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“Superb beach and location, friendly staff, but not 5 star”

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Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa
Ranked #20 of 29 Hotels in Diani Beach
Certificate of Excellence
northampton
Level Contributor
27 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Superb beach and location, friendly staff, but not 5 star”
Reviewed 7 January 2013

Diani Reef is a pretty hotel with excellent views over the sea. The decor really reminds you that you are in Kenya and the public areas are clean and well presented. The best thing about this hotel is its beach front location. The location of sunbeds and shades on the beach, under the palm trees is perfect. you can pay one of the lads to put your towels out for you every morning if you don't feel like getting up early. And, if you are a little put off by the beach boys trying to flog you stuff, don't worry - it's a private section of beach, with security guards. However, the beach boys are only doing their job and trying to earn a bit of cash for their families so please don't be put off by them - you can buy a reef walk (don't pay more than £10 each - should be more like £5), or visit a local village, and even buy a safari, as well as all the usual bracelets, keyrings and carvings. If you are worried about who to deal with, ask for Zula - he is a family friend now, we've known him for over 10 years and his dad is a wood carver.
The rooms are basic - but better than Southern Palms and Sun and Sand, and they have the same ratings. Our room (3035) smelt of damp but it wasn't overpowering. The tiling isn't great but it was always clean and we had fresh linen and towels every day. Half the hotel is currently closed for refurbishment, having just been bought by new owners so if you walk around that side (near the lovely adult only pool), it may look a bit shabby.
The food was Kenya standard - please remember that there are people starving round the corner, and that meat in kenya is usually a bit chewy. The curry is good, and there are lots of fresh cooking stations. Dinner is often moved around the hotel - and dinner on the beach was spectacular - with palm trees lit up and a lovely cool breeze. There is also a speciality Japanese restaurant but it is rather pricey. If you get fed up of the food in the hotel, there is a lovely Indian restaurant over the road, and an Italian restaurant called Leonardo's (about a mile up the road).
I know Kenya is near the equator but I wasn't prepared for how hot it was at night - there are no public air conditioned spaces in the hotel although private rooms obviously are. We've been twice in August and it was much cooler in the evenings - December, January and February are the hottest times to visit.
The staff are all lovely, but the bar often ran out of the drinks we like, and we were unable to exchange dinner for lunch or even a packed lunch (which we've been able to do at all the other hotels we've stayed at). It is worth noting that the staff have very little freedom to make decisions for fear of getting in trouble with the bosses. This might make things seem a bit disorganised. We were half board, and lunch was expensive - about £12 for a burger and chips. There is a beach bar to the left of the hotel, about ten minutes walk, and they make lovely pizza - a little cheaper and great sofas on the beach.
Please, please, if you go to Kenya, take some footy shirts or school uniforms, pens, paper, books - anything - to give to the less advantaged. We support a family in Mwakamba village, which is just about a mile away. If you ask around, there will be someone at the hotel who could direct you/ take you - or give something to the beach boys or staff (although this will have to be outside of work hours). Anything you take will be really welcomed.

Room Tip: There are no lifts, so don't choose an upper floor if you don't like steps. Rooms on the th...
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  • Stayed December 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank James B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
DRBRS, General Manager at Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this review, 10 January 2013
Dear Valued Guest,

Greetings from Diani Beach Resort & Spa

I would like to thank you for your visit and i am very happy to know that you have enjoyed your stay during your well deserved holidays.

It would be a pleasure to welcome you back in a not so distant future.

Regards,
GM@dianinreef.com
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
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Highlands
Level Contributor
30 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 January 2013

Anyone reading the recent reviews will surely be somewhat confused!
We have been holidaying in Kenya for 20 years and enjoyed many happy trips - and this was no exception.


The location is stunning - a vast beachfront, palm trees, comfy sun beds - plenty for everyone - waiter/ess service, with a smile, for those wanting to stay close to the sea.


The public areas of the hotel are spotlessly clean, spacious and beautifully decorated throughout.


Breakfasts - something for everyone - wonderful selection and always plentiful - served in pleasant surroundings - eat on the verandah or inside - your choice, no designated tables.


Glorious sea front lunches with the Indian ocean breeze providing welcome respite; sample the extensive a la carte or 4 course set menu.


Evening meals - wonderful banquets - provided in a variety of locations throughout the spacious grounds, including many at the beach - the staff having transformed the areas during the heat of the day to produce celebratory settings - nothing spared.


The 'beach boys' are, of course, wanting business but take kindly to a polite 'no thanks' and in any case are policed by the hotel's own security staff. 


The rooms - ours a standard room - spacious, comfy beds, cotton sheets - what more could one ask?


The staff - to a person wanting to make our holiday pleasant - surely a reflection of the management style.


