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“Personal, Customer-Focused Experience in Serene Setting”

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Pole Pole Bungalows
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Mafia Island
Certificate of Excellence
Durham, NC
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Personal, Customer-Focused Experience in Serene Setting”
Reviewed 4 April 2013

This was my first trip to Mafia Island and I was traveling alone. I was overwhelmingly pleased with Pole Pole. The staff immediately put me at ease, greeting me with a festive coconut beverage and whisking my luggage to a beautiful bungalow. The bungalows are amazing! Each one thoughtfully designed, privately situated, and has a lovely view of the island foliage and water. The meals were AMAZING - fresh, healthy, and well presented with perfect service. The beach and pool areas are both lovely. The massages are absolutely amazing, the complementary morning in-room coffee service, and evening in-room drink service are divine. A short walk down the beautiful beach is a truly top shelf scuba diving facility, which Pole Pole can arrange for you. The small gift shop features locally made, fair trade crafts. I hope to return to Pole Pole again soon.

Room Tip: All bungalows are fantastic. It is impossible to choose a bad one. I stayed in bungalow 2 and was...
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank LLZ_NC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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249 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (32)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed 1 April 2013

After a long, hard-working winter, we were looking for something that would take us out of ourselves, dispel the winter blues and allow us to completely relax. Mafia Island and Pole Pole gave us all that. It was a magical, away from it all, utterly enchanting place that allowed us to leave the daily grind behind and be taken over by the warm beauty of this special location. Pole Pole is a comfortable, sophisticated lodge which just lends itself to the area. The bungalows have lovely views over Chole Bay, as do the bar and restaurant areas.

The whole thing is presided over by Enrico, the charming manager, and Charlotte who must rank as one of the most welcoming and wonderful hosts ever. Full of infectious energy, enthusiasm and attention to detail, she went out of her way to make our stay there perfect. But all the staff at Pole Pole had an unusual gift of hospitality which all contributed to an exceptionally warm experience.

The lodge offers free excursions every day (though there are some that have to be paid for) – snorkelling and diving, nearby islands, turtle hatching, sunset boat trips in the bay, around the island, a guided tour of the local village, bird-watching, etc – which add a nice rhythm to the business of just unwinding and enjoying the warm sea and amazing views across the bay.

This was serious food for the soul.

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Malcolm A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brussels, Belgium
1 review
Reviewed 30 March 2013

Our Pole Pole experience was wonderful, what a treat after a hectic Safari ( even if a little tedious to get there). It is unpretentious, understated hospitality at its best, located in a natural tropical environment; what a refreshing change these days.
The rooms are a delight, nestling in swaying coconut groves, with the sounds of the waves lapping below. They are spacious, comfortable, with delightful attention to details.
All of the Staff were professional, helpful, charming and friendly, particular thanks to Charlotte.
Food - excellent, a treat to have fresh food, and an interesting varity of dishes cooked for us daily. Freshing change to the preverbial 'Buffet' offerings.
The association with Seapoint ensured we enjoyed experiencing some local color.

Thank you for a lovely experience

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Fiona O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Paris, France
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 March 2013

7 days of pure pleasure and relaxation in a wonderful environment, with a team of great staff looking after us: simply marvelous. The personalized morning yoga sessions in front of the sea were definitely a must! We definitely recommend it, hoping we'll have the opportunity to enjoy it again once ourselves!

  • Stayed February 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Elodie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Woodbridge, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 March 2013

We spent five days at Pole Pole in February. The first night we had to get used to the starry sky which seemed to envelop us in the silence. It didn't take long!
We were grateful to the staff, from management and waiters to boatmen who all unobtrusively contributed to our comfort. Enrico and Charlotte try to anticipate everything to make life easy and relaxing for their guests.
Yes this isn't the Whitsundays or Pacific Islands and indeed it's less sophisticated and going for the eco-experience. However, if your'e looking for peace and total relaxation spiced with a bit of fab diving and snorkeling, this is for you. We are a couple well intro the third age but the excursions and water sports were made easy for us.

  • Stayed February 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank KaPluke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Monmouth, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
348 reviews
63 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 371 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 February 2013

