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“Great family holiday at Papillion”

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Papillon Lagoon Reef
Ranked #13 of 29 Hotels in Diani Beach
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 23 March 2010

Stayed at the hotel between Feb and March 2010, with my wife and two children aged 10 and 13yrs. Weather really hot and whilst there went on a 4 day Safari. On arrival at the hotel, made to feel very welcome, which continued throughout our 2 week stay, the staff being extreamely polite, well mannered and helpful, from the cleaners, to the owner. The waiters were especially good and friendly.
Although nothing especially designed for children's enterainment, the Animation Team were all very good at keeping them entertained, aswell as the adults.
The food was also very good and plentiful, especially the bbq's.
The beach was wonderful and even the beach boys weren't too much of a problem.
A trip to the local school was an experience for the kids, making them realise how lucky they are in England.
The family room we had was more than adequate, always kept clean by the staff, the only downside being that there wasn't always hot water, but no problems otherwise.
We couldn't fault the hotel at all, the pool and grounds being excellent, the monkeys providing extra entertainment.
In all we had a great time, not wanting to go home and really look forward to going back again soon.

  • Stayed: February 2010, travelled with family
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1  Thank JBandCB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 9 March 2010

The room upgrade was worth every penny if just for the air con, they switch it off during the day in cheaper rooms. If you need to be in you room during the day to escape the heat or if like me you are unwell then its worth the money.
Food was good. Service from everyone other than reception was great. If I went back I'd stay at Diani Beach as that looked really nice though its more expensive.

  • Stayed: December 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Royce27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 March 2010

This was our third trip to Kenya but our first at Papillon Lagoon Reef. We arrived at PLR after a long hot transfer from Mombasa airport, thanks to the longest Likoni ferry queue we have ever experienced. The journey is always interesting which passes the time, but the temperature did mean we were all very eager to get cooled off in the pool as quickly as possible.

We were greeted with a cold drink, and some basic information about the hotel, then shown to our rooms. We had requested interconnecting rooms, but ended up with two ground floor garden rooms immediately next door to each other which was fine as my children are sensible.

Our initial reaction was that the rooms were a little on the small size, but to be honest I think only due to the photographs we had viewed before our trip. The rooms are simple and adequate. There is a small balcony with two chairs and a table. The windows are the slatted kind, so not sealed from the air and the bugs, but this didn’t present a problem. There is a ceiling fan and an efficient AC unit. There is a large safe, payable at reception, and we also hired a small fridge as my daughter had been prescribed some medicine which needed keeping cold. We would do this again, as it was perfect for keeping our bottled water cold and for storing some milk for my morning cuppa. (Tea and Coffee making facilities are not provided, but I had taken my own small kettle and teabags and coffee as I do not tolerate caffeine, and decaf is not available at the hotel). The bathroom was simple but adequate and in good condition and there was always hot water available, both the bathroom and bedroom were kept very clean during our stay.

The only real criticism of the rooms is that the mosquito nets had some small holes and were 6 inches too short so any bugs present could still get to us. This said, we only suffered a small number of bites, which could have occurred during the evenings spent outside. Also, as the presence of monkeys sometimes prevented me from sitting on the balcony to read, a comfy chair inside would have been nice.

The hotel is run entirely as All-inclusive (irritating bands are issued, which I feel should not be necessary when all guests are all inclusive). There are just two bars, plus drinks service during meals, and only one bar is open at a time so sometimes the queues were lengthy, but at the end of the day everyone is on holiday so there really isn’t a rush. (Just as well really as the German and Czech guests seem unable to understand taking your turn, and also fail to say please and thank you to the staff, which frankly is inexcusable). The choice of drinks is rather limited, juices (two varieties) soft drinks (four varieties no diet option), beer and locally produced spirits. There is a cocktail list, but with the restricted stock of spirits it is really very limited and uninspiring. This said, the beer and shandies are free flowing during the day, and the gin and tonics for the evening really very good. The white wine was not pleasant enough to drink, but my husband did ‘get used to’ the red wine. There is a small wine list available along with a small a la carte menu, which is not included in the all-inclusive package.

