Friendly, helpful staff, reasonably good value, clean & tidy cabins, good food, and fun entertainment every night. What's not to like? This resort is reputed to offer better than average value and the experience is pleasant, so go for it and enjoy your beach experience in Zanzibar! One tip: Stone Town is a fascinating place worth a night or two, so I recommend staying there before or after your beach experience at the Sultan Sands, rather than day-tripping.
The Sultan Sands is one of many beach resorts on the east coast of Zanzibar. They offer the beach experience. You lie around in the sun, or under an umbrella, occasionally heading out to the Indian Ocean or to the pool, with waiters bringing you drinks. It's the resort beach thing. If this isn't your style, go somewhere else. Word amongst expats living in East Africa is that this particular beach resort offers pretty good value for the money. This resort will sell you one of several packages with different things included and not included. I recommend the breakfast plus dinner package. They will then try to maximize their revenue by capturing your business for additional add-on services (transportation to and from the airport, tours to Stone Town, spice farms, boat tours, alcoholic beverages, etc. etc.) Just keep in mind that this is part of the game. Their prices are higher than you will get from independent providers, but it is very difficult to assess the quality and safety of other providers, so you are most likely to just go with them for these add-on services. Just live with it and don't let it bother you.
Most of the rooms at the Sultan Sands are cute, unassuming cabins. They are clean and tidy, but not luxurious. We came from Ethiopia where standards are much lower, so believe me they were positively delightful, but by western standards they are nothing fancy. Still, they are pleasant and functional, and very close to the beach -- sometimes with views, so they meet the need.
Sultan Sands dinners are served buffet style, and were quite good. Every night offered a different form of entertainment. A dance band one night, an African drum concert the next, a Masai dance exhibition the next, etc. All were really fun. Seating was outside around the pool or just inside under an awning. The evenings were balmy and delightful.
Several previous reviews complained about the staff. Honestly folks, you are in Africa and you need to chill. The only annoying part about the staff was the above mentioned tendency to lock you in to overpriced add-on services, but in general we found the staff to be quite friendly and helpful. And we LOVED the Masai guards. They are gorgeous and really fun to be around.
Keep in mind that you need to exit the controlled grounds to go out to the ocean, at which point you will be hassled by people hitting you up for money or wanting to sell you something. Again, this is Africa, and this kind of thing is inevitable.
It takes an hour to an hour and a half to travel from the east coast to Stone Town, so a day trip is easily possible. However, I recommend you actually spend a night or two in Stone Town before or after you trip to the Sultan Sands. Stone Town has an absolutely fascinating history and vibe, not to mention many interesting restaurants and bars, so it is worth a day or two in its own right.
Bottom Line: the Sultan Sands offers solid value for a Zanzibar beach resort. Keep your expectations realistic, and have a good time!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sultan Sands Island Resort is situated on the wide, sparkling beaches of Kiwengwa on the East Coast of Zanzibar Island. Sultan Sands is a resort with a unique character: an inspired blend of Swahili and Arab architecture and decor creates a relaxed ambience, while first-class amenities and facilities ensure complete comfort. The spacious rooms at Sultan Sands are built in the style of traditional African rondavels, each tastefully decorated with hand-carved Zanzibari furniture. All rooms are ocean-facing with some situated just metres from the beach. The resort's wining and dining venues are equally impressive, offering delicious local specialities as well as Far-Eastern and European favourites. Sultan Sands shares a 500m stretch of beach with its sister property - Bluebay Beach Resort & Spa. Guests of the two resorts also share many facilities and amenities, including the famous Oasis Spa and the One Ocean Dive Centre. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sultan Sands Island Hotel Kiwengwa
- Sultan Sands Island Resort Zanzibar Island/Kiwengwa