I was in Zanzibar with my 6 year old daughter and my husband in the month of February of 2010 and we stayed at the Dongwe Club. The most striking feature of the resort are the grounds that are thoroughly well kept and decorated by a great number of beautifully blooming Bougainville and Hibiscus plants. The structure is very well conceived presenting a slowly descending slope toward the pool and the beach, which makes the view over the ocean from the reception area and main hall breathtaking. The structure is also very well integrated with the local architecture and is dominated by very tall straw roofs with a wooden supporting frame. Spaces are generously distributed, with a large and comfortably furnished main hall, and a very spacious and luminous dining area. The food was excellent, with a great variety and remarkable hygiene. Local people working at the resort are very kind, most of them speaking pretty good English and almost all of them speaking Italian. In spite of their great effort to optimize communication with the guest there may be some occasional difficulty in communication which is mostly well outweighed by their effort to understand your needs. The housekeeping lady that took care of our room once decorated the entire room with flowers from the grounds and folding the towels in the shape of a swan. The pool is situated right next to the beach avoiding a definite separation between spending time at the pool or at the beach and is filled with salted water. The beach is very well kept and made of soft, thin and white sand and is normally quite wide, although when approaching a full moon the high tide reaches a terraced beach area that guarantees a dry beach area to lay on. One of the nicest features of this resort is the long wooden dock, that provides access to deeper water when the tide is low and that also harbours a delightful and quaint restaurant (that you have to book for) that sits right over water with a beautiful breeze and great atmosphere at night. This is also the location for the dock party once a week at the resort. The animation is provided by an Italian team of animators and entertainers who are generally quite capable of speaking English as well. The animation is not invasive and intrusive as in many other resorts.
During the time we were there the island was still without electrical supply due to a damaged underwater cable coming from the continent, although Dongwe Club disposes of generators that provide full energy supply even in these conditions. I believe the electrical supply in the island has been re-established by now. We have had the opportunity to tour the island a fair amount during our stay and we have discovered an island inhabited by simple yet very welcoming people, and when observing a few simple rules dictated by common sense we have not encountered any crime or detectable danger. People are predominantly of Islamic religion but we have not detected any tendency to intolerance or extremism toward other cultures and religions.
The island is very green and colourful, villages are simple and relatively poor without any evidence of hunger and starvation problems. We visited a school which was a very fulfilling and deeply touching experience, with all the children spontaneously joining a welcome chant for our unexpected visit throughout the open air classrooms. We tend to recommend NOT to distribute gifts of any kind (candy, sweets, pencils etc.) because it will rapidly disrupt the balance and make your experience miserable. About visiting Stone Town, the main criticism you will hear from tourists concerns dirt and filth. You have to remember you are in Africa and have to have realistic expectations. It is pointless to compare it to a European or North American city. If you are able to look past this, and are able to explore enough you will be able to find some adorable terraces and places to enjoy a drink with beautiful views over the chaotic yet in some ways picturesque city.
The only coastline we were able to tour a little is the south eastern coastline, where Dongwe Club is situated, which still maintains a very undeveloped appearance, with few hotels and several fishermen villages. The only negative aspect is the sometimes abundant presence of algae, which is considerably reduced by regular raking on the beach of Dongwe Club, and for some unknown reason was contained at Paje beach as well. Tides are very strong on this coastline. For anybody seeking some nightlife, Paje (especially on Friday nights at Paje by Night), is the place to go, where parties include a surprising variety of people participating, from Europeans on vacation to local young men, from Masais to South Africans, Kenyans and Australians owning or running businesses down there.
Altogether we found Zanzibar to be a very fascinating island to visit although we have encountered some people that were very critical of it. Conversely, people that stayed at the Dongwe Club have all expressed a very positive opinion of the place.
Robin Thoreson, Chicago USA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.