Meals are served in the two restaurants and are all buffet style. Breakfast (in the beach/pool side restaurant) consists of a large choice of hot and cold choices, continental style and good old full English, with a fresh egg and pancake station. Tea and Coffee is served by the waiting staff at your table. Lunch is also in the pool side restaurant and consists of very fresh salads, a pasta option, buffet hot dishes, and a grill station for fish or meat of the day cooked to order. Dinner is served in the main restaurant near reception, and is also buffet hot dishes, soup or salads to start, alongside a carvery of roast meats, and desserts are surprisingly tempting, often a crumble or similar English style pudding, alongside, cakes and pastries and fruit. The choice of options at the buffet is not expansive, but this means that what is available is always fresh and always well cooked. At no time did we suffer any upset stomachs and I personally broke all the rules by eating salads, and taking ice in my drinks.

At each meal time there is a choice of outdoor or indoor seating. We found during breakfast we were bothered by insects if we ate outside, and at lunch enjoyed the shade of eating inside. If you want a table outside for dinner, you have to be quick. Many guests take their seats at 7pm despite service not beginning until 7.30pm, there are very few tables for 4 outside also. We were lucky enough to eat outside perhaps 4 times during our stay.

Afternoon Tea and cake is also served at 4pm. This is the monkeys favourite time of day as they will steal cake from your plate quicker than a blink so be warned.

Staff at Papillon Lagoon Reef are always obliging and friendly. Take some time to get to know them, have a chat when they are not too busy. We found Boscoe to be particularly charming, and many of the other waiting or bar staff came to know what drinks we liked and where we liked to sit etc.
The entertainment staff were always busy, Evans, George and Martin deserve a special mention for keeping our children entertained, with pool games, and games on the beach. The only time the entertainment was intrusive was during Aqua aerobics, where the constant instructions were rather too loud, particularly if you are trying to have a doze before lunch. There are two table tennis and pool tables, and a darts board, but use of the dart board and pool tables was restricted to over 16’s only, which I felt was a little unfortunate, as my children of 12 and 10 years can both be trusted to behave responsibly with such activities. Evening entertainment consisted of a variety of dance and acrobatic acts. Some better than others, but always something to look at for half an hour.

The area around the pool and adjacent to the beach offered plenty of sunbeds in sun or shade. The pool boys are supposed to put all the mattresses out in the morning, and move the sunbeds around for you if they are not where you want them etc. During our first week, we found that those who tipped got very preferential treatment in this respect. I mentioned this to a key member of staff after a few days, and after that we found that mattresses were ready for us in our preferred spot, and sometimes towels were already placed there too. We did reward the pool boys at the end of our stay.

One criticism, pool towels are provided at 9am each day, (signed for) but they must be returned by 5.30 even though the pool stays open until 6pm. We regularly found we were asked for our towels before the children had finished swimming, and also the mattresses were removed from the sunbeds even if belongings had been left on them whilst people had a drink at the bar. I am sure a better routine could be established in this regard.

The hotel gardens are well kept and quite lovely. They are frequently visited by Colobus monkeys (endangered and very shy and quiet), Vervet and Sykes monkeys, fun to watch and cute but do not be mislead in to thinking these animals are tame. There are numerous signs at the hotel stating that the monkeys should not be fed as they can be dangerous. However many guests ignore this. I was attacked and bitten by a small female sykes monkey who was trying to raid a lady’s handbag by her sunbed. I was about 3 metres away and stood up to shoo the monkey away, (as I had seen many other people do) hoping to save the lady losing her possessions. The monkey turned and attacked me, giving me a nasty bite below the knee. This resulted in the Doctor being called, a stitch, some antibiotic cream and anti-biotic tablets, and a course of 5 rabies injections. I also suffered cellulitis for two days and had further medication for this. I was shocked to have been attacked and very grateful it was not one of my children. The reason the monkeys should not be fed is because it encourages them to get far too close to guests. Whilst being fed they may seem harmless, but for the guest in your room after you leave, or on your sunbed on another day, they may suffer an attack just for being there without the offer of food. PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE MONKEYS – THEY DO BITE. There are also a number of baboons who regularly visit the gardens, and these would cause much more severe injuries if they chose to attack. Please consider other guests, small children, more senior guests, and restrict yourself to watching and photographing the monkeys.
Staff are tasked to shoo the monkeys away, so if one comes too close to you, call upon staff for assistance. Report anyone you see feeding the monkeys to reception, the hotel owner is adamant that ignoring the rules will not be tolerated, and guests feeding monkeys will have the reasons explained very cleary and in writing if necessary.

