“12 Delightful Days…..”

My wife and I stayed here after a safari in Northern Tanzania, for a total of 12 nights, split into 5 days and 7 days around a 3 night stay on the luxury and very expensive Mnemba Island (qv). Breezes compared very well with Menmba Island – it helped to have an enormous first floor Junior Suite at Breezes, the 7 days stay being in a sea-view location, which is well worth trying for.

We found the staff very friendly and helpful, especially Elizabeth at the front desk, Jerome and Vincent in the restaurant, Sumina in the bar, and (despite adverse comment on the April review) we liked Ivana. We also had a problem on departure which Michael on the front desk sorted out for us.

Pauline the nurse was also excellent when I went down with suspected kidney stones.

The design, decor, layout and gardens are excellent, and, having travelled extensively throughout the world we thought the standard was very high. The themed nights with good quality entertainment to match were interesting and colourful, although we felt that the quality of some of the ingredients, meats especially, left a little to be desired : but you are in a very very poor third world country, and Zanzibar is a very poor part of Tanzania, so one has to make some allowances.

There was a nice mix of honeymooners, and older couples, and certainly in June very few noisy children. We found plenty of interesting people to talk to from round the globe.

There is very little water on the beach at low tide and you can have a very interesting wade out to the reef without the water reaching your thighs with locals fishing for squid, lobsters, fish etc. Make sure you hire reef shoes from the water-sports centre as there are lots of sea urchins further out, and they will give bare feet a nasty infected wound. We did not try other watersports, or the spa or gym (too old!).

My wife’s birthday occurred whilst staying here, and the hotel willingly arranged a champagne reception for us and our friends who had been on safari with us and who were staying at Breezes, and a special table and birthday cake for dinner with the staff singing Happy Birthday in Ki-Swahili.

That brings me to one of the distaff sides of the hotel, the fact that some of the lower staff’s comprehension of English was pretty poor, and as things tend to be done by rote, anything out of the ordinary can throw them. If you don’t want a bread roll or a glass of water at dinner, or you want to miss a dinner course, you have a stream of waiters coming up trying to give you them, getting toast for breakfast could be difficult, and on our last night we saw the night porter write down our early morning call to have plenty of time to leave for the airport, but we didn’t notice that he wrote it in the “Early Breakfast” book, not the “Wake-Up Call” book, so although our breakfast was ready, the two things weren’t linked and we didn’t get called until 6.15am instead of 5am and our driver had been waiting for us since 5.30am without anyone doing anything to call us. We caught our plane with 5 minutes to spare.

Another point, we upgraded to BA which meant a direct day flight back from Dar Es Salaam, Kenya Airways or KLM from Dar-Es Salaam or Zanzibar often mean many hours between changing planes at Nairobi.

You are quite remote on the East Coast, and the last 20 minutes on an ummade road to Breezes, a driver laughingly called “African Massage”, and it will take you about 1½ hours to get to Stone Town and the Capital. This is well worth a visit, and if we did this trip again, after leaving Breezes we would have a couple of nights in Stone Town, perhaps at the Serena where we had a drink on their nice terrace with the dhows passing close by, to save some unnecessary travel.

All in all, despite the minor problems, Breezes is excellent, and well recommended.

Guest nationality: British

Reviewed July 4, 2005