10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Stunning Stunning Stunning!!!!!!!!
"Wow!!! I am so proud to say that I come from Africa!! I have been to alot of Islands all over the world and this was one of the best beaches I have ever seen. All I can say about the people that write bad reviews is that they must be spoiled brats!!.. Le Gemma was stunning the staff were amazing and the Villas were lovely. The food was good and the weather lovely. Our butler Domanick was so sweet he could not do enough for us. The water was fantastic! I have never seen such blue water not even in the Maldives.
Giavanna - South AfricA"
- Travel date: Tue 11th of September 2007
Great Hotel, Beautiful Beach, Loved it!
"Having read a previous review it is interesting how two peopleâs experiences and views can differ so much. We visited this hotel in the final week of our 3 week African wedding/honeymoon trip so we arrived at the hotel with good knowledge of what to expect from experiences in Kenya and Tanzania main land.
Arrival at the hotel can feel a little bit too formal compared to others, but check in was swift (about 2 minutes) and we were soon in our room. The first impression of the hotel is good. The rooms are spotless, well decorated and the views over the beach from the patio are great. The hotel had been advised by our travel company that we were on honeymoon. They left flowers all over the room (even in the toilet), prepared fruit in a bowl, had bubbly waiting on ice, and even left a small chocolate cake. There was even a congratulation certificate on the bed with yet more flowers. All of these small things were certainly appreciated by my wife and added to the overall first impression.
The beach is immaculate. I have visited, Fiji, Oz, the Cook Islands, Thailand, Malaysia and many other beautiful places. The beach here easily fits in my top ten. The seating/sun lounge area is kept spotless. The water is calm and clear. Next to the beach is the pool area. Again this is very clean. You can get drinks all day from the bar here and take them to the beach or poolside. We spent hours relaxing in comfort every day until the sunset across the sea. The hotel is on the north west of the island and benefits from sunsets every night.
Nearly all of the hotels that we have visited in Africa are buffet style for meals. Our experience of this service was great. The food changes every day. The choice is huge. There is a massive salad counter, a counter preparing freshly cooked, steaks, fish, vegetarian dishes etc, a counter for soup and pasta (which was really tasty â the hotel is run by Italians after all), a counter with breads, a counter with more traditional local dishes and many other hot food choices, and further counters for fruit and deserts. It is a large restaurant, but the service we received was good. We always sat towards the open side of the restaurant which had views out to sea. I appreciate not all seats have this view but at night this matters little. If you do not want buffet style food, I would not recommend going half board or all inclusive in Kenya or Tanzania as this is very common.
OK, compared to European standards it may not be 5 stars. Remember this is Africa. Your journey from the airport to the hotel should sufficiently demonstrate the difference between the two continents.
Yes take some US Dollars with you or get TSH from the bank in Stone Town. Yes you can pay your bill off on a card. Try getting cash back on a credit card in the UK! In Tanzania the banking system does not allow hotels to advance cash on credit cards as in the UK. You can use US dollars or TSH in every shop, restaurant etc.
Compared to the other hotels we stayed at, this place is certainly a cut above in standards. However, it is slightly more formal. We have found that the staff in other hotels are more relaxed, and âchattyâ. At Gemma their English was in general good. Considering they have to know Italian as well, we accepted that we had to repeat ourselves sometimes. Use some Swahili with the staff. It is easy to learn and is appreciated. âHakuna matataâ is a good start and should be kept in mind wherever you go in Tanzania or Kenya. The locals conduct life âpole-poleâ.
The smoking room is a little pointless, but why not try it if you smoke (I do not)? The sunset lounge is OK, the Pizza is good, the bar near the restaurant is also nice with a singer each night. I could tell you more but go and enjoy your stay, experience it for yourself, relax, unwind, especially if on honeymoon as you probably deserve some quiet time together. We had a great time and would recommend this hotel for a honeymoon or just a relaxing week away. After speaking to other visitors to Zanzibar it sounds like we chose a great hotel."
- Travel date: Wed 22nd of August 2007
Could have ruined Honeymoon
"Please avoid this Resort - we recently went for our honeymoon and if it wasnt for an amazing 3 night safari in the little govenors camp in the massai mara then our honeymoon would have been ruined. Here is our summary:
No warm welcome - on our honeymoon we expected a little bit more attention over a welcome. Instead we were sat with another group of newly weds & it felt instantly that we were on a package holiday & just one of many guests.
