We expected the service to fall off here, as we were leaving CC Africa properties and using another company. But we needn’t have worried, the service and food was every bit as attentive and luxurious as we had grown pleasantly accustomed to. We looked at the CC Africa property Mnemba, but ruled it out because the rooms didn’t have air conditioning (not necessary on safari but well used at the beach), nor did I remember it having a swimming pool (I’m not an ocean swimmer). I’m sure it was lovely, but I was ecstatic at the Palms.
Villas: The houses are enormous! We had Cinnamon, which I believe to be the best located, since it sits closest to the beach as well as closest to its own beachside banda. Each villa and banda has a name assigned so there’s no need to wonder where you’ll be lounging. (Other names included Frangipani, Hibiscus, Clove, Jasmine, and one other name I can’t recall.) The bandas have a king-size mattress under a palapa thatch roof with tons of comfy pillows, as well as two sun lounge chairs with cushions and a small table on a cement slab surrounding the banda. There was plenty of room to move the chairs as necessary to get the maximum sun. On the porch of the villa is a twin-sized 4-poster canopy bed with fluffy pillows and mosquito netting, used for relaxing. There’s also a baraza, a staple of Zanzibar architecture, which is a stone bench topped by cushions and pillows also for relaxing. Each villa has it’s own private plunge pool, more of a cold water jacuzzi. Just a nice touch, and for the Cinnamon villa, excellently located to pop into from your banda rather than using the main pool. (The whole property is a great size, however, feeling neither huge nor cramped but just right.) There’s a living room, with a wall open to the bedroom area. Living room has a couch/bed, chair/ottoman, armoire with TV and DVD player (can borrow 2 movies per day from reception), and a bar/wet bar with 2 stools. There’s a mini-bar included (alcoholic, non-alcoholic sodas, and waters). A second small bedroom (twin bed only) and another full bath (stall shower only) is off the living room. The master bed was beautiful and romantic–mosquito netting which was opened at turndown (but not needed–might have been if you had opened your windows rather than using the FIVE air conditioning units in each villa). There is a large dressing room/closet, and an immense bathroom, with a separate water closet (toilet and bidet), stall shower, soaking bathtub, twin sinks placed face to face with a mirror in between, tiny dressing table. A good selection is provided: shampoo (but NO conditioner), body lotion, bubble bath, sewing kit, loofah mitt. NO washcloths were provided, although there were plenty of towels. There is an electronic safe, umbrellas, and robes provided (but NO slippers). The doors can be locked with a key, but we didn’t bother.
Common Areas: There is a lobby area for check-in, with a small shop and internet room off of it (free internet). The lounge/bar area is quite large, but we didn’t use it, instead choosing to gather with other guests (it’s amazing how often you run into people that you’ve seen at other camps throughout your trip) on the wide porches with comfy armchairs/ottomans and twin, 4-poster canopy beds used for lounging! Really beautiful! The pool was really nice (rarely used, enough chairs for all guests anyway so there’s no need to reserve), tiled in royal blue, which was accented by the royal blue privacy fabrics of the lunch/poolside restaurant and on the bandas, as well as the table runners/napkins at the pool restaurant. Breakfast takes place on the verandah of the main building; and dinner just inside in a more formal dining room (un-air conditioned, but large doors are opened to let in the sea breezes). There was an upper loft area with another big relaxing bed above the bar/lounge area in the main building. There is a dedicated spa for the guests of the Palms (we didn’t use it, but other guests raved about services and said the prices were reasonable).
Food: The food at The Palms was outstanding: five course meals every night, since the bread (and compliment) was almost a course in itself, followed by two starters, the entree, and the dessert (homemade ice creams are often an ingredient). Someone will find you in the morning to learn your lunch selection (two choices for the appetizer, two choices for the entree), then find you again in the afternoon at sundowner time to see what you want for dinner (just a choice between two entrees at dinner).
Beach: The sand was nice and soft, but there was some seaweed. The tides changed quite quickly. At low tide, you could walk out for what seemed like miles, and the beach was wide, with unbelievably pretty shells. At high tide, there was just a narrow strip of sand to walk on. The water color changed with the tides, sometimes very light aqua to dark blue (but it’s not the aquamarine color in your wildest dreams).
Breezes: Guests of the Palms are entitled to use the services next door at Breezes. This is a much larger property, with a more typical all-inclusive feel (although not all was inclusive). We could eat and drink there, but it wasn’t included as guests of the Palms (though why would you want to leave your exclusive enclave?). There was another spa (which seemed to fill up quickly with all the guests at Breezes), a small fitness room, tennis court, watersports facility (snorkeling equipment and water shoes for walking out to the reef are free). Breezes had many restaurants–probably 5, although 2 were a la carte–and a few bars. There was a supposedly larger shop there than at the Palms, but it was closed when we tried to visit. I could have been happy at Breezes had I not seen the Palms, but as it is, I’m glad we chose to spend the extra money.
Surprise at The Palms: DON’T READ ANY FARTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SPOIL THE SURPRISE!
On your last night at the Palms, you will not eat with the other guests, unless they are departing on the same day as you. For us and another couple, tables were set up in the spa area surrounded by candles. I’m sure the meal was the same as for the other guests, but it just felt special to be in a more remote, private area.
The management of the Palms also has a bucket of champagne and fruit waiting for you at check-in time, and they also give each guest a pareo/sarong to wear and then take home.
It is also possible at the Palms to request a private dinner on the beach, but I think it was an additional cost, and it was set up at the banda closest to the dining room, which wasn’t all that far from other guests. You could also request sundowners on the beach accompanied by canapes, but that didn’t seem worth the extra cost either because the staff found you wherever you were and brought your sundowners and snacks to you (sometimes appetizer food, sometimes homemade chocolates). Your banda couldn’t have been that much closer to the beach than the spot that you would have paid for.
Liked — Villas, Food
Disliked — Liked it all
Guest nationality: American
Reviewed September 23, 2007