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“Needs an overhaul, especially the rooms”

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Southern Palms Beach Resort
Ranked #8 of 29 Hotels in Diani Beach
Reviewed November 25, 2012

Let me start with the positive stuff. The pool area and beach were really nice. The italian restaurant and the grill were also good, and we did enjoy our stay in general.

However, there are some things that could be better. After staying at four lodges on a safari week we expected this to be a level up in comfort and standard. It wasn't.

For me it all starts and ends with the rooms. They don't seem like they've been renovated for at least 20 years. The tiles in the bathroom were cracked in a few placed, the color were faded and the blender for the shower should be replaced. The rooms should get better sound proofing, it was way too easy to hear what went on outside and in the neighbouring rooms.

There are also some easy fixes for the rooms. The beds and pillows were hard, and the cover was just a plain blanket, that didn't seem to fresh. The drapes were too thin, so they weren't able to darken the room. This should be easy stuff to fix, right?
We asked the staff about the pillows, but they didn't understand at all. They thought they were soft and that was it.

The main restaurant was a bit of a dissapointment. There were around 20 dishes, but always more or less the same, and none of them were cooked with any particular skill or with any love. I'd much rather have 2-3 dishes that were different every day and cooked under the supervision of a trained chef. Most of the food was quite tasteless, they almost seemed afraid of using spices. When we ordered from the menu for lunch quite often our orders came at different times, so the first person had almost finished when the second person got his/her food. Not exactly four star standard in my book.

Regarding the staff, some were very good, I'll give them that. However, I'm not sure if we were unlucky to get in contact with some very inexperienced staff or if that's simply their way. Examples:
* When we wanted to switch dinner for lunch one day, because we were going out to eat in the evening it took 30 minutes to arrange this, and we had to sit and wait the entire time. This can't be the first time they got this request?
* Sometimes at breakfast, especially when we were early, a staff member would just come to our table and stand there, looking at us eating. Creepy.
* Do we really need one person to show us a table, one to take the drink order and a third to take the food order? More than once they didn't remember the order or made a mistake. How about one server per table that takes care of everything?

On our last day we were invited to what they called a "management coctail party", which more or less was a welcoming meeting. This is symptomatic of this hotel. They have a great will to do something, but somewhere it goes a little wrong. If we had gotten this the first day we would probably used some more of their services, like wind surfing or diving.

Also remember that diani beach is far off. Anything remotely fun is around an hours drive away, and you have to take a ferry to get into mombasa.

If we return to Kenya we'll probably try another hotel.

Room Tip: There's entertainment going on until 23 every day. If you like that you can ask for a room close...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Henrik L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 23, 2012

Spent a fantastic relaxing all-inclusive week at this beautiful hotel after a busy safari - can't fault it. Staff are lovely (with the odd exception, but everyone occasionally has a bad day!), and a few KS now and again works wonders. Food and drink excellent, pools and grounds beautiful and very well kept. Some people complained about the music/noise from daytime animation activities and evening entertainment, but we were lucky to have a room at the quiet (reception) end of the hotel so it wasn't a problem. Also the pool at this end is very quiet - we used the loungers near the Fountain Bar where the breeze wafts the spray to keep you cool. Bed was a little on the hard side, and rooms could do with a coat of paint, but were kept spotlessly clean. After a couple of nights we realised that the air conditioning wasn't working properly so we mentioned it to the maid and within a couple of hours an engineer arrived to fix it so we were nice and cool for the rest of our stay.

Beach is beautiful but the local traders/hangers on can be a nuisance when you just want a quiet walk. The animation team do a beach walk each morning, alternating left and right and we found this was the best way to see it properly without hassle. Evening entertainment was low-key but this is a place for relaxation so what do you expect.

The only downside was the transfer from Mombasa airport - unfortunately ours was late Friday afternoon and the queues for the ferry were horrendous. What should have been a 1 hour max journey took 3 hours. The trip back the following week would have been just as bad, and we would have missed our flight, had our driver not pre-bribed the ferry security police to let us jump the queue! Maybe other times of the day/week are less busy.