Restaurants - the main restaurant very uninviting also completely in the wrong position as it is set well back from the sea views. The Italian Manager (very unfriendly man) described it as offering 'International Buffet' which sounds great - I would have loved a selection of tapas, pasta & asian curries but instead everynight we were offered bland congealed pasta, salads, breads, bland fish & non discript items which were basically descrbed as 'International' because they could have been served up in any part of the world and passed as 'International!'
It was uncomfortable eating in the main restaurant as you werent really sure what the system was - did you wait to be seated (you could try!), did you find your own seat (yes - but then did they notice you), did they come & take your drinks order - rarely! etc etc....
Staff service - there was NONE. The staff barely spoke English - which we can forgive however 90% of the staff ignored you, misunderstood you & served you the wrong thing & lacked any customer care skills. I suggest this is a management issue as the staff were clearly not happy & didnt want to be there.
The service & food was so bad in the main restaurant that 4 out of the 7 nights we spent there we chose to eat in the Pizzaria on the beach! If you like Pizza then you will be fine - as long as you can eat it everynight. The Pizzaria ONLY serves Pizza in the evening! Be careful what you ask for because one night we got a very creative pizza of tuna & chicken on the same pizza beacuse of a language problem! The staff seemed to try a bit harder in this restaurant however you become frustrated when they dont even understand "1 coffee and 1 tea please." If they dont understand you - basically you dont get your order!
Sea Food Restaurant - Nice but overpriced. Dont worry about booking like they suggested - its always empty! Deserts a complete let down - a muffin with squirty cream! Perhaps this restaurant could just charge guests a supplement for guests on the package instead of a full charge? Ths would also make far more sense as the setting for the main restaurant - as it is a great spot overlooking the sea.
Coffee/ smoking pipe lounge - not needed. You have to pay an entry charge to smoke a pipe & drink coffee - oh and take your shoes off otherwise the very unfriendly lady in there will shout at you as we discovered whislt we were looking around on our first day.
Sunset bar - HONEYMOONERS avoid this bar unless you want to sing Kareoke, join in very load quiz with the loud holiday rep or listen to R&B music with load swear words (!) or listen to "rocking around the christmas tree" - In July - YES THIS ALL HAPPENED! This was the worst bit of our 'romantic honeymoon!'
The best bar - was the one at the back of the main restaurant. Here service was better - all though no view of the ocean so seems silly why they cant switch them around?
BE CAREFUL - Whilst we were there the jetty accross the sea to the Sunset Bar was unlit and had no safety fencing! If you want to try your luck with a sheer 8 ft drop on both sides then try your luck! I cant believe there was no lighting - this is an accident waiting to happen. see photo.
WET FLOORS - No signs to say be careful and as you can see from photo - an accident waiting to happen!
Local attractions - whatever you do DONT go to the local aquarium as suggested by one of the waiters! Basically it i a smelly lagoon with a few turtles in it that the locals have trapped from the sea and are using it to get money from tourists!
It is worth going on a spice tour & to stone town - although you dont really need to pay for a guide - a lot cheaper if you did it yourself.
The actual spot is beautiful and you can not deny that the pool & beach are great. The bamboo structures and bedrooms are really pleasant asthetically - but the resort is severely lacking in service & quality....we couldnt wait to get home!!
We are not people that moan or have high expectations - we had just arrived from a Safari in the Little Govenors & the staff, food & spot exceeded any expectations we had & it was the holiday of a life time!
We just want to warn any other honeymooners - to avoid Gemme Dell Est!"
- Travel date: Sat 11th of August 2007
"After travelling for about an hour from the airport through a rather depressing landscape, our group arrived at this awesome locale!
The cocktails were amazing and the staff friendly and helfpul, the food was good enough to throw my diet out the window. The only critique I have is that the entertainment crew had a clear bias towards italian visitors opting for italian music when the majority of the guests could not understand it.
I'm recommending this hotel to everyone I know!"
