13 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Paradise Beach Hotel
"Two double rooms were used in our stay over 4 nights. Staff greeted us warmly when we arrived, however there was no welcome drink. Our rooms were tidy, clean and spacious. The air conditioners worked very well. The food offered was good and there was a good range on offer. The fish dishes were consistently complimented. Staff were very attentive in the dining room and bar staff were friendly as compared to other hotels that we have stayed in in Diani. Rooms were cleaned very late in the day (5pm) so could not enjoy an afternoon nap. During one instance, dirty towels were taken but not replaced. Resorting to hand towels became necessary. Three calls to reception were made, and after several hours they were finally brought to the room. Altogether a good stay, but attention to rooms and room service needs to improve.
- Travel date: Sun 4th of January 2015
My friends and I read some poor reviews...
"My friends and I read some poor reviews on this hotel and Safari holiday but I would like to say that we had a fantastic holiday. We found the staff very friendly and helpful both in the hotel and on the Big 5 Safari.
The lodges were really comfortable and restaurant and food was also excellent. The hotel had everything we needed and the buffet had a good choice of food. We had a brilliant holiday and we were well looked after.
We knew we had to pay extra for the sunbeds but comparing the costs to what we are normally charged in Europe one could say it was not an expensive extra. We had to pay extra to see some of the evening shows but even this was worth the extra costs."
- Travel date: Wed 23rd of January 2008
My wife and I had been considering a Saf...
"My wife and I had been considering a Safari holiday for a couple of years and finally plucked up the courage this year.
We only booked it ten days before departure and really didn't know what to expect. When we arrived at our hotel we were pleasantly surprised.
The room was clean and comfortable. The grounds were nicely laid out and spacious and when we went for our first meal we found a very good choice of menu and the food was very well cooked.
We booked a three day Safari and thoroughly enjoyed it. We saw all the animals that we expected to see and Mambo; our guide went out of his way to explain things about the different species.
The Lodge that we stayed in was basic but clean and comfortable and we were treated to very good food including a five course dinner. In all we were very well pleased and we found the staff at Paradise beach to be very friendly and helpful. They couldn't do enough for us. We would definitely recommend Africa Safari Club to anyone who is thinking of doing this kind of holiday. Well done."
- Travel date: Sun 14th of October 2007
We liked it a lot!
"There are a few things that in fact could be better. But for the money you pay you get a very nice holiday (we paid 1800 Euro for two weeks for two persons). The flight was good; even the food in the plane. But there was a four hours wait in Frankfurt on our way to Kenya and nobody got that information beforehand.
Our room was very clean and we didn't mind that there was a small gap between the beds; this 1 cm shouldn't be a problem for most of the normal people.
We never had stomach problems. In general the food in the hotel is ok; but after a few days the menu is repeating. The deserts are horrible. The fruits are not ripe, the creams don't taste at all, the cakes are more than dry. But if you ask the waiters they will bring you some good fruits from the kitchen. The prices in the hotel for drinks are fair (e.g. 90 cents for a coke).
We never tried one of the Ã la carte restaurants that belong to the hotel. Instead we went to eat in the hotel next to ASC. The Mombasa Serena is a very nice 5star Hotel in the arabic style. Every Friday they have buffet dinner (for about 13 Euro). It was fantastic; high quality food and perfect service. I can really recommend to go there for one or two dinner. BTW: they also have good live bands in the evening.
In general the staff is very friendly. But if you want them to repair something you have to ask always three times. Pole pole (slowly, slowly).
Before you book an excursion with the hotel make sure that check if you can go there by yourself instead. It costs only 40 cents to go to Mombasa or the Haller park by minibus (main road). The hotel takes much more and it's much more fun to go on your own (but only with a LonelyPlanet).
The first days you have to get used to the beach boys and the way they try to get into business with you. If you want to buy cheap souveniers you better buy them outside the hotel (Shanzu village). There you don't have to bargain for one hour in order to get a normal price. BTW: the beach is fantastic.
Conclusion: A perfect holiday for a fair price. You can expect a good European 3star hotel; but not more. If you want more you better go to the Mombasa Serena hotel just next door."
- Travel date: Fri 8th of September 2006
"My boyfriend and I went on a 2-week trip to Kenya.
