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“Tired, with weird policies & costly fines to ruin your holiday”

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Karafuu Beach Resort and Spa
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Pingwe
Johannesburg
Level Contributor
18 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Tired, with weird policies & costly fines to ruin your holiday”
Reviewed 6 August 2014

Where to start?

On arrival, you are required to listen to a briefing about the hotel. As the rooms contain NO written information whatsoever about the hotel facilities or policies, you are required to memorise it.

One important thing to know about this hotel is that if you lose your room key (as I did on the first day - it washed out of my bathing shorts as I walked on the concrete walkway running offshore) you will be billed $50 in cash or $52 if you pay using a credit card. (they also charge you if you lose your towel card)

$50/$52 is well in excess of the cost of a cylinder lock, so the hotel is not only "punishing" its guests, but making money from it. The sensible thing to do would be to swap the lock with a random room, but the Manager insisted it that it was hotel policy to replace. They claimed that every time a key was lost, they had to make a trip to Stone Town to replace the single lock!

Really? So it never occurred to the hotel to buy 10 locks at one time? This lock type (cylinder) costs around $25 or less.

Frankly, this miserly policy coloured view towards my whole stay at the hotel.

So what about the hotel?

Frankly, reading some reviews I get the impression that many guests, especially from Europe seem uncritical (or easily pleased) about the very basic standard of the rooms and food. So as briefly as I can:

1. We stayed in a Junior Suite (the third most expensive rate, behind the 2 Villas & 3 suites).

The decor of the unit could best be described as dark & austere. It would not look out of place in a Spanish pueblo. Ancient, heavy, dark wood furniture, with wrought ironwork. Not a single armchair. When I asked if there were armchairs, we had 2 upright chairs, similar to formal dining table chairs delivered. (see my pictures)

2. The bathroom was basic and in dire need of renovation. Poor grouting and sealant spread messily around the basin and shower tray. There were NO towel rails for damp towels, except a tiny one for a hand-towel. The shower stall was basic and needed regrouting. No bath in this "suite". See photos.

3. Each unit appears to have its own small capacity water geyser. Don't spend too long in the shower or it will run out of hot water.

4. If you are on AI (All Inclusive) you need to pay attention when ordering in the restaurants having menus (and the bar menu) as there are many items that are not included in AI. Instead of having an AI menu, the hotel prefers to put miniscule asterisks* at the end of the line of those items which *are included*. If you are not careful, you could order something not included in your all-included rate!

5. As others have mentioned, this hotel has no free beach equipment as you find in paces like Mauritius or even elsewhere on Zanzibar. There is a tennis court, but take a look at the photos. You are also expected to pay to hire the rackets.

6. Food: I appreciate that the hotel has to cater to diverse cultural tastes, however the major problem they have is that the plates were usually cold and the food, kept in warming trays, only barely warm. Combine the two and your food is already only lukewarm by the time you get back to your table. They really ought to install a microwave for those who like their food hot. As I'm sure you all know, the flavour of food drops with its temperature.

The choice of fruit, for a tropical island was dismal. Most of the fruit was tart and unattractive. Papaya was served in small chunks with the seeds still in place!

The hotel egg yolks are a very very pale yellow, resulting in unattractive fried, scrambled or boiled eggs & omelettes.

I found the coffee and tea quite undrinkable.

Meat was always overcooked and therefore dry and chewy.

None of the breakfast buffet food was covered to keep flies away.

Internet is barely 1Mbps and reception weak away from the main lobby. It also costs $10 a day, in cash (more if paid by credit card).

6. Check-out: you are presented with a bill in TZS Shillings, but can only settle in US$ cash or credit cards. If credit card, the TZS amount is converted at a very unfavourable (to you) rate.

7. The beach: I chose this hotel for its unique walkway out into the ocean, which you can use at low-tide to reach the ocean. But, Its VERY slippery and you must wear flip-flops or better still, reef-walkers as immediately adjacent to the walk-way, the area is thick with sea-urchins, itching to embed themselves in your foot!

8. "Beach boyz" they are indeed an irritation and ruined my companions attempts to have a quiet stroll on the beach.

