10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Great place to stay
"I cannot understand the poor reviews of this hotel. Do these complainers not realise that Gambia is still a third world country with a large number of its population having no access to running water or electricity? Perhaps they should have gone to Tenerife? We have been to Gambia numerous times and stayed at most of the hotels. Jerma beach was absolutely amazing and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The villas are incredibly comfortable and it was great to have cooking facilities and a kettle and fridge available to us. Some of the finishing touches were entertaining to us such as kitchen drawers that don't open and no shower holder. Also the loo seat was much to small for the rather elaborate toilet. If you are unable to live with these petty problems maybe the problem is yours and not the hotels. We have full sympathy for the family whose child had that horific accident at the hotel and do wish them all the best. We could see the problem with the glass in the foyer. One door was broken twice during our visit, repaired quickly only to be broken again on our departure. All the glass in the foyer MUST be replaced with safety glass immediately. The swimming pool is incredible and as always staff extremely friendly and helpful. Do not be put off by the reviews. My husband and I are in the process of booking to return to jerma beach in April."
- Travel date: Tue 18th of March 2008
"Having just returned from a weeks stay at the Jerma Beach -I can't understand the previous reviews.
Having read the incredibly bad reviews this place received we wondered what we were letting ourselves into therefore we went with very low expectations.
However we had a lovely week with no problems whatsoever - maybe we were very lucky but speaking to other guests who had also read the reviews we weren't the only ones pleasantly surprised.
It is fair to say the hotel isn't as advertised - it definately isn't near being finished as yet and it is not to four star standard. But the rooms were clean and comfortable the air con being a very welcome feature. We had no plumbing problems over the week and towels were changed daily. There were interesting features in that there was no shower curtain so the floor got dangerously wet, the safe wasn't secured to anything and the plug sockets looked slightly hazardous. We found the pool and beach lovely - when the afternoon pool 'entertainment' started we just moved onto the beach.
All the staff were friendly and helpful and we found them unobtrusive - if you didn't want to talk they left you to it.
The food and drink was alot more expensive in the hotel - but then we don't go on holiday to stay in the hotel all day and the senegambia strip had plently of choice. The strip is about a 10 minute walk away. At night time we got a taxi which cost 50delasi each way as otherwise it involved walking up a very dark road which I personally didn't fancy.
Overall we really couldn't fault this place I think you just need to remember its still a third world country and you get what you pay for - there's a reason why it's cheaper than the other hotels as it's still rough round the edges but the hotel was quiet and a good base for exploring or just relaxing."
- Travel date: Sat 9th of February 2008
a fantastic holiday
"After reading the very poor reviews about jerma beach only a day before departure, i was extremely concerned. I had fully prepared myself to expect the worst, ready to demand a transfer to a different hotel if it was'nt up to standards.
However, we arrived in the evening, had a meal at the hotel (which was lovely!) and enjoyed the evenings entertainment-african dancing. A very good start to our holiday!
Yes we were subjected to a plumbing problem-cold water in the shower, but this was quickly resolved by staff. I have to admit the shower, (once hot) was slightly weaker powered than im used to,but you have to remember that a 4 star hotel in the gambia, is not equal to a 4 star hotel in england for example.
The hotel was clean, well presented and in a great location. I agree with other reviews-the staff did make the hotel!! they were friendly and extremely helpful when needed and also work very hard for what they get paid!
If you are planning on going to Jerma beach, please make time to talk to Abdou, the pool attendant. He is a genuine, down to earth guy , extremely nice (not saying the other staff are'nt!) He works too hard there!!! Also dont be afraid to ask him to join you on a night out-maybe ala baba's, he likes to dance or millys-where he can beat you at pool!
When you see him, please please tell him Lauren and Grant say hello!
Hope you enjoy it there as much as we did!"
