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Ngalawa Beach Village
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Reviewed February 1, 2011

So far, I trusted Tripadvisor members’ reviews and I have checked reviews and comments prior almost all my trips, and I travel a lot. But this time I was very disappointed, not only by reviews but the overall exaggerating of "amazing Shangri-la Ngalawa (there's no) Beach Village" by reviewers. As I do not want other Tripadvisor users to make the same mistake like I did, here is my review and few photos to support it.

I was already skeptic when I saw all excellent reviews and comments, but anyway, I booked and pay in advance for stay in Ngalawa, so there was no way back. Next time I will listen to my gut feeling.

Let me just quickly list some of the things we found completely opposite to amenities advertised and recommended by reviewers:

- there is no usable beach or ocean there - the best you can get is half a meter deep muddy water at sunset, there is no white sand beach, just muddy beach for over hundred meters into the ocean, with carts and cows and birds running around

- honeymoon suite with private beach - there is no private beach, just a deck covered with sand with two sun beds, no access to the sea, no sun shades. Also, suite is located close to the bar, so no sleep when there is loud music playing. A/C is only in the bedroom, so you cannot use the other room during the day or night

- room – very simple, you definitely expect better set up and better maintained rooms for that money.

- bathroom - really simple and small bathroom, shower only. at least in honeymoon suite you should expect bathtub, not here

- wardrobe - you will have to keep your clothes in suitcases, there are no wardrobes except few hangers

- swimming pool – clean water, but no sun shades around the pool, and if you come to Zanzibar you want to enjoy beach, not swimming pool

- excursions and trips - extremely expensive, all trips start with 140$ taxi fare due to isolated location of hotel + price per person for each excursion

- reading lamps – nope, you will not be able to read in bed, no reading lamps

- food - full board is sometimes a good solution, but not in this case, as you have to pay full board even if you stay out of hotel for a full day. Also, I have expected more local dishes (sea food) than curry and rice. Desserts were really good!

- drinks - more expensive than in bars on other beaches, but as you have no choice, you have to pay for it

- staff – no complains, very helpful, but during our stay few crucial staff members resigned overnight and left, reasons unknown, but we were all guessing the same

- value for money - there is no value for money, and that leaves the bitter taste in my mouth - for over 450$ a day for two persons, you really expect more! all of the guests who were there at the same time, concluded the same.

If you want to experience real white sand beaches of Zanzibar, don't even a think to go to Ngalawa, as you will be extremely disappointed. I simply cannot recommend this place.

Honestly, I really feel duped and disappointed at the same time.

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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47  Thank Dinko P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 31, 2011

This was the last leg of our trip to Tanzania & Zanzibar. We opted for this quiet part of Zanzibar to allow us to relax before our return to UK. The hotel had arranged for a driver to pick us up from Nungwi, which was an hour drive. Upon arrival, we were welcomed by the owners – a Canadian couple – who were very friendly and made us feel like home right away. The resort has beautiful white bungalows and a pool. There is also a very nice bar and a spa where my husband enjoyed a very nice relaxing massage. We were happy to see that the resort’s beach enables you to swim barefoot and not fear the sea urchins – unlike other parts of Zanzibar.
If you love bird you can as well enjoy “bird watching”. Few minutes walk from the beach, you can reach the village with its market for a glimpse of the local life.
The resort offers 1st class personalized service in every single way; you can see that the staff has been carefully selected to ensure the guest have a memorable stay. We stayed in one of the 2 suites, which has a “Private Beach”. The Bedroom has a very large bed with a mosquito net [although there aren’t too many mosquito in that part of the Village], giving it a romantic look. The staff ensure our bed and net were prepared for us while we were having dinner. The living room has a sitting area with a private door to the outside, from where you can catch a nice breeze if you like. There is also a fridge with complimentary bottled mineral water. The room also had a safe & all the furniture is made with local wood and handmade. The resort also had WI-FI.
The breakfast, Lunch and Dinner were all freshly prepared by both a Local and Indian Chef, and, given the very high standard of the meals served, we were always looking forward to these! The waiter announced the menus as soon as we sat at the table. The food was fine and exquisite with an amazing taste. This was 1st class cuisine! The quality of the food, the attention of the staff and the quietness of the resort are clearly 3 very strong points to this resort. We cannot thank the owners enough; they made us feel special in every way. It was really sad to leave & we wish we stayed there was longer. I work in the tourism industry and I will recommend this hotel to any clients wishing to visit Zanzibar. Thank you Joann and Sadru!

