We had a booking at a different resort which fell through at the last minute (see a separate review) and I was initially very nervous about going to Amani Tiwi as it was a last minute decision and there were mixed reviews of Amani so I was not sure what to make of it.
I can say that we have just returned from a great family holiday at Amani, with a temptation to extend our stay and we are considering returning here in June. I will try and highlight what other reviewers haven't but also give my most honest opinion (which I have shared directly with the hotel):
The good stuff:
a. Great pool (as all reviewers have said) without doubt. The biggest positive here is unlike most resorts, the pool runs by all rooms which quite strategically spreads the residents through out the resort rather that everyone congregating around one pool.
b. They have a bigger upper pool (seemed more quiet) and a bigger lower pool (where most activities took place) connected by streams and smaller pools.
c. They have two slopes built as "water slides" it was a great plus for our 3yr old and for most kids (and adults) enjoyed this. Most of the interconnected pools are shallow enough so children can play without much adult supervision in the water.
d. Really good food with a choice of 5 restaurants - some comments on food:
- On the the full board option you can only eat at the buffet restaurant as part of your package but get a 20% discount on all other restaurants. Tea and coffee with snacks served twice in the day.
- On all inclusive (which is FB + includes drinks) option allows you to eat at an additional three restaurants ie La bella vita and Baharini (at the beach) and Kahawa corner (from 10am - 6pm) which have specific all inclusive menus (but eat when you wish and as many times as you like) for those on that package but also serve additional Ala carte items which you can select and pay for with a 20% discount. Ice-cream and free drinks are part of the all inclusive menus.
- What I liked most is during busy Easter weekend they had a separate kiddies dinner at one of the restaurants (Kahawa) served early and before main dinner. At normal times they have nice small sized meals for the little ones if you want them to have a meal earlier and not at the buffet restaurant.
- At 4 o'clock tea they had a live pancake station - I have stayed at other 4-5* resorts that have been reviewed here by others and this is special unlike the usual cakes and tea served by other resorts. Felt a bit different and nice.
- They cater for diabetics (sugar free juices at breakfast), have brown flour products including brown Indian chapatis as part of their normal buffet menu.
- They have a very good Indian selection buffet which is not standard for most hotels - so a good place for the vegetarians who are well catered for.
- I was surprised to read a review that their food was repetitive - for a buffet selection I was really surprised at the changes on each day. On one day they served us shawarmas as part of the buffet which was a pleasant surprise. Their baked products were of very good quality - I must meet the pastry chef next time I come here.
e. Lots of activities for kids of all ages (with a separate animation team for children):
- Table tennis, and it has a net unlike what one of the reviewers said
- Two table football games
- A watoto express train where they have several activities such as painting, art and craft, video watching, play station games, swings etc.
- Added to this, they also had other organised activities such as children fashion shows, sand castle building, beach races etc (but note this was over Easter so part of a special program).
f. A decently equipped gym with a very enthusiastic instructor
- During Easter (and I guess when they have a close to full capacity) in addition to animation activities they has Yoga by the beach (6am!) and Zumba classes.
- The gym was well equipped even compared to several city business hotels I have stayed at in other countries. I only managed to use this once as there was enough to keep me busy outside!
g. The property on either side does not have any other buildings or resorts so long stretches of beach are yours. As a result they also have very few beach boys who do not bother you so much. We were only asked on day 1 if we wanted to buy anything and we said no thank you and that was it for the remaining 5 days.
h. Security - in the midst of all the media coverage and travel warnings this place is very secure. Again due to its seclusion but I noticed that they had several guards protecting the resort. At one point when we ventured out, one of the guard asked us not to for our own safety but quite honestly we did this for 6 days in a row and did not once feel insecure as there are very few people/ strangers on the beach. It is also about 5-6kms off the main road which gives it that extra security.
i. The animation staff and staff in general (food and beverage, reception staff etc) are helpful and courteous.
j. We got an email a day after checking out thanking us for our stay and also the day before checking out we were given a questionnaire to complete regarding our stay and that the hotel was happy to receive written feedback on tripadvisor. This was a good and honest touch and hopefully the feedback will be taken in good light.
Things that possibly need improvement but didn't really bother us much and will not prevent us from coming back:
a. Agreed that the resort lacks that 5* feeling in some aspects speficially the bathrooms, the towels (beach and room are a bit old though are clean), the furniture in the main buffet restaurant is a bit dated . A bit of investment here would help uplift the face of this resort and they could easily charge 20-30% more. Since everything was clean this would not deter me from going back. It is more about aesthetics.
b. General maintenance on some of the tiling in the pool is required. I noticed in some older photos that have been posted some broken tiling on some parts of the pool and it was sad to see that this has not been fixed. To maintain a higher * rating I think management needs to invest in sorting this out as it can pose a health hazard.
c. During the busy period sun beds can be a bit of an issue - not entirely managements fault but they should have a policy that sub beds should not be booked around the pool. We observed some people had left their towels on beds for 3-5 hours and were no where to be seen. As a paying guest I felt I had the right to move people's towels as it was highly inconsiderate and did so and asked other patrons to do so where they struggled to find a place. This is only an issue at full capacity but other days we had enough beds available to pick and choose as we liked.
d. The maintenance/ corrective action needs some pushing - we had one or two issues which were eventually fixed but it took some reminding (sometimes more than once). The reception should maintain a book and log such complains so they can "tick" off what is done and monitor what is outstanding.
e. Yes as others have pointed out they have power cuts, but this is not unusual in Kenya. They have a generator which kicks in (sometimes takes a minute or two) but welcome to Africa this is how things work and we should be grateful that we had power in such a remote place. I have heard of worse experiences in Zanzibar where power cuts have gone on for full days and only turned on for 3-4 hours in the night so a 2 min wait will not kill!
f. The hot water issue - I observed that the resort has solar water heating installed. Only on one evening (out of 6) we had luke warm water and on that evening we had a late shower and the resort was at close to full capacity so it is understandable that they did not have hot water. This did not matter to us. In such weather warm water is good enough.
g. The beach immediately facing the hotel is a bit stony and rocky but 200-300m (less than 2mins walk) on the right just outside the resort you end up on nice sandy beach for a long stretch (thanks to tripadvisor reviewer for the tip!).
Overall a hidden gem and experience and at the price we paid I would return without thinking twice (considering coming back in June) as it is really value for what you pay. I am sure once the resort gets a serious uplift (again more aesthetics than anything else) so will the prices. Would I pay much more for to come back? Possibly but not much more than 15%.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Recently up graded with an addition of another specialty restaurant-Sultan Dhow & Aqua wine bar overlooking the Indian Ocean with a wide choice of wine served by glass. Refurbished Floodlit Tennis Court. A dedicated 3D 84 inch screen facility, Ultra modern conferences in a separate hotel wing.New hotel boutiques, air conditioned rooms, Hi- speed WIFI Internet & 32'' LCD TV with Satellite feed in the rooms, Complimentary mini fridges, electronic safes, Tea & Coffee making facility, Hair dryers, Mosquito nets and superior guest toiletries Dedicated 24 hours in room dining menu. Upmarket Hair Salon Beauty & Wellness Center.Superior guest amenities. Weekly Complimentary traditional renewal of Wedding vows.3 Specialty restaurants and 4 bars including swim-up sunken bar in the a 167 Meter length free form swimming pool... ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Amani Tiwi Beach Hotel Ukunda
- Tiwi Beach Hotel
- Amani Tiwi Beach Resort Kenya/Ukunda