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“Excellent First Impression, but....” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Swahili Beach Resort

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Swahili Beach Resort
Ukunda, Diani Beach, Ukunda 80401, Kenya   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #13 of 31 Hotels in Diani Beach
Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Excellent First Impression, but....”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

Beautiful new hotel. First impression was impressive, but then things came to light.
The bath tub and shower floor were extremely slippery, to the point of dangerous! We complained about this and were advised they were re-doing all the floors. What a shame, the hotel is just over a year old. I believe this work has begun as the units beside us had workers in them during the days and we could hear "construction".
All the staff are exceptionally friendly which makes up for their lack of training or experience. We reminded ourselves we were in a third world country, being served by the poor. They give and serve with true joy even though they receive very little pay and have most of their tips taken from them by management.
This is not a place for the disabled! There are steps all over the resort. I saw a few ramps in the main building, but I wouldn't want to have to use them. All the contractors did was take the side of the stairs and cement a ramp over them (very steep!). My husband is partially disabled. He uses a cane, has difficulty walking long distances, and stairs are a challenge. As this trip was a special celebration for us, we booked a higher than standard room. Upon check-in we were told his inconvenience of accessibility would be worth it because of the room and view! We were at the far end of the resort (by the beach), and on the third floor (stair access only)! In addition to the stairs, the resort is built on a hillside, which allows for the beautiful cascading swimming pools. This means we had an uphill walk to the dining room and reception. The path was one l-o-n-g slope; difficult to walk down and up. Some steps may be more appropriate.
During our stay we had opportunity to speak with many locals as well as foreigners who reside in Kenya and Uganda. What an eye opener to the corruption, especially in management and high level positions. We experienced this first hand upon our check-out. We had purchased an all inclusive tour package (accommodations, meals, airport transfers etc.). At check-out we were charged for the airport transfer. When I indicated this was an error that it was included in our package, we were told the transfer had been "cancelled". WE MUST PAY! After arguing about it for half an hour, we paid it and said we would be back after lunch for our refund. (We had to check out by 10 am, but our airport transfer wasn't until 3 pm. We figured let them finish with the other people checking out.) I returned to the gentleman at 1:30 pm and was greeted by an attitude of "What do you want?". When I said I wanted my refund, he again said IT MUST BE PAID! During our arguments, I realized he was management. An hour and a half later, I finally got my refund, at which point we departed. Soured our trip and it was so unnecessary. He wanted to line his own pocket. He is the one who lost big time because we did not give him the tip we were prepared to give him.

Room Tip: Third floor for fabulous ocean views, as long as no mobility issues (stairs only).
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SwahiliBeach, General Manager at Swahili Beach Resort, responded to this review, June 5, 2013
There is quite a bit here that is worrying especially the unsubstantiated claims management actually steals the tips! This is not true and certainly a possible hustle to ensure tips are paid directly rather than through the guest account and distributed on a weekly basis. Clearly this is something we have had to look into as it does present a very wrong image. The reviewer's waiters have been identified and interviewed.

Whilst there was a small saga at check out, which was resolved, I am not so sure it was as dramatic as relayed. Certainly not from the reports received. I am happy for the reviewer to e-mail me directly on gm@swahilibeach.com, so we can get to the bottom of the incident. The transfer was part of the voucher but overlooked at check in. A new system where we are learning every day.

Yes, the bathroom and bedroom floors care in the process of being recovered with a product sourced in Belgium. We are making good progress with the work and hopefully will be through all the rooms in the next couple of months.

I understand the option was given for the reviewer to be allocated a ground floor room, which was declined on account of the view's from the upper level.


The Swahili Beach Team
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241 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (67)
Date | Rating
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 8, 2013

First the good part; the rooms were very nice (size, furnishings, views). The hotel is beautiful, their pools are very nice and the views of the ocean are great. The spa is nice for a massage with views that look over the ocean.

Unfortunately the service, experience, and management is awful. I recently stayed for 3 nights after being on safari. I was so disappointed. To start the hotel got both my transfers botched up which they were responsible for handling. The buffet is poor, plenty of the cheap stuff but very low quality meat and what is nice they were very slow to replace. I also experienced some of the same issues that other reviewers noted with the pool staff. Very tough to get any type of service....particularly a drink. I had ordered a margarita, which was the equivalent of ~$10 and got a half empty glass of warm mix with no tequila. Lastly I booked a snorkeling tour through the hotel which was a complete waste of money and time. Could not believe that a hotel of this alleged calibur would have tour operators that are that awful. The boat was a shanty, the operators were of questionable integrity, and the experience was a disaster.

Lastly, as is mentioned by many of the reviews and is also evident by the responses by them to some of the reviews, is that the management could not care less about customer satisfaction. Complaints were brushed aside, lack of service they just basically agreed with the complaint but did nothing about it. It's ashame because the physical resort is very nice.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled solo
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SwahiliBeach, General Manager at Swahili Beach Resort, responded to this review, May 15, 2013
In reading Eric B's review our immediate concern, hence our research, apart from the reviewer's comments and accusations, is the fact that he chose to keep quiet when we have Guest Relations and duty management throughout the day. Management is visible and there to listen to comments and to take appropriate action as necessary. The reviewer says no one listened yet there is no record he actually talked to us, unless he talked directly to the service staff. To suggest management is ‘awful’ is just not true as we spend a great deal of our time on the ground with our guests. It’s there 24 hours and the front office manager goes around the breakfast tables every morning as does the evening duty manager during dinner.

