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“Fantastic Honeymoon”
Review of Fundu Lagoon

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Fundu Lagoon
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Pemba Island
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 13, 2008

We selected Pemba in part for the diving and the rest because it seemed to fit with our honeymoon requirements; off beaten track, hot/sunny, private, not too many people, etc.

We couldn't stretch to two weeks in Fundu, so started the honeymoon in the other significant Pemba resort; Manta Lodge at the north of the island. Manta was good, Fundu was mindblowing. No comparison does justice to how right they have got this resort.

It's an incredibly sympathetic resort with regard to the surroundings and when approaching by sea, is almost invisible until you are quite close. The sea gives way to white sands, dotted with mangrove which then gives way to forest. Nestling in between all this are the various elements of the Fundu resort - all linked by wooden walkways. Difficult to fully appreciate without seeing - but magnificent and very 'at one with nature'.

We stayed in a suite which included a pool and seperate living area. Couldn't have asked for more and whenever we returned from lunch or dinner, the cleaning 'fairies' had clearly been, which was always a nice touch.

If you need contact with loads of other people of feel uncomfortable in the wilderness, it won't be for you. Likewise if you have to have all mod cons in your room. If you are really funny about creepy crawlies (giant millipedes, land crabs, etc)then you might want to think again.

If you are looking for a beautiful, well run resort, like diving/snorkelling, enjoy great food, don't have a need to be surrounded by people, love nature, can cope without telly, then this might be your idea of paradise. It was ours.

The staff are fantastic, special mentions for William, Abdul & Liz. Dive team, including Sebastien & Marlene were great.

As a footnote, this resort draw a good number of staff from the local village and have additionally built this village a fantastic school, probably the envy of the whole island.

  • Stayed: November 2008
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4  Thank Tremayne_Caz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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231 - 237 of 324 reviews

Reviewed November 9, 2008

It would be impossible to overstate quite how spectacularly good this place is. Yes they have a bit on an unfair head start being located in one of the most beautiful spots on our planet but my God have they made the most of it.

The hosts, Matt and Anie, and staff strike a perfect balance between attentiveness and privacy/friendliness and professionalism. The food is out of this world with incredible variety cooked to perfection, the accommodation sumptuous and very comfortable.

Diving and snorkeling on Misali islands a ten minute boat ride away is an experience that will stay with us both for ever, your own real life desert island with no one else on it and a great team of guides and instructors..

The swimming pool and pool bar provided a stunning setting from which to enjoy the views over the Indian Ocean.

We have absolutely no idea how you could possibly make this place any better, it truly is paradise on earth, there's no need for discussion, just go, it's phenomenal....we were distraught to leave but thankfully have some lovely photos and a perfect memories to tide us over until our return!

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank MnRB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 12, 2008

We have just returned from a two week break, the first week we spent at Pongwe Beach Hotel on Zanzibar and the second week we completely spoilt ourselves with a superior suite at Fundu Lagoon. My view is that this is one of the best places we have stayed on our fairly extensive travels. Our room was sensational, set into the surrounding jungle with amazing views over the ocean. Visiting monkeys and bushbabies in the trees around were a bonus. We could sit on our decking and watch the beautiful sunsets every evening. Our own plunge pool and the outside (upstairs and downstairs) seating areas were fabulous. It was lovely to have the choice of either spending the day at the main pool area which was set right at the top of the resort with stunning views all around. The pool / bar staff were fantastic and lunch at the pool bar delicious. Alternativey we could spend the day in our roon, dipping in and out of our plunge pool or the ocean. The hotel provided some excellent trips, we did the complimentary dolphin safari (brilliant), the sunset cruise (good fun), the village tour with Ani (fascinating and humbling), day trip to Masali Island where we snorkelled, I understand from others staying at the same time as us that the diving was exceptional and the dive masters were the very best. We saw a humpback whale and her baby in the bay on our return from Masali.
Matt and Ani, the general managers of the hotel are superb, from the personal welcome to the personal wave goodby they both go out of their way to ensure you are having a good time. Ani took us with another couple on our village walk and showed us all the things that had been developed by the Fundu Lagoon Fund, the school with two new classrooms that served the three nearest villages, the fresh water well and the plans for latrines.
I could go on and on but it has all been said in the other reviews, this is a really special place for a holiday and I hope some of the photos we post do it justice. The staff are brilliant, especially Sha'ami (one of the porters) William and Mohammed (great barmen), Liz with the beautiful smile(restaurant) Abad (our own person waiter when we had our celebration dinner). Lots of amazing memories of a really wonderful holiday.

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank DicknDan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2008

We have just returned from 7 nights in Fundu and it was truly incredible.

From first sighting in the boat until departure we had a spectacular time.

The rooms are comfortable, stylish and have real charm with everything you need for your stay. The mini bar is topped up daily and the fizz on arrival was a lovely touch.

The staff are simply lovely always with a smile and cannot do enough to help. Matt the GM and his wife Annie, take time out to chat and really feel part of Fundu.

