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Reviewed February 15, 2007

My partner and I have just returned from a 2 week stay at the SP and I think I said from day 2 that the first thing I will do when I get back is put the record straight about some of the negative reviews posted on this site about the resort.
We booked the place and then read the reviews and we have decided to take most, if not all the negatives with a pinch of salt. We were terrified that we had done the wrong thing after reading the reviews and can say without doubt that anyone being put off by them should forget them, go there and have a brilliant time as we did! Just one tip for arrival at Mombasa airport for your Visa... You can either pay (in cash only) $50 US or £30 UK or 40 Euros each. Make your mind up which is the better rate!
On arrival after a sleepless flight, you are bound to be tired but it all starts coming together when handed a cool drink and cool towel and check in. It's little things like that, that make the difference. Within minutes we were in our room (284) and felt anxious as to what was going to greet us... Yes a slight musty smell (hellooo! abroad, heat, humidity etc etc.) Once the air con is on, forget it. I almost promise you won't notice it again.
The room was very clean and tidy. The towels were absolutely fine and did not smell even when wet. We didn't have a bath but obviously knew before we went but the shower was excellent and was powerful as someone else has said. The odd time in the evening when almost everyone is using them, the hot may fail but the cold by itself is fine..it's not cold! I would say the food was very very good and if you can't find something that you like, you have a major fussy problem. If you like curries, you won't be disappointed. Breakfast is brilliant and I have to say that the only worry is how much weight you are going to put on with all those cooked breakfasts you eat. We have been to lots of places abroad and it's the first place thats come up to 'full English' standards. Yet again, there is something there for everyones taste and nationality. How many fruit juices! Banana! (never seen that before)
We actually booked H/B with Thomsons before we went but didnt realise that you could up-grade to A/I for as many days as you wanted to. So, as we were away most of the first week on Safaris and trips, we left it H/B and changed to A/I, via the rep, for the last 6 days. Very simply paid our bill to date at the cashier (which was spot on i.e. they didnt try to rip us off as has been suggested) and then wore the band for the rest of the Hol. Unlike some people, I could drink my moneys worth for the whole holiday in one session bar near! All I am saying is that it suited us to upgrade and worked out that we got our moneys worth.
Another worry before we went was who to book the Safaris with. If you read all the reviews, there is always someone who's got a bigger box to put whatever you've got in! I'm sure you can get it cheaper on the beach or in the town and 4x4s are better than mini buses but you can worry too much! We simply booked through the Thomson rep on the 2nd day at the resort for all the trips etc and it was no messing about. It tends to shut the sellers on the beach up when you tell them you've already booked with the hotel too. I seem to remember someone saying "It was much better in our 4x4 and we saw others 'crammed' in mini buses". Not in ours would that have happened. It was a standard Nissan (Pollmans by the hundred!) that the roof lifted up on and there were 3 couples in it. Loads of room! You can't sit where theres no seat so I just dont get where the 'packed' label came from. Sheltered from the sun, able to stand AND a better view of things that were spotted on the safari. The only poss drawback is that the buses dont go off road/track. We were more than happy with the mode of transport. We did 2 trips. An overnight stay at Saltlick taking in Tsavo East and Voi lodge for lunch and Dinner at Saltlick in Tsavo West. A drive before Breakfast is not as bad as it sounds and I can only say that the experience of it all (including the trip up there and back) is all superb and part of the whole thing. We did another overnighter at Shimba Hills Lodge Nearer to the resort and even though we may not have seen every animal ever created it was still an unforgettable experience. The food, service and acommodation was all superb. Spoke to many people who went to Masai Mara and if you want to splash out the extra for it, it's top banana - you are almost guaranteed to see the lot I'm told.
If you have to do the culture tour of Mombasa, you would be wise to take in the 'Jambo Mombasa' tour. That takes in Fort Jesus, the usual memorabila/curio shop and then an excellent lunch on the Tamarind Dhow ( 2 hours and its needed!) followed by a visit to Haller Park and hopefully get the chance as we did, to hand feed the giraffe. Just to sum up... unless you are a very hard person to please, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. The staff are very friendly and I defy you not to get an energetic 'Jambo' reply from someone who you thought wasn't going to say it to you in the first place. You will see staff looking after the immaculate place all the time. There was another whinge about security... Our safe packed in as we haven't invented an everlasting battery yet. Security attended with the locksmith and supervisor just in case we weren't in the room. I think honesty prevails. Example; I am a professional hat loser and left my sun hat on the back of a loo door at 7 a.m. off on a day trip. at 10am the next day I went to customer relations and my hat was back on my bonce minutes later. The cleaners face, James, who found it, was a picture armed with a decent tip for his honesty! They do a flippin' good job for the pittance they are all paid I reckon. Put any worries you have where they belong if you are concerned about going to SP. We had no complaints whatsoever. By the way... someone said that one of the pools was salt water. Not either of the immaculate pools we went in! The guys were constantly cleaning them! Enjoy!

