Pinewood Beach Resort & Spa
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Historical Traveler Reviews Pinewood Beach Resort & Spa Ukunda
We'll be back ...
I was sceptical that the reviews on this site may be posted by the hotels, but I am not connected to Pinewood in any way and I can honestly report that all the good stuff written before me is TRUE!
My wife and I spent 2 weeks at Pinewood in December 2005, and our only regret is that we could not stay longer! In fact, it is the first place we have been to where she wanted to book for next year before we had even finished our stay!
So what is it like? Informal, chilled, ultra relaxing. No blaring discos and Club Med style rushing to have a forced good time - though there is often a friendly (very amateur!) game of volleyball on the beach in the afternoon if you feel like it. As the hotel is small and intimate, most other guests become friends during your stay, and the average stay seems to be about 10 days - with a huge proportion of repeat visitors. The food is excellent, and our chef Maureen was a gem, we miss her! (We thought that a personal chef may be a bit "in your space", but not at all - and the privacy of romantic dining on your own balcony is one of the memorable aspects).
The beach is unbelievable, miles of perfect flat white sands, and Pinewood definitely has the best section of it - away from the main bustle and beach vendors of the bigger Diani Beach resorts, with no coral reef on the shoreline so the swimming is perfect.
We wanted to do some kitesurfing, and the trade winds just started while we were there giving a few days of perfect light - big kite - wind. (For better wind go after December 15). The on site kite instructors Ray and Sophie are great, they have all the kit there for beginners, and the location is extremely safe with sideshore winds, flat shallow water out to the main reef (about 1km), a large flat beach and no obstacles.
Bad points? None we can think of! If you enjoy relaxing in tranqil surroundings, where days flow into weeks, go and enjoy Pinewood!
(PS - before we went we found some disturbing CIA warnings on the internet about security - but we found the area to be very peaceful and safe, and the Kenyan people are warm and friendly.)
The perfect getaway if you are not looking for nightlife!
My partner and I stayed at Pinewood in November. Although we have been fortunate to stay in some beautiful hotels all over the world, I have to say Pinewood has something special. Maybe it is the staff, it could be the setting, the beach, the personal chef and service, but it is probably all of these things!
If you are looking for a lively resort this is not the place for you, but if you want to relax and enjoy long lazy days and even lazier nights, stay here! A safari to the Masai Mara is a must. We got an unbelievable price for the whole package with Q Holidays via the web (about a third less than Thomson)!
Honeymoon at Pinewood
My husband and I stayed at Pinewood for 12 days at the end of November for our honeymoon and we would entirely recommend it.
The hotel itself is landscaped beautifully, we loved the tropical flowers, palm trees, yellow birds and monkeys. It is quiet and peaceful with really friendly staff and friendly other guests (well, they were when we were there).
We stayed in a suite with a personal chef (Maureen is lovely) and had most of our evening meals there which were always delicious and decorated with flowers (as were the beds). Our favourites included stuffed aubergines, swahili fish soup, chicken kebabs, and ginger crab. It was lovely to have this service and is well worth the extra money.
We usually took lunch round the pool - would recommend the apple salad - where there was always lots of space on the loungers in sun or shade. You get to know the staff easily. we like Wilfred and Wycliffe around the bar and there are plenty of cocktails, the local tusker beer, and gorgeous passion juice. We were all inclusive and where impressed with what this included, only a few exclusions.
the beach is also beautiful, some beach boys but you can always say no! You can explore the sea further through Aqualand. We did some jet skiing (great fun) and also the Robinson Crusoe trip which is free to honeymooners. We were taken to a private beach (just us, the boats captain, and a chef) where we were served fish kebabs, chicken, salad and fruit in a deserted beach. We then went snorkelling in a coral reef which was amazing, saw a great variety of fish and corals. We also saw Dolphins on the boat trip.
