Reviews of Echo Beach Hotel
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Beautiful setting, amazing empty white powder sand beach. Really nice resort, very tasetful and well layed out. We were in a brand new honeymoon bugalow which although was nice, had a few teething problems and had only been finished the day before. For example one problem was having no curtains on the windows which was not very private.
The food was ok though not of the standard we were expecting after the initial reviews. There was limited choice at breakfast and the menu was almost the same every few days. I had to send food back when it wasn't cooked and there was very little help with understanding my food allergy. Drinks were reasonably priced but food was a little expensive for what it was. In general the staff were friendly and helpful, although their english was quite limited. They seemed to be recieving little help or supervision and were always blamed for mistakes. This leads to our main concern with Echo Beach.
We were very unimpressed with the management and organisation at Echo Beach. When we arrived we were met by Lissa (?) who seemed to be a friend of Sue and Andrews but she didn't expalin what her role was. Sue was friendly and approachable but there seemed to be various problems with electricity, builders, court cases etc which meant she seemed quite distracted and stressed and openly admitted booking errors and problems with staff which didn't fill us with confidence. Andrew was unfriendly, sarcastic and if we approached him with a problem or issue he was very unhelpful, passed it in to Sue and would then just walk off. I had two pairs of shoes stolen from outside the bungalow. We had perhaps become a bit blaze as in previous resorts we had been told security was not an issue at all. This problem was not handled very well.
Echo beach has so so much potential and really is a stunning resort but needs to decide whether it is a 5* resort as it is claming or a more laid back, chilled out beach shack type place. Again, we did not think it gave a high class impression with the mamagers standing by the bar drinknig and chain smoking. We would recommend it as a nice holiday resort but for us and other honeymooners we spoke to we expected that little but more when it was our holiday of a lifetime.
We did diving at Breezes which was excellent both in staff amd equpiment and although the visibility was not as good as we had imaginged it was good diving. We organised a sunset dhow and swimming with dolphins through Sue and a local taxi driver. They were both very good but In hindsight although we were advised that he (Dini) was much cheaper than Fisherman Tours we are now concerned that the money was mainly going to him and not the locals who took us out. We booked a spice tour through Fisherman Tours which was excellent. We weren't expecting much but it was really interesting, the guide was excellent and a real character who had an excellent rapport with the locals. The young man who was accompanying us and gathering all the leaves and spices etc took us to his house which was a very humbling experience. So on reflection we perhaps should have booked all the trips through them although it does seem a long way for them to some from Stonetown.
Echo Beach Hotel review
The pool/beach is paradise, just an incredibly beautiful setting. The service was great. The food, delicious. The only negative, and this was hardly a negative, was that the room always felt damp and smelled a little musty.Read more about the whole beach holiday
Echo Beach Hotel review
The owners are very friendly as are the staff however they need further training. The lodges are perfunctory and clean. I did not like the general area, lots of lodges and a few all inclusive hotels some of the locals were a little seedy.
A great location to sit by the pool and read. The tide goes out and out and out for about half a mile and at high tide there was a strong current when I was there, not ideal for swimming.
Expert Africa comments
This solo traveller visited Echo Beach about 6 weeks after it opened, aware that it was new. Sue and Andrew, the owners, felt these comments were a little unfair, but agreed that the staff needed further training. They are working on this at the moment. (In fact, the lodge closes during the rains, in April 2008, with intensive staff training is on the agenda!)
That said, they are pleased that the staff are seen as ‘polite and helpful’ – and realize that it’ll be a little while before they can refine Echo Beach’s standards of service to match the high level of its food.
Sue felt that the description of ‘perfunctory’ was harsh. She was keen to point out that she had sourced virtually all the furniture in Zanzibar (made by local craftsmen); the bedcovers and curtains were designed and made to order; and the bathroom fittings are very high-quality – imported from a top-end UK designer. The bathrooms are in a very minimalist style, and we see how these could be described as ‘perfunctory’ … but it’s really a matter of taste. It depends if you like the clean, clear lines of modern design, or not.
Note that the nearest lodges to Echo Beach are Breezes and the exclusive Palms, both of which are 5 minutes’ walk north. To the south, the nearest if Sunrise Hotel, about 15 minutes’ walk away. None of these operate on an ‘all-inclusive’ basis. If you keep walking further south, then you will eventually find an Italian all-inclusive resort – but this is 4-5km away.
There’s a very good point here about the tides on the gently-sloping east coast of Zanzibar: low tide goes out a very, very long way. Hence many of the better lodges, including Echo Beach, have swimming pools.
Echo Beach Hotel review
So relaxed it is almost horizontal! A great place to unwind after the rigours of a safari. No activities on site but if you want to top up the tan, eat great food and enjoy the view then this is the place.
Accommodation, layout and location were superb. The food was excellent - lots of local produce (particularly seafood) - the barbequed lobster and parrot fish on Christmas day were a real treat.
Echo Beach had only just opened. In some respects this showed - the odd defective light fitting, stiff doors, the very odd hiccough with service, etc, but nothing to detract from the overall experience.
Unlike Manze and Impala camps there was no written information in the rooms or the bar/restaurant area. We did mention this and we were told that this was being addressed. However. verbal advice was freely available and trips easily arranged.
Again, the staff and management were incredibly polite and helpful.
Echo Beach - truly fantastic
Echo Beach is truly beautiful - exactly what I was looking for. The natural beauty of the place is striking, it is unspoilt with white sand, turquoise sea. We didn't really see many other tourists so if you are like me and want to get away from EVERYTHING at home this is perfect (Although if you want to you can find them in the hotel bar further up the beach).
When you stand on the beach you can't see any hotel buildings or any man made structures, it all blends into the natural landscape. The people you do see are the fishermen selling the fish to the hotels and school children cycling to and from school.
The accommodation was really stylish and the materials were definitely in harmony with the surrounding - I think people call it understated luxury. The accommodation was also spacious which is great. The restaurant lounge was very relaxing and had the most wonderful cooling breeze.
The owners were the main reason we had such a memorable time. They are such welcoming hosts and we had a great laugh with them. We became great friends very quickly and often went on trips with them to get more beers from local bars and down to the village to pick up supplies. It was an experience most people don't get. In fact we became great friends with many of the staff who we went out with on a couple of occassions - they would do anything to make sure we had a great time although we didn't ask for much.
They sorted out a fishing trip with local fishermen (there is nothing worse than those fishing trips you go on with about 10 other tourists and the agenda is all set for you). Rob, my travel mate, just wanted to do a bit of snorkelling but didn't want to go on a massive trip for hours with lots of people so one of the staff accompanied him locally which was just what he wanted.
I will definitely go back again, truly fantastic. I walked down the beach to see some of the other hotels recommended in the area and this was by far the better one for us, and unless you like staying in resorts with hundreds of other people then most people would opt for Echo beach I reckon.
I don't know how I nearly forgot to add that the food here is excellent. Andrew is definitely an accomplished chef and I had some of the tastiest food ever which is one thing they say you don't go to Zanzibar for. Well foodies would not be disappointed here. The fresh fish was amazing and I still want the recipe for Andrew's fishcakes.
Anyway, if you have any specific questions please ask and if any of your customers want to see real people's photos (as opposed to brochure) or ask us specific questions, I would more than happy to answer them.
p.s. our 'real' photos are even better than the brochure ones.