We decided to finish our epic Ethiopian tour, and celebrate Roy’s 60th birthday, in Kenya at the “Pinewood Beach Resort and Spa”:http://www.pinewood-beach.com/: a small, intimate boutique hotel, south of Mombasa on Galu beach.
It’s difficult to know where to start this review as there were so many positive things but I will start with three exceptional things.
1. We ran out of suncream during our 12 night stay and, as this wasn’t stocked in the small hotel shop, we asked reception about a taxi to the nearest supermarket (10 minutes by tuk tuk). The manager, Evans, asked us to write down our requirements and sent someone to the shop for us.
2. On asking about something special for Roy’s birthday, we were told we could have a private dinner anywhere in the grounds or on the beach. We chose from an extensive menu and as the beach started to become windy mid afternoon, settled on the garden. We had our own immaculately attired chef and a memorable evening at no additional cost (we were on an all inclusive package).
3. Rooms have to be vacated by 10am (check in is noon) which is also when your all inclusive package ends. We weren’t leaving until 2.30pm and as the hotel wasn’t busy (around 30% occupancy), Evans let us retain our room and remain all inclusive. The 58 rooms were dotted either side of a wide path running from reception, through beautiful monkey and bird filled gardens, past the swimming pool to the beach. Studio rooms were on the ground floor and had a personal chef. We were on the first floor with a sea view with room 191 being the best in the hotel: one of only two first floor rooms with a sea view and, as we were on the corner, a pool view as well. Consequently we enjoyed sitting out on our balcony and reading (there was a well stocked library which had just enough books in English to keep me going).
The room was spacious and bright as the walls were white with blue decorations. A simple recessed wardrobe and cupboard with curtain, provided all the hanging space we needed and there was a small desk, stool and chair. A mosquito net on rails well outside the bed meant it was easy to get in and out of.
The good sized swimming pool (suitable for all levels of swimmer) had a swim up bar and plenty of sun beds. As the hotel is on the beach, the first part had a low wall marking it out as private. Although the stretch of beach down to the sea was public, the hotel had an agreement with the local beach boys that they wouldn’t hassle you directly in front of the hotel. The Indian Ocean was warm, but at times a little weedy, presumably something to do with the tides, and you had to pick and chose your time for swimming in the sea. You could walk in either direction on the firm beach in both directions for as long as you wanted.
There was a fabulous bar at the beach (open from 10am to midnight) and a second at reception. Afternoon tea was provided by the pool and tea and coffee available all day at reception.
Breakfast was a simple affair with fruit and yoghurt, juices, two cereals and then bacon, sausage, beans and an egg chef.
Lunch was a la carte at either the pool or beach under shady trees. The menu had salads, burgers, sandwiches, fish and meat dishes along with a changing daily special which was good for those there for a couple of weeks. Flavours were fresh and portion sizes were good so we found sharing a main dish with a salad perfect. It was my favourite meal of the day.
Evening meals were themed buffets (Swahili, Chinese, Indian, continental roast) served in the Bahari restaurant at reception. On two nights there was a beach BBQ (followed by traditional dancing) in the Peponi restaurant and one night was a Mongolian evening at the pool which involved selecting raw fish, meat and vegetables and having them stir fried in front of you The food was good and plentiful.
A water sports centre had the usual things available (diving equipment, jet skis, kites), although we didn’t use them. There was also a small gym and tennis court, but we were there to relax and chill, hence we made use of the Spa. Between us we shared two hot stone massages, a pedicure and 60 minute relaxation massage for just under £100. We were on an all inclusive package with all meals except jumbo prawns and lobsters included. It also included a limited range of cocktails and local brands of spirits. All were fine by us and we only spent money on one special lunch of prawns in garlic sauce.
Wi-fi was available by the pool and at reception, but because our room overlooked the pool, I had in-room access.
This is not a place for children and most guests were like us, couples of a certain age ensuring peace and tranquility. We were told many guests return year after year and we can understand why as the staff are so friendly: the majority of guests were German with just a few English couples.
The only downside is that to get there from the UK, you need to fly into Nairobi, onto Mombasa and then either take a short flight (with limited luggage allowance) to Ukunda or have a 2 hour road transfer. Pinewood Beach Resort and Spa: a small, intimate boutique hotel, south of Mombasa on Galu beach.