We took the Mombasa by Night trip (organised through Thompsons) where you go on a Dhow (traditional boat) through Mombasa, walk through the old town and visit Fort Jesus where your are served a luxory 5 course meal by candlelight - very romantic. As you can see, food featured highly on what we enjoyed.
We also took the Tsavo east 2 day trip (hi Steve and Joyce)where we saw lions, elephants (loads), zebra, giraffe (at a distance), ostrich, all manner of deer and antelope, buffalo and baboons. We stayed at the Voi Lodge where the communal areas were excellant (great watering hole overlooked by restaurant) but there were loads of scary big bugs and the rooms had mosquito meshes instead of glass in some windows so you didn't get much privacy. Wish we had also gone to the treehouse as we heard everyone raving about it.
Anyway, all in all, the weather was hot, room clean and well presented, hotel well thought out with beautiful beach and pool areas, and relaxing, and choice of trips through Thompsons. We want to go back!
A Little Bit of Heaven
My husband and I stayed at this resort from the 23rd November until the 7th December 2005. This is a magical place. We opted for the suite with a personal chef - Alfred, you were fantastic. The rooms are spacious and cleaned every day - Martin thank you for keeping our room to excellent standards. The check in was a warm welcome after traveling on the bumpy Kenya roads. We were taken to our room and shown our verandah but warned not to leave anything outside as the Sykes monkeys would quickly "steal" anything you leave. Within 5 minutes of arrival we were greeted by both the Colobus and Sykes monkeys - they are wonderful. The pool is fantastic and the sun lounge area at the beach is kept clean by the gardners who work endlessly to keep everything in order. Breakfast is served buffet style in the resaurant and you can retire with your coffee to the reception verandah to watch the beatiful weaver birds at work. Lunch is served at the bistro. The stone baked pizzas are fantastic. (The chicken in a basket is also very good).
The staff made our holiday very special as the Kenyan people have the biggest hearts and are very keen to learn everything about you. My husband was in his element as all the Kenyan lads talk his language - FOOTBALL. Since Kenya was 3 hours ahead of the UK it was known for my husband to sit in the TV lounge at 11pm watching an English Premiership game along with all the staff.
I loved sitting at the beach bar in the evening listening to the sea and having a few quiet drinks. Dont go to this resort if you want a lively agenda of evening entertainment - it just does not happen. This was what we loved the best - the days went by really slow and we felt as if we had been on holiday for a month.
We booked the Tsvo East 2 day one night safari through our Thomsons rep. The safari was very special but we did not enjoy our overnight stay at the Voi Wildlife Lodge (not to be confused with the Voi Safari Lodge) - whilst the Voi Wildlife Lodge is very nice and the food good, the evening brought thousands (I do not exagerate) of beetles flying and crawling everywhere. I do realise I was in Africa and some insects are to be expected but this was unbearable - they were landing in your food, you were crunching on them when you walked. One good thing was the elephant coming to the waterhole who, I am sure, was posing for everyone to get good pictures - it was fantastic.
We stayed at the treehouse - the best bit of the holdiay. If you can, book this very special place where you can sleep under the stars in the middle of the Shimba Hills.
Overall this was the most peaceful and quiet holiday we have ever had and the beach is almost deserted - the Indian Ocean is so warm and beautful to swim in.
Go to Pinewood Village - you will not be disappointed and I felt quite emotional when I left.
Wow!! What a holiday!
My partner James and I have just returned from a 2 weeks all-inclusive stay at Pinewood which we booked through Q holidays who proved much cheaper than Thompson for the same package.
We choose the room only option, rather than a suite because we liked the idea of socialising in the restaurant with friends we would hopefully meet. We decided that the extra £200 per person for the two week stay just for a chef, when we knew we would probably not use them often due to Safari, a treehouse trip and socialising would not be worth the extra. I have to say that if it was for just the chef then we would continue to believe that, but from seeing the suites they were a lot larger, and included with the chef, probably represented very good value for money. We also were able to have dinner with friends who did have suites on a couple of nights, once as a party of four, and once as a party of six. The hotel encourages you, as suite guests, to "treat them as your own home" and a simple mention to the Head Chef that you will be inviting guests is sufficient. I have to say that the food we were served on those two evenings was fantastic, including the lobster that as an all inclusive guest only incurred a supplement of about £4!! Bargain!