On arrival at the airport, you are greeted in a haphazard way and you are separated from your luggage, which is left to chance (the porters will ask for rather incredible sums to ensure their safekeeping) as you are led to a rickety old safari club bus. On the half-hour journey through Mombasa and into Shanzu, you are starting to regret booking the holiday, but to your surprise, you enter the fortress-like resort of Shanzu-Paradise. Superficially and at first glance, the grounds look well-kept and stunning, and you will sigh with relief. However, as you are led to your room, you will note two single beds in the middle of the room - this will no doubt horrify any travelling couples, and there is no chance of upgrading - there are no double beds in the entire hotel! The rooms are dirty, and would not receive a star rating in Europe (the grounds, however, are of a higher standard).
This is an all-inclusive holiday; the breakfast is good, but the other meals are repetitive and bland. They will also cause you stomach upsets although I expect this to be standard in 3rd world countries. There are no restaurants of a high quality around either, which means that this is not a place for food gourmets.
Watch out for safety standard of the safaris - the guides may be well-intentioned, but when the roof-latch comes crashing down on your head, an apology really is insufficient. Seatbelts never work and most car seats are broken which can make a 4 hour safari an unpleasant experience.
The staff and management at the lodges were very professional, helpful and concerned about the experience of their holidaymakers.
African Safari Club and Shanzu-Paradise management, on the other hand, were unpleasant and incompetent. Your concerns are ignored and you are sent on wild goose chases when you want a problem remedied. Quality of service is a big problem; even if you are a keen tipper, it's difficult to find someone worthy of a tip and to get rid of your Kenyan shillings (disheartening for Americans)
Also watch out for hidden charges (eg: loss of safe key = 100 euros).
On the whole, it was a cheap holiday (Â£2,000 for two people for two weeks, including a 5 day safari and hotel expenses) but I would not recommend it."
- Travel date: Tue 5th of September 2006
"Well now....this was to be a special holiday and there were some special bits.
Of the complexes owned by African Safari Club this was the best. It was quiet, there was loads of room at the pools, the staff were lovely, the views were lovely, the food adequate, the monkeys were fun to watch, the foyer was clean, the mosies were absent!
Unfortunately the problems were with African Safari Clubs policies and procedures!
Our room leaked in the inside wall and rather than give us a new room we were mopped up or given towels to use! We were warned about washing in salt water and about not drinking the water consequently ASC did very well with the bottled water franchise they have!
All expenditures are booked to your room in Euros. There is always a massive queue to pay at or use the bank facilities there so allow loads of time.
Booking excursions there is probably no different to booking some of them in England. We did snorkelling which was cancelled, deep sea fishing and caught nothing and the Best of Kenya, a 7 day safari. The vehicles used are well past their best: no speedometers, no suspension, weldings coming out of every part of the vehicle, no working seatbelts. They are all the same. I would not take young children at all! The drivers and guides however were fantastic and so knowledgable. We stayed at 3 lodges: Sagala- basic but clean, Leopard and Buffalo lodge. The latter had problems with water pressure so for 2 days we were unable to wash properly. This was also the time that all us fellow travellers developed tummy problems! Again I would say that the local staff were great. They earn so little [Â£180 pa average wage] so tipping is the means to their living. We also booked a 3 day ranger course which was cancelled on the day before it was due due to poor take up. What a major disappointment and likewise a balloon ride in the Masai Mara. This was cancelled the same morning because of the weather and there was no chance to redo it! We were totally gutted and ASC were hardly sympathetic. It's not as if you can pop over to do them again!
We were warned thet this is a 3rd world country but it is doing its best to to match European standards. Be patient with the people there they are so lovely and have a fantastic sense of humour. The country is amazing and so is the wild life. The problem lies with the European companies selling the holidays to European standards. Enjoy the experience!"