Room Tip: Rooms at the reception end of the hotel are much quieter. Those nearer the beach get noise from day...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank happyhol2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 16, 2012

We have stayed in the Southern Palms on a number of Occasions and really enjoy the laid bak atmosphere and lovely grounds. The wooden furniture in the rooms give the hotel a lovely Afircan feel and the rooms are beutifully clean. The proximity to the beach is suuperb. We have always found the staff helpful and friendly. We travelled with two children and so booked interconnecting rooms. They don't have too many of these and so it is worth booking early. The entertainment in the evening is varied and good. The food is very good and there is a lot of choice.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank kenyantrains
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 16, 2012

The place is well located in Diani, with a nice beach. The set-up is ok, but, there is a big “BUT”, the staff.
Slow. Unprofessional for any respectable tourist. Full of all types of [--].
It is true that we came there for the sea-sun-nature, but the contacts with the local staff is disappointing from all points of view. Imagine that they are acting like bureaucrats, like government employees, they treat you with no respect and no courtesy; they show you their superiority of being locals over you a tourist in their country.
“Muzungu, you are here just for a while, but we are here for centuries, take it how it is, or we make your stay a hell, and anyway we take your money.”
That is the message what I got in this place.
Overall, if you are able to disregard the full-of-crap African-Kenyan attitude, the stay will be ok. As I said the sea, the nature and the weather fully compensate any human contact encounter.
BORING-BORING-BORING: The evening shows.
A group of so call “animators”, “entertainers” are running a so call traditional show in order to fill your time before you go for sleep.
They did this show for years and years, nothing was changed. The same fat dancers, in contract with the resort, the same “lazy-let me to finish the show again-oh yes Muzungu there is nothing you can do about” attitude, permanently present around the resort.
THE BUFFET
Average food quality, again the staff too bored to provide any good service (unless a boss is in the area, when they run and run desperately to please the boss and to not get fired), dirty local fruits chopped disgraceful, chemical creamy cakes, made from cheap powders, which taste sandy and chlorine, sauces present full month until smbdy might refresh the composition, strange salads, probably remixed for days.
DRINKS AT THE BAR
Totally, totally overpriced. A Tusker (famous local bear) in the shop 100 Ksh, in a normal bar 120-150-200 Ksh, in Southern Palms Beach Resort, 350 Ksh. Two hundred metters on the beach to the right, a nice beach bar is giving you the fair price.
GENERAL IMPRESION
They make all to give as cheap service and as cheap food is possible in order to take your money. The policy is, “ANYWAY YOU ARE FOR THE FIRST AND THE LAST TIME HERE, SO TAKE IT”
A traditional Asian managed joint, with a German so call hotel manager, present there just for the image, where you are treated like a milking cow.
Enjoy the stay.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled solo
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4  Thank OutsideDay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2012

We stayed in southern palms hotel and went with our parents. On arrival we were welcomed by the staff with coconut drinks. The receptionist staff were alway freindly and helpful. The hotel itself was very clean, so were the rooms. We stayed on a HB bases - there was always a good variety of food choiced at breakfast. During Dinner there was different food cuisine ie chinese, indian including fresh hot pitta bread daily, roast ect... I would really like to thank the chef Mr Khan who cooked beautiful meals for us especially for my mum and dad. All the waiter were wounderful and helpful, very jolly people.
The pool site was one of the best. There is a bar in the middle of the pool, there had lots of attivities in the pool ie arobics.
the entertainment was remarkable - we had a wonderful time and a very conformable stay. i would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone

Room Tip: Do not pay extra money for a seaview room. you can sit at the beach front till as late as 1:00am wi...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Steve C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 10, 2012

I just want to let the world know that I had a fabulous experience at the Southern Palms resort in Kenya. In particular the customer service is second to none. I love the entertainment and management always did everything they could to make the guests feel comfortable above and beyond normal service. It was truly a pleasure.

Room Tip: Rooms in the center can see and hear the evening entertainment each night until 11pm.
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Sam O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 8, 2012

We stayed at Southern Palms Resort in October and I can say that this is a fairly decent hotel. The large winding pool is beautiful and wonderfully warm and inviting, and the members of staff are pleasant, cheerful and willing to do anything to make sure guests have a comfortable stay.

