Reviews of Pole Pole
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Pole Pole review
Life at Pole Pole was luxurious, tranquil and calm. The staff were graceful, seeming to really enjoy the job of looking after the guests
and just watching them serenely going about their work made me slow down and relax.
The food was a wonderful surprise, a wide variety (including a delicious Swahili meal) served outside overlooking the ocean. With linen and flowers at every meal (even at the 3 course breakfasts) the fish and local fruits were especially fresh (no worry about food miles here.)
The Dow trips out to the coral beds for snorkeling were a highlight especially the day we sailed onto a sandbar for barbecued fish served by the Captain and his crew. The colony of fruit bats which passed by our veranda each evening at sundown will be remembered for a long time to come and having a massage from Jenny whilst overlooking the beach is a treat we would recommend.
We (reluctantly) left feeling like we'd been there for weeks not 6 nights and determined to return one day.
Pole Pole review
The food was really excellent. Every meal was always something special.
The only disappointment was the beach. It was not very pleasant and we didn't know about that.
Pampering at Pole Pole
A totally different experience from the previous three lodges - this was a more upmarket, exclusively professional and a highly enjoyable tropical retreat, where the real world was kept at bay. The lodges were very comfortable in luscious settings overlooking the gardens leading down to the beach.
Every aspect was directed at providing a second to none experience and at the end of our trip we appreciated the pampering of wonderful food, electricity, flush toilets and a quiet electric roof fan to make sleeping possible. Three nights was just right for us. All local staff were extremely helpful and spoke and understood better English than on Chole.
The boat and snorkelling trips inspired confidence, were professional in all respects and planned individually for guests the previous night. All staff were upbeat, polite and professional in every respect.
A brilliant end to our two weeks in Tanzania.
Pole Pole review
You couldn't get much more relaxing than a few days at Pole Pole. On our first morning, totally exhausted from our safari, we surfaced at 11.30 and were amazed to find that breakfast was still being served. Maura was so welcoming and we loved discussing the food with Mattija whose passion for fresh, local food is really impressive (and his homemade chilli oil isn't bad either!).
Everything was set up so that you could do as much or as little as you wanted and the dive trip (departing from the dive centre at Mafia Island Lodge next door) was really enjoyable, as was the snorkelling trip on our first day.
Being served dinner (and champagne) alone in the beach hut as a surprise on our last night was a really special touch which we really appreciated.
Pole Pole review
Great staff, trained v well, and always pleased to help. Too much food! We had to try and order single portions for 2 after a few days. Meals almost at any time.
Impressed the way one of the staff remembered I had asked for fresh coconut juice, but none was available that day (6pm and no one available to climb a tree!), so they arrived with one the next day!
Pole Pole review
Very relaxing, just what we needed after the safari which is more tiring than one thinks!
unfortunately we both had coughs when we got there so my husband was only able to do one dive and we coughed well down our snorkels!
Everyone was very helpful and the fruit was especially lovely at breakfast. The boat trips are glorious especially when the sail was put up on the return journey.
Pole Pole - Classy Place (and great diving)
Hard to fault Pole Pole.
Food exceptional (particularly sushi), nearby diving first class and staff brilliant - Mateija had the place running perfectly.
Great to visit the nearby village too.
Ideal place to relax after busy safari
Pole Pole was exactly what we wanted after a busy week of travelling and early starts - the perfect antidote and very relaxing. The situation was perfect for what we wanted - idyllic setting, very quiet, with excellent snorkelling and diving in the bay, some of the best corals we have seen. We went out every day, sometimes twice, in the dhow, to different sites in Chole Bay, and all were first class.
The bungalows were very attractive and comfortable, perfect to just lounge around in, reading, snoozing etc when we weren't out on the daily excursions. Food was good, though naturally quite fishy, given the location. We are not particularly keen on too much fish, but having established that, the menus for the day were discussed with us, and alternatives offered if we wanted them..
Maura, the manager, was a natural host - a very warm person, who really enjoyed chatting to guests at length when we were in the bar or dining room, and was a mine of information, and also incredibly helpful - we really felt she genuinely enjoyed meeting and talking to her guests and doing all she could to enhance their holiday experience, and she demonstrated this in all sorts of thoughtful ways.