- Travel date: Fri 25th of August 2006
african safari club brilliant holiday dont worry bout prevoius bad reviews
"we were so worried bout afc after reading reviews on this site but what a fab hol cant believe how people can complain esp when you consider how third world kenya is!!!!hotel ,staff ,rooms ,food,air-con safari etc etc fabulous our dream holiday!!!
we stayed with our two children 11 and 13 at shanzu_ paradise entertainment excellent go see acrobats at show palace! taxi drivers via hotel can provide cheaper trips than afc with more local info but the afc trips are pretty good and safe !
beautiful beach but watch for the beach boys you do get harrassed but they can either be told politely but firmly no thanks or you barter with them for good price but do check out prices before hand for anything from ornaments to safaris!
we were worried bout going out of the hotel to shanzu village 10min walk but it is fine and safe in daylight and the supermarkets are much cheaper than hotel for anything drinks to local merchandise cigarettes are 1000 schillings bout Â£9,50 for 200 !! take plenty small notes !
safari was amazing we stayed at mara buffalo ,hippos a must to see! we have had kenya tummy so do take plenty dairrh tabs but its kinda to b expected food is lovely but very rich on safari and at hotel!! if u have katanshi as your driver say hello from the jackson liverpool family for us and if you eat at the shanzu restaurant say hello to mary and ebby!! if you are going on safari in aug you may be lucky to see widerbeest migration we saw hundreds and our driver said there will be thousands amzing to see what a pity we missed it!
warning tho we got charged 150 excess baggage at mombasa on departure dont overpack allow plenty of space and weight for all those typical souveniers!!! and they wegh your hand luggage too!! put locks on your cases esp as you have tp pack video cameras and mobiles into hold luggage!!
overal lwe thoroughly enjoyed our dream hol and the people that complain are not the kind of people you want to associate with anyway typical moaners looking for compensation!!
we would def go back to shanzu paradise and we are the tourists that like to go to diff place every year byt we plan to return to shanzu in next few years!definetly!!! p. sthe monkeys are great
fun to watch but keep your doors shut they will come into your rooms and pinch anything esp crisps!"
- Travel date: Sat 12th of August 2006
"Facilities:The Paradise Beach was in the brochure as part of a 4 hotel complex, but following an extensive fire in 2003, the site was still undergoing refurbishment. Apparently the Paradise Beach & Shanzu Beach were completed during the summer of 2004, but the Palm Beach was closed, and parts of the Coral Beach were not in use either during our stay. This meant that, although all 6 pools were still available, there were only 3 restaurants (plus 1 a la carte) and 4 bars available, which still gave us plenty of choice.
Our favourite daytime bar was the swim up pool bar in the Paradise pool (it had an access bridge from the sun terrace as well), although most evenings were spent in the main bar of the Paradise Beach, reached down a flight of steps, and overlooking the private beach - it was lovely & cool at any time, but especially at night.
The beach is accessed either through the main bar, or by another flight of steps, which lead you onto the hotelâs private beach, but you have to go onto the public beach to enter the sea; at this point you will encounter the âbeach boysâ whose sales tactics can be overwhelming at first. We found it best to be firm almost to the point of rudeness, although once we had actually bought something we were more or less left alone.
There is a PADI dive school attached to the hotel for any divers or would be divers out there â the coral reef is about a mile offshore, and is stunning. There are also glass bottomed boats available from the beach (Ksh600), which will take you almost to the reef but which will also allow you to snorkel inside the reef, and to walk about on the sandbar about 800 yards offshore (knee deep water at this point â my daughter though that was sooooo cool!). This is a good alternative if you donât want to dive.
Meals:We always had breakfast in the Paradise Restaurant, next to the main bar (down those steps); it was a buffet affair, with (English) sausages, bacon, pancakes, tomatoes, eggs cooked to order, bread, jam, cold meats & cheese. Extensive but samey after a while.
For lunch, we divided our time between the Paradise restaurant, with its 2 meats, 1 fish, 3 veg, rice & pasta, and the Shanzu restaurant, which had a couple of big BBQs on which they did a couple of selections from beef, chicken, fish, burgers, sausages (German), as well as having other meat, veg, salad & pasta choices available
Mealtime drinks in both restaurants were waiter service.
We also visited the a la carte restaurant (Le Gourmet) on 3 occasions, never spending more than â¬70, including wine. The food there was very good, presented in the French manner with some excellent sauces.
Out & about:There are a number of excursions on offer apart from the safaris (see below) of which we only did a few, but I have a full list if anyoneâs interested.
We did the Mombasa tour (half day) which was a drive around the city, visiting a couple of souvenir outlets (both very good), an Indian temple and the central fruit market, ending up at Fort Jesus, the fortress prison above the harbour, now a museum. Personally, I could have done with more time at the fort & less elsewhere, but thatâs just my opinion.
