Reviews of Pole Pole
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
6 nights at Pole Pole
Pole Pole is wonderful and a very good combination following a safari.
Marta the new manager is doing a great job but is only 3 months in and perhaps it tells. The staff at the hotel are very kind and helpful but there is a slight lack of efficiency in taking food and drinks orders and there are clearly some language difficulties. It seemed at times that the bat and kitchen could do with some guidance to sharpen things up.
Having said that they were all charming and such elements didn't detract from the stay at all. I got the impression that Marta was having to refer decisions up the chain to management when she was clearly capable of making such decisions herself. One got the impression that she was not granted total autonomy that a manager needs. Doubtless this will change as time goes on.
The relationship that Pole Pole has with Mafia Lodge for activities works well and guides from there were helpful in planning the following day's activities. The food was good, sometimes excellent, but for an exclusive location, I had expected more consistency in quality. All in all I would give it a 9 out of 10. in part the score is high because of the sublime locality and access to snorkelling and scuba diving in a location only in the early days of tourism.
Great location, a little tired
We were a little disappointed by Mafia and Pole Pole. feel that maybe new management is struggling, and also that the place needs some TLC to bring it up to scratch.
The excursions were very good, our guide Sadike was excellent and very friendly. Generally felt that staff were very shy at communicating, and that the island was very overrated. The enclosure of the Marine park and daily entrance fee made it feel like an us and them situation.
Expert Africa comments
Expert Africa forwarded these travellers' feedback to Pole Pole, who thanked them for their feedback.
They are sorry to hear that these travellers felt that the management was struggling. The new manager has been in place for three months, and has received only positive feedback up to this point. Any management change here is done under close supervision and regular monitoring. No maintenance issue was reported during these travellers' stay and so without further clarification as to what the issues were here, it is difficult to comment further on this.
Pole Pole assures us that the vast majority of their feedback tells them that their staff is friendly and helpful. Sometimes the discrete Swahili way, which many find charming, may come across as shy.
Mafia Marine Park is not fenced or distinctively separated from the rest of the island. Pole Pole considers it a privilege to be inside the protected Marine Park, which makes Mafia a great diving destination.
Pole Pole are sorry that they didn't meet these travellers' expectations, and are never happy that clients go away less than satisfied, no matter the reason why.
Pole Pole review
We enjoyed our stay at Pole Pole which was very relaxing. The current manageress had only been in charge for two months .
The food was little disappointing as only fish was served, however they were happy to find alternatives when asked.
I was ill during our visit and the manageress was extremely helpful and sympathetic. I think to make full use of this Island you need to be interested in diving to make best use of the marine park , some of the other activities were quite expensive.
Pole Pole review
Pole Pole meaning Slowly slowly was exactly what it was like relaxing and everything you needed to hand and easily organised. Was very impressed with the trips offered and the area. Would highly recommend the personalised service recieved. Very quiet almost flet like you had the whole area to yourself.
A short walk when it was low tide to meet with the boat/ dive shop. Just need to be aware if booking trips/ dives to ask and make sure lunch/meals have plenty of time - ask in advance.
Pole Pole : beyond brilliant!
6 days at Pole Pole over New Year 2014. The best way ever to bring in a New Year. Wonderful new year party arranged on the beach brought the new year in in memorable style.
Superb food. Local fresh fish with every meal and they catered for my non fish eating son seamlessly.
Superb complementary outings arranged daily i.e snorkelling +/- picnic lunch / sunset dhow rides.
Next door is an excellent diving operation 'Mafia Island diving'. They recognized our names from our trip in 2013, and so kept places assuming we were still keen ++ divers. We had not pre-booked so without this we would have had problems as the season was so busy. Typical of the detail that they look after us with.
We went on a Whale Shark snorkeling trip with Kitue Kiblu as advised by Mafia Diving. It was a totally professional organization so well worth paying the extra over the local guides. The experience was truly awesome. They are magnificent creatures and the contact was long and detailed even though we felt like Jonah for much of the time!
This experience was 100 USD per person, and they only take cash, so it would have been helpful to budget for this before departure. Fortunately Pole Pole accepts tips in Sterling otherwise we would have had a cash crisis. All other add-on's use Visa cards.
Pole Pole review
We had a pleasant six days rest and relaxation here. Sara was a good host.
Service and food were excellent and the banda was well laid out and equipped.
The activities were OK for filling out the days, but not particularly exciting.
Pole pole was great. The staff so helpful and always smiling. All did their best to improve my Swahali speaking skills! The chef went out of her way to cook alternatives for me as, for example, I eat no shellfish except prawns. It was never forgotten and the alternatives were unfailingly delicious. The daily complimentary excursions were very good - in particular the dow trip to a reef where we snorkelled then on to a sandbank where were given fish grilled on the beach while we lazed in the sun
The one problem we had was with the beach. The tides were dramatic. At high tide there was no beach and at low tide the water so far out swimming was not possible. Also the current was strong as the tide was going out and,again, we could not swim. We were disappointed as we had not had a good experience in Zanzibar (razor sharp rocks by the shoreline making it impossible to enter the water) and expressly asked for a location where we could lie on the beech and swim in the sea.
This should not realky be marketed as a beech holiday (the photo in your brouchure is misleading). Fortunately there was a lovely swimming pool and that is where we spent much of out time quite hapily. The spa was a welcome luxury.
Expert Africa comments
We are delighted that these travellers enjoyed Pole Pole generally and especially the pool and the spa.
However, we were concerned about their beach comments. As with all beach places in Mafia and Zanzibar, the tides do affect the beach and the options for swimming. Pole Pole has a better beach than many other Mafia lodges, with a significant area of soft sand, and fewer mangroves than elsewhere. Swimming from Pole Pole's beach is possible during high tides, while at low tide the lodge also offers excursions to exposed sand bank islands (which these travellers enjoyed) large beaches where you can always swim. These daily trips are included in the rates.
That said, Mafia's beaches aren't like Zanzibar's. We always try to discuss this with our travellers; were sorry if we didn't emphasise the differences enough.
We've assured these travellers that the picture of Pole Pole in our brochure was like every single other picture in our brochure taken by one of our team when they visited the lodge, and it hasn't been edited in any way.
Beach esclusive life
The lodge is very small, with lots of space, very welll maintained. Beautfiul view from the rooms.
High quality rooms, with plenty of attention to details.
Maybe the lodge is even too quiet.
Pole Pole review
ExcellentRead more about the whole beach holiday
Paradise in Pole Pole
This was the ideal end to our safari holiday.
Woderful beach side location, very comfortable bungalow, outstanding food, fabulous staff.
Our swimming with whale sharks was a memorable experience.