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank KandK03
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 10, 2011

I stayed here over the Christmas break and was looking forward to a relaxing holiday after a gruelling safari trip. I had planned the trip for over 6 months, but was extremely dissapointed by the resort (mainly the lack of a beach, its location, the rules and overall price). I have listed my detailed observations below:
# 1 Unusable beach - The resort is located in on the east coast of Zanzibar in an bay called Chwaka Bay. The water in the bay recedes during low tide and as a result of this, the beach is unusable (or non existent) for majority of the day. The water in the bay only starts to fill up at high tide (which is around sunset) and even at high tide the beach has very small waves and quite unlike the other white sand beaches of Zanzibar.
#2 Distance from the city - The resort is located in a remote part of the island and will cost you a minimum of $100 for each trip you want to make to stone town or other parts of the island. Most drivers from the airport and the main city are reluctant to make a trip out to the resort as they likely need to come back empty and hence charge you for the round trip.
#3 Absence of restaurant - The price of the room typically includes breakfast, lunch and dinner and the resort pre-determines the menu (either a 2 course meal or 3 course meal) and the guests do not really have a choice of the food. While some of the meals I ate, I really enjoyed, there were other times when I had no choice and I was forced to eat what was prepared.
Also, the meals are served at fixed times (8-9 for breakfast; 12-2 for lunch; 8-9:30 for dinner) and this resulted in us having no flexibility to do anything during the day. This resulted in a lot of inconvenience as we had gone to the main city on a couple of days and were forced to rush back in order to make it in time for dinner. There were other days we were not able to make it back in time, and we ended up having to eat outside and paying twice and were not compensated for it.

Overall, I think for the price I paid, I could have got a much better hotel in a much nicer area and feel like I was cheated out of the money I paid here. Hope this review helps people who are doing the due diligence that I should have done before booking.

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled with friends
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26  Thank jumbo_81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 8, 2010

After an exciting 10 day safari in Tanzania extremely well organized by Donna Duggan, the co-owner of Maasai Wanderings, we took her advice to travel to Zanzibar for a 6 day stay on the eastern beaches at Ngalawa Beach Village. Leaving the macadam road to travel the last few yards to the oceanside, bouncing over the path, passing grazing cattle, we wondered at what sort of place we were ending up. Then the little gem of a beach resort, cascading down to Chwaka Bay on the Indian Ocean, came into view. At reception we could see down through the beautifully landscaped grounds past the inviting swimming pool to the Indian Ocean beach.

Owned and operated by a Canadian couple, Sadru and his charming wife, JoAnne, the resort provided service that was really tops with shyly friendly, efficient, reliable local staff. Sunil, the very talented chef in command of the kitchen, with a eager-to-please dining room staff, provided Michelin class three-meal-a-day gourmet dining. The Beach Suite in which we stayed was elegantly appointed and had the highlight of a private sitting area directly above the beach.

The east coast beaches are subject to weeds accumulating at the tideline but the diligent staff cleaned the beach every morning. The passing scene of dhows and local people commuting by foot along the beach provided quiet entertainment. Just a few meters away was the ample swimming pool and a comfortable shaded bar area on stilts out over the beach. The 18 other housing units were very nicely appointed and had terraces or balconies with views of the grounds and ocean. The rooms, grounds, and swimming pool were kept spotlessly clean by the very pleasant and unobtrusive staff. The front desk staff were always ready to organize excursions. We enjoyed day tours to Stone Town and the Zanzibar musical groups that performed in the bar area on special nights.

Ngalawa Beach Village was a shangri-la on Zanzibar, with the added highlight of getting to know the delightful owners, JoAnne and Sadru - the disadvantage being that when it was time to leave it was hard to say goodbye.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank BengalConte
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 25, 2010

Myself and 6 friends travelled to Zanzibar at the end of a long Africa trip after climbing Kilimanjaro and spending time on safari in Ngorongoro and the Serengeti. Ngalawa was the perfect ending to the perfect trip - we were exhausted and dirty and ready to shift gears to sun, fun and relaxation. Sadru and Joanne at Ngalawa not only delivered, they blew away our expectations!! Everything was great - the cozy, clean rooms, the beach bar, the pool, the views, the sand, the ocean....but hands down, what made Ngalawa stand out was the staff and the FOOD!! Everyone on the resort took great care of us and even joined in some of the festivities, which was great. The food however completely blew me away. After spending the previous few weeks on the mountain, wandering around Moshi and camping, the food that we had at Ngalawa was outstanding (I imagine the fact that Joanne is a professional chef didn't hurt the cause ;) ) and offered an eclectic mix of local food and culture fused together with Western style and presentation. I often had to shake my head and realize I wasn't in a fine downtown Toronto restaurant, but rather 20m from the beach and Indian Ocean.

I would eagerly recommend Ngalawa to anyone venturing to Zanzibar - it's the ideal place to take in the country and culture, with friendliness and ammenities to boot!

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled with friends
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Thank JohnnyP_81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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