Reviews of Matemwe Lodge
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Matemwe Bungalows review
Location and grounds very good for a relaxing break (albeit too far from, and therefore expensive to get to, Stone town if that was desirable). Quite "rustic" in feel which we found a positive advantage.
Staff and management very friendly and helpful (Sabine sat with her family at supper each evening and made an effort to get up and talk to everyone to make sure we were happy. She was also very open and honest about what she and her husband had taken on and were planning to improve). On one occasion other guests were playing music loudly and this was attended to quickly and diplomatically.
Beach and pool facilities were good. Village and reef visits were easily planned and well worth doing. We were welcome in the village with our guide. Had we had more time we would have taken the opportunity to do some other activities available from the "watersports" area inclduing dhow sailing and kayaking..
We were in one of the older style bungalows which was very spacious and was comfortable albeit the bathroom was adequate but uninviting. It could be better lit and the shower could be easily and cheaply improved with a better head. Maybe this is dealt with in the newer ones and will be done this Spring?
The bungalows being raised on a coral cliff away from the beach was good in terms of security.
Food of very good quality and a real effort made to make tasty menus. The dining room was attractive. We noticed when we got back, the website described coffee and cookies being delivered to your balcony daily but that wasn't done.
The only particular issue we had was that in the very strong wind the noise at night was disturbing and earplugs would have been welcome.
Matemwe Bungalows review
We hoped that this would provide 7 days of complete relaxation - it came up at 200%!
It is extremely well run by the new (arrived in June 08) manager (Mr Stritter ?} who came from Namibia with a German wife.. The bungalows are ideal, with a permanent breeze, lots of well-designed space and always something to see outside, with dhows going in and out, the reef in the distance , the fishermen on foot in the shallow water at low tide, and the changing light.,
The bar and restaurant are excellent, and the manager is doing great things in the gardens , which I suspect got rather overgrown.
Snorkelling is not available from the doorstep, and this means taking a dhow to the reef.
Romance at Matewe
Our stay at this beautiful hotel was a wonderful restful contrast to the busy schedule of our safari.
The hotel had spacious and attractive rooms and the setting on the white beach with colourful gardens and a variety of exotic birds made it a romantic location.
The service was of the same standard that we had enjoyed at our previous stops, but the food was even better, with lots of fresh local fish.
Matemwe Bungalows review
Matemwe is a breath-takingly beautiful bit of coastline. The bungalows themselves are luxurious and comfortable yet they retain a very African feel. We loved the infinity swimming pool, and everything was so easily accessible - the beach, the bar, the restaurant.
The restaurant was in a very nice setting, the food was fantastic and having a choice of two dishes each evening was appreciated. Service was excellent and the managers made us feel very welcome, making a special effort for our honeymoon.
The cool breeze on that part of the coast made the heat more bearable and we especially enjoyed sitting in the swinging chair in the evening, overlooking the ocean and watching the fireflies. It's very peaceful (not a place for people who want to party), we had the most relaxing and romantic holiday - a perfect spot for honeymooners! Highly recommended.
Matemwe Bungalows review
Huge huge potential! - but what a huge huge disappointment it all turned out to be.
Wonderful bungalows and all seemed so ideallic - however, we were to discover quite the contrary.
The food was average on the whole - our first evening bbq meal consisted of my husband being fed RAW and cold chicken - thankfully nothing came of it. We were appalled at how this was handled with our waiter simply scraping off the raw drumstick and giving my husband back the very same plate.
The bar refused to serve us one evening after dinner when we went with another couple for a quick drink. It was 10.15pm and the grumpy barman told us it was closed!
There was no dry white wine AT ALL at the place - some problem with deliveries due to the crisis in Kenya ??? was what we were told. Keeping wine cold was a problem in the heat as they had no ice or sufficient wine coolers. We decided then to forget the warm sweet wine (!) and settle for G & Ts - but no tonic waters on site. No mint (for cocktails) on site! How disappointing.
Our shower didn't drain away properly (bungalow 9) and the lovely huge bath that was in our bungalow
would not hold any water at all as the plug didn't seal.
One was not able to go directly down to the beach or sea from the main bit of the the complex nor the bungalows, which for us was a huge shame. We usually enjoy lying on the beach and swimming in the sea - but if we did this there were no facilities (beach bar, towels, music etc) nearby.
Also, the sea is quite precarious as the floor of it is swimming with sea urchins - which even through sea-shoes stung my toe on our first swim!!
The 2 pools are lovely but are really very small, and it would have been nice to have a pool shower for rinsing off by the pool.
In addition to this, Maternwe village is right along side. Although we both enjoyed seeing the villagers and how they go out fishing every morning in their 'dhows' and how the women do the seaweed farming, the HUGE downside of them being so nearby was that it was like a 'poo minefield' walking along the beach. I know this sounds quite amusing - but it really wasn't too nice!! And as if the sea urchins weren't off-putting enough - the village poo put us off considerably from even going into the sea at all.
