As we live in Kenya, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from a coastal rental. Given the usual stampede for a Christmas booking we considered ourselves extremely lucky to have found Forest dream only 2 weeks to our preferred holiday date. We had visited their direct website and booked to stay in Leopard cottage from 21st-27th Dec, 2010. The site specified that Leopard Lodge 'included a fully equipped kitchen' and three bedrooms, perfect for our Christmas getaway. Cleverly and by omission the site does not state where it is in relation to the beach and my husband, daughter and I soon realised upon arrival that it is actually located 4 rows back from the beach, along a dusty bumpy road. Not much fun for any traveller unless you don't have young children and don't mind trying to relax on a public beach.
The landscape was lush and green, an inviting pool…all in all a peaceful setting. We occupied the master suite with living room and bath, which was spacious & comfortable even though the double bed was actually two single mattresses placed together. However, when being shown the rest of the cottage, I noticed that there was no kitchen at all, not even utensils to make a simple cup of tea or glasses for drinks. I asked the manager Rehema about this and all she could say was ‘sorry’ but that there was a restaurant in which we were welcome to use. In spite of our disappointment, we figured that the money we would have used to buy supplies would now go into paying for meals and decided to brush this issue off.
Little did we know that the restaurant food was not only substandard with shoddy service but also over priced.
We asked for crab from the menu on the first night, there was none to be had. 2nd night I asked for fish and specified that I did not want barracuda if that was the only option...guess what was served up? By the 3rd night I figured that I could at least enjoy my meal, if I asked for a typical Swahili dish of pilau, thinking the chef couldn't possibly get it wrong…or so I thought. What I got was a poor cousin that was piled high on my plate and desperately dry. It was not as though the staff were rushed off their feet with customers either, as the only other table taken was by the owner and his family. Lunch we tended to take by the pool and we stuck to what we found to be half decent, chips and burgers served on breakfast roll bread or sausages (when they had them) whilst I chose grilled chicken.
The following day my sister, her partner and two children finally joined us from Geneva after being held up by snow in London for 5 days and what my brother in law said of the place was to the point -' a forest without the dream'. Needless to say having told them of our experience thus far, we decided that in spite of the extra expense, eating out was the only option and so we chose to dine at the excellent Leonardo's restaurant than suffer the food at forest dream for the rest of our stay.
House keeping had an interesting take too. I asked for clean towels only to find that all the housekeeper had done was dry out our used dirty towels. A mascara smudge from the previous day gave the lack of care away. What’s more the housekeeper felt it okay to sit & watch television in our paid for facilities on Boxing Day waiting for her colleague to finish work. She saw nothing wrong with this even after I questioned her being there. Being a creature of habit, I would ask for a flask of hot water so that I could enjoy my chamomile tea before bed and on one occasion a flask appeared that had a thick brown ring of whatever it was, around the lip.
In all, this place felt like it only opened its doors during high season when late booking customers like us are left with little or no option in terms of coastal accommodation. On the final day of our holiday, we were moved to a different cottage because the next guests would be arriving by 10am and our flight back to Nairobi was at 3 pm....and that also came with an hour-long discourse between manager, and other members of staff.
It is obvious to us that the owner should perhaps be some sort of green campaigner and not an hotelier. He does not see that it is in his best interest to deliver on what he markets on his website especially at his prices (which incidentally ran equal to some 5 star beach front hotels over the Christmas period). We were offered a couple of nights free stay during low season, as some sort of recompense, but frankly none of us found the prospect in any way enticing.
If all you want to do is swim, take 30 mins out of your day in the searing December heat to walk to the beach and back, aren’t fussed by eating fresh seafood plus have deep pockets, this is the place for you.
A truly disappointing experience for me and my family, and the fact that it touts itself as a 'Luxury resort' leaves a bad taste in the mouth especially having had the experience.
The Sanders family,
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Forest Dream, a special (family) resort of luxury villas and cottages(7) sits in 25 acres of subtropical forest,3 swimming pools, water slide, bar and restaurant, located in Diani beach on the south coast of Kenya. With the white sandy beach at only a 10 minutes walk, free beach shuttle,our guests have the unique combination of beach and forest. We offer a variety of eco-friendly accommodation like standard room, luxury rooms and suites but also complete cottages and villas with or without AC. All of our cottages and villas are set on its own 1 acre forest garden providing the most exclusive privacy. Best place on the coast to view the local wild-life. The owner of Forest Dream Resort is also the founder of the well know "Colobus trust Diani" and has designed the Colobus bridges over the Diani Road to save those endangered monkeys. We have a private nature reserve at the back of the resort. Some of the villas have their own private pools and are fully staffed. Free "tennis court in the shade of palm trees" ... more less
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