I was a solo traveller on this trip, a "use it or lose it holiday" on arrival was allocated a room at the top end of site (90) which was just too far from the centre of the complex, my room was changed to one close to the reception area (18), the room in itself was fine but the aircon was not in the main room and was not working particularly well, there are frequent power cuts in this area of Kenya and the site has a generator which runs whilst the mains power is off, however, this is located between rooms 17 & 18, as the power cuts can happen at anytime day or night try to avoid any room between 13 & 28, they are just too close to the generator and you will not get any sleep, another downside is that when the generator is running, it does not supply power to all aircon units, needless to say I was moved to another room (124) and was very happy with my room for the rest of my stay, my room was very clean and serviced every day.
The restaurant was very nice, open sides and ceiling fans which made for a nice airy atmosphere, the food was varied and fresh catering for all tastes, there was always a soup starter (sometimes a choice of 2) a meat dish, fish dish and a vegetarian option, the salad bar was the freshest that I have come across yet, a nice selection of sweet dishes was on offer along with fresh tropical fruits to finish the meal (keep an eye out for the Bread and Butter pudding with a Marmalade topping, it is the tops) the staff in the restaurant were very attentive and the service was second to none, my thanks to Daniel and Michael who made mealtimes that little bit special, the Chef and Sous-Chef were on hand at most main meals and appreciated the positive feedback from those of us who made the effort to give it.
Just one reservation, watch out for the chicken on BBQ night, it was being served almost raw which was a problem as you will be eating outside in poor light, it was highlighted to the staff who assured us that they would look into it.
Beach/pool beds and towels, as you would expect a scramble for prime positions, however there is plenty of room and space for all, if you slip the pool boy a drink, he will save your preferred spot for you ( same as most other beach resorts)
The Beach bar, probably the only disappointing aspect of this holiday, the staff appeared disinterested and at times just plain lazy, it was almost like the customers were an inconvenience, there was little enthusiasm and barely a smile to be seen.
The bar area was arranged in an unusual configuration with the drinks fonts being located in a room at the back of the bar, so your drinks were poured out of sight in a back room, you could see into this room which wasn't particularly clean and left a lot to be desired (where was the washing up being done, was it a clean area??)
The bar top was filthy and was only given a cursory wipe with a "spontex" type cloth when spills occured, if you look at the bar top there are 3 lines across the top, a cleaner area where the barstaff wipe the inside edge, a cleaner area where the customer leans on the bar and a filthy middle section where there is no cleaning, we saw monkeys sitting on the bar, cats sitting on the bar and Fruitbats (in the roof area above the bar) defecating onto the bar, needless to say a feast for the numerous flies mopping up the spills, at no time did I see anyone give the bartop a good clean, I would have liked to see a bottle of bleach a bucket of suds and a scrubbing brush used every morning to clean up (Basic hygiene really) there were some very savvy repeat customers who had brought their own insulated glasses/mugs which meant that they didn't have to use the bar glasses and their beer was kept cooler for longer.
The "all-inclusive" drinks consisted of Tusker draught lager (which became very boring after 2 weeks) the local spirits were OK, but were all poured with the same measure which was dunked in the same glass of water after each use and cross contamination was a real concern, particularly given that a large proportion of the staff are Muslim and the glass is retrieved with the left hand .... Optics would have been a better option.
Adjoining the bar was a bar snack area, the kitchen hygiene was questionable and the food was of poor quality, think of the worst roadside greasy spoon that you have ever been to, it will have been luxury by comparison, eat here at your peril.
Upset tummies were very common, so much so that the bar would prepare a "Medicinal Cocktail" for those afflicted.
In my opinion (for what it is worth) the bar and snack area could do with a complete makeover, bring the drinks out of the back room and into the counter area, revamp the snack bar and change the barstaff ...... if you walk 700m along the beach to the sister hotel you will find a clean airey bar area with friendly staff and drinks poured at the front of house, so it can and does happen in this hotel chain.
There were a lot of German tourists at the hotel, I estimate that they made up around 80% of the guests there, not a big issue and great if you want to brush up or practice your German.
It was quite evident that there were quite a few solo German travellers (both sexes) who were there for sex tourism, some had "hired" their partners for the duration of their holiday and some were bringing locals into the hotel on a casual basis ..... not my thing, I found it quite distasteful, the locals are very poor and this was blatant exploitation.
As a solo traveller, I was propositioned (persistently) by two of the female staff whilst staying here, I declined of course.
On the beach, your normal traders who were persistent, at times agressive and even tried resorting to emotional blackmail, everyone is your friend or your brother, they all quote outrageously inflated prices, if you want something state a price that you will be happy to pay, stick to it, don't waver and be prepared to walk away, be prepared to tell them in no uncertain terms to go away if necessary.
The sea, clean, shallow at low-tide and warm, take a snorkel and mask there are so many different types of fish, it is like swimming in a marine aquarium,try to get out to the reef or to some of the close coral outcrops, there are some deeper channels and there are plenty of fish, you will need shoes to wear in the sea as there are thousands of Sea-Urchins everywhere.
The local beach-boys will take you out to the reef in their dugout, be firm when negotiating a price they have some very strange ideas of what constitutes a fair price.
Security, 24hr security onsite, the guards were everywhere and very visible both day and night, they also managed the beach area in front of the hotel and ensured that the beach sellers didn't become a nuisance, I felt safe at all times.
Entertainment, there was a show or entertainment every evening around 9pm, during the day there is a team of activity staff who arrange local visits and trips along with competitions on the beach (Volley-ball, Boules, lob the coconut and others) great fun.
Massage, you can get a massage, pedicure, manicure onsite, I did have a massage and if ever I need a couple of doors rubbed down before painting I will give the hotel masseuse a call, you could also get a massage on the beach for 60% of the price which was far superior (nothing dodgy, just a very nice massage)
Vervet Monkeys were a pain, don't carry any food in your hand whilst walking around site (I was attacked and bitten for a few peanuts) the Security staff do chase the Monkeys and Baboons away from the customers but they cannot be everywhere, there were also squirrels which would come down for a piece of coconut (very cute) and there were Colobus Monkeys which don't come close but are great to watch feeding, the birdlife was also very good if you are a twitcher.
I could have spent more time outside of the site, I did visit the local shops and supermarket, the locals are very friendly and chatty, I have been on many Safari' and travelled to 11 countries in Africa so was happy to spend the bulk of my time onsite with the occasional walk up the beach to the sister hotel, I didn't fancy the local bars, not really my thing.
I did enjoy my time at this hotel, there are some areas which need improvement, I would return to this hotel but maybe for 10 days rather than 2 weeks, WiFi would have been nice to have without having to pay, it wasn't expensive but gratis WiFi seems to be the norm elsewhere thesedays, I would possibly upgrade to one of the superior rooms to have a little more room, access to a TV and a minibar, but if you just want somewhere nice to relax close to the Indian Ocean a standard room is more than adequate.
I hope that this helps, enjoy your stay :)
- Also Known As:
- Diani Sea Hotel Diani