- Travel date: Sat 9th of February 2008
Dont Go There
"This hotel is not ready to take guests it seems they have spent the money needed to compete it on a lavish reception and conference room and totaly neglected accommodation and facilities. we stayed there for xmas and new year in a villa which on first impression seemed ok until you looked closer, electric sockets were begining to fall off the walls one even had a lamp wired directly into the back of the socket which when used sparked. Our microwave did not work and all though reported nothing was done, we would often return from a day out to find we had no towels when we rang reception we were after a 45min wait given poolside towels. On our first day there we had three pairs new of shoes stolen we reported this but nothing was done. People in a villa near ours had received an electric shock while having a shower in their previous room, then the villa they were moved to flooded they then spent the rest of the holiday putting up with an absolute stench from the damp.
While we were there a young boy had a terrible accident due to the none use of safety glass this was then repeated again with another child [all in our two week stay] EXPENSIVE FOOD & DRINK NO ADVERTISED FACILITIES APART FROM POOL OUR RATING IS 2 STAR. THE GAMBIA IS GREAT AND WE WILL RETURN BUT TO THE SUNSET BEACH HOTEL WHERE WE HAVE STAYED MANY TIMES"
- Travel date: Sat 2nd of February 2008
"This is an unfinished hotel which does not correspond to either the first choice brochure or Thomas cook verbal description. Its food is "2" star and its plumbing horrendous. Either we had floods in the bathroom or water pressure was a trickle and the toilet would not flush. Staff are overly familar and also dishonest. One of the guests had their room safe riffled/opened and Â£480 was taken. Only the management have the key to it. My mother had her hand bag opened and the wallet checked for money an hour before we were due to leave the hotel. Be ware! Drink prices are absurd at twice the price of the bars in kollili. The entertainment manager was as high as a kite most of time and is dodgy character so it was just as well there were hardly any activities. The hotel is set outside kelloli so tourist taxis are an essential evil and are costly, at least by local standards. Use yellow local cabs where possible, but much better still, stay in the Kariaba where they are both unnecessary. The Jerma is a disaster area and should be avoided at all costs."
- Travel date: Tue 29th of January 2008
"My friend and I have just returned from the Jerma Beach hotel â we stayed there from the 18th January to the 25th January 2008.
We have travelled a fair bit and stayed in all kinds of hotels in a variety of countries but how anyone can say that this is âa top class hotel and deserves itâs 5 starsâ is beyond belief. I would say that this is a pretty average 3 star hotel.
I donât really know where to start!
Firstly Iâd like to say that itâs the general staff who make this hotel â without them this hotel would be nothing. The majority of the staff are so friendly and they canât do enough for you â (despite the fact that they are paid very little and have just had their wages cut by 20%!) â I canât comment on the management team as they just stalked about the hotel and didnât speak to the guests.
The hotel is down at the beach end of a fairly dark lane. The hotel lobby is amazing â when we walked it we thought âwowâ this is fantastic, they pride themselves on their ability to host a conference for 1000 people, massive wedding receptions etc etcâ.
However once you walk though the door to the hotel area it is a different kettle of fish.
Despite previous comments that this hotel will be finished by December 07 this is not the case â it is no where near finished at all and isnât likely to be until about 2009 - whilst we were there we didnât see anyone working on the ânewâ part at all.
There is no Health & Fitness, Internet CafÃ©, Pizzeria, Ice Cream Parlour, Hair & Beauty salon, Nightclub, shops etc.(all advertised on their website) In fact you have rooms, a restaurant, a pool, a childrenâs pool, and pool table and thatâs it! They appear to have opened this hotel without it being fit for purpose to raise the revenue to continue with the work.
There is a lawned area which no one uses, a rectangular swimming pool which is just a standard pool, there are plenty of loungers (well the hotel isnât full so there are bound to be!) with mattresses and towels. The toilets by the pool and beachside eating area have no hand wash basin which is very unhygienic and we even witnessed one guest washing her hands in the pool after using the facilities!