Mafia is very quiet and unspoiled - some people mind find it too quiet, but it was everything we had wanted and more - shame we didn't see the whale sharks, but that was the only regret. Perhaps another time - I would certainly go again as a follow on to a safari if we were to go back to that part of Africa for another holiday.
Pole Pole review
Excellent small beach lodge. Food was exceptional (many thanks to the chef who served us brilliantly as we do not eat seafood which was one of the lodges specialities considering its location). The beach is small but as there are so few guests this is not a problem at all as you almost felt as if you had the beach to yourself. We had a lovely lazy 4 days which was just what we needed after 10 days safari.
The bats each night were amazing.
Good snorkling but Pole Pole needs a revamp
Expected a four star experience but would rate it as three stars. The whole resort feels a little shabby and it requires investment to bring it back to the standard it clearly was when first developed. Specifically:
- there was no electricity from 12 noon to 5:30pm and then again no electricity from midnight to between 6.00 am. This meant the fans could not be used at night with the consequent heat and mosquito problems.
- food was very variable in quality. Meat was scarce.
- the furnishings and decor was slightly shabby eg mosquito netting over windows left large gaps for mosquitoes to come in and most chairs were very uncomfortable.
Staff were exceedingly kind, curteous and attentive and tried their best to please. Programmes were always adjusted to suit every individual. Nothing was too much trouble. The resort is well managed.
We were there for five nights which was too long. Three nights would have been adequate.
Expert Africa comments
We regard Pole Pole as a great ‘small island lodge’, which is informal, relaxed and fairly low-key – where luxury and comfort is moderated by a real effort to blend with the nature. Perhaps because of this, we don’t think of Pole Pole in ‘star’ terms. We apologize if we made a mistake sending these travellers here, when a more formal, 4- or 5-star hotel might have suited them better; this might be the root cause of some of their comments above.
We have never regarded Pole Pole as ‘shabby’ - it’s never been so when we have visited in the past - although we were not actually visiting the lodge at the same time as these travellers.
We sent these comments to Massimo, Pole Pole's owner-manager, who was concerned by them. He remembered these travellers, and their warm goodbye to the team on their last day. He was very concerned that they hadn’t been happy – but said, ‘I wish that they had voiced some of their issues whilst they were with us; we would have looked into them immediately’.
Pole Pole has mains electricity, but during Sept/Oct 2008 an exceptional power-cut all over Mafia lasted 3 weeks. Pole Pole’s back-up generator then kicked in immediately. As the evenings windy and relatively cool, it was decided to switch it off at night, and also around lunch-time, to preserve the silence. Again, Massimo commented, “If any guest had wanted it to be kept on all night, all they needed to do was to ask.”
Massimo explained that Pole Pole has recently taken on a new ‘food and beverage manager’ to further boost the lodge’s cuisine. “He changes the menu every day.” In Expert Africa’s experience, Pole Pole has always tried hard to satisfy the dietary requirements of the travellers that we’ve sent there – and we’ve sent vegans, people who need gluten-free meals, amongst others. However, as with any lodge; they need to know about the preferences of their guests in order to act upon them.
Massimo commented, “Most guests just want seafood here, which is fine! But if anyone’s not happy with the choices on the menu, all they need to do is ask and we’ll try to prepare something to suit them. Meat is never a problem!”
Regarding mosquitoes, all Pole Pole’s bungalows have mosquito-screened windows, plus a separate mosquito net protecting the beds. At the start of 2008, Pole Pole’s regular annual maintenance included work by carpenters who stripped down each room, sandpapered all frames, changed every hinge and lock, repainted walls and made sure everything was working well. During this work, they changed all mosquito screens on the windows. Massimo commented that he wasn’t “aware of any holes in the screens, but if we do find any – they’re easy to fix. You must tell your visitors to point out things like this to us when they are here, not after they get home!”
Having said all this – we’re delighted that these travellers found that Pole Pole’s staff were exceedingly kind, courteous and attentive; that everyone tried their best here to please our guests; and that nothing was too much trouble. That’s exactly what we’d expect from a great ‘small island lodge’!