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Reviewed 13 October 2013

This could have been a really excellent hotel, but unfortunately it is not properly looked after. On our second to last night, the weather changed to be a lot colder. Because of this, a lot of little creatures entered the room. We understood that the huts are open air, and that mosquitos, ants, etc could enter. However, we expected that adequate precautions would be taken, as this is not a cheap hotel. The staff told us the the mosquito net was impregnated. However, this was clearly not the case, as many mosquitos got inside the netting through holes in the net. Really the nets should be impregnated more often, and replaced if they have holes. The bedding was dirty, with what looked like blood stains from squatted mosquitos. In a malaria zone, this is not really acceptable. The owner says these were "rust" stains, but even so, at the price charged, these should be replaced when old.

More worryingly, the property appears to be infested with cockroaches. We saw several in the tent on this night. I can understand the presence of mosquitoes, ants, and other insects. However cockroaches will only be there due to poor hygiene. We reported these problems to the staff in the morning. They told us that they knew the property was infested with cockroaches, and that they came from around the septic tank. They said the property was sprayed twice a year to try to kill them off. I think part of the problem is that food is left out after dinner, in the bins and around the kitchen.

After this experience, we said we were going to leave rather than stay the last night. The staff and the estate manager told us that we would get a refund for the final night's stay, and were very apologetic.

We then emailed the owner with our concerns. She replied saying she would refund half the final night's stay. She denied the presence of cockroaches, saying the staff had misunderstood. She also said that, as it is an eco lodge, they do not spray it with the strong chemical that other hotels use. We replied to her saying we had seen the roaches ourselves (and even killed one). There was also a can of "doom" spray left in the room by the staff, which is the same chemical spray all the other hotels use! She neither replied to this email nor paid us any of the refunds promised. We subsequently chased her with a couple of emails, and got a reply from her email account that she was ill and would reply asap. After a further week we did not get a reply nor a refund. We stayed there in August, and it is clear that other people have stayed there since. So if she was able to arrange their stays, it cannot be true that she has been too ill to reply to our emails. This is really poor customer service, as well as being dishonest in not refunding as offered.

We waited until writing this to give Sasha a chance to reply to the emails, as she promised to do. However, as it has now been over a month, we really feel she has had enough time to reply. Given the lack of communication and broken promise on the refund, we have no option but to give this place one star.

Finally, be careful about the pries they quote for taxis etc. For example, we were quoted 8500 for a taxi from Mombasa. However, The Tamarind Hotel in Mombasa could do the taxi for 7000KES, and we found a private taxi man who would do it for 6000.

It is a shame that there are these issues. If the property was looked after, it would be a very beautiful place in idyllic surroundings. The food is cooked very well, so it is unfortunate about the hygiene issues.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank David79986
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sashakamen, Owner at Kanani House, responded to this reviewResponded 27 November 2013

While I'm very sorry that your stay at Kanani did not meet with your expectations, it does seem that what you wanted was a sterile hotel, not an eco lodge... As I've discussed with you at length on email after your stay, the insects you saw came into your room from outside because it was a rare rainy night and were all gone well before morning. This was in no way an 'infestation!' Even though you agreed with this, you still insisted that you were entitled to a full refund on your stay.

I did originally say that I'd check with the staff and if the issues you said you experienced were verified, that I would issue a refund. I never 'promised a refund'. Having discussed it thoroughly with all my long term and trusted staff members, I was told that your first two nights were problem free, and all the other 'issues' were only mentioned by you after the night where you saw insects in your room. If was a nightly problem, as you claim, why did you not mention it to the staff on the other two mornings of your stay? The issue with food being 'left on the table' was a specific one, where our chef had to leave as soon as he had served dinner, so he informed you of the fact and asked you to let another member of staff know when you had finished your meal. You did not do so, and therefore the plates were not cleared promptly.

Most importantly, it transpired that you and your partner were verbally abusive to my staff, whom I value very highly and have always had glowing reviews. In light of all of the above, I decided that a refund on your stay is not appropriate.

I've already had to refund our chef for the ingredients for your last day's meal, which he had bought on your orders and otherwise would have come out of his own pocket.

I did email you with this information, despite being very ill, in response to your multiple emails, each with additional complaints, but you have not responded once I said that I would not, under these circumstances, issue a refund.

The main instance you quote of being 'overcharged' is i believe in reference to how much you paid for ingredients for your meals. You complained that they cost more than the £30 pounds we charge for full board. This is true, but does not mean you were overcharged. You had ordered the fillet steak and chocolate brownies, the most expensive items on the menu, as well as your other two meals. I don't think you should be surprised that the cost of this can come to just over £30! We offer full board simply as a convenience to our guests, and certain meals do cost a bit more than £30, whereas others are a bit less, so it works out. In this particular case, it would have been cheaper for you had you chosen the full board option.