We booked a twin room and were given one with an enormous double bed so we had to change rooms, we didnât want to be on the ground floor but there are only some rooms on the first floor which are finished â however none of the upper floor rooms have a balcony or terrace (as advertised) so we ended up on the ground floor. Your terrace is two chairs and a table on a path in front of the bedroom window, there is no privacy and you canât sit quietly and read or have a drink as everyone walking past wants to stop and chat.
Four times in four days we had to have the plumbers out to sort out the toilet as the cistern wouldnât fill with water so we couldnât flush the loo, we also had them out 3 times to the shower as it was literally just a trickle! We found out just before we left that the lady in our room the week before had exactly the same problems and they hadnât bothered to sort the cause out and were continuing to use the room. These problems werenât due to a water shortage just simply the bad plumbing in the room. However having said that on our last night we had no water at all for just over an hour as the water tank was empty and they had to wait until it had been filled up! (have they paid their water bill one wonders!)
The few meals we did have there were expensive and not particularly good, the drinks were also expensive i.e. a bottle of Julbrew for 65 Dalasi â just up the road it was 25!
Breakfast is pretty standard but they donât mention the fact that if you want a fresh omelette or a fried egg etc you just have to ask and Chef will prepare it for you. This is a new Hotel so I wouldnât have expected to see bare wires shoved into an electricity socket but thatâs what was powering the juice machine!
We were also quite surprised that the single gentlemen staying in the hotel were allowed to bring in the local âladiesâ who were also seen at breakfast! (No comment!) This is certainly not the sort of thing I would expect from a 4/5* hotel!! It could also be a breach of security!
Talking of security please make sure you do put things away in the safe â although this may not always be the best thing â one of the guests had some money stolen from their locked safe â even though you set you own combination there is obviously a master key if you forget the code!!!
The pool entertainment wasnât as advertised (thank goodness) and Simon the compere was as high as a kite!! (no-one can be that hyper!), he got quite surly with guests who werenât taking part in his âGambia Quizâ (incidentally the same quiz is held each week so if youâre there for two weeks remember the answers!)
The location on the beach is fantastic and most lunchtimes we took a walk along the gorgeous beach to a local beach bar and had âfish and chipsâ but not as we know it â home made chips with fresh fish caught that morning and no batter or mushy peas in sight!
Itâs worth venturing out! The waves can be a bit high but the sea looks fantastic, you do get pestered a bit by the beach boys or âbumstersâ as they call them but the secret is to wade in the water ankle deep and they wonât follow!
The biggest problem we had was with the tourist taxi guys immediately outside the hotel â they just wouldnât take no for an answer they followed us every time we walked out of the hotel and just wouldnât go away. They annoyed us so much that we wouldnât use the taxis there, they are also expensive.
We were very fortunate to meet a couple called Sue & Terry who run the water sports on the beach just outside the hotel! They were brilliant they gave us lots of hints and tips for places to eat and they were really helpful as well as being a mine of information and good fun! So if you do wander past The Jerma Beach Hotel (hopefully you won't be staying there!), then pop along and say hi to them.
Sue introduced us to a cab driver called Dam and he is such a sweetie a real gentleman â he really looked after us very well, so if you want a clean, safe reliable taxi the please give Dam a call on [--] (remember to unlock your phone for international calls before you go!!).
Our favourite place to eat was a place called Fransicoâs â cheap and cheerful and off the beaten track â itâs frequented by lots of ex pats and has a nice chilled out atmosphere. You need to take a taxi there but it's only 150 Dalasi return (Â£3.60)
The Senegambia Strip is just like Blackpool â only worse! although there are some nice restaurants there â and you canât go along there without popping into The Kairaba Hotel to see what a real 4/5* hotel should be like â have lunch in the pool bar â great value and very nice.
If you fancy a nice morning out and a nice shady stroll then a trip to The Monkey Park is worth it itâs very relaxing and youâll get some great pictures of the Green Velvet Monkeys â although you are asked not to feed them! If you want to walk along the beach past the Kairaba hotel, past the Kololi Beach Club and turn left and itâs just there.
