide. Other than that, we barely left our wonderful Retreat. After 9 days on safari, it was *perfect*.

We've stayed at other places with private pools, including the Aman resort in Phuket, but we really loved Matemwe the most. It's not the most elegant, but there's a "barefoot luxury" quality to it that was very special. The staff was wonderful and went out of their way to be nice. We stayed at 3 Asilia properties on this trip, and I really can't say enough nice things about the company. Yes, they made a mistake with the booking, but more than made of for it. That dinner on the beach was magic -- special memories we'll always treasure.

Room Tip: We had Nuru. It's the first "house". I think it's the best. Closest to main resort...
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  • Stayed February 2012, 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.
AsiliaAfrica, Direct Marketing Manager at Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar, Asilia Africa, responded to this review, February 29, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to write this review.

We are very pleased to hear you have loved your stay at Matemwe Retreat. Again, my apologies for the mix up with your initial booking and I am happy to hear you appreciate the romantic Beach Dinner we organized to make up for this. On behalf of the Matemwe Retreat team I wish you all the best and we look forward welcoming you again to Matemwe!

Kind regards,

Marleen Haverkamp
Asilia Africa | Direct Marketing Manager
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Manchester, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2012

We were lucky enough to have our wedding at Matemwe Retreat in February 2012. From the moment we arrived at the main reception we were greeted by the lovely Sjani who gave us a quick tour of the lodge facilities and introduced us to our butler Abdi. Abdi was an absolute STAR! We stayed in the third retreat down, Safina, and it was for us even better than we had visualised from the photos on here, and their website. The entrance area is huge, there is less a 'minibar' and more a full on 'bar'! Brand new bottles of every spirit you could want, delicious wines, beers and sodas which our fabulous butler made sure were stocked up every day - plenty of the ginger ale Tangawizi for us!

The villa is immaculately laid out, and no its not 'remote glitz' as another reviewer has pointed out, because it's not trying to be. They have been fitted out with traditional fabrics, prints and materials; like local Dhow's for the bar, and mirrors, and it is these little touches which remind you that you are in Africa and local customs and style really show through. There is no T.V which is great; the only thing you need to look at is the view through the huge shutter doors, out into the Indian Ocean and foliage. The bathroom is enormous with charming double sinks, a large walk in power shower, separate toilet and large double bath!
We were able to get wi-fi everyday (which wasn't put on our bill), and the connection was good. There is also an I-pod dock on the dresser which was nice to play music whilst we ate.


Our wedding was perfectly organised and we were given the option of having it on the beach or on our veranda upstairs (where there is a seating area and where the plunge pool is). We took it on the veranda, where staff had made gorgeous flower decorations around the pillars and deck. Local villagers in dress then follow you down, with an (excellent) photographer, singing and dancing and drumming, whilst you walk through the gardens to the beach for further dancing and photos. Later they served us an intimate meal of lobster and seafish, and produced a surprise wedding cake which was delicious with a little dance and song to produce it. The next day we were pampered with a complimentary (as part of the wedding package) 30 min massage, which were simply luxurious. We would thoroughly recommend to any couple in search of an intimate, fun and romantic wedding.

FOOD: Neither of us could fault the food. After each meal either the talented chef (Rashid) or your butler, will ask you to choose your next meal from a three course menu. Every meal was different and delicious. Chilled avocado soup, ginger 'tangawizi' soup, plenty of fresh fish and lobster, delicious deserts. If nothing took your fancy from the menu you could head down to the lodge (they had a bbq and Swahili food night whilst we were there), or Rashid was more than happy to make up something you fancied not from the menu. We had no problem with food arriving cold or late. Whilst we ate dinner Abdi would sneak into our room without us even knowing, and when we entered it later he'd set the (very large box) mosquito net up, turned down, and lit incense. There is no menu for breakfast, they will make you anything you like!!

There is no need to venture down to the main lodge if you don't feel like it. Everything can be brought to you, and with the plunge pool, view, and gorgeous room there is everything you need in the villa. We would not hesitate to reccommend Matemwe to anyone; honeymooners, anyone in need of getting away from the real world for a couple of days and living in peaceful luxury!!! We are definitely going to be returning!

