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“Fantasy Holiday at Mapenzi”

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Diamonds Mapenzi Beach
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Mahonda
Certificate of Excellence
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Fantasy Holiday at Mapenzi”
Reviewed January 16, 2013

What an awesome resort, friendly and professional staff, stunning rooms, excellent service, the place is 100% clean and neat 24/7. This was the best holiday experience of our lives, with plenty to do, beautiful beaches, worthwhile excursions especially Safari Blue, a must do while in Zanzibar. The rooms are serviced and cleaned daily with fresh flowers everywhere, even Hibiscus flowers in your toilet daily ! I can highly recommend Mapenzi to anyone !

Room Tip: Beach Cottages looked much nicer than the Garden Cottages, but the Garden Cottages are awesome anywa...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Renee V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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763 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
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  • Value
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (73)
Date | Rating
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Dublin
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
Reviewed January 7, 2013

We stayed here after an 11 day trekking trip around Ethiopia so were really looking for relaxation for 5 nights. The resort was fantastic - the friendliest staff while also being efficient, a beautiful bungalow on the beach, cleaned every day, new towels twice a day, turn down and mosquito net service at night, daily entertainment at pool such as aerobics, water polo and volley ball for those who want it. The restaurant buffet was very well stocked with delicious fresh fruit, fish, pasta, salads, soups breads, deserts etc. Great choice very day. Good quality beers, spirits, cocktails included. Only one little issue is the inadequate number of beds and umberellas at the pool. Other than that, top marks. We didn't leave the resort except to walk the beach and to go horse riding in the nearby equestrian centre which was superb with great gallops on the beach.

Room Tip: We chose a bungalow on the beach which was superb, air conditiioned and spacious
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank BamBamDublin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sandton, Gauteng, South Africa
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 7, 2013

Visited Mapenzi (Love in Swahili) over December 2012 and even our wildest expectations were surpassed! Every single thing about this establishment is absolutely awesome, but the true magic of our experience there was delivered through the service, the culture and the general vibe of Mapenzi. An absolute MUST do, very highly recommended :)

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Desiree E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kampala, Uganda
1 review
Reviewed January 2, 2013

We travelled to Zanzibar from Uganda so our connections were a bit up in the air and we lost our luggage (which was delivered to us within less than 18 hours).

Our room and overall experience was more than we could have imagined and we loved every single minute of our trip. The hotel is immaculate, the service and food unexplainable, the setting paradise, the activities in plenty, but for us what made our holiday were the staff. No-one could be faulted.
People are friendly, kind, ready to meet any need and insure that your stay is idealic.


We stayed over the christmas period and really appreciated the festive touches that the hotel provided including the Christmas Party.

We did a Blue Safari tour and also a Stone Town and Spice Tour although we found a very professional 'Beach Boy' who arranged this for us as the planned tours are incredibly pricey for what they are. Our tours were part of the highlights of our trip and if you go here and want a reasonably priced tour I would advise this option.

We had the time of our lives. We made memories, relaxed and enjoyed all that Zanzibar had to offer.

Sandies Mapenzi is truly beautiful and you should most definitely give it a try.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank 105Rachel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 3 Contributor
23 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed December 11, 2012

We stayed here for our honeymoon although we do feel the hotel caters for families quite well with all the activities offered? The staff were friendly and helpful, however the entertainment and food was average. Th rooms were comfortable and they always did something special for us honeymooners for turndown. The best part was relaxing on the beach, cocktail in hand with a gorgeous view!

Room Tip: Use the beach boys for activities, ask for king George, they offer the same activities as the hotel...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Kerry H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saldanha, South Africa
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed November 23, 2012

I cannot see how anybody could have anything bad to say about this resort (Apart from some stuckup schmucks).We have had the time of our lives, and the staff was very friendly and helpfull.Upon arrival, I thought we were the only guests there, as it was so peaceful and calm. We were shown to dinner, and after that, ushered to our room by the most friendliest people in the world. We went straight to bed, as we were very tired, but slept very well in the well prepared room.The next few days were absolute bliss, and we enjoyed the sunshine and tranquility of Zanzibar. Although we were warned againt the "beach boys" we bought some very nice gifts from them after some bartering, and also went on some wonderful excursions at a fraction of the price. Only thing a little bit annoying was the rowdy Italians, but let everybody have a place in the sun. I do not believe it is a place for children, as some of the parents were getting rather frustrated with their kids - I believe kids and adults have different expectations, thus the boredom for the kids. Regarding the food, everything was absolutely very well prepared (Thanks chef) and in abundance, except for the rare occasion where you might find empty trays. Tha seafood was a bit of a letdown, as it was a bit overpriced ($151 for the two of us), and not very tasty, but nevertheless again well presented and prepared.
All being put together, we had a fabulous time, and would definately go again.
Thumbs up Mapenzi !!!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Petrus H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed October 31, 2012

We stayed at the hotel in September 2012 and were thoroughly impressed with the resort.