As room only guests, we ate most nights in the restaurant and again the food was fantastic. There was always a fish option as well as several meat options. They also have theme nights such as Sunday night's, which are curry nights and Thursday nights, as stir fry nights where you pick all the vegetables, noodles, rice and meat you want and take it to the chef and he then cooks it in front of you on a huge cooking disk! Also every Tuesday and Saturday there would be BBQ nights with some form of entertainment such as masi warrior's or acrobats. Quite cheesy but still good fun!
The setting of Pinewood was beautiful. Do not go if you want 5* luxury with lots of top of the range amenities, but do go if you like small, tranquil and unique places with character and the chance to get to know the people sharing the resort with you. Small touches like flowers on the bed each day really make it! The year before we had gone to Cocos Hotel in Antigua (which again we would thoroughly recommend and reviews of which can also be seen on this site!!) and were struggling to find something on the same level as that but are pleased that we found Pinewood! Especially as we got to see a beautiful wedding! (Hello Carole & Kev!)
The people in Kenya generally, but particularly at the resort were fantastic. Few mentions of Duncan who manages the pool bar, the chefs who never failed, Arsenal for his misguided faith, Christine for taking years off us, Nickson for nearly getting us arrested, and Dora for always being there to help, all of who were fantastic! And of course the monkeys! I would definitely recommend visiting Christine who charges just over £10 for an hour long massage which is incredible - although perhaps choose the soft option the first time!! We had several! The swimming pool was amazing, and especially in the October heat, was very welcoming!
In terms of wildlife - just at the hotel, the velvet monkey's used to visit our balcony at 5:30 every day and were amazing. I will say that if you feed them anything, expect them to be there for the whole of your stay, but they are beautiful and very entertaining. There are also Colobus Monkeys, but they are rare, and I guess as a result more shy, so they do not come as close! We had monkey's taking bananas, cake, and opal fruits (whoops!) straight from our hands!
So onto outside of the hotel!
We did not book a Safari before going because of reading reviews that said they were cheaper to book at the hotel. I have to say that whilst fantastic, the hotel tours were more expensive than we expected, although cheaper than with the tour operator when we arrived. So following referral from another couple staying there (Hello Mandy & Jimmy!!) we went on a short taxi ride to Diani beach and saw Denis the manager of DM Tours. Before arriving we had decided that as Safari virgins we would just do a 2 day 1 night Safari, and being short of cash stick to Tsavo East (where they film the orphan elephant diaries). We were not disappointed. After explaining what we were after he showed us a brochure of Le Galdessa Safari lodge which took our breath away and the credit cards were out!! We were picked up the following day at 6am by our driver and guide Peter (tell the hotel and they will arrange breakfast for you!) and headed off on the 2.5 hr transfer to Tsavo East. Big thanks to Peter as he was the best Safari driver in the world ever, and really made the trip for us. We went in a Safari camper van which had an extendable roof so you could stand up and enjoy the dust filled wind in your hair! We went as a group of four with another couple we met at Pinewood (Hello Adam & Anne!) and got to see so much: Elephants ('00's) Gazelle's and Dears ('00's) Lions ('0's) Baboons ('00's) Giraffe ('0's) Water Buffalo & Wilder beast ('00's) Vulchers ('0's) Dic Dic's ('0000000000's) and so so much more.....then we arrived at a big Plateau where we drank champagne (well sparkling wine) of which I think the drivers drank most!! We then drove on to crocodile point where we saw Crocodiles and Hippo's basking in the evening sun before driving on to the Safari lodge le Galdessa.