The Bamburi Nature Trail trip, (half day), is excellent, visiting Haller Park, a reclaimed quarry, now an ecological masterpiece, and one of Kenyaâs major success stories. Here you can see giant tortoises, hippos, buffalo, and hand feed the giraffes, as well as all the flora and birds to be seen here.
The African Night was enjoyable, but a bit pricey at â¬25. For that, you get a cruise up Mtwapa creek to see the sunset, a BBQ dinner, and a lot of tribal dancing before being bussed back to your hotel.
We also took a taxi to the Crocodile Farm (10,000 crocs!) which was good fun, and the attached botanical gardens are worth a visit if youâre into plants.
Shanzu village itself is worth a visit, but be prepared to be the centre of attention, and be careful of any loose jewellery, handbags, etc. â not that I heard of any problems, but even the locals will tell you to be careful.
Safaris:As you would expect, African Safari Club offer loads of different safaris of various durations to several parks. We had pre-booked our before we went, and although we personally experienced a problem, I would still advise it, as a number of people were disappointed in resort as all safaris on our second week were booked, and they missed out.
We were booked on the Kilimanjaro Camp Safari, a 2 nighter visiting 3 parks; an error in paperwork saw us sent on the wrong safari, which didnât become evident until too late. That said, we had a great time of our safari, driving from Mombasa (5:30 am start) up to Tsavo West national Park, stopping off to visit a Masai village (yes, I know itâs all staged for tourists, but it was still very interesting, and worth the Ksh500 each, 200 for under 12s). As we drove through Tsavo West, we saw large amounts of animals, including lions, giraffes, several different species of antelope, hippos, and birds beyond count, and arriving at Leopard Lodge in the Kimana Game Sanctuary about 5 pm. At this point we had a few problems, because we werenât supposed to be there, but the manager was able to sort something out for us, and we settled into our 3 bed chalet before our 5 course dinner.
Up again at 5 next morning for a dawn game drive during which we saw our first zebras and elephants â breathtaking! Another 2 game drives that day saw or elephant tally increase dramatically, including a 2 day old calf, as well as countless zebra, wildebeest and antelopes, as well as more giraffes and hippos, and some crocodiles, hyenas and warthogs as well as loads of beautiful birds.
Back at camp, the manager had been busy, and we were given the alternatives of flying back to Mombasa that evening & sorting things out there, or staying another day & repeating the drives we had already done, then driving back to Mombasa â we chose to fly back, as we had already seen more animals than we expected, and had a wonderful time, and didnât really want to drive back again (12 hours, remember).
On our return to Shanzu, the resort manager came up with an offer of compensation, which we were happy to accept, especially since we had had such a wonderful safari.
Prices:African Safari Club operate a cashless system, whereby each guest has an account card which is used to charge all drinks, purchases etc., to the customerâs account, which has a credit limit of â¬300. You can pay this in any currency, or by credit card. All prices within the hotel are in Euros, and I will quote them here for ease of reference.
Beer was â¬1.70 a pint for Tusker (a 4.2% abv lager), or â¬1.80 for Pilsner Ice (a 5% abv pilsner); spirits varied, obviously, with vodka being the cheapest at â¬1.20, blended whisky around â¬2,50, single malt & brandy â¬5, although the Kenyan brandy is very nice, and half the price. All spirits are served in 30ml measures; Coke, Sprite, etc., is â¬0.90, as is bottled water; Coke Light (when available) is â¬1. Coffee & tea are free at breakfast, but â¬2 any other time.
The minimart/cafeteria in the reception area serves drinks and snacks, although ice lollies seem dear at â¬2.50 for a Magnum, for example.
There are a couple of other ASC run souvenir outlets in reception, as well as a non ASC jeweller (excellent quality, if pricey) for that special something.
Plus points:The view from our room, the view from the main bar, the vervet monkeys and red-headed weaver birds which are all over the hotel grounds, the friendly & welcoming staff, the efficient air conditioning, and visiting ordinary Kenyans as their guests.
Minus points:The âbeach boysâ, the lack of organisation around excursions/paperwork generally, the roads.
In short:This was the best family holiday we have ever had, to a wonderful place with wonderful people. Any problems we experienced were more than made up for by the holiday as a whole â I have never had an experience like it, and Iâm already planning a return visit."
