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“A paradise - we'd definitely recommend staying here!”
Review of Pongwe Beach Hotel

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Pongwe Beach Hotel
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Pongwe
Certificate of Excellence
Norwich, England
Level 5 Contributor
41 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“A paradise - we'd definitely recommend staying here!”
Reviewed June 4, 2011

My husband and I stayed at this little paradise in March this year following a safari in Tanzania.
We were greeted warmly and given a welcome drink in the bar area which has the most amazing views out to sea. The large open room where the bar is situated is also the restaurant and lounge area.
Each morning at breakfast (hot food is always available if you require but this isn't always clear – just ask - the pancakes were scrummy!), you are shown the lunch and dinner menus and if there is something you don't like, the staff are very accommodating and will change it for you (they just need this bit of notice). The food is absolutely delicious - be sure to have the seafood platter (a supplement is payable) - probably one between two is enough if having for lunch.
Each afternoon around 4pm, the staff come to you at the pool or on the beach to offer you fresh fruit or coconut milk which is a refreshing welcome and a nice touch. Talking of the beach it is lovely white sand and every morning staff clean it of seaweed that has been washed up over night. They start this around 5am I think so by the time most people are rising, it is nearly clean again. Hammocks are scattered around the beach under palm trees and sunbeds are plentiful. When the tide goes out you can walk out to sea for a very long way and even see the coral beds (wear something on your feet though) and see the local women collecting shell fish.
The bungalows (bedrooms) also have sun loungers on the terrace with fantastic views out to sea. And so now onto the accommodation - very clean and basic and flowers had been arranged by the door and on the bed when we first arrived. A small area for hanging clothes and of course no air conditioning in this "green" hotel. A ceiling fan is located above the bed and there is also a free standing electric fan which is much needed. I was a bit worried that showering in salt water (the water is filtered through coral only) would leave my skin feeling sticky but it didn't - just remember to take a good conditioner for your hair and use bottled water to brush your teeth! A large bottle of water is provided each day for this purpose (or to drink it!). Cotton bath robes, sarongs and a beach bag are provided in the room and there is also a library by reception so you don't even need to take a book but you will need to finish it whilst you are there. Internet access and a laptop is also available for a small charge.
Security guards patrol the beach day and night so you feel very safe, although having said that we didn't see anything to make us feel otherwise but I suppose you don't know what it would be like without the guards.
This is a relaxing and chilled experience - walking through sand from your bungalow to the restaurant and bar - some people didn't wear anything on their feet to dinner - it just makes you feel that laid back.
A paradise setting and very relaxing hotel - if you don't like chilling the whole time though the reception can organise numerous activities for you.
So all in all a great hotel which is good value for money with friendly and efficient staff.

Room Tip: Ask for a beach front room
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  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank travels039
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
116 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
Reviewed April 28, 2011

After climbing Kilimanjaro this was the best recovery holiday ever. Beautiful beach, stunning sunrise every morning and turquoise waters. The perfect beach holiday. Extremely helpful staff and delicious food. I am certainly going back there for another relaxing beach holiday.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
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Helpful?
2 Thank Tyla75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed April 6, 2011

We don't have enough good things to say about Pongwe Beach Hotel. The staff at Pongwe are absolutely the most professional, high quality, warm and friendly staff I have ever experienced at any hotel. These are absolutely five star staff across the board. My guess would be that the staff is satisfied with their work-- I can't imagine any other way to cultivate such great staff across the board. The hotel is much more of a boutique experience, and deserved respite for anyone who has been on a more hectic Tanzania travel experience. This is by no means a resort- it is a top quality bed and breakfast. For us, the brackish water, the small size of the place, the large book trade library, were filled with character and the true positives of the place. We LOVED the food. We mused that if a couple rented out the whole place (all 16 rooms) this would be the perfect place for a beautiful wedding!

Minimal things we would change: 1) We would put in Air Con. The rooms don't have this and depending on your room location and preferences, you don't need it. There is a nice sea cross breeze and was plenty cool for me. BUT, my boyfriend likes it much cooler than I do and I admit I would have been overall more comfortable with air con. (We both note that the no air con choice is cheaper for guests and better for the environment.) 2) There was a somewhat contrived cultural performance on Friday night. We would have skipped this altogether. It seemed out of character with the place, and overall just silly.

These two changes are so minimal-- we highly recommend this choice!

Room Tip: Sea view
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  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank KirstinMcCarthy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed March 21, 2011

This place! wow.
The beaches are combed daily by traditionally dressed Masai tribesmen, who also act as security guards, keeping the area hawker free.
The food draws on the very best the island has to offer, and the chefs are more than happy to substitute items on the menu to cater for special requirements.
Days are spent lying on the beach, using the free beach equipment and kayaks, diving into the crystal clear pool, swinging in hammocks, or escaping the sun in the naturally cool rooms. Evenings find you playing local board games in the open verandah, sipping cocktails and listening to the waves lap against the shore.
For those that want more adventure, there were diving and fishing trips, although we'd just come off Kilimanjaro and were more than content to rest our weary legs and be pampered.
Each Banda had its own style, with high thread count sheets, roomy bathrooms, and naturally cool air.

