Turtle Bay Beach Club

3 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


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Jan, 2012

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Turtle Bay Beach Club is situated on the beach of the Watamu Marine Reserve near Malindi, Kenya. This means that the number of hotels on the beach and excursions in the area are restricted: the result is miles of almost empty white sand and no noisy motor boats or jet-skis. Dhows bob up and down and glass-bottomed boats for snorkelling on the coral reef drift past but the scene is peaceful. It also felt very safe: an armband is put on your wrist when you arrive, which I hate, but it does ensure that no unwanted visitors can get in; what’s more, security personnel guard the beach and are visible around the club itself too. It is very obvious that many people return to Turtle Bay year after year: you see members of staff and guests greeting each other like long-lost friends. The friendly staff are the outstanding feature of the place and, talking to them, many of them have been there for many years and would not work anywhere else. Scornful remarks are made about the 5-star, but much less friendly, Hemingway hotel along the beach! A lot of the people when we were there were English, but there was also a sprinkling of other Europeans and, interestingly, Kenyans and guests from elsewhere in Africa too. Turtle Bay is at the top of the 3-star range: it was built a while ago and totally refurbished around the turn of the century. It is not brand-new but nowhere does it look tired as it is immaculately maintained. The rooms are perfectly adequate 3-star rooms; my only criticism is that there is a lack of storage space for clothes. Apart from the two junior suites, all the rooms are apparently very similar in size, but you pay extra if you want an ocean front room (I wouldn’t – no privacy) or a Lamu room, which is quieter. The junior suites are two rooms made into one and are on the top floor, peaceful and spacious. You can stay at the resort without spending any money at all: all food and drink is free (except for branded spirits). The main eating area plus bar is round the central pool and there is also a pizza restaurant and bar elsewhere (we were not impressed by the pizzas). The food is buffet style and there is always a choice, including a vegetarian option. However, if you want to celebrate a special occasion, you can book a table in the Blue Turtle restaurant, which is not free but also not expensive. Judging by some of the shapes walking past, some people obviously only move from pool/beach side to the buffet and back, but there are several free facilities and activities available every day. There are two pools, one a quiet pool, the other hosting water aerobics every morning and water polo every afternoon, with beach volleyball and a beach walk also on offer each day. Table tennis and crazy golf is available and there is a children’s play area, although there were very few children when we were there. There are sea kayaks, snorkels and windsurfers (if you have a certificate). The position of the tide is crucial in deciding what you can do on any one day. If you want to pay, scuba diving and sailing is also available. In fact, there is a wide range of activities if you would like to branch out outside the hotel, from visits to mangrove swamps, the Gede ruins, bird watching, village tours etc. You can even do a 2-day safari. The beach also hosts a number of local people who are keen to offer you snorkelling, dolphin watching etc. at prices a fraction less than the hotel offers! We can recommend Anton and his crew. The numbers of these hawkers, we understood, are limited so that you are not propositioned too much if you decide to walk along the beach and they will definitely take no for an answer. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see how many Europeans (mainly Italians, who populate several hotels round the next bay) were walking along the beach accompanied by Kenyans. Turtle Bay Beach Club calls itself Kenya’s responsible resort: this is because it contributes in many ways to the local economy, trains youngsters and supports several local projects. Photos on walls show guests who are sponsoring local children etc. and several waiters were on work experience. We thought Turtle Bay was a lovely, friendly place and perfect for most Silver Travellers: you can be active and explore or you can just relax by the pool. There are not many children, certainly at this time of year, and there is a quiet pool as well as an ‘activity’ pool, so you can get away from noise – or be part of it – to suit your taste. However, I have to say that, when we were there, it was only half full. I would not like to be there when every room was taken. We flew in via Nairobi, with a local Fly540 flight to Malindi, but most English people fly direct to Mombasa, with approximately one hour’s transfer to Watamu.


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