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
AsiliaAfrica, Direct Marketing Manager at Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar, Asilia Africa, responded to this review, February 29, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to write this review.

We are very pleased to hear your wedding at Matemwe has been the "Wedding in Paradise" you have been dreaming about. We wish you both all the love and happiness and hope you can look back at a magical wedding day. We wish you both a safe journey onwards; please do send our regards to the lemurs of Madagascar if you are still planning to visit there... We are happy to hear you have enjoyed your stay with us. Congratulations, and thank you for letting us be part of your special day. We hope it was just perfect and we look forward welcoming you back to Matemwe!

On behalf of the Matemwe Retreat team; especially Sjani, Abdi & Rashid.

Kind regards,

Marleen Haverkamp
Asilia Africa | Direct Marketing Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 9, 2012 via mobile

Reading about Matemwe Retreat in the press you would think you were going to visit the ultimate in remote glitz - where the rich and famous go to avoid the masses.  Well it's not at all like that at all. When we first arrived I hated it, but over the days it has grown on me.  It has none of the usual facilities no gym, no tennis courts, a small pool, and a quirky layout.  The first meal was a disaster - can you imagine French onion soup in somewhere as exotic as Zanzibar?

But we got to grips with the place. We were assigned a wonderful butler Salim for whom nothing was too much. We told him that not all guests want boring food and we got our own menu.  Fresh grilled fish with lovely vegetables.  Swahili cooking very imaginative.

The location is spot on.  Right on the Indian Ocean with the sound of the sea in your room.  Beautiful well looked after gardens.  Beaches as white as anywhere you will see.  Matemwe Retreat is not manicured but retains an authentic feel.  The beach stretches further than the eye can see: local women harvest seaweed, the men fish from their dhows and it is magnificent to see them returning on the incoming tide.

Of special notice is the One Ocean dive and scuba facility and their manager Frank. Really professional with good equipment and in the event of trouble their own decompression chamber.

One tiresome negative.  The all embracing disclaimer they force you to sign when you arrive. It absolves them from any responsibility.  It's not what I would call customer friendly.

  • Stayed February 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Newton Abbot
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2012

We stayed at the Matemwe Retreat as the final part of our honeymoon in September 2011. After over a week on safari and the madness of the build up to our wedding it really was the perfect place to laze about, relax and be pampered within an inch of our existence.

We stayed in the villa called Zam Zam - the villas themselves are incredible - the bedroom area is dominated by an enormous four poster bed and has a lovely reading area and desk, the bathroom is huge with a bath built for two with windows that you can open out and look out at the sea (just remember that people can also look back in...), there is also a fabulous shower, outside there is a lovely sun bed, lounge area and bar and the dining area with a further lounge area and pool upstairs. The villas are amazing! Yes as some people have noted there are bugs and ants etc but it is part of Zanzibar - the retreat does not try and be anything more than a complete escape from reality and that's just what it was for us.

The best thing beyond any doubt was our butler - Menlad - there really was nothing he would not do - from morning, noon to night he did everything in his power to make our trip the most enjoyable and memorable ever. Menlad really did work tirelessly, ensuring the bar was always stocked with our favourite drinks. Every meal time he would take our orders and then tidy the villa whilst we went for an early morning stroll/ swim etc. He was ever present when we needed him but also gave us the freedom and privacy that you would also expect. He also prepared us a lovely "beach" BBQ - which whilst not really on the beach (and it was a bit windy on the night we went out) was a lovely experience and the candles were very dramatic. I was not entirely convinced that my husband was not going to try and convince Menlad that he wanted to come home with us to continue the level of service - he had got used to being pandered to!

In terms of the food, we never had a bad meal - it was all tailored to our requests and when there was not something on the menu that took our fancy an entirely acceptable alternative was always provided. It was fresh, tasty and we had no complaints at all. Because of the distance between the villas and the main resort there are quite long waits between courses but that was no bad thing and meant that we paced ourselves better and go to enjoy the view across to the island and enjoy each others' company. The food was always warm when it arrived however and the ice-cream had never started melting. The bar in our villa was supplied with a plentiful selection of soft drinks, juices, milk and a wider range of spirits, beers, wines and fizz. We liked to make lots of tea and coffee so asked for more milk and supplies which were instantly arranged (much to Menlad's consternation as he felt he should be making this for us).