This is a third world country and the people here donât have a lot but they are cheerful and make do, we took lots of pens and pencils and gave them to the lady who looked after our room and asked her to give them to the school where her children go, we also left toiletries, toothpaste and t shirts behind â every little helps! Sue on the beach is doing a number of things to help support the Maternity Unit at the Banjul hospital so sheâd welcome any baby clothes etc if youâve got a spare few tucked away!
Be careful at the airport as well, you canât take water through with you but you can buy it once you are in departures, please make sure you buy it from the bar as we bought two bottles from the waiter walking around, he apologised that it wasnât cold but theyâd run out in the fridge. After he had gone we noticed that the seals on the bottles were broken and the bottles were full right to the top â needless to say we didnât drink it!
For a winter break you canât beat the Gambia and I wonât let my experiences at this hotel put me off visiting again â Have a great holiday â just make sure you pick a nice hotel!"
- Travel date: Sat 26th of January 2008
Warning - hotel not finished!
"This could be a really nice hotel but it does not have all the facilities advertised by First Choice. No shops, fitness room etc. Also it looks like they rushed to get things finished. They did seem to be having some teething problems but we did not directly experience these so I can't comment. However, be advised to read other reviews tof this hotel as one describes a horrible accident that happened at the hotel during our stay.
The hotel is in a perfect location - a 2 minute walk to the beach and a short walk to all the bars and restaurants on the Senegambia strip so best of both worlds. the pools was very nice and there were plenty of sunbeds, towels etc - but it was not full. They had entertainment during the day which no-one warned us about but you could escape this by going to the beach!
We had a villa which was comfortable but the bed was not long enough and drawers stuck etc - annoying little things in a brand new hotel. The 'terrace' was a small tiled area with enough room for a table and two chairs and not at all private.
The staff were friendly and helpful - but the hotel was very quiet and I am not sure thow they would cope if it were full. Sometimes staff members could be a bit too friendly - wanting to chat when I wanted a bit of peace and quiet - so sometimes I felt under pressure because I didn't want to appear rude.
Breakfast was good and although we only ate dinner there once that was very nice too. I'm sure that the hotel bar and restaurant would have been busier if prices had been more reasonable.
The weather was great and you could stay on the beach until about 18:30 - only the man in charge of the sun beds finished work at 17:30 and used to ask us for our sunbeds! To be fair the security chap sometimes offered to bring the beds in when we were ready - or my husband carried them in himself.
Overall this place could be wonderful but it is not there yet - which is a shame."
- Travel date: Sun 13th of January 2008
DEATH TRAP HOTELfrom hell! parents beware IT'S STILL BEING BUILT
"this hotel is still being built on the beach(very windy Atlantic Ocean) -fantastic location -but by no means near finished . first impressions are "An amazing hotel" but on our second day disaster struck THE HOTEL IS PREDOMINATLY BUILT OF GLASS- SINGLE GLAZED DANGEROUS PLATE GLASS-WORLDS MOST DANGEROUS CRACKED GLASS IS LEFT IN THE FRAME OF THE RESTURANT DOORS used by every guest and member of staff daily. doors and glass are cleaned daily with no visable stickers warning you it's there, and left ajar without any form of wedge. on the day in question AN EXTREMLY LARGE HEAVY ALUMINIUM FRAMED DOOR INTO MY 9 YEAR OLD SON (standing only 2 foot away from his mother)CAUSING VERY SERIOUS INJURIES REQUIRING AN EMERGENCY OPERATION TO SAVE HIS LIFE, he sustained 100's of stitches to his body- face hands arms shoulder - as one could amagine.
