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“Nice hotel, BUT.......”

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Sultan Sands Island Resort
Ranked #6 of 11 Hotels in Kiwengwa
Certificate of Excellence
Vienna, Austria
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Nice hotel, BUT.......”
Reviewed August 8, 2013

Like most guests, we stayed in Sultan Sands after 2 weeks of Safari. The hotel is nice, and clean enough, even though some attention to detail might help (mosquito net had holes, housekeeping always set the AC to 16°C during the day which meant going back to a fridge, bathroom was a bit old and I had to call for new towels - but if you call, it is usually mended allright). The food is nice, and they are trying to vary it a bit, which also helps. The all-in drinks aren't great, but you'll get your money's worth. All in all, it could be excellent, however, there are a few things that really should be mended in my opinion, and which make the hotel average:

1. If you do not have all-in, as we did the first 2 days, you will pay a huge amout of money for drinks. A glass (!) of extremely average wine costs 6€, a small beer 4€, any long drink around 6-7€ and water's a shocking 1.75€ - for a big bottle.

2. if you have all-in, as we did the last 3 days, you can only get small bottles of water (0.5l) for free, you have to pay for a big bottle. Given that the whole hotel has solar panels, which they kind of advertise, and are trying to be eco-conscious, I think this is ridiculous.

3. Diving and snorkelling IS overpriced. A day of diving with equipment costs a shocking 150$. We went snorkelling - not organised with the hotel - for 40$, and given the state of the reef, I really don't think it is worth that money. I saved it to go diving for 2-3 days in the red sea at a later stage.

4. When it comes to paying, they transfer the amount in Tanzanian Shillings into Dollar at a very, very low rate. Someone in our group roughly estimated a 15% profit for the hotel. I would understand 5%, given the fact that they have to pay the credit card company, should you want to pay with a card, but it is ridiculous. Unfortunately, Stone Town, where we changed money at a far better rate, is far away, and the trip is quite expensive, so bring Tanzanian Shillings with you and make sure you spend them - or don't spend money there at all. When I addressed this to the manager on duty, he said something about this being the rate proposed by the Zanzibar gouvernment. When I said that they then should hang up some official looking paper explaining this, or showing some sort of proof to me, he simply said "no, this is not possible".

Otherwise, we did enjoy our stay, it is clean, the beach is beautiful, and the staff is very friendly, even though some could do with some training, but overall it is very good.

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
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1 Thank Maryamintunis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (34)
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London, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed July 29, 2013

My husband and I plus our son and daughter (20 and 18) stayed for seven nights at the beginning of July following a safari in Tanzania. The accommodation was very nice, comfortable and clean. The staff in the restaurant were pleasant and helpful - but the bar staff were very slow - they didn't appear to want to come to the table to serve you - you had to go to the bar to be served and then despite being on an all-inclusive basis, you had to sign for all the drinks each time, which again was an inconvenience.
The food was good but nothing amazing - coffee disgusting! wine for all-inclusive was pretty ropey too - as were most of the all-inclusive cocktails - Although they did have premium vodka:-)
Unfortunately at the time of our stay the Bluebay Hotel next door was closed for refurbishment so we couldn't use any of their facilities.
There is only one restaurant at the Sultan Sands so it did become a bit tedious having to eat at the same place every morning, lunch and dinner - although they did vary it a bit with dinner on the beach a couple of times.... There is a little beach bar that served light snacks, rolls etc - but amazingly, the food available here was not part of the all-inclusive.
The beach is beautiful - BUT YOU CANNOT LAY ON IT as the tide comes right up to the edge so you are confined to the man-made beach on the hotel grounds - this was a huge disappointment to me and something I feel should be mentioned to future travellers. Also, at the time of our stay, the sun dips over the back of the hotel by about 3.30 so by 4.00 your sunbathing is all done! Which makes for a long evening!!
I enquired about hiring some snorkel equipment but this was a ridiculous US$60 per person - which involved a boat trip out for a half a day. You couldnt just hire the gear and go off to snorkel in the sea - which again, is something worth knowing before you go.
All in all we did have a nice time but a week was too long (3 days would have been enough). Following out stay at Sultan Sands we headed into Stone Town for a couple of days and this was great.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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2 Thank boris2606
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oslo, Norway
Level 5 Contributor
73 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed July 24, 2013

The Sultan Sands resort and the BlueBay resorts are twin resorts and guests can freely use the facilities of the other. The gym, spa, PADI diving center and watersports are common facilities for both compounds. The hotels are both right on the beach. The 3+ meters difference between high and low tide means that the nice, white sandy beach is ever so wide at low tide but almost gone at high tide.
Our stay was in July and the weather was unstable and clouds and occasional rain showers was expected. In the afternoon there is a strong breeze coming in. The BlueBay resort offers better protection for the wind.
The beach is beautiful for running in the early morning hour. Run south. Northbound you quickly come to points difficult to pass on medium to high tide.
The gym is not large, but has all essentiel equipment and is kept cool at 19 degrees.
The staff is friendly with the familiar "jambo" heard all day long, but attention to detail could be better. (towels missing in room, air-conditioning in need of repair, mosquito net with hole…). All such issues were fixed, but at times repeaed requests had to be placed.
The restaurant serves a wide variety of dishes for breakfast and of course eggs and omelett of individual choice. At dinner the hotel varies "theme" on a weekly rotation. Nice and appreciated :)
A short ten minutes walk away is a local village where lemonade, beer and basics can be bought cheaply. But you need to bargain (of course). Some of these shops are extremely basic – almost make-shift.
Note: The PADI center is expensive. About USD 150 for a two dive, half day trip to Mnemba Island. But the coral diving is magnificent!
Note also: Prices for excursions to Stone Town and other places are high. You may negotiate half or less price with drivers outside the gate. Make sure they use the licensed cars and pay them on point of return.
All kinds of things are sold on the beach. Settle for less than half the asking price :)

