We stayed there last August as family of 4 and it was one of our best hotel experiences ever; The hotel had just opened a couple of months before and praise goes to the architect; the cupolas of the reception hall and the pool bar, overlooking main pool and the Indian Ocean, offer a magnificent view (pictures on their webpage are not just well taken but give a real impression of everday sights); The way that the 140 rooms are distributed over villas of 4 to 6 units and the low main building does't actually make it feel a resort of this size. The 'Swahili style" of design is consistely applied. We fouund the spacious and very tasteful rooms just "perfect" for us. Only caveat for families is that they don't have suites with seperate bedrooms so kids will be with you in the same room on converted sofa. Our travel agency information had been misleading in that respect but when we raised this the hotel was flexible enough to compromise by offering us a second adjoining superior room (!) for 10% extra payment which we found a reasonable deal (hotel was not fully booked).
We liked the service very much because everyone was really friendy although not always 100% professional (meaning staff may not always serve from the right side at the table or have to check with "manager" for request that are little outside the routine etc.); We prefer a natural African friendlyness to a trained five star perfection so this was just right. They were particularly nice with the kids (e.g. guards helped to spot monkeys because our girls had been excided with their occasional encounters);
Food at the breakfast and dinner buffet was very good, they always had some Indian and Kenyan dishes, freshly prepared pasta, grill (fresh grilled fish was just fabulous). Fresh fruit, e.g. mango, pinapples, passion fruit for breakfast or as juice or desert was great.
The pools are immense althouh not very deep. They cascade down from an upper pool (great view) to a lower pool at beach level in various little bassins and waterfalls. For our taste, this is overdone - especially with the artifical rocks that were placed around thhe cascades. This bit of Disney-like artifical landscaping just wouldn't be neceessary in the beautiful surrounding, with lots of palm trees, flowers and also many old trees.
There is one significant downside with this hotel and that's the small beach. There is lot of empty property on the wide sandy beaches of Diani but they chose this particular spot which is limited by sharp rocks on both sides. When the tide is in, the whole beach is flooded, when it's out the sand remains covered with sea grass and you have to walk over 50 meters of rocks to swim in the sea. Locals told us the property was just a swamp before the hotel was built - impressing what they made of it, but still - it's not the wide white sandy beach for which Diani is famous and which you find just 5 minutes walk to the right or to the left of the hotel. If you can live with that downside, Swahili is a fabulous hotel.
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