The breakfast buffet is wide and varied, though they would do better to ensure the fruits are ripe and composed of many more different types of fruits. Ditto for the cereal selection. This is rather thin, limited to three choices and was regrettably not changed throughout our 7 day stay. The stir fry options at lunch buffet are excellent, and we had no complaints about the dinner buffet, which had delicious and different fish options every evening. In addition, there are two other a la carte restaurants which provide some variety, and the Italian in particular was wonderful, with great staff and food, though sadly lacking in decor to match the food and service. It is a shame to have to eat a great meal in such inviting surroundings on plastic beach furniture!

That said, some improvements should be made to the beach and pool furniture. Should one wish to eat something by the poolside, not even little tables are provided, and the wooden sunbeds are antiquated and many broken and could do with a total makeover and replacement.

The children's' activities leave a lot to be desired. While the staff seem willing and enthusiastic, there does not seem to have been any thought or effort put into the number and type of activities by the management, and the children felt this and preferred to spend their time at the pool or beach engaged in their own activities.

The rooms were basic but comfortable. There seems to be a annoying profusion of mosquitoes at night in the rooms. We would find the beds turned down with nets and all, only to find eight or nine mosquitoes trapped in the nets with us! Perhaps some mosquito eradication methods should be employed to curb this menace. Charging $5 per day for use of the little room safe is quite honestly taking advantage of guests. In addition, a couple of complimentary 500ml bottles of water would go a long way, someone pointed out that the cost would be less than $1 a day for both! Little things make the difference, and it does not bode well when guests feel overcharged for the most basic items.

We heard about someone in another party accidentally misplacing a room key, and they were being charged US$90 (ksh 7,000) to replace the key. This we felt was way over the top, and while nobody likes or intends to lose their keys, it does occasionally happen and should not be a draconian $90 to replace! In addition, the hotel charges guest a 5% fee for paying by credit card! This is sheer profiteering, and we do not consider it right to take advantage of your guests in this crass manner. It defeats the purpose of being safe by avoiding carrying of cash.

These two incidents as well as the blatant overcharging for little room extras(which should be standard) above marred what was otherwise an enjoyable holiday. The staff is wonderful, but we feel some management decisions and visible presence were sorely lacking, and we felt that the incentive for staff to perform better can be much improved with a more hands on approach to guest issues.

We have stayed at other properties in the area (Leopard Beach, Diani Reef, Leisure Lodge) and we must say that a great swimming pool and staff on their own do not make a hotel. We will continue our travels, though I would say Leisure Lodge, though with a few problems of their own, definitely have the better all round package to offer.

Room Tip: One should ask for corner rooms nearer to reception, as the evening entertainment can get rather lou...
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank jkusa_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Southern Palms Beach Resort

Address: Diani Beach Road, Diani Beach, Ukunda 80400, Kenya
Phone Number:
Location: Kenya > Coast Province > Ukunda > Diani Beach
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 Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Business Hotel in Diani Beach
#7 Romantic Hotel in Diani Beach
#7 Family Hotel in Diani Beach
#8 Luxury Hotel in Diani Beach
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Diani Beach
Price Range: $102 - $285 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Southern Palms Beach Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 298
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This dramatic hotel with its fantastic pools and beautiful beach is the perfect spot to relax after a safari… or simply visit to relax! The warm and very African feel of the hotel with comfortable rooms, well appointed bathrooms and selection of restaurants offers guests plenty of places to lounge in the sun and almost as many shady spots to enjoy a bit of a breeze and a good book. All rooms have quiet, split unit air conditioners, televisions, mini fridges and coffee and tea making facilities. There is a safe (chargeable) in each room and a business center located in the main building with internet or wifi access in public areas. The drama of the huge, traditional makuti (thatched) roof in the main restaurant offers the Chef a terrific showcase for a varied selection of local and international dishes on the buffet or you could indulge at one of the a la carte restaurants (chargeable) for a special occasion or just a quiet evening for two. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Southern Palms Beach Hotel Diani
Southern Palms Beach Diani

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