We came here from a hectic 10-day safari and were grateful for the ultimate tranquility we discovered at Pole Pole (trans. "take it easy").
Eight traditional and elegantly appointed bungalows are set in a former coconut plantation on a sandy bluff 30' high, immedaitely behind an idyllic tropical beach. The entire complex has been constructed in traditional style by local people using natural materials sourced locally.
There is no noise, apart from the lapping of the waves, the calling of the birds and the very occasional thud of a falling coconut. Thankfully there is no piped music either and mobile phones are banned in public areas and must be set to silent elsewhere; if you fear total isolation, there is a full mobile signal throughout and a good WiFi connection at the main office.
40 staff dealing with 16 guests means service is exemplary. The lofty and cool bar and dining room - again built in traditional style - are right on the beach and the meals - mainly seafood - were excellent. The lovely swimming pool area with bar and treatment rooms was largely deserted duiring our stay.
All the covered walkways at Pole Pole - covered as protection from the sun and from falling coconuts - are overlayed with fine sand, so even those with the most delicate feet can walk unshod in comfort. A basin of water is thoughtfully placed outside each bungalow and public room to wash off the sand before entering.
There are woven sun beds and thatched unbrellas on a white sandy beach fringed by mangroves; swimming is lovely, but for part of the day the beach dries for a long way out, although there is another good swimming beach just five minutes' walk away.
"Ms Memory", the multilingual Charlotte, is charm personified and she seemed always to be nearby when we needed anything, be it organising an excursion, charging my iPad, haranging the airline or even preparing aloe vera, fresh from the gareden, to salve my sunburned knees (a mistake I made during a dive expedition).
On the negative side, water pressure is low wich means the shower merely dribbles, and while the bed area is enlosed in a mosquito net, in our bungalow there was a large, open gap above the wall separating the bedroom from the shower-room, so for us mosquitoes were a challenge at night, and despite an assurance that this would be remedied, nothing had been done by the time we departed.
But otherwise our stay was perfect to the extent that I refuse to end this review on a negative. Please experience the peace and tranquility of Pole Pole; enjoy a sunset cruise or have Charlotte arrange a day on nearby Chole Island or a snorkelling outing. I will write elsewhere on this site about neighbouring Mafia Sea Point dive centre. A representative visits Pole Pole at seven each evening to discuss thye next day's diving with frankly the best organised dive centre I've even encountered.
Overall we feel priviledged to have been spoiled by the lovely people at the paradise known as Pole Pole and if you're looking for a few days R and R this should be high on your list.

Room Tip: Not much to choose really, but bungalows 4 & 5 are closest to the (very quiet) pool and also hav...
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  • Stayed February 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank Ian W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
34 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 February 2013

We stayed here in january, 2013 for four nights and apart from one night there were no other guests.
Coming from Australia and its location near the Whitsundays and pacific islands means we may have a higher expectation than others and although the island is lovely it may not meet some people's perception of a tropical beach paradise.
The island is lovely but the beaches we saw aren't a patch on the Pacific islands or Whitsundays.
Pole Pole is quiet and has lovely staff but the beach right out the front is not good for swimming or snorkelling which means you have to go on boat trips to get to snorkelling locations (Try the coral garden-it is truly amazing). Mafia island resort around the corner has a swimming beach but you also get pestered constantly by souvenier sellers and boat trip organisers.
Even our beach and particularly the beach outside mafia island resort seems to have a constant parade of young local guys trying to glimpse a bikini or two so a disappointing scene really.

We also had no hot water for most of our stay and they had constant power problems which for the prices charged is not good.

After seeing mafia island resort (truly awful) we were so glad we stayed at pole pole but for the peaceful location your price is needing a boat trip to get to a nice swimming beach. Also the food is a set menu for lunch and dinner so no real choice there thought the quantities are huge-you wont go hungry.

Room Tip: Dont accept cabin one-three as little privacy
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  • Stayed January 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
4 Thank CPM35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PolePoleMafiaIsland, General Manager at Pole Pole Bungalows, responded to this review, 9 February 2013
Thanks so much to CPM35 for their kind words about Pole Pole! We appreciate the feedback, and always value what our clients have to say about us, both positive and negative.

Our beach is not privately owned, and we do have the occasional fisherman coming to sell his fresh catch to our kitchen, or children collecting shells, but no souvenir salesmen; in fact most of our guests have complimented the solitude and peacefulness they enjoy by our seaside. Dotted with mangroves, our clients appreciate the cosiness, shade and privacy this affords them.

Regarding CPM35’s comments about our beach… most of our clients appreciate the cosiness, shade and privacy it affords them, and compliment the solitude and peacefulness they enjoy by our seaside. Although our beach is public (as is every other beach in Tanzania) thanks to its location and to our participatory approach with local community, there are no souvenir-sellers or boat trip organisers. The only occasional (and welcome!) visits are from fishermen coming to sell their fresh catch to our kitchen.

At low tide the ocean recedes, leaving a beautiful inter-tidal zone filled with fascinating creatures and plants to marvel at. For those who still want to swim at this moment, we have a swimming pool exactly for this purpose, and we also provide complimentary excursions to stunning sandbanks and snorkel spots – such as Coral Gardens, as CPM35 points out.

At the time of CPM35’s visit, the island’s power supply was erratic and unpredictable, causing enormous surges that damaged our control panels; however, after a few small hitches we managed to get our generators working around the problem. We are deeply sorry about the inconvenience this caused; under normal circumstances we can of course guarantee electricity and hot water around the clock – but regrettably the matter was beyond our control in this situation.

We do have a fixed menu, largely because we try to base our cuisine around fresh, available ingredients, and we prefer to offer a narrower choice of fresh, delicious cuisine. That said, our kitchen is very flexible, and we are always happy to cater for the culinary preferences of our guests, and any special requests they may have!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Pole Pole Bungalows

Property: Pole Pole Bungalows
Address: Plot 16 - Utende Beach, Mafia Island, Tanzania
Region: Tanzania > Pwani Region > Mafia Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Mafia Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:4 star — Pole Pole Bungalows 4*
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Seven bungalow suites overlook the infinite hues of blue of Chole Bay, the core of Mafia Island Marine Park. Pole Pole is an exclusive eco-resort, renowned for its great cuisine, unpretentious and laid-back atmosphere, warm but discrete hospitality. Balancing luxury and respect for local culture and environment it is the perfect place to relax after a safari and the ideal base for exploring the underwater wanders of Mafia Island. With a touch of style. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Pole Pole Bungalows Hotel Mafia Island

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