Sunsets on the jetty bar, kayaking in the ocean, snorkelling trips to the island and mastering the game of bow - meant that our stay passed all too quickly. Seeing hump-backed whales whilst out on our snorkelling trip was the icing on the cake.

Whilst quality and service are exceptional, the atmosphere is very informal & laidback - no hint off stuffiness or formality.

If I had the chance I'd go back tomorrow.

Thank you Fundu!

  • Stayed: September 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank TheNesspot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 12, 2008

We have recently returned from 9 nights at Fundu as part of our belated honeymoon, and having waited 8 months for our honeymoon we wanted something special - it was well worth the wait! I fail to see how anyone could be disappointed with a single aspect of their visit here.

From the moment we arrived and were greeted from the boat until the moment we left, we received a service that was personal, friendly and professional by every single member of staff. Matt and Annie are fantastic hosts and get to know each of their guests personally, as well as being available throughout the day and evening to answer any questions or make recommendations.

We had a "standard" room which, like all of the others had a wonderful view of the ocean and was very private, with a nicely furnished balcony area. We enjoyed the champagne in our room on arrival and made use of the inclusive laundry service and daily stocked mini bar.

The beautiful surroundings lend themselves nicely to doing very little other than sunbathing and swimming, and we made full use of the gorgeous pool where we were waited on hand and foot by the friendly staff with a large selection of drinks and delicious lunchtime menu.

We did venture out to do a couple of dives during the week - well worth it for the trip to Misali island even if only for snorkelling.

The dive staff are excellent and unlike other dive areas, this is all very private, personal and excellent for all levels of skill in diving.

Also recommended is the sun-set cruise. They take you out on the hotel boat for a calm cruise and some wine/beer before supper in order to take in the sunset which is beautiful. It's also a chance to meet a few people should you so desire.

Overall, we had an absolutely amazing time, left totally refreshed and would recommend Fundu to anyone who wants something special and needs to get out of the rat race if only for a few days.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Oscar999
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2008

Fundu Lagoon, a hidden gem

We have just returned from a fabulous time in Zanzibar, we don’t usually write on trip advisor but do regularly use it for advice and check it for other peoples experiences,
We would consider Fundu Lagoon as a very charming little place and very well run,
We have travelled well, and to many top end places, and would rate fundu lagoon up there with them,
It’s not marble floors or gold taps, but the design and decor are simple - but well planned and fit right in to the surrounding jungle,
Our tent was hidden down the far end of the camp with its own pool and resident monkeys and very comfortable. We appreciated the room service options that allowed us long lye-in each morning without the trek to the main restaurant.
We would say that the Staff are well trained, polite and very fun to spend time with, we had many an afternoon leaning over a chess board trying to beat the barman,
The Dive centre is exceptionally run by Filbert, we would rate him one of the best dive masters that we have had the opportunity to dive with,
To sum up, a difficult place to get to, but worth the effort

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank LynnGSpain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 20, 2008

We had a disappointing stay at Fundu and this was unexpected. Reading back through the reviews on here, I find it intriguing how some guests are able to recommend Fundu and I wonder maybe this is related to their expectations and cost. After all, Fundu has 4 classes of rooms with the prices from lowest to highest doubling and if a guest doesn’t normally venture further than the Med, this is indeed an amazing place.

I’ll set the background of us that form this review; we stayed here as the second week on honeymoon, with the previous being split between Ras Kutani and Selous Safari Camp. We had booked a superior suite at $1,200 a night, for 7 nights. Our expectations were set by the two previous resorts being utterly perfect and this supposed to be much better, as reflected in the cost (which was four times greater).

Firstly the good stuff; Fundu Lagoon is an amazing place. It is in a wonderful location, designed by a genius and built magnificently. To make it look good in pictures, anyone can walk around with a cheap camera snapping away and they’ll look awesome – no need for a professional for that!

To get there from Dar Es Salaam, we flew to Zanzibar, then Pemba where we were met and transferred by car (40 mins), then boat (20 mins). It’s quite reasonable for the exclusive remoteness of the resort.

The resort has 3 bars; one on the jetty, one in the dining area and one in the trees with the pool. The pool area is probably one of the best I’ve seen, with two infinity pools, lots of lounging area and attentive staff.

The beach is clear and wide with a tide that comes in and out a long way (the length of the jetty, obviously!). When it retreats, it leaves a layer of unsightly, nasty dead leaves and these are removed, every day, by a lot of men with a wheelbarrow and rake! A lot of effort goes into keeping the beach that good!

Unfortunately for us, that’s where the compliments end as we feel there is much room for improvement.

When Fundu Lagoon was built, it was operated with service as magnificent as the resort itself, however this is no longer the case. The press reviews and website are clearly from earlier times. For example, the resort now has 18 rooms and has had for a while, not 14 as quoted alongside those “perfection” quotes.

ROOM : The superior suite was great, with private beach space, 3 outside lounging areas, upper deck area, plunge pool and huge room. It was immaculate.

The room, a tent, was stuffy and sweaty at night. At our previous Safari camp (with much hotter temperatures), the tent domed up into the middle with vents at the top and had a central fan sucking air in from the bottom and exhausting out the top to give stunningly effective cooling results. These tents trapped all the air and the only attempt at cooling was a small fan with the effect of an asthmatic blowing at you through a straw.