Let’s deal with the issues raised.

Swimming pool drinks service at the upper pool is maintained to be non-invasive as those on the sunbeds generally do not want to be disturbed. The reviewer had four drinks during his stay with us, one on each evening from the Baraza Bar, presumably over dinner looking at the times served, and two on one day from Baobab bar, by the upper swimming pool. We will certainly look into the Margarita with the barman concerned. Legally, we must serve 30ml measures or multiplies thereof. Anyway, it will be looked into.

The transfers were not ‘botched’. The booking agent (name withheld) did not book nor did they request an airstrip transfer. We have looked at their booking voucher and the series of e-mails confirming the booking and no transfers were requested. The outgoing transfer was booked by the reviewer through the Guest Relations and he paid the taxi driver direct.

Our dinner buffet in Majlis comprises – two soups (one vegetarian) with our Italian baker’s bread selection, a salad bar with six different salads and five dressings, live cooking stations for meat, fish and pasta (occasionally we have a stir fry station too), four main dishes in the chaffing dishes plus three/four vegetables, rice and potatoes. We also offer dishes from our Indian/Swahili fusion restaurant, The Spice Route. There are seven desserts also available of which one is hot. Our meat comes from a quality butcher in Nairobi. We offer the option to have dinner in The Spice Route.

The snorkeling excursion was the reviewer's choice of operator and he asked Guest Relations to make the booking. It was not through the Watersports Centre based close to the beach bar, Baharini. We have been in touch with excursion operator (name withheld) and they tell us they used a dhow on that date. Payment was made directly to the operator and not through ourselves.

That just about covers it.

We have e-mailed Eric B. It is a shame the reviewer did not bring his views directly to us at the time.


Swahili Beach Team
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Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2013

Three of us shared a triple for four days at this fabulous hotel. The hotel staff was helpful, warm and friendly. We had breakfast there every morning, they served a good spread though it was the same every day. The rooms were good and clean though I would suggest they do away with the soap, shampoo dispensers in the bathrooms and instead provide individual mini bottles like other hotels do. All in all, our stay was pleasant.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vienna, Austria
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2013

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.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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.
Zingem
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2013

We had 2 great weeks in Kenya. Nice weather. End of the season they sad but it was about 30 degrees. Some times raining, but still warm. The trip was really nice. The hotel was good. Good service. In general good food - there was always Indian food. The menu was almost the same every day. The rooms are big, clean and nice. As a disadvantage will mention that the floor of the bathroom was very slippery(so you must be careful). This hotel does not have beach almost. There are lots of alga's. In fact they were cleaning every they the sand to have some place without alga's. There are lots of swimming polls but only 1 meter deep. So if you really want to swim it is not perfect. But for kids is great. People are very friendly. Very close to the hotel there is a supermarket, some shops, bank. 5 mints with car you have big and nice beach. There is the restaurant Forty thieves. There were some games for the kids during the day, but no animation at the evening. If you want to have a trip book it with the local travel agents - you will find them nearby the hotel.

Room Tip: Superior room is very good for 4 persons.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nairobi, Kenya
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 11, 2013

We have just returned after 4 nights at the Swahili. The hotel setup is outstanding, the several pools being the highlight. The room was very good and clean. The animation team try very hard to entertain you and did a very good job. The best part is the food.. We are vegetarians, and after a very long time we didn't complain over the quality of food. The indian addition to the buffet was a blessing, especially over breakfast. The only let down was the beach. The amount of sea weed was too much and a deterrent to go for a swim in the ocean. Apart from this we had a satisfying stay at this resort.

The lighting at night gives the hotel a different out look with the candles on the walk way.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nairobi, Kenya
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 11, 2013

We visited Swahili Beach several months ago and had a great time. The property is absolutely beautiful, the staff was friendly, and the food was good. The beach was definitely nothing to write home about.

Our only concern was that the floors in the room, bathroom, veranda, the edges of the various pools are very slippery for everyone, particularly for kids and seniors. Please be very careful in the bathrooms, especially, as the bath and shower surfaces slope a bit. By the way, the hot water can get very hot very quickly that you'll jump out. Not good a good thing to do on a slippery floor. Otherwise, have fun.

Room Tip: Choose a room close to the reception hall and the top level pool. When the wind blows on the beach...
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Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SwahiliBeach, General Manager at Swahili Beach Resort, responded to this review, April 13, 2013
We have spent a great deal of time looking at and researching flooring finishes. In addition to looking at products that have a number of properties, one, of course, being non -slip we were always conscience of retaining the 'Swahili' architecture and feel.

A product from Belgium has been under trial for a few weeks now and a few areas, including bathrooms and bedroom floors have been worked on as various trials have been carried out to establish the 'right' mix, pigment and application. We believe we have the final product and application will start in the next week or so, certainly by 22 April. Hopefully, within the next three months all bedroom and bathroom floors will have had a makeover.

We appreciate your comments and look forward, later in the year, to welcoming you back to experience our new flooring finish.


The Swahili Beach Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Swahili Beach Resort

Address: Ukunda, Diani Beach, Ukunda 80401, Kenya
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Ukunda > Diani Beach
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #13 of 31 Hotels in Diani Beach
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
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