I did freely acknowledge that I misquoted the taxi fare, mistakenly giving you last year's price, so you were charged just under £4 more than you expected to pay for your taxi from the airport. I am happy to refund this and am waiting for your bank details so I can do so. There are many cheaper taxi companies, this is true, but we prefer to recommend a trusted company which we know has good drivers and reliable, well maintained cars. All fare goes directly to the cab company, Kanani does not profit in any way.

I did explain all the above to you so under the circumstances, I think it is very unkind and unjustified to claim that our staff are 'dishonest'. They are deeply hurt by your accusations, so I wanted to take this opportunity to defend them.

It's really unfortunate that you and your partner have decided to retaliate against my decision not to refund you by posting separate negative reviews, so it appears as if several guests have had this experience at Kanani. In general, as you can see on our reviews, our guests love Kanani and have a wonderful stay. I hope that future guests will read our other reviews and not be too swayed by yours.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 September 2013

We only had 2 short days but we thoroughly enjoyed the place. Elvis the caretaker cooked up a storm specially for us 3. The place has only three huts, but more would take away the nature of the place. Expect a place that is somewhat out of town (by tuk tuk a couple of minutes), which means you are right on the seafront, actually on a small cliff, where you can hear and even feel the surf pounding at high tide. There's a small passageway from the top of the cliff through which you can access the beach at low tide. It is not actually a beach, but a sort of shallow lagoon, which you can then walk or wade through to reach sandy areas. The place is laid out to enjoy the secenery with a sort of pathway through the brush and small benches, The pool is small but incredibly nicely situated with a very wide view of the sea. In short, it's the sort of place you go to to relax, read,, take it easy. A couple of hundred meters down the road are a few bars as well as a motocycle stand where you can easily get a ride to town - so altough it's secluded it is not isolated. Cottages are fairly basic but clean and well-kept, all built in natural materials, which allow for a good sea-breeze to pass through at night. If we have a chance, we'll definitely go back there. Expect the place to be closed a few months during the rainy season though, starting after easter for about 3 to 4 months.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with family
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Thank Ackersimons
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 September 2013

We stayed here in August after a busy and exciting week on safari. Kanani is so relaxing with the sea breezes and sound of the sea. The food is amazing and Elvis is a brilliant cook. His fish in coconut and chicken curry were especially good. We spent a lot of time beside the lovely pool. In August the sea is quite rough and seaweed gets washed onto the beaches so didn't really go to the beach to swim. Also the tides can be high so access through the tunnel was restricted to only a few hours in the day. Kanani House is not really a walkable distance from the centre of Watamu and you really need to get a tuk-tuk costing about 200ks into the town. However being out of the centre makes it so quiet. We felt safe in Kanani as there is always a member of staff there 24 hours a day as well as the house dogs (very friendly to guests!)
The staff are very helpful and friendly and will organise trips,tuk-tuks , taxis to the airport etc. We loved the rustic feel but you do have to like living outdoors with the bedrooms and living area all being separate bandas with stone paths linking them. We loved it especially the interesting garden features, the pathways through the garden and the unusual and quirky furniture!
If you get the chance to have a massage from Gertrude at the poolside I would highly recommend it!

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with family
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Thank Jeanatlomond
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 January 2013

My boyfriend and I stayed at Kanani House for three nights in January 2013. During a fabulous trip planned by Royjan and Clare Taylor of Kenya Snake Safaris / Bio-Ken, we used Kanani as a "base" for expeditions into the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek. Kanani is very peaceful. The view from the pool deck overlooking the Indian Ocean is so nice that it is surreal, as is the view of the stars at night. We had Kanani to ourselves, and everyone made us feel at home and relaxed. Other reviews have raved about Elvis' cooking, and we feel the same way. Everything he made was fresh, made at your request, and was really, really good. (The watermelon-feta salad was a favorite!)

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Leslie P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 September 2012

Kanani was exactly what we needed between one safari and the other.
Here we have learned a special lesson: the less you have the more you relax!
It's hard to describe how relaxing this place can be, how well the staff and Elvis (a great cook) can take care of yourself, how you can forget about the rest of the world and simply relax!
The freedom you feel in Kanani is probably one of the main reasons it makes it so peaceful: you are completely immersed in its nature, open to its wind and charming sound of the sea. But it is, at the same time, full of comforts.
That's how we learned to relax:
lesson n.1 - forget about phones, internet or tv
lesson n.2 - feel the nature and let yourself be transported in it
lesson n.3 - give your body the time to rest (in each bed/sofa you can find around the structure!)
lesson n.4 - simply put yourself in Elvis' hands and enjoy his meals!

We simply loved it and can't wait to be back.

  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled with friends
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1  Thank lyllidar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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