Many people find the Beach boys spoil their use of the fabulous beach at Diani. We did not find this the case. We spoke to them politely, and quickly explained we were not on the beach for shopping and they soon move on to someone else. We did buy a few souvenirs from them before we left, but bargained hard to get the price we were prepared to pay, and were always prepared to walk away if the price we had in mind was not met. We used Masudi and his boat twice to head out to the sandbank for snorkelling, and again agreed a price we were happy with. They will all plead poverty, and try for high prices, but they are practised salesmen at the end of the day. They would not continue to do business on the beach if it did not keep them to the standard they are happy with. They all have mobile phones and business cards to hand out, so if they were living as hand to mouth as they would have you believe they would not afford these things. Many of them are very bright, speak many languages, and given the time for a decent conversation can be very interesting. But if you’d rather be left alone, just tell them, each time you are approached. They are persistent because it is their job to be so, not to irritate anyone.

Overall this hotel is a well oiled machine. Thanks to very hands on management by the hotel owners. It is clean and well maintained; the staff from Receptionists (particularly Julius) to the cleaners and gardeners are polite, friendly and obliging. The food is good quality, and tasty. The accommodation and facilities are more than adequate for a well priced all in holiday of relaxation.

We are looking forward to going back to Papillon Lagoon Reef next year for some more sunshine and relaxation.

  • Stayed: February 2010, travelled with family
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4  Thank JulesV
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 February 2010

fantastic place loved it from the cleaners, waiters everyboby was so nice the owner of the hotel happened to be there when we were a very nice lady nothing to much trouble food very nice its a very clean hotel monkeys add a nice touch if you follow guidelines people were feeding them then they became a pest but fun to watch looking foward to going back loved it

  • Stayed: February 2010, travelled with friends
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1  Thank chelfordshorty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 February 2010

This was a return trip for me. The hotel is set in a great area, nice gardens and right on the beautiful beach. The trip from the airport is a bind, having to get the ferry, but it is well worth enduring that. As you travel you can take in the sights and sounds of the area, there is so much to see as you travel to the hotel.
The hotel itself looked a little tired compared to my last trip, little things really. We were aware that more cottage rooms were being built, and it might be that to refresh some of the public areas might be a priority, however it did not affect our holiday. If there was any problem it was dealt with very well.
The staff are wonderful, get to know them, speak to them, learn a bit of swahili!
The food was good, and there was a good variety. There were themed nights too.
The garden rooms which we had are suitable for the time you spend in them. Fan, air-con, hairdryer, safe in room(payable) Mossi nets round the beds. A flask of drinkable water was left in the bathroom to use to clean your teeth. This was changed daily as were the towels. You could get a fresh towel for by the pool each day.
The electricity went off a couple of times when we were there, but the generator kicked in, taking a torch might be a good idea. I took mine.
The monkeys and baboons might have caused some people a problem. The hotel asks that guests DO NOT FEED them, but it is obvious that guests do not abide by this as the monkeys are never far away where food in concerned. They appear at 4pm for afternoon tea and will very quickly run down a tree and pinch your cake! They will appear on your balconys too. Keep your door shut and locked...... they are cheeky, and will try and get into you rooms. If you leave them to carry on with what they are doing, they are not a problem. It was good to actually see the monkeys and baboons going about the gardens with no concern about the guests.
There are beach boys on the beach trying to sell goods. They are really trying it on with the prices. Dont take their offer, its usually less than half what they ask. If you dont wany anything, tell them. They say that to talk costs nothing... But they will walk miles with you! jsut to talk! Tell them to politely go away. Most are fine about it, but if they are not, be persistant with them to leave you alone. They ask so many questions...... start asking them questions and they back off a bit.
There is a couple of small shopping centres down the road. Yes taxis are VERY expensive, so why not go on a matatu? They are small buses that usually carry about 14 people... we counted 22 on ours one day!!!! They cost about 20 ksh a trip, about 20 pence. Just go onto the main road and wait for one, they have a yellow stripe around them and come in all colours and states. Just tell the "conductor" where you want to go, and enjoy the trip. You can go to Barclays, where there is the bank, and DIani Shopping centre. There is also an area with a bar called Ushago,with a few shops too. There are small supermarkets in these area.
We took a few trips, went to Shimba Hills, a mango boat ride to the reef and a day trip to Wasini, with Pilli Pipa, a fab day out on a dhow, the crew very good, and snorkled for good hour, before going for a swahili lunch on the island. The crew were brilliant and looked after us very well.
Cant wait to go back, but got other holidays booked !!
People seem to forget that this is a third world country, dont forget that when you go there.