We cannot help wondering whether the complainers expected to be able to buy their happiness-
it seems to us that a happy holiday is a combination of a frame of mind and a hotel doing its best - go and enjoy!

  • Stayed December 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank SandLHighlands
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
DRBRS, General Manager at Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this review, 10 January 2013
Dear Guest,

Let me thank your for your wonderful review of our hotel. The management takes seriously all of your comments and we hope to see you again soon.

Please send and email directly to me before your arrival and do stay in touch.

Regards,
GM@dianireef.com
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leicester
Level Contributor
14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 January 2013

pool cold but a welcome cool down from the heat. wouldnt want to stay more than a day...
not the best stop in kenya but not bad for the money.
Not as warm a service as the other hotels on the trip. The Hotel Managers do seem to have their heads very firmly placed uo their ....posteriors. I dislike the "I'm better than you undertones"

  • Stayed November 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank irishdancer53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
DRBRS, General Manager at Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this review, 14 January 2013
Dear Guest,

Warmest greeting from Diani Reef Beach Resort & SPA!

It is our pleasure to have had with us for only one night. Our team have tried to work hard to ensure our resort looks beautiful and meets our guests expectation.

We wish to have the pleasure of serving you again. Many thanks for your comments and feed back.

I want you to know that we take all of our guests comments seriously weather they are positive or negative and will take all the measures needed to ensure your stay with us is always memorable.

Looking forward to welcoming back to our resort.

Regards,
GM@dianireef.com
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Milton Keynes
Level Contributor
43 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 December 2012

Having stayed at this resort in Feb '12 we were looking forward to another enjoyable experiance. How disappointed we were! This hotel has declined so much in the 9 months since our last visit it was unrecognisable in many respects.
Based on 30 years worldwide business travel experiance with a major US corporation plus 15 years of 4 / 5 star leisure travel in subsequent retirement (including 35+ seperate visits to many parts of Kenya) I have no hesitation in writing that Diani Reef is but a shadow of it's former self and is no way a TUI 4T+ or Kenyan 5 star resort. At best it rates 3 star.
Together with other like minded guests we met with the General Manager to air our views on the general food variety and quality. We did not consider a continual menu of chicken wings/thighs, tough goat and thin fish slices, (with the occasional stir-fry thrown in) to be that of a of 5 star resort. When the wine list reduced to only a few highly priced bottles we knew something was amiss (even the red housewine was unavailable).
At the meeting the GM basically dismissed our views on standards and said that financial problems ment that he could not possibly meet our expectations. He then went on to add that if we were unhappy then we should move to another hotel as he did not want us to spread dissent within the hotel. At the end of the week we took up his suggestion ! The GM then went on to confirm that the resort had financial problems and was now having to change its business strategy to improve cash flow. It will now transition into offering bed and breakfast packages only, with all other consumption being directly chargeable. As the GM saw Europe now in decline the resort will concentrate on domestic (Kenyan), other African and Asian (China, India) markets. In future European package tour business will be phased out.
Following the meeting, which took place on our third day in resort, we decided to stay on for a few days to see how things developed. However it soon became apparent that the were many problems ranging from ineffective aircon, no hot water at certain times of the day, lifts out of action, worn/damaged beach equipment, cracked paving/rotting boarding, all coupled with a general impression of cut-backs in maintenance. When we added in bed linen problems (only changed once during our stay) we finally decided it was time to move out.
Given the GM's negative stance on food/wine problems we decided he was not taking customer satisfaction as one of his priorities and therefore we took to registering issues with the front desk or appropriate manager, usually with no positive action resulting, although they did get the hot water going (on 3 seperate occasions!).
In all we had an awful time, a view that is shared by many other guests that we spoken to or have commented on Tripadvisor. We moved to Amani Tiwi (see seperate review) an altogether different resort in facilities and mangement style. We enjoyed our time there and have switched a planned holiday in Diani Reef for Feb '13 to Amani.

  • Stayed December 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Kenya359
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
DRBRS, General Manager at Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this review, 10 January 2013
Dear Guest,
Dear Guest,

Greetings from Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa

Thank you for sharing your experience. It is a shame that you left with such bad impression of the Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa.

We were saddened that you decided to move to another hotel. But it was more of a surprise when you asked to come back tree days later. Because in the end you said that the food was better at our hotel as compared to where you had decided to move to.

It was unfortunate that we did not have any rooms available when you asked to come back as I would of personally welcome you back to the hotel.

We hope to have the pleasure of you company again at some point. Please feel free to contact me before your next planed trip to Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa.

With warm regards
GM@dianireef.com
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Nairobi, Kenya
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 December 2012

The food was disgusting. The staff were extremely rude and unfriendly. Worse of all was the general manager who was not only rude but very irritant and in plain English not even worth talking too. A real cowboy who thinks Africa is too low for him that he is more important then everyone even his client. Beds had bugs and pool was dirty like hell. I do not recommend this hotel even if offered to you for free. simply said it is way too expensive and way too low class and horrible.