9. Stray dogs: there is a pack of 3 stray dogs that you may encounter on the beach (the whole beach, not just the stretch in front of the hotel). Try to avoid them & do not attempt to interact with them. I like dogs but the largest of these, kept jumping up at me, to reach my face. In fending it off, its nails lacerated my arm causing it to bleed. Nothing serious, but it might have ended up infected. (Before the hotel owner jumps in, I'll repeat that this incident took place on the beach, which is a public thoroughfare and therefore not a hotel specific problem)

10. Which brings me to staff: Perhaps we were lucky but I had not a single problem with any member of staff, including reception staff. All were courteous and attempted to be friendly & assist when I reported problems. Even the manager who I had the disagreement with over the key, was businesslike and attempted to assist to the maximum that the hotel owners permitted her to. Special mentions to Freddie the restaurant manager and our chatty, enthusiastic barman, Nasri.

In conclusion, my message to the owners of this run-down establishment, is its time to repaint and refurb, i.e. put some money back into the property. Create separate menus for your AI guests.

Put hotel information packs into the rooms.

Stop the complete nonsense of having guests turn up at a near empty restaurants and then being turned away because they had not booked.

Room Tip: Junior suites on the beach are probably the best (and most expensive) however, one Junior Suite (15...
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Justin_JNB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (79)
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English first
Level Contributor
19 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 August 2014

We stayed at Karafuu for 11 nights in June/July 2014. We stayed in a sea view junior suite. The room was lovely. Huge comfortable bed, a lovely veranda with comfortable chairs to look out over the sea. Then a small step off of the veranda and you're on the powdery soft beach. We were also close to the main pool, bar, buffet restaurant and spa.
Food: Breakfast was good. Fresh eggs, pastries and tropical fruit. We only ate at the buffet restaurant on a few occasions, seafood night is fantastic. The Masai dinner on Mondays and Fridays is fantastic. For all the other restaurants you have to book your table AND place your food order at breakfast. Which we didn't like as we like to browse and choose what we feel like. We frequently ate off site at some of the beautiful beach bars and restaurants a 10 min walk down the beach (Matlai, Pweza beach, Upendo and The Rock).
The staff at the hotel could not be friendlier and more helpful (apart from a a couple at reception).
The Spa is beautiful. The girls who work there are brilliant. I highly recommend a deep tissue couples massage. The view is spectacular.
The beach is stunning. At low tide you can walk on the stone path (that saves you from sea urchins) out to a lagoon and sand bar. Its lovely. You may also pick up a few starfish on the way :)
The beach boys can be a little annoying but we did get some fab day trips off them for a third of the price of the hotel. And they are just trying to make a living.
The Masai security guards are so lovely.
Overall we loved this hotel. TOP TIP: go out onto the beach at night and look up at the most beautiful starry sky. You might even see a shooting star :)

Room Tip: Beach front suites are spacious and quiet.
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Kerrybear85
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Stockholm, Sweden
Level Contributor
23 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 July 2014

Karafuu Beach Resort, on the east shore of Zanzibar is a wonderful place for a relaxed vacation where everything is taken care of for you. Accommodation is good. Regular bungalows have one big room and a bath. All is clean and african in style, although a bit worn. The staff comes daily, they tuck down, spray and arrange the mosquito nets.

Food is provided in several restaurants. The buffet restaurant has themes every day. One day a week is a special massai night with african styled buffet. Food is generally good and service is prompt. Pool bars and hotel bar is also good with good service. Selection in buffe is better than we expected.

We paid USD 62 per day per person for all inclusive. A quick calculation showed that is was well spent money. Since there is nothing outside the resort (almost) you need to eat and drink everything inside so there is really no alternatives for meals. The Rock restaurant is close - the only other place available. We didn't go there but it might be worthwhile visiting.

When strolling on the beach, there will be several persons approaching you to offer tours or handicraft. Be prepared to deal with it.

When we were there in July, there were no waiting time for anything at the resort. All food and drinks and sunbeds were immediately available.

The resort take good care. They charge you and sometimes it can appear a bit over priced but, on the other hand, they really take care of everything for you.