J&K Kent UK

  • Stayed: February 2007, traveled as a couple
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14  Thank REgardsTWellsKent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2007

We arrived at the Southern Palms at 2pm and it was lovely and sunny and hot.

The weather was brilliant all week, ideal for lounging by the pool, which we spent a lot of time doing. The pool are is very nice and is clean. There are lots of sunbeds and even when the hotel was full, we still managed to get a bed.

We went to the beach one day - it was clean and we managed to get sunbeds but it was tricky - the beach is definitely busier.

Our room was clean and had a nice shower. The bathroom was clean but was basic. The view from the room was of the pool but wee had paid £160 for a sea view, which was disappointing.

The food in the hotel was ok but with not a lot of variety - curries, rice, meat and veg. the salads were nice but were left out in the heat for too long and i'm not sure they were safe to eat. After 3 days, one of us had a stomach upset which lasted for a few days, but the staff were very helpful and offered to bring food etc to the room.

I dont think its worth going all inclusive as the drinks are very limited on all inclusive, and the food and drinks are relatively cheap anyway, so half board is probably a better option.

I agree with another review in regards to Mombasa airport - the sercurity checks are ridiculous and you'll spend a good few hours being searched, having luggage searched and your passport checked numerous times.

  • Stayed: February 2007, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank fkom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 5, 2007

What is difficult to assess when reading other people's reviews of hotels as we have done over the years on TripAdvisor is what the people are like - are they fussy, miserable, overly positive etc so that you can try and assess how much to read into things. The various mix reviews of this hotel certainly had us guessing.
We found the Southern Palms to be pefectly adequate for what we were after, which was a week away in the sun for less than a grand in February. Having travelled extensively throughout Africa and the Caribbean you will find anywhere that has a heavy rainy season and suffers from humidity will have a slightly musty smell to it and there is not much getting away from this, but this wasn't a dirty smell.
The rooms were clean and cleaned daily. The bathroom was looking a little tired, but this is an African 4 star beach hotel - not a New York or Paris city hotel and you are not spending that much time in your room. What is will need is some tidying up in the next couple of years. The rooms had air con, hairdryers, a safe, mini bar and TV and a lovely powerful shower.
The pool areas and beach were lovely. There were enough beds by the pool to get one daily - and we were arriving down around 11ish after a lazy breakfast. If you wanted one on the beach then you needed to be there earlier and we didn't need to pay to reserve one. Yes the beach boys hassle you but just say no thanks and walk on, the more tanned you get the more they laeve you alone as figure you have been there a while so get a sunbed before you go if worried!! There are some great bargains to be had with Kikoys and wooden artefacts on the beaches and hotels all along the beach so you are perfectly safe.
The recently opened Afro Chic boutique hotel a couple of doors down from the SP looks great and the type of hotel we would usually stay in so could be worth checking out in future - at the moment it has no website or literature.
The SP is a large hotel but we didn't find dining an issue, there were rarely queues and we ate at the grill and the italian on a couple of occasions and booked in easily the day before.
The pool and poolside were clean, there were not many children and the back pool was nice and quiet. A good range of nationalities rather than it being completely overrun with brits and apart from a few lager lout types who quite frankly seem to get everywhere a nice mix of both young and older couples with a few groups of friends also on holiday.
We went to Ali Barbour's for dinner which is definitely worth a visit, book at reception adn they will pick you up and take you back, we went to the Forty Thieves bar after dinner for a few drinks and it was virtually empty but lovely to be by the beach.
The staff were pleasant and whilst at times a little slow you are on holiday so what's the rush.
We went half board and found we spent about another £250 all week for lunch and water and alcohol so cheaper than going AI.
The weather was marvellous and all in all it was a great holiday, very chilled out and relaxing. We flew with Thomson's, a bit cramped like all charter airlines but great food!
We have stayed in the Serena and The Palms in Zanzibar, The Hilton in Hurghada and The Movenpick in Dar. This is a resort hotel so not as good as some but for a week away definitely worth a visit. We were in room 350 which also had a large corner balcony and a nice sea view from the side although our room wasn't officially a seaview room.