  • Stayed December 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Samtravel294207
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
DRBRS, General Manager at Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this review, 13 December 2012
Dear Sammy & Mohamed,

Thank you for your comments.

However after reviewing your comments I found them to be inconsistent with our meeting that took place on the 10th of Dec in our board room. During our conversation that was recorded you never mentioned any of the above problems during the meeting between us and other members of the hotel management staff. This review appears to be a fabrication and not consistent with the audio transcript.

We are puzzled that in our conversation that was recoded you state," that the staff where more than helpful". But, you had stated otherwise.

I am offended that you would state that I have a dislike for Africa. This is a beautiful country with beautiful people. During the recorded conversation I never even made any reference to Africa what so ever. So your comments seem to be a fabrication and not based on any facts.

Please feel free to write to me directly at GM@dianireef.com

Regards,
The GM
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London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
200 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 December 2012

The staff were lovely and welcoming, and service was generally very good (with the exception of one or two staff members at lunchtime). Particular stars were Audi, Susan and Celestino - all wonderful.

We had to complain about the room when we arrived because it had a VERY strong damp smell (which was due to a problem with the aircon which seemed to affect most if not all rooms). We asked to move, and were given a slightly nicer room but still suffered from a strong damp smell the whole time. When first entering the room it was unbearable - we had to get used to it but we spent as little time in the room as possible. Unfortunately, we just can't recommend this place until the damp problem is solved. Also, the rooms (particularly the bathrooms) haven't been maintained very well at all, and are looking very worn - it's not currently a 4 star standard.

Otherwise though, the location was lovely: white sand, clear and warm sea, nice pool, not too crowded when we were there, and the weather was perfect (30 to 34 every day with a nice sea breeze).

One issue with the beach is that it's not possible to walk down to the sea without being harassed by numerous men selling things (tours, souvenirs, etc) who can be quite forceful and very annoying, so we didn't spend much time in the sea unfortunately! The good news is that they didn't come all the way up to the sun loungers in front of the hotel - so we could still enjoy the beach.

The food was good too - it was reasonably varied (though to be honest a bit more variety would be good because it got quite 'samey' after a week) and if we were there for more than a week we'd have gone nuts (with the range of food, damp smell, and not a lot to do). It was nice that dinner was served in different locations (including in the gardens in front of the hotel, as well as on the beach). We had 'entertainment' on most evenings. The Kenyan school choir were brilliant, the Maasai were...um....unique, but the Hotel's 'Animation' entertainment team were truly, truly dreadful and painful to watch.

SAFARI: we had a fantastic safari in a private jeep (organised through wildlife safari org (search it)) to Shimba national park - we got it for half the price Thomson wanted for the same thing (which would have been in a shared minibus).

In summary, great beach, lovely warm sea, hotel is right on the beach, food was good, and staff mostly very very nice, but until the damp problem is sorted out and rooms updated, I just can't recommend the hotel. As soon as it's sorted though, it should be a strong 4 star hotel in a lovely location. If you want to do a safari (which you really should!) then do it with the local 'wildlife safari' team, and NOT with Thomson.

Room Tip: wait until they sort the damp problem before going, otherwise, you're a bit stuffed.
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  • Stayed December 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank GeraintLT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brussels
Level Contributor
48 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 December 2012

This is a nice place, clearly designed with the ambition of creating something special. At the same time it has a worn feel about it, as others have pointed out here. I stayed for one night on business, with a group of 20 people. At the reception guests are greeted with a scented refreshment towel and a cold drink, which is a nice touch. At the same time, we felt that the tone during check-in was a bit brusque. On the upside, our buffet dinner was very good, in a tasteful set-up next to the beach. Finally, I had a problem with my safety deposit box while under time pressure before departure. The problem was solved swiftly and with a smile.

Stayed December 2012, travelled on business
Helpful?
Thank Zwenn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
DRBRS, General Manager at Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this review, 10 January 2013
Dear Guest,

Many thanks for your comments and thank you for staying with us. I have read your comments and I do appreciate your feedback.

I take all of my guests comments seriously and will take the necessary means to ensure that your stay with us is always a rewarding and positive experience.

Regards,
GM@dianireef.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa

Property: Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa
Address: Diani Beach Road, Diani Beach, Ukunda 80400, Kenya
Region: Kenya > Coast Province > Ukunda > Diani Beach
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Diani Beach
#8 Spa Hotel in Diani Beach
#15 Luxury Hotel in Diani Beach
#18 On the Beach Hotel in Diani Beach
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 143
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Diani Reef Beach Resort And Spa
Diani Reef Beach Hotel Ukunda
Diani Reef Grand Ukunda

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