Each day the cleaning staff would spend, from the first person to the last, 3 hours on the room, and there were 5 people doing this. And this is when the room was still relatively clean!

Also the plunge pool would have a maintenance man come along at 11am, put chemicals in, and say "don’t get in for 5 hours for them to settle". Great, so we hired a plunge pool that we couldn't use for 5 hours during the day.. but they couldn't put the chemicals in at night!

PRIVACY : When shown the room we were shown our “privacy rope”, a rope that one hangs over the rear access path to the accommodation and informs the staff that you do not want to be disturbed. However, all of the staff come in off the beach at the front of the accommodation, where there is no privacy rope. And SO MANY of them. Cleaning people, mini bar man, sweeping man, pool man, random man to check something, more cleaning people. And there may not be beach boys hassling you but if on the private bit of the beach, staff walking by certainly enjoy a good gawp at a pretty English girl sunbathing in a bikini.

It bugged us so much that we spent most of our time in the communal pool area, which was great, but not what we intended when we had hired an incredible room.

FOOD : Awful! And this was frustrating as they had the ingredients, they had the equipment and they had the staff. Saying “this is a remote location and it’s Africa” is not an excuse – the only reason the food was bad is weak management. They didn’t react to guests feedback and were never seen in the restaurant eating the food themselves to check.

Breakfast was cold, of poor quality (often reheated) and always missing items from the buffet. Instant coffee put into cafetiere and called filtered was a nicety! We advised the management of the lack of heat 3 times, but the breakfast remained cold after. Eventually the great British “don’t complain dear” sets in, as it does. Looking around we noted that most plates went to the dishwasher with as much food as they came from the kitchen.

Lunch, uninspiring, bland, tasteless, often lukewarm/cold.

Evening meal – sometimes excellent, but this is when it’s local food. Anything that’s not African related was, yes you guessed it, lukewarm / cold.

We overheard some couples complaining formally, and others discussing amongst themselves, so it wasn’t just us. We came to the conclusion that complaining about the food was not yielding any results and as being on honeymoon you don’t want to let the little things get to you, we didn’t. But… 1,200 USD for cold meals isn’t on.


INCLUSIVE DRINKS : Our previous two African resorts had inclusive drinks and we left without paying any extras, in Fundu… well the beer is ok, as is the water and soft drinks, but that’s about it. The inclusive wine is awful, like those inclusive drinks packages you get at cheap weddings. Great if you’re trying to stay off the booze, but not if you’d like a reasonable glass of vino to go with your meal. Of course they’re on hand with a nice big selection… at a fair bit extra. As an example, a bottle of Jacob’s Creek (so nothing ‘special’) was $70. A bottle of Champagne, Moet (which again is nothing ‘special’) was $140. We felt that our $8,500, all inclusive stay was designed to extract much more, as it successfully did.

CONCLUSION:
Both of our previous resorts had little extras and touches, small things that cost nothing but really made your stay, however we saw none of that here. For example, dinner at your room was available, but was a problem and would be $250. Want a drink whilst on the beach, you have a long, long walk – no facility existed to bring something to you. Some tea first thing in the morning, brought to the tent? Nope, can’t do that. All examples of what the others did do.

The management were nowhere to be seen (apart from being met at the jetty and shown to the room). Faults with the room had to be reported multiple times and when we wanted to escalate (hot water in a five star room isn’t too much to ask), finding management to escalate the complaint to was difficult (and then you were made to feel like a pain).

Ensuring quality staff requires one of continual training, which is possible in Africa, but the fact the staff were disinterested, lapse and inattentive shows this is not happening. Seems they’re just left to get on with things, leaderless and lost.

The fault with this resort boils down to one thing, weak management. They clearly have no experience of running a premium, five star resort. We politely asked what their previous experience was and they told us they ran dive centres in a similar five star. Our impression of their attitude was one of complacency where they were uninterested in the daily operations and it wasn’t much more than a working holiday to them. I note another contributor used the phrase “Hobby hotel”, and I would certainly agree.

Enquiring as to future occupancy, we were told they’re almost fully booked for the rest of the year – impressive, but you can understand if the rooms are full and the resort’s making money the owners don’t have to care that it’s not as good as it could be.

To conclude, this is a five star resort, with three star service. For those that have contributed reviews recommending the resort, I suspect they stayed in the less expensive rooms and have not experienced luxury in Africa before. In which case, this'll be for you but I'm afraid it wasn't for us.

When there is fresh blood in the management team I’m sure Fundu will once again be great, but right now it’s like a Ferrari pootling along in 2nd gear; frustrating!

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled as a couple
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11  Thank bp1828
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Fundu Lagoon

Address: Wambaa Peninsula, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Pemba Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Hotels in Pemba Island
Hotel Class:5 star — Fundu Lagoon 5*
Number of rooms: 18
Also Known As:
Fundu Lagoon Pemba Island
Fundu Lagoon Hotel Pemba Island

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