THE PLATE GLASS HAD ALSO SLICED THROUGH BOTH lower LEGS,VEINS AND TENDENS down to the bones leaving him unable to walk for at least the next year or so (OUR UK SURGEON IS UNABLE TO MAKE US ANY PROMISES,)
HE WAS AIR LIFTED BACK TO THE UK THE NEXT DAY TO RECEIVE FURTHER MEDICAL ATTENTION IN WALES, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL OF WALES-CASE PENDING, so besure to check that the hotel is still operational before you travel as this hotel is now in the hands of BRITISH CONSULATE" and the "GAMBIAN EMBASSY" however the hotel failed to notify any of them, PARENTS BE WARE OUR SON IS LUCKLY TO BE ALIVE - YOURS MAY NOT BE. THIS IS THE HOTEL'S 2ND SERIOUS ACCIDENT INVOLVING GLASS IN THE LAST 2 MONTHS"
- Travel date: Tue 8th of January 2008
Another day in paradise !
"We were at the Jerma Beach Hotel and Resort from 16 to 30th of November 2007. Very luxury entrance, friendly staff, good rooms, bathroom very good. The breakfast and the diner were excellent !
In our opinion the cook could be one of a topclass-hotel ! The kitchen is open all day, 24 hours, and top-class !
The beach was good, clean, more than enough sunbeds with towels, they even had 4 lifeguards at watch !
Staff, from gardener to cook, from bellboy to general manager were friendly, always a goodmorning etc.
We had a very good time; on time the boiler went down, was repaired within 30 minutes, so who complains ? Try that at home !
Every afternoon and evening Simon Barry and his companion Abdu did lots of entertaining stuff, from "balls in the basket" to a very good african ballet, lots of music at night.
The hotel is not quite ready, still some building ongoing, but we never experienced any real noise. Xmas 2007 it will be mostly rready the GM promissed us !
We wouild like to recommend this hotel for anyone who likes a good sun-holiday, with a luxury feeling about staying, eating and sleeping! We heard lots of people who stayed in other places complain about their stay from breakfast to beds, service to cleaning, but the only ones that were not complaining were people who stayed at Jerma !
The owner, manager and his staff can be very proud of their hotel ! It really deserves its 5 stars !!
Louise and Jan, Holland."
- Travel date: Sat 8th of December 2007
Good Hotel in the making
"I have just got back from a week at the Jerma Beach hotel. As it's only been open since Dec 06, there's not many reviews if any floating about online.
We arrived about half 7 in the evening and was greeted with some local juice and a power cut! This only lasted about a minute and is quite common across Gambia. We was taken to our rooms, and these were quite basic considering the 4/5 star it had been given. As a group of 4 girls in their early 20's we had 2 rooms. There were a couple of problems with the rooms.
Room 1 - had no safe or telephone
Room 2 - the bathroom door kept locking from the outside (luckily no one got locked inside!)
These problems were a bit of a pain, but were quickly corrected by staff.
The Staff - The reason I gave this hotel a 4 star instead of a 3. They were the friendliest people where nothing was too much trouble. Abdul & Modou were the two main pool attendants who would sort out your sun loungers, play you at ping pong and generally make sure you were ok. Simon Barry - the entertainment manager.... he is a bit of an odd ball, but has a good heart. Does get a bit annoying listening to him round the pool, but the hotel is still new and I think with time as it gets bigger and the more people who go there, it will get better. Does give you a giggle.
Like I just mentioned, this hotel is still small. Building work is going on to expand this (you don't see or hear this) I do think that when this hotel gets bigger, what it will lose is it's charm of being so personal. Everyone staff and holiday makers alike were like a little family. There was also NEVER any rush for a sunbed. We was going for breakfast at half 9 and there was hardly anyone about. Lovely.
One thing I do have to mention if you go to this hotel, is to ask at reception for a cab driver called Sailock (Say-Lock) He is a lovely guy and took us out on a fabulous day. He took us to a local market, and bartered for us for good prices. Took us to meet his family and their local school. He then took us to see the famous crocodile, Charlie. This was a wonderful experience and am so glad we had been told about him.
We was only B&B at this hotel. As the main town, Senegambia is not far at all. Walking distance. There are plenty of places to eat. I have to mention the Aquarius club, if you want a good dance! Best place to go.
All in all, I would recommend this hotel, area, country for a trip. We have a lovely relaxed happy time there :-)"
- Travel date: Sun 2nd of December 2007