Room Tip: Rooms (or cabins) closer to the beach to be preferred (shorter walking distances).
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Frederic O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bergen, Norway
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviewed July 2, 2013

The rooms are appealing and the location fantastic, just by/on the white beach. We did however miss the staff friendliness and hospitality that we often experience in Greece and Spain. We very much appreciated the gym and the other facilities and we feel that they could have done better on the basis of the resort and location. Also: Watch out for the room bill. All prices are given in tanzanian shillings, but when you pay your room bill you have to pay in US dollars, and at a ridiculous exchange rate.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Kjetil10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kent
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed June 11, 2013

We stayed in Sultan sands in June 2013. The hotel is clean and well kept. Our room had an issue with the AC but after I went to reception someone was there within 5 minutes to mend it and they did. Food fairly similar each evening but it was very nice and they did different themed night with American /italian / oriental to name a few. The sea they recommend sea shoes to protect your feet from coral and shells but we did not find this to be necessary. The locals were kept away from you on the beach by the Masai warriors who kept guard. A lot of sprot can be played here and my son enjoyed a great game of water polo. The balcony on the hut was small and not in the sun but others did get the sun

Room Tip: I would pay the extra to get the larger rooms.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank Nyladd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vienna, Virginia
Level 6 Contributor
179 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
Reviewed May 29, 2013

Our room was clean, modern, and had good A/C, and the beach and ocean were nice. The food was about average. The staff were polite and reasonably efficient. Also, as a vacationing family, we appreciated the lack of a pulsating disco beat at night. On the other hand, the drinks were overpriced (the "special" that week actually cost 2000 shillings MORE than normal) and Sultan Sands shares with its far better sister resort Bluebay the obnoxious practice of pricing services in shillings but forcing customers to pay in foreign currency at the resort's artificially bad exchange rates. Also, a word of caution about the Blue Safari excursion. We enjoyed the outing, but it bore little resemblance to what was advertised. It began with a 90-minute wait at the beach while the crew slowly got organized and laboriously loaded all the boats, followed by a goat-grab as 80 or 90 people simultaneously tried to find the right size fins. You may ask why they didn't use the 90-minute wait to hand out fins at leisure, but this is Africa. The promised "85% chance" of sighting or swimming with dolphins turned out to be zero percent. There wasn't even any mention of dolphins, much less an attempt to find them. Lastly, the three separate snorkeling dives turned out to be one dive.

Room Tip: Ask for a room not too far from the main building. We had quite an uphill hike to reach our room.
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Brian R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nairobi, Kenya
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed May 27, 2013

The hotel employees, with the exception of a select few, were rude and had no customer service skills. If you go, expect to get your own drinks by the pool. No one walks around and asks you if you want a drink. Many times when I went to the restaurants, no one greeted me at the table. I had to flag a waitress down and ask them for drinks or a menu. The Masai guards that are supposed to be watching the beach area sit around and stare at the people in the pool and kick the soccer ball around rather than doing their jobs. There is another employee (I think he was the pool cleaner, not sure) who stands by the pool all day long and just stares at all the guests. While we were sitting by the pool relaxing, the waiters/waitresses were goofing around and yelling in the restaurant like little kids. Not very peaceful. First night we were there, they served dinner on the beach which was nice, until a group of waiters and waitresses started arguing right in front of our table. When taking my luggage to the front desk to pay my bill and go home, I had to drag my bag across the gravel driveway. The people standing at the front door just watched me instead of assisting me. I don't know if this was the "B" team since this is the low season, but the staff are definitely in need of a customer service training.

On the bright side, it's a nice looking hotel with nice rooms. The food was just "ok". One night they had seafood night which was excellent. Beers are $5 each. If you want to actually go in the ocean, be prepared to be swarmed by the beach boy vultures. The ride from the airport takes about an hour. I will not go back to this hotel.

Room Tip: Best to get a premium room closer to the pool. To get to the economy rooms in the back of the resor...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank greg4444444
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sultan Sands Island Resort

Property: Sultan Sands Island Resort
Address: Kiwengwa, Tanzania
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Kiwengwa
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#4 Spa Hotel in Kiwengwa
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Kiwengwa
#4 Romantic Hotel in Kiwengwa
#5 On the Beach Hotel in Kiwengwa
#7 Family Hotel in Kiwengwa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Sultan Sands Island Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 76
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Sultan Sands Island Resort is situated on the wide, sparkling beaches of Kiwengwa on the East Coast of Zanzibar Island. Sultan Sands is a resort with a unique character: an inspired blend of Swahili and Arab architecture and decor creates a relaxed ambience, while first-class amenities and facilities ensure complete comfort. The spacious rooms at Sultan Sands are built in the style of traditional African rondavels, each tastefully decorated with hand-carved Zanzibari furniture. All rooms are ocean-facing with some situated just metres from the beach. The resort's wining and dining venues are equally impressive, offering delicious local specialities as well as Far-Eastern and European favourites. Sultan Sands shares a 500m stretch of beach with its sister property - Bluebay Beach Resort & Spa. Guests of the two resorts also share many facilities and amenities, including the famous Oasis Spa and the One Ocean Dive Centre. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Sultan Sands Island Hotel Kiwengwa
Sultan Sands Island Resort Zanzibar Island/Kiwengwa

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