Flights by 1Time to Uguja were excellent, although their prices for foods onboard are a bit stiff. (ZAR 90.00 for a beer, a carbonated cooldrink and a roll.) On arrival at the airport, the facilities are a bit small so the flight tended to crowd customs. Paperwork and clearance was relatively quick, however, and bags were collected with ease.

We were met by a friendly local representative and transported to the hotel- which took about 45 minutes. If you have a chance- ask the representative to take you to the bank, if you do not get TSH at the airport. (Exchange at the time of our stay was USD1.00 = TSH1600.00 / ZAR1.00 = TSH200.00)

Note that Uguja, part of the Tanzanian Zanzibar Archipelago, is GMT+3.

The hotel is immaculate. The grounds are well kept and very scenic. The staff are very friendly and helpful, but English does tend to be a small problem at times- although we found that languages such as German, French and Italian are spoken.

We were a bit confused with the accommodation. The terms such as ‘superior’ and ‘deluxe’ appear to be bandied about a bit, so it basically comes down to ‘sea-facing’, ‘beach front’ or ‘standard’ rooms. That being said, that was about the only thing that was to our disliking. (My wife was unhappy about the absence of TV in the room, but there is one at the reception area and if you have books, it’s really no deal.)

Toilet paper was a minor problem, and we spoke to other guests from different resorts, so it appears to be island-wide. We ended up asking for more than the standard 2 rolls a day! The food was excellent, but we were afflicted by a minor bout of traveller’s diarrhoea which resulted in speedy use of the paper. (My wife also seemed to pick up something a bit more virulent a few days before our return- we do not know what caused it- so it is worth it to get some antibiotics for this from your Doctor before you depart, in addition to the anti-diarrhoeals.)

Please note that the above comment is not in any way a jibe at the resort’s hygiene or food practises. Food is well prepared and fresh, and doesn’t stand out too long, but my only concern was for items like chicken and sea-food which went from a cold fridge to a rather warm area in the dining area. (Which anybody should be concerned about at any resort anyway.)

A good idea is to choose the ‘all-inclusive’ package, as 3 meals, (including a free meal at the pizzeria at the time of writing), drinks, (soft drinks, cocktails, wine, water, tea and coffee were available), and various sports are included, (such as archery, sailing and aerobics, to name a few). Different activities are undertaken on a daily basis by the resort staff, such as the ‘Archery Club’ once a week.

Overall, the evening shows at the resort were amazing and the management really did their best to keep us entertained. Activities included discos, karaoke, a Swahili art exhibition, a traditional Swahili dance evening, dinners on the beach and it was an excellent effort by everyone involved. The staff worked tirelessly to make these events the spectacular success they were. (Watching them cart numerous tables and chairs up and down the steps just demonstrated their level of service.)

As it also was my wife’s birthday while we stayed at the resort, the hotel even made a huge chocolate cake for her and it seemed that it was done for some other guests as well. This was an excellent touch by the hotel and was well appreciated. The singing for her birthday was excellent!

The hotel also undertakes Forex from GBP, USD and EUR to TSH, but not back again. There are no ATM’s at the hotel, and the closest machine is in Stone Town- a 45 minute drive away. Barclays is the best to use, so it might be convenient to change at the hotel or when you go for a Stone Town tour.

It seems that the ATM’s also work intermittently although there are 3 or 4 branches in town. As a suggestion, a good starting point for cash-on-hand is TSH400 000.00- about USD250.00. (Tipping in USD becomes expensive after a while.) Average income, we were told by our guide, is about USD500.00 per month or less, so use this as a guide for your tips. (Spice Tour, Stone Town etc.)

There are trinkets for sale at the hotel shops, (as well as everyday items like razors, toothpaste, deodorant and feminine hygiene products), with local shops to be found on the beach. (Art, paintings etc.) The Beach Boys can be a bit annoying and rather overbearing. Granted, they are plying their trade in an honest way, but guests we met did complain that while they were lying on the beach-front that they were being hindered by sales pitches all day. We tried to avoid them- the best approach for us was just plain ‘no thanks’. (You can’t even greet some of them because it’s just the gap they need!)

It could be worth it to take a torch with as power failures were common. They did not seem to last very long, but it did happen more at night and the resort was plunged into darkness for a while before generators kicked in. (Fuel is expensive so when everyone was asleep generators were just kept off.)