New management took over only 3 weeks before our visit. They are a really nice couple running it but they are clearly still finding their feet, and it would be fair to say that there are some management issues and staff issues that need sorting quickly. We spoke to three other couples who had the same gripes as us and although they liked the place and the whole concept of Maternwe Bungalows, they were very much disappointed, as indeed we were.
Expert Africa comments
We were disappointed that these travellers didn’t enjoy Matemwe, and we sent their comments to Anita and Lloyd, the new managers there. They replied swiftly and specifically, commenting:
“The raw chicken – this was served directly off the barbecue, and the chef took the meat from the wrong side; it was immediately rectified. We’re very sorry about this.
We think that there may have been a misunderstanding about the bar. One evening, when we thought that everyone had gone to bed, the barman was closing up. These guests appeared from the beach, and asked if the bar was closed. The barman said that he was closing, but that he would remain open for them. Somehow this appears to have been misunderstood, or taken the wrong way.
I’m sorry that we did have a few supply problems whilst these travellers stayed. Zanzibar is quite remote and such problems do happen occasionally. We had problems sourcing all of the white wines that we usually stock, and the supplier we use (Coca Cola!) had stopped making tonic water, so we had to source some from Stone Town. Sorry about this – but we can assure you that our supplies are we’re back on track now.
The white wine that we did serve these travellers wasn’t to their taste, so I struck it off their bill and offered them complementary bottle of another, alternative wine on the house. I’m sorry that we weren’t able to find a bottle that they liked.
We didn’t know about their shower draining slowly, or their bath plug leaking. I’m sorry that we missed this in our pre-arrival checks. If only they had told us about these problems as soon as they had noticed them, we would have sent our maintenance person around, and solved them swiftly. Please can you tell travellers that it’s better for everyone if they tell us problems like this when they occur, rather than later, at check-out, when it’s too late to solve them.
I’m afraid that we don’t provide music on the beach, or a beach bar; we’re more of a beach lodge, and less of a beach hotel. Our travellers value seclusion and privacy, and we would be wary of interrupting that with a more noisy approach.
The Indian Ocean off Zanzibar does have some sea urchins in it, and we’d always advise travellers to walk over the low-tide area with care. Regarding the beach, around Matemwe Bungalows is generally very clean; we have a few people who make sure it’s clean every morning, even sweeping up any excess seaweed!
However, if you walk south from our beach to around Matemwe Village, then “poo” is occasionally seen on the beach there. This is a relatively new problem, and it is still uncommon – but all the beach lodges nearby are working with the villagers to try and eradicate it. Please bear in mind that this is 500-1,000m or more south of us, and is a public beach; keeping this stretch of sand pristine is beyond our control.”
It’s perhaps worth adding a postscript to this that when these travellers visited Matemwe, the new managers (Anita and Lloyd) were just settling in. The following month, February 2008, Expert Africa’s MD, Chris McIntyre, stayed here as he passed through, researching for a new edition of his Zanzibar guidebook.
Chris commented that: “A month after this report, I stayed here to assess for myself the state of the place.
Anita and Lloyd have only been at Matemwe since around the start of January. So it’s possible that these travellers encountered teething problems which had been ironed out when I visited a month later.
However, in Late February I felt that Matemwe Bungalows was a very good lodge, run to a high standard and managed by an enthusiastic couple with a real depth of African experience. It does have its shortcomings - but then so do all of Zanzibar’s other lodges. Based on my short experience on this visit, and in the past, I’d rank it clearly amongst Zanzibar’s top five beach lodges.
(To put this in perspective, myself and my wife have just visited every lodge that we know about on Zanzibar whilst researching for our new guidebook – that’s getting up toward 200 different lodges!)
We understand that in late February, since this traveller’s comments, the lodges have made an arrangement with the villagers to help maintain the cleanliness of the stretch of the beach near the village.
Matemwe Bungalows review
For a real getaway after safari, Matemwe Bungalows is great. It is certainly remote (quite a journey from the airport/Stone Town and the last few miles is a very rough ride!). This is perfect if you just want to stay there and not do much else - but if you want to take some excursions e.g. to a Spice Farm - then not so easy.
The bungalows themselves are lovely, very well appointed and extremely spacious. The verandah overlooking the ocean is wonderful and you can spend hours swinging on the hammock or lazing on the sofa watching the fishing dhows go out and back and the women of the village pegging and gathering seaweed (for Estee Lauder we were told!!!). The early morning tea and coffee is a lovely touch - we enjoyed getting up early to drink tea/coffee watching the sunrise.
The restaurant is especially nice at lunchtime when the sides are rolled up and you can take a leisurely lunch overlooking the ocean.
One of us was very poorly whilst staying there and nothing was too much trouble. Nigel the manager was very attentive and caring as were all the staff. The 'well' half was fussed over as a lone diner!!
The only down side really was the wind! When the tide comes in it can be very windy and then quite uncomfortable on the verandah and also inside the bungalow as the wind whistled through the louvred doors - at times there was no escape from it. If you are a light sleeper then the noise of the waves crashing on the rocks below can be disturbing - we did not find that a soothing noise.