- Travel date: Sun 15th of July 2007
gemma dell est ras nungwi zanzibar
"just come back from gemma dell est, no way is it a superior hotel or nowhere near a 5 star. we had a lovely holiday apart from major building work which we hadn't been informed about. if we had known we wouldn't have gone. apparently june is the low month (not reflected in the price Â£3.500) they have to have everything right for the italians or they will moan. we complained and all we got was its the low season.
the rooms and the grounds are nice but the food was not very good. raw fish and meat left out for hours not even chilled in the uk they would get closed down. my wife was ill in bed for days we suspect the food. kevin&beatrice birmingham."
- Travel date: Mon 9th of July 2007
paradise found at zanzibar
"well where do we start, we have just been married in zanzibar and more precisley at the geema dell est hotel, we have to say what a venue we could not of asked for a more striking place to be married, the hotel was ab fab the staff were curtious and so helpful from the managment down to the butler( if your one of the lucky ones in executive club rooms)every aspect of this hotel was great bar one or two small things and they are 1: please make sure you have loads of cash with you as this hotel will not allow you to draw money off your credit card for currency and the taxi to stone town will cost you any where between $50 and $100 dollars return which is ashame as this was the most common complaint by all the costomers (this was probably the single most complained about thing especially as they have there own bureau de change but no cash point)also any european bank cards are not accepted in any of the banks except barclays and there is only 1 bank if not you need visa or mastercard beyond that you've had it, 2 this is what we fond strange as you will know zanzibar either exceps shillings( local currency) or dollars but this hotel prices everything in euros to the absolute amazment of about 97 percent of the guests why this hotel does this i really don't know as well as rubbing salt into your wounds your final bill is presented in dollarsask to pay in euros and you will be refused how complicated is that?we asked why but it seems to be a head office thing and i have to say after 21 years in the hotel and catering industry i have never come across this in an 5* establishment, any way back to the good bits as they are plenty the entertainment is good and varied there is also a great bar on the beach in kenwa about 10 to 15 minuites walk down the beach must go and check out the trance dancing masai not to be missed its bizzare at the pool bar only two guys stuck out in my opinion and thats abdulla and mohamed both are a fountain of information and are most willing to teach you the local language kiswahili(very easy to learn the basics) yes like in other reveiews everyone is out for your money and with 60 to 80% unenployment be careful when you go shopping in stone town the moment you walk out of a shop door with a bag your in for it as they all know your buying, as for our wedding well things could not of been more perfect no one was late joy the gm was a rock to lean on and certainly made sure everything was ship shape and bristol fashioned, the spa staff were so nice and if your going to get married don't worry about a thing photo's , catholic priest almost anything can be arranged at the hotel, all though your wedding will take place mid to late afternoon , you will understand this when you get there and appriciate the weather pattern.the food overall is very good offering local and european quisine,90% of all customers are from europe, this was an amazing holiday,marrage and honeymoon for me and my wife like we said it was perfect,just remember your travelling to them and they are not europeans so they like any other business in the world will get things wrong from time to time, they will kindly sort out your problems quickly and curtiously that is what makes this hotel 5* the room we had was a suite and it was clean an bloody massive,huge for 2 of us the butler brought us breakfast every morning and set it up on the terrace(well advised if you want bacon and egg in the morning)house keeping was efficient and always ther to help if you are lucky enough to have welu she was great and taught us so much including our daily lesson in swahili ,at night we had private dinner for two on the beach and there are so many other options too. overall this was paradise we will be back a very special place....!!!!!!!!!!"
- Travel date: Sun 24th of June 2007
Best Zanzibar beaches
"Just returned from our holidays at Gemma in Zanzibar.
Marvellous place to stay, good food and staff.
The beaches of Gemma are the best of Zanzibar (with 24h security guards for Your safety) with marvellous sunset (east coast)
For any excursions You can count on Gemma programs or on the "beach boy" called Cimabue."