Hotel safes are in the reception and the hotel does advise you not to leave valuables in the room. This was a bit concerning for us- but we thought that they were at least honest about it. (There are lots of G4S security guards about however, so no need for alarm.) Access to safe boxes is from 07H30 until 22H30 when the gate to the holding is locked.

Laundry can be done by the hotel, but it is a bit pricey. It might be better just to save your laundry, or take some soap powder to do your own if you need to.

Be sure to take mosquito repellent as the monsters on the island can almost carry you away at night. Best practise is to make sure that your net is closed before dusk when they tend to hide in the dark areas around the bed. Use repellent spray on your skin before going out in the evening, and use of anti-malarials is probably a good idea.

I can not stress sun-block and after-burn enough. Lying by the pool, it was commonplace to see patrons burnt red on a daily basis. It is, after all, right up on the equator….

Diving at the resort can be arranged by walking from Sandies Mapenzi to the Ocean Paradise resort about 2 hotels northwards from the Mapenzi resort. (Walk to the beach and turn left.) Walk for about 5 minutes and on your left-hand side you will see a sign-board for the One Ocean Dive Centre. Just follow the path into the shop next to the big pool.

They were really quite helpful as well and had excellent dives. (Note that they are generally 2-tank dives so you will be out from 07H45 until 14H00 with transport arranged for you.) If you intend to dive a few times, ask them to take your card details but keep the card open for you with final charge before you leave for home. I enquired about Nitrox, but was told no facilities are available.

Make sure you have your certification card and DAN insurance card and also, log-book. Mine were asked for. I did also check with DAN about the hyperbaric chamber on the island, and although DAN is first point of contact, I made sure that there is access to one on the island. (Conflicting information found on the net about this.)

This being said- travel insurance in any parts of Africa is a must- be sure to specify diving to them, as some insurances do, and others won’t cover for this sport.

Tours can be undertaken by speaking to James Bond or Verimark at the beach-front- and we understand that they were quite reasonable, although we just opted for the tours provided by our operator as we believed that there was somebody to go back to in the event of non-delivery or some sort of problem.

We heard prices varied, but for the half-day Stone Town, half-day Spice Tour and full-day Dolphin Tour, we paid USD340.00 for 2 people with our operator. (We were lucky enough to get the Spice Tour and Stone Town alone but larger groups make it cheaper.) The tour operator can arrange for card payments but only in Town.

As far as the tours with Verimark and James Bond were concerned, some were happy with them, others not. (They were described as ‘rustic’ or ‘traditional’, and in no means is that negative. We just heard that although they were very good, things like breaking down buses and the like occurred!)

Internet is only available in the lobby, although I did get 1 bar of signal from the WiFi in my room. Charges are a bit expensive- USD6.00 for 1 hour which has to be used in 3 days from issue. Note that if you have your laptop that your anti-virus might detect their Java plug-in script to log in with a username and password as malicious software. (Mine did.)

For mobile phones, there are a few operators to choose from and it appeared that Vodacom Tanzania was the most affordable one- with 3G services provided and pretty good coverage except when travelling by car on the island.

Plug types are American flat pins, but there are European round pins in the rooms, but not as many as American types. (Our room had 1 EU round-pin plug.)

I was really impressed with the level of service that was offered at the resort. I have travelled other countries in the area before and tried to adopt an open minded approach- things are a bit slower and can be frustrating at times in this part of the world- but this was not the case at all. I can only say that it was an excellent experience. I would rate the hotel, service and staff at the same level as Maldives- it really was worth it, and something we would definitely like to do again. Well done to the Sandies Mapenzi staff and thanks for a memorable holiday!!!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank Anon3690
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Diamonds Mapenzi Beach

Property: Diamonds Mapenzi Beach
Address: PO Box 100, Mahonda, Tanzania (Formerly Sandies Mapenzi Beach Club)
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Mahonda
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Mahonda
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Diamonds Mapenzi Beach 4*
Number of rooms: 87
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set on the east coast of Zanzibar on the Kiwengwa shoreline, Diamonds Mapenzi Beach perfectly blends in the natural environment of the surrounding landscape, covering an area of 4 hectares blessed with a long white beach and lush tropical gardens of palms and colourful bougainvillea. The Resort is just 40 minutes from Zanzibar international airport and is a perfect choice for guests in search of a retreat that offers a nice mixture of relax,fun and extensive all inclusive services ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sandies Mapenzi Beach Club Hotel Mahonda
Mapenzi Beach Hotel
Mapenzi Beach Zanzibar
Diamonds Mapenzi Beach Zanzibar Island, Tanzania

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