  • Stayed April 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank randjrf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leicester
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed March 12, 2011

We stayed at Pongwe in January and loved it to bits!

The moment we entered the hotel we knew it was going to be a valuable experience! It was the whole aura of a private and exclusive beach which appealed to us most. At times you really felt like it was your own exclusive spot with literally no1 to share with

resort: as beautiful as they come- white sand and blue water - exactly out of a magazine advert. it has the most nicest pool area as well which oversees the Indian Ocean.

room: have a distinct taste about them. they were comfortable to stay in with big comfy beds. We especially liked the water facuet in front of the villa - its a smart tool to clean your sandy feet before entering the room. The lounge beds outside were great to be lazy on.
Although you didn't need the AC in Jan when we were there - we would def encourage the hotel mgmt to get some installed along with an upgrade to their washroom.

Food: 3 out of 4 times was excellent. Although you get three options to order from - they are very varied and you always find something that you would like from there.

Service: 4/5 - Everyone was super friendly and caring. Def the best staff that we saw on our trip to ZNZ.

Final Word: Can't wait to come back and visit again!

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank zf_15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Venus Bay
Level 5 Contributor
94 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 154 helpful votes
Reviewed March 1, 2011

Couldn't agree more with the last reviewer, we enjoyed it, but don't think we would bother to go back. It didn't seem to have any real flavour ... could have been anywhere in the world under the coconut palms, with a cocktail in hand. The beach was clean and sparkling, the swimming good and the pool large and spotless, but it just didn't have that elusive thing that makes a place memorable. At times the food was plain average, at other times inedible. As we are only small eaters, the half board deal was not good value for us, and we would have been much happier ordering exactly what we wanted, when we wanted it. The restaurant staff, although always smiling, were totally inefficient - one morning, we asked 4 times by different people if we were ready for coffee, but not one delivered it! You were asked in the morning to order your evening meal, and then the order was totally ignored, repeatedly! So frustrating. We discovered the Aleksandar next door (50 metres down the beach), which became a haven of privacy, and offered a variety of food, and good gin and tonics! This place also offers WONDERFUL massage, cheap ($25), very professional, and in the most fantastic position - on a wooden platform over the water. We returned repeatedly, but don't try to get there at high tide.
The beds in the resort are also not good - hard, small, and with bottom sheets that slide. We had to shift three times while we were here because of availability, and the beds on each occasion were similar. I don't think we had one good night's sleep, although I didn;t hear anybody else complaining about it. We were disappointed also to find that the balconies (with one or two exceptions) have no privacy. So ... in summary, pleasant, but not memorable.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank rosemaryVenusBay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leicester, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
41 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
Reviewed February 27, 2011

Most of the reviews on here are a bit over the top I think. I agree with the points made by some of the other reviewres. You cant take away from this resort the beautifull location, the exclusiveness of the resort and the fact that there are only 15 villas. They are all located on the beach and the location is stunning. The sea and pool are beautifull and it is well laid out.
There were however several small issues which I feel let it down a bit. One reviewer mentioned the saline water and lack of aircon. I dont know if a more upmarket resort on Zanzibar would be any different given the limitations of the area but I did find this also a bit of a problem. The whole complex is quite small and there are really only the villas and one large dining room/lounge, and a small reception area. There were no toiletries provided in the bathroom which I thought was strange and although we could buy some from reception i think it is the first place I have ever stayed in that didnt supply such basics.
The food whilst good was nowhere near as good as has been intimated, and the service in the restaurant and bar was to be frank quite poor. I could list endless examples but lets just say it was "disorganised". The people are very laid back and they carry this over into there work! (they are very friendly I have to say but when you are waiting for an order or your food and it is a constant battle to get someone to respond, the happy smiling faces begin to wear a bit thin!).
The maids seemed to take forever to clean and sort out the rooms, mostly because rather than complete fully one at a time they would amble back and fore all day with various items. (one would strip the bed, one would replace toilet roll, someone else would then come and clean the floor etc etc)
The surpirsing thing is that with only 15 villlas it would be so easy to make everything so efficient, but maybe that is also the problem.
Dont get me wrong we thorougjly enjoyed our stay here, but I think it only fair to other travellers for a somewhat more balanced review to the place to be submitted.

  • Stayed February 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank woodykibworth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pongwe Beach Hotel

Property: Pongwe Beach Hotel
Address: PO Box 297, Pongwe, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Pongwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Pongwe
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — Pongwe Beach Hotel 3*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated on what could perhaps be described as the best beach in Zanzibar, Pongwe Beach Hotel is a tranquil place where one can escape the hustle and bustle of modern day life. It is modestly sized, with 4 Sea View Suites, 13 traditional Beach Villas as well as 3 Garden Rooms and has an intimate, personal atmosphere. Set within a secluded bay on the east coast of Zanzibar, Pongwe Beach is a true paradise retreat. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pongwe Beach Hotel Zanzibar Island

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