5 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Be careful if you are vegetarian as Narayan is there
"We stayed at this hotel once again after two years.
This is one of our favorite properties in Zanzibar for the simple reason that itâs got a choice of eating establishments, has an amazing beach, nice pool area atmosphere.
Unfortunately this time the experience was not as good because of staff issues.
As people who travel approximately, 6 weeks in a year and visit at least 8-10 different hotels/camps every year, we were horrified by the F&B standards on offer at this property.
It seems the owners have decided to do away with good trained staff and resorted to hiring lower paid sub-standard staff.
Itâs appropriate to name the employees who went out of their way to bring the resort to disrepute as they worked really hard to undo what other staff were doing.
Narayan who took over from Shams is the F&B manager and had no clue as to the standards expected from a 5* property.
His chef Ernest was extremely lazy and was quite keen to use the word ânoâ to start any sentence.
Chef Sebastian on the other hand has been with the resort for many years and knew what service means and was very flexible and accommodating. Always had a huge smile.
The rest of the staff were good but Narayan and Ernest went out of their way to spoil what everyone else tried so hard to achieve.
Some more details about the incident that we are referring to:
At lunchtime we met Narayan and asked about the different dinner venues. He showed us all the options and we asked if there could be a change to the set menu. He said that was not possible until we pointed out that the options for the Asian restaurant were chicken starter and beef( main course) and we were vegetarians or my wife could eat sea food. He said it was difficult because hotel was full but they will try
We then decided to just try our luck with the main buffet as there would be more choices there and normal 5* hotels always cater for vegetarians somehow or the other as there are a lot of vegetarians these days.
We walked around the buffet and asked him if they could make us some vegetable stir fry as there was no main options for vegetarians. He said we should have booked one of the restaurants and since we did not, we can have the options from the buffet as they are and there are many vegetarian options to choose from.
This is when I took him inside so he could point out the vegetarian options since he thought there were many.
On offer were the following
Fried potatoes, spinach gratin, sauteed vegetables, plain rice and a couple of salads
He said we could just have the salads and then tomorrow he can sort out some vegetarian options.He was adamant and even suggested that since we had not had any issues with the bar or any other area, we can just let this be and the next day they will make some plan.
He was hard pressed to explain of any of these were main courses or rather just accompaniments and could not also explain if this was the standard instead blaming the chefs for not placing any vegetarian main course on the buffet.
I personally think as the F&B manager, it was his job to plan the menu and not the chefs.Letâs not forget that we had told him we were vegetarians at lunch time so he still had some time to look at the menu if he cared at all.
I then insisted on seeing a manager, to escalate the issue and that is when we were told the manager was on vacation.I find it difficult to believe a 5 star hotel would have no manager on duty.
Then chef Sebastian came in and made us some stir fry vegetables and it took approximately 5 minutes for him to resolve the issue.
The point to note is that Narayan could have even gotten some stir fried vegetables from the Asian restaurant or even the fusion restaurant but it seems Narayan and Ernest were just plain lazy. There is no point mincing words here.
This is exactly what Sebastian went and did.He walked to the Asian restaurant, got the chef to stir fry some vegetables and presented them to us in less then 5 minutes since all the vegetables were already chopped in the Asian restaurant.
Basically the most amazing hotel but be careful if you are vegetarian as if Narayan is still around, you will have a battle on your hands trying to get something to eat.
Basically the hotel rotting from the top down as they have someone who has no standards and does not expect any from his staff.
The buck stops with Narayan as the senior most F&B person in the hotel.