Stayed: February 2007
9  Thank Mrsdp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 5, 2007

We arrived at the Southern Palms late January, for a weeks all inclusive break with the intention of relaxing in the sun. The hotel has a great feel to it. It has lovely pools, but you just cant beat the beach, the Indian Ocean is warm and great to swim in, though when the tide is in it can be a bit deep and a strong current for youngsters.
We did the official trip to Wasini, to see the reef, to snorkel and to have lunch. It is a trip well worth doing, the crew of the boats are friendly and make you feel very welcome. Best to be prepared as the sun can be very hot, so wear your sun screen & drink plenty (they have an ample supply of complimentary drinks on the boat). The snorkelling is fabulous out on the reef, this was my 1st time and we were well looked after and felt very safe, it was ideal for beginners (buoyancy aids were provided). Take the taxi from the hotel to the Diani shopping
centre, its worth a wander around, there is a pharmacy there, as well as a convenience store and several souvenir shops. The taxi is Ksh700, they will drop you off and wait for you. You could walk it, its about 3Km.
The hotel itself has several restaurants to try, for the smaller ones you need to book in advance, but in the main restaurant the buffet was brilliant, plenty of fresh fish, vegatables, curries and salads, as well as stir frys and grilled meat. Theres no way you will go hungry.
The rooms are ideal, light, very clean and airy, though it did take a while to work out the air conditioning, but once that was sorted it was just great, we had ocean views from our balcony as well and the room hada tv, coffee facilities, mini bar and hair dryer . Thankfully no sign of any mosquitoes or other unwanted creatures in the room, though we'd recommend you keep everything closed as there are some miniature ant like creatures that seem to be attacted to sugary / salty thing.

The only downside to the holiday was Mombassa Airport when we departed , the security checks and queues spoilt an otherwise lovely holiday. There were at least 4 full security checks, and then a bottle-neck at the 1 metal detecting machine, also you need to fill in exit visa form , something that no one had told us!!
All in all , with the sunshine, the food, and the people its a great place to visit and stay for those who want to relax for week as well as for the more active amongst us.

  • Stayed: February 2007
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10  Thank mark13rr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2007

I am shocked at how someone who stayed the same week as us can complain about Southern Palms!!!!!!!! :-(

We arrived here on New Years Day, only stayed for a week but really REALLY wish we'd have booked for a longer break! I can honestly say we didn't meet a single person who had a bad word to say about this holiday.

It was the best holiday both my partner and I have ever had!!! The staff are the friendliest people I've ever experienced in a hotel (and I usualy travel a couple of times a year), they go out of their way to help you in every aspect of your holiday. The bar men, Ali and Robert, who work on the pool bars are the nicest people and told us lots about Kenya in general and we found it so interesting talking to them while sipping a rum and pineapple in the pool!

The rooms were fairly basic and very clean and there were always cleaners around. They left chocolates on our bed every night too which was nice! The restaurant food was excellent in terms of usual buffet style food, I am vegetarian and always found something to eat. The meals also include a wide variety of tropical fruits and cakes which again, were lovely! We were half board and it suited us perfectly as we were out and about and most trips include lunch etc. For a local beer "Tusker" it was 190 shillings which worked out to be around £1.70 which I didn't think was expensive really...and cocktails were around 300 to 500 shillings. They take all sorts of money though i.e. US$, euros, sterling.

We had monkeys and bush babies visit our balcony regularly and have got some fab photos! We also done excersions most days and would highly recommend trips to Shimba Hills and Wasini Island where you can spot dolphins and snorkel and see the most amazing reefs and fish!

I would recommend to ANYONE wishing to visit Kenya to stay at Southern Palms, we definitely hope to go back one day!

C & P, Kent

  • Stayed: January 2007, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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10  Thank PhilCar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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