- Travel date: Fri 4th of August 2006
Shanzu-Paradise Hotel, Kenya
"How do I start! Spent a couple of nights cruising on the msroyalstar before spending a glorious time at the Paradise-Shanzu Hotel. The beach, location and food were simply wonderful. The staff always ensured our stay was comfortable and they constantly went out of their way to please."
- Travel date: Sun 23rd of July 2006
Paradise-Shanzu is Excellent!
"The grounds are excellent and the white beach is stunning. The food is excellent with a wide choice available at all meal times. After reading previous reports I was dubiousl. As soon as I arrived I realised that these were completely unfounded. Amazing value for money. I will be going back."
- Travel date: Sun 23rd of July 2006
It's not all what it's made out to be!
"I have recently returned from an all inclusive trip to Mombasa Kenya booked with Africa Safari Club.
Firstly I thought the plane journey was of an adequate standard being a chartered flight. The air hostesses were polite and the food was average, however you do have to pay for your alcohol.
When arriving at Moi International airport you have to queue up to pay your visa charge (Â£35). This took aroud 45mins and the Kenyans weren't to bothered that we all had just been on a 9 hour flight and wanted to get out and get to our hotel, they moved at their own pace. Once out of the airport be prepared to tip any and everybody, even for things such as asking directions ( but only a few kenyaina shiilings).
We had a 40 minute drive to our hotel. The minibus was sub-standard and could of done with air-con.
Once at the hotel my partner and I were very disappointed with the room. No mod cons, no fridge, TV, telephone. Very dated decor and salt water shower. However the hotel grounds were really nice and the swimming pools were nice and never overcrowded.
We ate out nearly every day because the hotel food was awful and the and dinning area seemened to lack hygine. There were lots of cats walking about. At breakfast time you were swamped by wasps and flies and I don't think any of the waiters have heard of deodrant. Also the food never tasted fresh. Lunch always seemed to yesterdays dinner and dinner always seemed to be have additions of lunch's leftovers.
The African Safari Club complexes are designed so that you stay on the complex and spend all your money with them. The hotel staff are very nice and polite (being that they all said they have not been paid for the past two months).
Very nice safari - booked locally (not with ASC). Mombasa people very nice, chilled and approachavble.
Would go back to Kenya agin (but no with ASC). Oh yer, if you're black or Asian be prepared to have your passport doubled checked by the airport supervisor on departure - reason given - policy?"
- Travel date: Wed 14th of June 2006
Never again African Safari Club
"Kenya was fantastic, and this holiday rates as one of our best. However, it had the opportunity to be a disaster thanks to African Safari Club!
The transfer bus from the airport was dilapidated, our luggage arrived 2 hours after we did (we took swimwear in our hand luggage). The room seemed fine on the surface, old and tired but servicable. Unfortunatley, not all of the lights worked, there was gaps between the aircon (which sounded like a taxi, not good when trying to sleep) and the wall which allowed masses of mossies in, no nets are provided! The pillow was constructed of broken up foam in a bag, the towels did indeed have holes in but were always clean. The food on the buffet was the culprit for some of the worst stomache upsets I've ever come across. As soon as we stopped eating at the hotel we became much better, most people we met had the same complaint and the local restaurants were full of Shanzu-Paradise guests. At the welcome meeting you are advised not to leave the hotel because it is 'dangerous'. We met lovely people and saved a fortune on the extortionate hotel prices! (however, sometimes the hawkers can be a bit much). The sunbeds that you pay Â£1.50 per day for are also old, broken and in need of repair. The only thing that this hotel has going for it are it's staff, who are friendly, helpful and welocming and who are treated badly by the management and ASC. We saw no evidence of any support that ASC give the local community despite what they claim on their website and the local people are scathing of ASC. We got this trip as a last minute deal so saw it as a cheap way to see Kenya, If we had paid brochure prices we would have demanded to be moved. Our safari with dreamsafaris was excellent and we stayed at the Serena lodges which were impeccable (take note ASC). Our diving instruction with Blue Marine Diving was also great. As I've said, we had a fantastic time and we can not wait to return to Kenya, but not with ASC, even if they offered us for free! I don't know what happens to the money you pay because it does not get re-invested into the hotels or the staff or the local community."
- Travel date: Mon 12th of June 2006