- Travel date: Thu 14th of April 2016
Stay away from this hotel, unless you enjoy poor service
"As an all-inclusive package, our expectation of this hotel was toned down. Just as well, since we had unacceptably bad service from the moment we entered our room. We were 2 adults and 2 children, and it took 3 telephone calls to housekeeping to get 2 extra towels for the children (the bathroom only had 2 towels). The bar fridge, which was supposed to be stocked and also included in the rate had a half-drunk beer in it and was dismally stocked. We had to request the beer to be removed 3 times. Once we drank the colddrinks, they were not replenished. The shampoo and conditioner were not restocked after use and the remote control for the DVD player was physically damaged and required 3 calls to maintenance to get it repaired. My son had an ear infection, which took 4 calls to the 'supposed' in-house doctor to get a consultation. The communal restaurant is what you would expect from an all inclusive package - a wide range of food (not poor quality) in a communal dining hall, and there are also 3 other all inclusive restaurants, which require a 2 day lead-time booking in order to get a table. There is 1 seafood restaurant, which is not inclusive - beautiful setting on the beach. The maitre'd messed up our booking and we were made to feel most unwelcome when we arrived for dinner. When complaining, the managerial staff are basically disinterested - we left at 21:00 on the second last night of our stay and went to the Serena Inn in Stonetown - a BEAUTIFUL hotel. Many Italian guests at Dream of Zanzibar but also South African, Belgian and British guests too. A lovely pool and OK beach, with many hawkers. Not a bad package if you are interested in all-inclusive packages, but don't expect any level of acceptable four or five star service. They take the Zanazibar motto of Hakuna-Matata (don't worry) literally, and unfortunately the guest suffers as a result."
- Travel date: Sun 17th of January 2010
"This is a holiday package (all-inclusive) hotel largely for Italians as they make up over 90% of the visitors there (at least over the Xmas / New Year break when we were there). And you should consider it as such when you decide whether to go there or not.
I am not a type of person who would downgrade a hotel to a 'poor' status just because I had some problem to connect to wi-fi or wasn't served my favourite cocktail promptly at 3am. But I had to give this hotel the 'poor' mark because there are very objective reasons for that.
First, the service is extremely poor. The staff is poorly trained, hardly understands or speaks English and even managers can't handle matters efficiently. Couple examples... I had to call the reception (the only internal phone number available there) over 10 times before they brought our laundry and every time they kept saying "it's coming..." And even when it came, it turned out that they missed 6 out of 18 of our pieces of clothes even though the invoice had all 18 in there. Explaining it to them was very difficult. Another example: in our check-out invoice they charged us twice for some services (restaurant, bar,...) and we had to go through the paperwork together with them step-by-step as otherwise it could have taken ages. One more: make sure that you give very simple instructions to waiters in restaurants as otherwise you may see your order never materialise or be a wrong one. Again, the level of English is unacceptably basic.
Restaurants: there are 5 in the hotel. We have been to all of them and here is my verdict:
* Main restaurant (that's where all-inclusive breakfast, lunch and dinners are served as buffet): overall not too bad but I would never call it high-quality or delicious.
* African restaurant Boma: quite poor, very limited choice of food.
* Chopsticks -- Asian: not too bad but they only offer a set menu which means that you wouldn't go there twice in few days.
* Italian: not too bad, pizzas were fine but the grill fish dreadful. Plus their wine list (and not just in this restaurant but in the entire hotel) is abysmal as it features predominantly South African wines and not the best ones either.
* Blue vanilla: this is outside of the all-inclusive package and meant to offer premium food (largely seafood). We were there on the New Year eve and they were offering a New Year set menu consisting of 7-8 courses. They charged 90 euro for that and for that kund of price we expected something special (you can get a set menu for 90 euro in a 3-star Michelin restaurant in London!) There was nothing special there, although the quality was bearable. It certainly did not cost 90 euro and the service again was fairly poor.
Overall, as far as the restaurants are concerned, the concept of quality food is definitely not there, which is not surprising given that it's an all-inclusive resort. On one pccasion we were served red wine (costing 50 euro by the way!) whose temperature was well over 40C. We refused to pay for it and the manager could not explain where the bottle came from as we were wondering where they store their wine.
Another appalling experience were continuous power cuts in our room/building and the entire hotel. We had up to 10 power cuts per day (!!!) lasting from couple seconds to half an hour. And the most puzzling thing is that the management didn't do anything about it apart from switching the power back on when it got cut. I understand that there are problems with electricity supply in Zanzibar but the hotel management should know about that better and have necessary back-up systems to prevent the blackouts. I have never had anything resembling in any other hotel. And I do travel a lot!