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled with friends
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2  Thank HollyJane
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 February 2010

I stayed at Papillion Laggon Reef hotel for a two week holiday in Jan 2010 with my husband and was very pleased with the hotel and the friendly staff. Papillion is situated on the edge of the beach with a swimming pool which looks onto the ocean with a beautiful view. The animation team make everyone feel welcome and invite everyone to take part in various activities volley ball, waterpol etc but respect and will leave you alone if you do not wish to take part. The food was very good, plenty of fresh fruit, vegs, meat and fish although I did find the puddings a little different!!
In the first week we went on a 3 day safari with JT Safaris
I arranged this by email before we arrived. We went Tsavo East and Tsavo West we had a really fantastic safari. Julius helped us choose the best lodges to stay in and our driver Abdula could not have been more helpful. We had our own vehicle which made the safari much more enjoyable as a lot of other safari vehicles were crowded. I can really recommed Julius and found him to be very trustworthy as his main concern is to please his customers. We found Julius to be good value for
money.
We found the holiday a very good mixture, the excitement of the safari seeing all the different animals in their natural environment and the relaxation at the hotel in a beautiful setting.
I have no hesitation in recommending this holiday for couples of all ages but feel it is not suitable for families as there are very few facilities for them.
Hope you find this review helpful.

Stayed: January 2010, travelled as a couple
3  Thank Ollers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 January 2010

The original room provided was not in any way suitable, it was on the ground floor and very dark. The electrical fitting for the fan was hanging down from the roof, there were ants everywhere and the window shutters were jammed open which would allow mossies in. They gave me another room which was much better but after a few days more I upgraded for only 20 dollars a night to a sea view room with flat screen tv, fridge etc which was excellent. I think that the standard rooms could at least do with a fridge in them but if you go I would strongly recommend the upgrade,
The food at the hotel was excellent, always plenty of choice and the drinks plentiful with good measures.
The pool is excellent.
Hotel would not be good for younger children, play facilities were very dilapidated and appeared to be no more than a token gesture.
The beach boys can be a pain, the first couple of times I found it ok just to talk with them but they always get around to trying to flog you something, eventually I found it best just to completely ignore them or for a bit of fun make up your own language and watch them try to figure you out!
What makes the hotel stand out is the friendliness and humour of its staff.

  • Stayed: January 2010, travelled solo
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2  Thank M00sej00se
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Papillon Lagoon Reef

Address: Diani Beach Road, Diani Beach, Ukunda, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Coast Province > Ukunda > Diani Beach
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#10 Romantic Hotel in Diani Beach
Price Range: £70 - £216 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Papillon Lagoon Reef 3*
Number of rooms: 119
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Also Known As:
Papillon Lagoon Reef Diani
Papillon Lagoon Reef Hotel Diani

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