Definitely over prices is the internet access that comes at USD 10 a day. We paid USD 55 for taxi transfer one way from Zanzibar airport to Karafuu.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Anders S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
176 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 July 2014

If you're planning to go to Zanzibar, go to Karafuu. Great value for money.

We had a fantastic bungalow right on the beach. It is obviously not as the ones you see in the Far East or the Caribbean but it was really nice and very charming.

The restaurant is incredible and the staff exceeded our expectations.

It is located more than an hour from the airport, which makes land excursions a bit cumbersome, but take advantage of the sea excursions instead – sailing, snorkeling or scuba diving. My son managed to get the last two dives he needed to qualify for his diving certificate – the instructors were very competent and reassuring to dive with for the both of us.

The only this we missed during our stay was easier access to ice creams 

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Hotfarm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Central Serbia, Serbia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 25 July 2014

Karafuu is the best choice on Zanzibar!
We were group of 16 people all different ages, characters, wishes , interests ...and Karafuu was revelatori for all of us. STUFF was very friendly and helpful. FOOD is great, ROOMs all just great...
If you are disappointed because of the tide you can enjoy in 3 great pools and watch something you cant see otherwise - Farm algae and beautiful women how to handle them.
Management is superb always ready to cooperate.
You have everything THE BEST in one place -Karafuu Beach Resort and spa

Room Tip: All rooms are great , no mistake at all
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Globetrackers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Copenhagen, Denmark
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 July 2014

Karafuu offers a great location right at the sea but the service is very disappointing - especially the reception are very rude and are not service-minded. This is primarily due to the head of reception not being very nice. Elsewhere in Africa I traveled staff is very friendly so this was a surprise for me.

Guest should also be aware that they play very loud music at night and have too much cheap-resort-like features like entertainment every night which disturbs the peace. Can only be recommended for guest with children that might like this.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank ThomasC463364
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Johannesburg, South Africa
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 July 2014

Karafuu exceeded all our expectations. We enjoyed every moment of our time there and wish we could go back already!

The resort is beautiful - it is laid-back, authentic and alive with natural beauty. The rooms are large and neat (even the garden rooms). We only went to our room to change for dinner and to sleep so we really didn't mind the lack of sea view. The views by the pool and down the beach are breathtaking.

The staff at the hotel are excellent. Everyone is really friendly and attentive. They are very professional without being cold or impersonal which I think is part of the reason the guests are always in such a good mood! There was always some one to talk to or share a laugh with.

The food was excellent! There was always a variety of choices and the quality was really good. You're not going to have tasteless meals or boring dishes here. Think fillet cooked to your liking, fresh fish, lamb, ravioli and prawns etc. We had the all-inclusive option and it was definitely the way to go! Great value for money.

Some people have complained about the beach and the tides here but its actually quite an advantage. If you wait for low tide and get into the water at the end of the walkway there are some really great little reefs not far out. We saw our best fish right outside Karafuu despite going on two snorkeling trips. I'd definitely suggest taking your own snorkel gear including fins as it gives you the freedom to explore the ocean whenever you want.

The only suggestion I would make to the hotel is maybe to replace your towels. The ones in our room were often stained and the towels from the pool are also looking a little worse for wear.


They say when you travel a little part of heart will stay where you been and that is definitely true of Karafuu. Not sure where on earth we will go next that will not be a disappointment :)

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Bianca S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Karafuu Beach Resort and Spa

Property: Karafuu Beach Resort and Spa
Address: PO Box 71, Pingwe, Tanzania
Region: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Pingwe
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 5 Hotels in Pingwe
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Karafuu Beach Resort and Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 94
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
On a deserted white sandy beach, at 65 km from Stone Town, lies Karafuu Beach Resort and Spa, an international five-star hotel, winner of the World Travel Awards as Tanzania Leading Resort and Africa Leading Beach Resort 2011 .It is one of the most luxurious hotels on the east coast of Zanzibar, where, even during low tide, it’s possible to enjoy a comfortable swim in the ocean. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Karafuu Beach Hotel Pingwe
Karafuu Hotel Beach
Karafuu Resort Beach
Karafuu Beach Resort And Spa Zanzibar Island, Tanzania

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