Another major disappointment is the sea and the beach. The tides in that area are very strong and during large part of day the sea retreated by over 1 km from the beach leaving the barren area full of sea urchins. When the water came back, it would be muddy and too warm for a comfortable swim. We had to take a boat and go deep into the sea for a relaxing swim. But I can't blame the hotel for the tides. What I can blame them for is for taking absolutely no care of the cleanliness of their beach. It was full of rubbish including piles of sea grass, plastic bags, papers, etc. For a hotel aiming at the status of luxury resort, this is totally unacceptable.
By the way, don't buy into an idea of having a junior suite with jacuzzi. The jaccuzi simply sits in the middle of the room (!!) and is too small and primitive for any decent jacuzzi experience. We laughed 10 minutes when we first saw it. It's much more functional to have a sofa instead of a jacuzzi. By the way, I stayed in room 1701.
Overall, the hotel has left very unpleasant aftertaste and spoilt our impression of entire Zanzibar. The hotel is new (only opened last August) but if they want to attract people from wider geographies, they need to improve much and fast. As for the service and beach you get they charge way too much. I DO NOT recommend going to that hotel."
- Travel date: Wed 6th of January 2010
I Dreamt of Zanzibar, and it was good!
"We took a bit of a punt when booking this hotel. It wasn't yet opened, not many pictures were available and we were reliant on a PDF brochure with computer generated images and the fact that Plan Hotel run a number of other decent looking hotels, it's brand new so should be well fitted out and supposedly a 5 star resort.
In terms of location the hotel is on the east coast of the island and sits on the beachfront amoungst a number of other similar style hotels. None of which particularly intrude on Dreams. It's definitely a large hotel not to be confused with the smaller cottage styles also available on Zanzibar. For us this hotel was selected to be a hassle free place to relax after our Safari, and it was just that.
We were greeted upon our arrival with the standard cool towl and cold drink and checked in sat on a sofa. We were shown to our room; a junior suite with a great sea view. It was in a block which was atop of the hill and overlooked the main complex and beach. Not all the junior suite blocks shared this location so we considered ourselves lucky.
The room was spacious, immaculately clean and well furnished. As you'd expect of a new 5 star hotel to be fair. Fixtures and fittings were all of a high standard and the mini bar was stocked with cold beers (important note: of the two premium beers the hotel include in it's package, Kilamanjaro and Serengeti, both are served in 500ml bottles - great - but Kilamanjaro is definitely the nicer of the two, a quick word with the maid and she stocked our fridge accordingly!) and soft drinks.
Upon venturing out the immaculate theme is continued. All of the hotel is kept very clean from the areas around the pool to the restaurants. There are a lot of people working hard to keep it that way as well. The pool area is lovely. There's an abundance of sunbeds (all very comfy) and a nice large pool. What I particurlalry liked was that the pool and sea are very close together so it's easy to switch from one area to the other,
Whilst I say there's an abundance of sun beds I think at this stage it's important to note that the hotel was only about 33% full (I was told). If closer to 100% it could feel a little crowded. The pool bar serves snacks and drinks but service was very slow (driven largely by the Italian guests and their love for espresso) even with the hotel so empty. In busier times hopefully they'll have a back up to serve soft drinks and beer much quicker!
On the food front there's a good choice of restaurants, they're not open every night but there's no constraints on how many times you can eat there. There's only one restaurant you have to pay for and a quick glance at the prices sent us back to the main restaurant pretty quickly. Food in the main restaurant varied a lot. On the first night I found myself complaining that all of the food was cold, stagnant or not properly cooked. There was also a lack of veggie choices for my new wife. As with many things, it's how complaints are handled which leave the lasting impression. I was pleased therefore with the steak I was cooked after I complained. I guess it was just bad luck that the missus bit into a rotten tomato at breakfast the next day. From that point on I didn't eat a meal which wasn't watched over by the catering manager and to be fair the standard of food did improve. They thanked us for our feedback saying it would help them as a new hotel, but reference my earlier point about Plan Hotel being a big chain basic mistakes like this shouldn't happen.
On the plus side with regards to food, the BBQ night was excellent and the Zanzibar themed restaurant served some great local food.
