Absolutely fantastic beach (even by Zanzibar standards) and nice rustic design concept. Staff also very friendly and helpful.
However, we do feel Pongwe is somewhat overpriced (even by Zanzibar standards). The rooms are charming in their own way, but really also rather basic and while we have no problems with that as such, it does not relate well to the price. Food also is rather expensive compared to the quality and quantity.
Moreover, as others here have commented the menu is quite limited and although specials can be ordered this is a bit of a hassle as you then constantly have to plan your own meals (ie like home and not what we go on holiday for!). Likewise snacks or sandwiches are not available between meals, and since there is nowhere else to get food you will have to follow meal times slavishly. Not ideal, especially if you have kids. The rather skimpish breakfast doesn't help either. Although we recognize the supply problems for East Coast hotels, we have seen these solved by other hotels at lesser prices.
So: Great and friendly location, but food and overpricing cooled our enthusiasm somewhat.
Heaven on Earth
As a finale to our African honeymoon expedition we stayed for 4 nights of absolute bliss at Pongwe Beach Hotel. Many hours of our days were spent lazing in the numerous hammocks where we were served plates of local fruits by the very attentive restaurant staff especially Petunia.
We managed to extricate ourselves from the hammocks long enough to indulge in the wonderfully prepared local seafoods & though the evening meals were a set menu they were extremely tasty and appetizing. We had thought that my wifes specail diet would pose a problem as it had at the other venues but at Pongwe it was quite to the contrary, she has even come away with some of the chefs recipes.
All of the staff from the management down were very welcoming, helpful & accomodating, nothing was ever too much for them. They made our honeymoon a truly memorable occasion especially the seafood platter served on the beach with candles dug in the sand & a sky full of glinting stars.
Sounds like the stuff fairy tales are made of...........................you better believe it.
Ok place don`t take your granny
Stayed four days at Pongwe, really enjoyed the chill out factor, and that`s it.
Once you have walked the beach then there`s books and games in the reception area.
Lovely warm sea and white sandy beach, tide goes out a very very long way comes back in the afternoon good swimming then not alot else to do.
No good for snorkleing have to go on exspensive trips from camp.
Feel shut in after arrival.
Food very good and well worth the money, staff very friendly and genuine ( would`nt you be on a couple of dollars a day)
Take care lots lost in translation, billing a nightmare waiting staff have no concept of instructions I blame management they have not been trained.
Settled bill at 8pm on last night still recieivng a bill for lunch at 10pm.
Room had no hot water and shower pressure was non existent complained had plumber sent in twice still no joy had to go elswhere not good.
Generator goes off at 1 in the morning so groping round for lamp in the middle of the night, thought this was the 21st century.
Pool being built ready in two months question is `WHY` does`nt need it.
We stayed at Pongwe for 11 days of our honeymoon, and it was amazing!!
As you walk through from reception, you are greeted (not only by friendly staff) , but the clear blue water of the indian ocean, scattered with coconut palms, and pure white sand, it is everything paridise is said to be!
Having worked in the hospitality industry for many years, i can honestly say this place is a dream to stay at,
the managment are fully involved in the day to day running of the hotel, and it feels more like a large family than the "boss" and its staff.
Attention to detail is something this place gets right, and yet it is all kept so simple.
The menu is limited, you should have an open mind, but certainly a fantastic experience, and all fresh and localy produced.
The beach was idilic, you feel alone even if all the hotel guests are on the beach, you realy do "get away from it alll"
Rooms are spacious and immaculately kept, you are made to feel like royalty.
Pongwe is a Beautiful place and a little wondering around the local villages is a must!
This was an experience we can`t wait to repeat...just hope it does not change too much!
Our honeymoon could not have been better, we did not need anymore, as Pongwe exceded our expectaions.
Richard & Jeanie Exeter.
Beautiful, but no paradise
Pongwe is set on a beautiful stretch of golden sand with calm aquamarine water - and certainly evokes a picture postcard beach scene. For a short break to unwind at the end of a safari, you could do a lot worse.
The resort is popular with families and young couples, and does offer a good all-round beach experience - I would reccomend this place if you are able to secure a good deal, but there are a few minor points that take away from the overall experience.
One thing about the beach - for half the day the tide is out, and here it goes out a long way - so we were limited to swimming only in the first half of the morning and in the late afternoon. In between times there is a good 15-20 minute walk out to the waterline, and a lot of seaweed en route (in fact the local villagers harvest the seaweed off this beach at low tide).
The accommodation comprises of around 15 semi-detached beach huts, set back from the sand (ensure you ask for one of the beach-view huts). The accomodation itself is spacious and airy, with some nice touches, and for the price range you pretty much get what you pay for.
The resort facilities are somewhat limited, and beyond lying on the beach and swimming, it is limited to a few over-priced activities and day-trips, which includes a snorkel trip (although the coral elsewhere in Zanzibar is far more spectacular), and high cost trips into Stonetown, about an hours drive away and third-party spice tours and boat trips. If you are staying only here during your trip in Zanzibar it is worthwhile going on at least one trip, but if you are spending anytime in or near Stonetown you will be able to find these trips there for far cheaper prices.
The restaurant at Pongwe serves OK food, but in my opinion is somewhat over-rated. The meal system is very limited, and you only have the choice of two dishes per meal - usually one seafood. This can be limiting, and after several days there can become a little boring as the meals tend to be similar. In addition, there are no other options for eating nearby so you are limited to eating only what is provided. Unless you are on a half-board deal, the meals are expensive as well - one of the most expensive we came across in all of Zanzibar - and we ended up spending more a day on food than we did on our accomodation - so make sure you budget for this.
The staff are friendly, and generally will be accomodating to your requests, which certainly makes a difference. On our last night there we arranged to have our dinner on the beach (usually reserved only when you buy a $35 seafood platter) with our regular meal, which was a nice touch.
Overall, despite these issues, we still thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Pongwe - it is great for relaxing, sitting on the beach and just chilling out for hours on end - which is exactly what we wanted after a long safari. If you set your expectations not for paradise, but for a chilled out mid-range beach resort you'd be making a good chocie with Pongwe.
Just got back from a fantastic holiday where we spent some fabulous days at Pongee Beach hotel. The bungalows were amazing, the food was excellent and the staff was very helpful and efficient. I would highly recommend this place as one of the best places we stayed in Africa. The beach was perfect and very private, the only negative part about our stay there was that it wasn’t long enough ! Believe the photos on the website this place is WONDERFUL !
We then went on to the Dhow palace hotel in Stone Town which was also very nice with amazing big rooms with balconies and a great rooftop restaurant where you have breakfast and now has a swimming pool. The night food market is a must as is a spice tour and a sundowner at the Africa House.
We have just returned from an incredible two week holliday to Zanzibar where we stayed in 6 different hotel/lodges all across the island.
Pongwe Beach Hotel blew us away with what they have developed on one of the prettiest beaches in Zanzibar. (And thats saying something as it is not an ugly island!!)
The rooms are beautiful and full of fantastic touches such as rain showers and personal sun beds on the balconys where tea and coffee is delivered to you in the morning.
The food at Pongwe was also some of the best in Zanzibar which again if you like seafood is brilliant across the island. There's a great well stocked bar too with friendly staff and an infintity pool was not far from being finished when we stayed.
I really can't reccommend this co-owned British and Zanzibar Hotel enough. Excellent people in an excellent location for fantastic value. If your heading to Zanzibar don't miss out on Pongwe.
R and J London