- Travel date: Sat 17th of March 2007
"Gemma: Beautiful resort with spacious rooms all with sea view, very nice gardens and a big swimming pool on the beach, which is not usual. It is huge but we have plenty of space in the beach. Wonderful beach and sea. Stunning sunsets! The staff was very friendly. Most of them besides English (sometimes a little bit difficult to understand because of the accentâ¦) speak also Italian, and they try their best to be at our service. Sometimes they forget the orders, sometimes they bring a different thing (one night we asked for 2 glasses of white wine and the waiter brought one glass of red wine), but in the most part of Africa itâs like this, so we must relax and laugh about these things. Compared with other African countries that we know, they are very well trained and polite. We find out that there are many Portuguese words in Swahili, resulting from our presence in the past, though some of them with different meanings: for instance âBom diaâ which means âGood morningâ in Portuguese, means a âboxeurâ in Swahili! We learned a lotâ¦ The food (plenty and for all tastes) is nothing special, sometimes overcooked, though the cooks try their best to change daily. The house wine, white and red, was ok (Cabernet Sauvignon). We missed the so-called healthy food (for instance the salads didnât have the dressing apart, so one must eat everything too âoilyâ , sandwiches served in the bar at the beach all with mayonnaise). No seafood except sometimes some small shrimps in the salads, sometimes fried shrimps (oily, overcooked). Seeing that seafood is not expensive in that part of the world, I cannot understand why, at least, they couldnât make, for instance, a lobster saladâ¦The a la carte restaurant only has seafood and itâs too expensive. We paid 142 Euros for lobster (starter and main course) and a bottle of South African champagne. That was not a top class restaurant, and we were in Zanzibar, not Seychelles!They have a lot of people working there and everything is very clean and well kept. Perhaps because the classes had already commenced we didnât see any children, so everything was quiet. The Italians, being the majority of guests, were not noisy, as sometimes they are considered to be! The entertainment was the kind we expect in a place like this. One karaoke singer every night, sang Italian but also English/American songs (more than one hour). They made one night an African dinner on the beach, with Masai and other African dancers, and other night they had an African band.
In April we have been in Bazaruto, Mozambique, at Indigo Bay which is truly a 5 stars resort. Superb food (seafood everyday) and very well cooked (grilled), as per our request. But the fact is that it is different a resort of 50 bedrooms, and a resort of 150 bedroomsâ¦ and the beach was not so good. And the price is also different!
After all these considerations we think that Gemma is not a 5 stars resort but a good 4 stars according to European standards, but overall we think that, as you say, it is âgood value for moneyâ and I donât regret to have spent my holidays there."
- Travel date: Wed 18th of October 2006
"Again, be reassured, this is actually a lovely hotel. We have just spent a week there as part of our honeymoon. All the rooms are deluxe and very comfortable, with fresh flowers daily, a lovely big bed, great shower (no bath), and immaculate maid service. The pool is large and lovely with a swim up bar. The white coral sand beach is spotless and good for swimming. The gardens are great with frangipani and bougainvillea everywhere. It is a spacious restful place. Our biggest plus was the lovely staff mainly from Tanzania. They were great- remember you AREN'T in England, so make an effort to learn even a few words of Swahili and you will find a warm welcome and lots of new friends. The Italian staff were generally pompous but you don't really have any involvement with them so they don't affect your stay. Tip the local staff as they do a great job. The food is good and plentiful and there is always fresh fruit, nice Italian bread and pastries, the house wine is also a nice sauvignon.Take a bit of an adventure and walk along to Nungwi and Kendwa, pick up cheaper and more fun local guides and taxis here for trips to Stone Town and Spice tours etc. My only real criticism is a droning Italian singer in the dining room - nip down the beach to some of the local hang outs instead. This is a perfect place to stay for honeymooners, just make sure you don't forget to explore a little of the rest of beautiful Zanzibar too! PS Twin it with Saadani Lodge in Tanzania and you're onto a winner."
- Travel date: Tue 12th of September 2006
chic but quirky
"This place is just like its largely Italian clientele - smart, chic, and for the most part, good-looking. I'm not sure that all-inclusive can ever equal five star, but we had a great time nonetheless. The location, beach and pool are all fabulous, and the food varied between average (meat dishes and salads) and great (pasta, breads, ice cream). Rooms are modern and very well appointed, and the mainly African staff impressed us a great deal more than their Italian Managers, many of whom seemed to think they, too, were on holiday. We stayed in the Villa Club rooms, which added some good extra touches - an additional (freshwater) pool not available to other guests, butler service, and unlimited free laundry - great after a week on safari!"
- Travel date: Thu 31st of August 2006