Our holiday heaven in Kenya!


Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Wickedinrock on February 14, 2011

On arrival
We were instantly wowed by the hotel on arrival – a lovely reception area, people to take our bags and cocktails presented in pineapples! The staff were so friendly and tried to get our room keys sorted as quickly as possible as they knew how long the journey had taken us.

Our lovely room
We were absolutely delighted with our room! We had been allocated a superior room somehow with a large balcony overlooking the pools. There was a fruit platter and a few bottles water left out for us which I thought was a lovely touch! The bed was a large four poster (complete with mosquito net surrounding!) and there was a single bed which could also be used as a settee. We had an old TV which had one English channel, CNN. We didn’t really want to keep up to date with the news but the ongoing Egypt situation meant that we were switching on first thing in the morning and just before bed! It was beautifully clean and I found everything about the room very pleasing including the excellent air conditioning!

The bathroom wasn’t quite as great as the bedroom but still fine. A dated shower and flooring along with a light that made a buzzing sound when it was turned on – it reminded me of something from Psycho! However the sink area was very nice and looked like it had been fitted more recently. 8/10

The facilities
There are two large pools but they could easily be one as they cover almost the whole complex – in fact the website states that they are the largest in East Africa! Within the pools were two pool bars which I think were my favourite thing about the whole holiday! Any water that I would keep with me whilst sunbathing was pretty warm by the time I got round to drinking it so the swim up bars were fantastic! I joined in the aqua aerobics class one day which was hilarious and the guy who ran it had us all jumping around shouting things out and as well as a half hour work out it was a good chance to get to know other guests.

There was a gym on site which I used twice in the evenings once the sun had gone down. The gym was well equipped with 3 treadmills, a bike, a set of weight machines and free weights. This might not sound like a lot but I didn’t see anyone else using the gym the whole time I was there so it was plenty of equipment. There was also a TV room but it only had the same 5 channels as the bedroom. 9/10

An endless supply of beautiful food
Alex and I paid for half board as this suited our needs best with us being out at safari for two days. Breakfast was served between 7.00 a.m. and 9.30 a.m. and was served in the main restaurant. It was never too busy despite everyone eating in one place and there was always lots of food. Guests could choose from a cooked breakfast, cereal, croissants and pastries as well as eggs cooked as you like. However, the best thing had to be the pancakes and waffles which were cooked to order along with the icing sugar, chocolate sauce, maple syrup and honey!

Lunch was provided for all-inclusive guests at the café bar, however as half board we had to pay for our lunch. With it being so hot we were never starving at that time so generally we would have a bowl of chips and an ice cream or maybe a hot dog or pizza to share! It was never healthy but never very expensive! The café served everything from pasta to pizza and sandwiches and various other snacks all at reasonable prices.

There were three restaurants in the resort where we could eat – the main restaurant, an Italian and a grill. The main restaurant had a different theme every evening and the food was fantastic quality. Everything tasted so fresh and not mass produced and the best part was that you could watch the meat being cooked and choose your piece! There was also a chef who you could watch rolling out dough and cooking naan bread (there was always a killer curry!) – delicious! Desserts were lovely and there were lots of options including cakes, pastries, profiteroles and mousses. Everything was buffet style so we could go up as many times as we wanted.

We ate in the Italian restaurant one night and ordered pizzas. They were good but nothing out of the ordinary and we really could have done with another one each! The grill restaurant meal started with salad, then soup (wonderful, especially the pumpkin soup which I’d never tried before!) until the point where we were provided with a hot plate of potato, rice and vegetables. THEN the chefs each took it in turns to bring a massive joint of different meat around on skewers where they would cut some off onto our plates. If we’d have stayed for another week I would have eaten there most nights! 10/10

Chilling at the pool bar
I’ve actually always wanted to go to a hotel with a pool bar and this was one of the things that made us decide on Southern Palms! I’m not someone who can sit in the sun all day and end up spending most of the time in the shade or the pool. The pool bar gave me the best of both worlds! The main pool bar was never too busy and you could always sit comfortably on the seats. In fact quite often we were the only ones there! It got the sun during most of the day but there was enough shade to duck into when needed. There was another pool bar down at the other end of the pool which was always empty, mainly because no-one sunbathed down at that end! The bars were shaped in a circle with a bridge crossing into them. During the evening there were comfortable chairs inside and this became our favourite place to spend the evenings watching the entertainment from a bit further away!

The staff
The staff were all very friendly from the first day and couldn’t do enough for the guests. The cleaner we never saw but she left Chocolate Eclairs on the pillow each night and housekeeping was always immaculate! The waiters and bar tenders were all lovely but as we found out at the end of the holiday, they don’t have contracts at the resort and sometimes do not get paid. I was shocked that this could go on in such a nice place but apparently it is common in these resorts in Mombasa. They rely heavily on tips and they would do anything for you to earn a bit more.

Were we entertained?
The daytime entertainment included aqua aerobics and water volleyball as mentioned earlier and both of these were very popular. There was also a daily aerobics class which took place in ‘the dome’ which also housed two ping pong tables which always seemed to be in use!
The evening entertainment was excellent and well attended. After last year’s hotel in Egypt I feared the worst but was pleasantly surprised with the variety of entertainment. We had a fashion show, an African market and traditional African dancing. The evenings always ended up with the guests getting up and dancing until around 11.30 p.m. when it finished and everything quietened down. This was the time where everyone would naturally return to their rooms but a few of the bars served through the night.

The location
As mentioned earlier, Southern Palms was a two hour transfer from the airport. The roads in Mombasa are very busy and in places not very easy to drive on which can cause delays on journeys. This plus the fact that cars need to take a ferry over the river to get to Diani Beach make the journey much longer than it should be.

It is an area of hotels, both budget and luxury, along the stunning white sand Diani Beach. The beach boys outside the resort would pounce the second a westerner walked onto the beach trying to sell something, whether a souvenir, a safari tour or a sarong. It is easy to barter the beach boys down but I always felt bad doing this when the price different made much more of a difference to them than me. The hotel was perfectly placed along the beach but the fact that it wasn’t easy to get to from the airport was quite annoying. 6/10


Southern Palms Beach Resort
Diani Beach
Diani, Ukunda, Kenya
254 40 3203721

http://www.igougo.com/review-r1383997-Our_holiday_heaven_in_Kenya.html

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