Drinks were a mixed bag. Cocktails not up to much unless you like Gin but the wines were probably the best I've had in an inclusive resort and a poured freely over dinner like in a proper restaurant. This often led to too much being consumed, but I take that as a good thing on holiday. Serving premium beer in 500ml bottles also counts as a big plus for me.
Most of the staff were very friendly and chatty, but not to the point where you thought they were constantly expecting a tip. One blot on the landscape here when we checked out and they realised we weren't being collected until 2pm was when they attempted to charge us for staying in the hotel until that time. I replied with a firm no and that was the end of it, but again a very disappointing end when you've paid so much to stay there in the first place. Needless to say we went back to bar a sunk a few Kilamanjaro's before lunch in the Chinese restaurant to get our own back.
Overall we enjoyed our stay, we didn't see much of the island (never planned to) so I'd reflect by saying it could have been a hotel on a gorgeous beach anywhere really. From what I saw of Zanzibar I don't think I'll rush back, there are many more beautiful places to see."
- Travel date: Wed 30th of December 2009
Unique African Island Experience
"I went to Zanzibar for a week during the end Nov / beginning Dec with my husband and stayed at the Dream of Zanzibar resort. The resort is beautiful and modern with a destinct Arabian feel to it. The resort is big with lots of areas to "chill out" in as well as a selection of 4 restaurants to choose from on the all inclusive option. There is also a seafood restaurant which you have to pay to go to, but to be honest, there is so much seafood provided that you do not even need to go there unless you staying for a longer period of time and are looking for something different to eat. One of the nights you are there they have a seafood barbeque which is excellent - you can eat as much as you want of crayfish, crab, lobster, swordfish etc...very good.
The restaurants are mostly good, but it can be a hit and miss depending on the night at the restaurant. The African Boma restaurant was our favourite and featured dishes from the area. You will really enjoy it here, if you like curries and other spicy foods. You can also get an assortment of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails on the all inclusive option all day long, along with ice creams etc which is really nice.
The beach is wide and with lots of beach stretches to lie on. At low tide you can walk for kilometers into the sea and the water is lovely, clear and hot. The water is actually sometimes too hot ! :) I would suggest however bringing some water shoes as there are some sea urchins around as well as some coral in some areas - especially if you thinking on going out on some sea excursions. The only downside, if you can say that, is the beach boys on the beach tend to wait for you to make your move to the sea and then surround you to sell you their goods. This can get a bit annoying and does take a bit of the relaxation out as you do not really feel like walking on the beach as often because of this.
The pool area and the pool is wonderful to relax at and there are always stretchers available as well as other chill out areas to relax in if you like. The sea club also organises activities like aqua gym and volleyball for the more active :)
At night there is usually a show (african dancing, acrobatics, bands playing etc...) which are usually pretty good. There are also a number of excursions that you can take from the resort if you would like to see more of Zanzibar. I would recommend the Safari Blue Excursion - although it is a full day tour you get to see and do a lot and the snorkelling is pretty good as well. You also get to ride on a dhow and a seafood lunch is also provided which is great.
I would defnitely suggest going to the spa. The massages are excellent ! Probably one of the best I have ever had and are defnitely worth the money. You also get to use the facilities for free after you have had a treatment at the spa which can also be nice.
I wouldn't suggest going to Zanzibar if you suffer from the heat as it is exceptionally hot and humid all the time and all the restaurants are open and only one is airconed so it can get quite hot at times. At night it tends to cool down with a slight wind, but i guess this would differ according to when you decided to visit Zanzibar.
We stayed in a garden villa and it was very nice with aircon and arabian style bathroom. The ladies spray the rooms every night for mosquitos which helps but I would still suggest bringing tabard etc...as there are defnitely alway some mozzies around - especially in the hotel bathrooms etc.
It was all in all a interesting and very african styled island holiday. Defnitely worth a visit. Although I would recommend the hotel, I still think i would try to find a hotel with a private beach if I went to Zanzibar again and possibly a hotel with some airconditioned restaurants as it does get extremely hot."
- Travel date: Mon 7th of December 2009