Activities: lots of activities are included within the Retreat package including snorkelling, reef walking, and village walks. We went reef walking once but decided not to it again given the number of sea urchins (see below). We went snorkelling twice and each time had the most amazing sessions - you can see all kinds of wonderful creatures including beautiful and strange star fish to eels, manta rays and thousands of different fish. A really lovely way to spend a morning.

There was the option to go diving but this was not included in the package and we did not try it but people seemed to be going to the dive centre from a number of places so it was clearly popular and the guides certainly seemed knowledgeable and attentive when we went snorkelling.

Wider resort and location: the resort is quite spread out - this gives the villas added privacy which is fabulous but does mean that if you want to go down to the bar or to the larger pools then you have a 5 minute work or so. It was quite nice to stretch our legs a little bit and have a wander but if you want everything in one place this is probably not for you.

The bar was well equipped, made fabulous cocktails (which were included in the price) and lots of board games (including scrabble which quickly became a firm favourite). They did say there were asking for suggestions for new games - perhaps a games compendium? There was always coffee and tea available and also lovely little afternoon treats.

There were two pools which were always kept clean but they are really only pools to paddle in and they were a bit nippy when we were there so we didn't tend to spend long there. There are loads of deck chairs around the pools and lovely little nooks and crannies where you can go and laze in or out of the sun and read/ chat/ relax.

We went to the BBQ at the restaurant one evening and that was a very enjoyable experience too - thankfully we got to keep Menlad then too (although all of the other servers seemed very attentive as well!).

The spa offers a wide range of treatments and given the location etc we thought the treatments were quite reasonably priced. We had massages and I had a pedicure as well from a lady called Bertha - it was heavenly. The treatments were all arranged by Menlad who again could not have done anything more for us.

The Beach: one negative - and for some it could be a big negative was the beach. Whilst the sand itself is beautiful fine white sand when we were there they were seemingly cultivating seaweed just off the beach and therefore the beach and the shallow water was absolutely covered in seaweed. There were also hundreds of thousands of sea urchins - the reason we only went reef walking once was because it was actually quite stressful having to try and carve out a path through the sea urchins. They were everywhere and you really struggled to find a place to safely put your foot down over a lot of the walk. It really did put a dampener on the beach and as a result we chose to either stay in the villa or at the pool or to go out snorkelling. If you like spending time in the shallow water paddling around this may not be the place for you.

If you are looking for a perfect place to chill out and unwind and be completely pampered this is a great option. It is in a very rural part of Zanzibar and therefore is not true luzury in terms of marble and glass everywhere but it is perfectly maintained and they work tirelessly at keeping the place in perfect nick - we did not see one day when they were not gardening and landscaping.

The trip from the airport is quite bumpy and at least an hour (although you do get to see the fascinating and sometimes quite challenging Zanzibar scenery and you are in an airconditioned van).

Room Tip: Buy all of your trips and excursions at home before you travel as they will become immediately more...
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  • Stayed September 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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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Additional Information about Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar, Asilia Africa

Address: Matemwe, Zanzibar, Matemwe, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Matemwe
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 14 Specialty Lodging in Matemwe
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar, Asilia Africa 5*
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Matemwe Retreat's rooms are extremely spacious and beautifully decorated. A private deck and plunge pool allows for uninterrupted relaxation, with only the palm trees for company. Service at the Retreat is organized in such a way that guests need never leave their room. A private butler caters to every whim and the chef stops by every morning to discuss the meal choices for the day, which are served on the large verandas overlooking the Indian Ocean. Guests are free to wander down to the main lodge, enjoy the delicious cuisine or join fellow patrons for sundowner cocktails. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Matemwe Retreat, Asilia Africa Hotel Matemwe
Matemwe Retreat, Zanzibar, Asilia Africa

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