Le Galdessa was amazing - seriously, as someone that was always put off by the idea of Safari because of tents and bugs what a fantastic surprise. We had a late lunch and were then taken to our rooms to settle in. At Le Galdessa there are 7 hut's which are wooden framed with canvas interiors which roll down in the evening. The views opposite are of the Yata Plateau which apparently is the oldest lava flow in the world, and beneath it a river where there were more Hippo's lounging. The hut's are incredible, all wood carved furniture of chairs and four poster beds, a separate shower room with a bagged shower that is filled with warm water for the evening shower and a separate toilet. There are also several HUGE Bull Elephants that reside at the camp and wander freely around, but as long as you do not approach them they are happy to share their habitat! What an experience to lie on your four poster bed in the evening and see an Elephant with gigantic tusks march past within a few feet!! Then you are picked up in a jeep by one of the staff accompanied by a guard with a gun, and two masi warriors to drive you to dinner. At the camp you are not allowed to walk anywhere without your guide for safety! Dinner in the restaurant, again a wood framed building was amazing (how many times have I used that!) very beautiful, ambient and you get thoroughly looked after. The only negative is that drinks are not included in the booking price and it costs about £5 for a very small glass of OK wine! I must confess on returning to the room in the now pitch black I did have some trouble getting to sleep but I needn't have worried as apart from a little bat we had no unwanted guests!
Then the following day after a full breakfast we set off again with Peter and drove back through the park and saw a pride of 16 Lions lounging about and then starting to hunt. I have to say that the whole experience was once in a life time! We saw everything with the exception only of Rhino's which do not live in Tsavo East, a cheetah (although our guide unbelievably found some cheetah tracks!) and Leopard's which are renound for being elusive!! On the way back we were offered the opportunity to visit a Masi Village and this was another must!! It was amazing to be invited into their world, see their homes and schools, be taught to make fire etc. The we returned to Dianai Beach and DM Tours and paid. Another good thing being that you pay on return if satisfied! One thing I will say is that other guests had visited the Masai and saw much more on safari so if you can spare the time and cash go for that!
In the second week of the holiday, we tried to rest, but one day wandered down the road to the reptile farm and held lizards, chameleons, baby croc's and a 7ft python!! And all for the bargain price of £3!!
Saving one of the best til last, we also went to the Nodovu Bonde Treehouse - if you get the opportunity to go here do! It is amazing. I had written a description but to be honest it is not something which can be captured by words. People who had been before us refused to tell us about it and I have to admit they were right. Just go and experience it!
I will advise you that if you do intend to visit Kenya to take gifts. When we were at the masai village an American guy had brought some bic biro's with him. The children went wild and were so excited at the smallest of gifts. There are so many children walking the streets and towns you drive through. Take out with you pens, paper, crayons, clothing of all sorts, shoes - whatever you can muster because the difference it will make to a childs week is unbelievable!
And finally a big thanks to all those that we met that made our holiday - Of course Adam and Anne, Caroline & Darron, Lisa & HEN-RY!!, Mandy & Jimmy, Carole & Kev...know you had as good a time as us and hope life back home hasn't hit you too hard!
Feel free to email for any advise and have a great time - you won't regret the trip!!
Pinewood Fab, Wet & Wild a Rip Off
Just returned from a 2 week holiday in Mombassa - stayed at the Pinewood Village in a suite with chef, what can I say - amazing, worth every penny. The suite was lovely though when you book do tell them you want a refurbished room, our chef Evans was fantastic and the actual resort is beautiful, very small, just what my partner and I like. We will definitely return. Booked this holiday with Q Holidays, so much cheaper than some of the others.... Flew with D.M Tours (highly recommended - Denis and Lilian - pat on the back - you run a very professional outfit) to the Masai Mara for a 3 day safari, stayed at Governors Camp, again the right choice. Saw all the usual, and even a cheetah kill, but sadly did not see Leopard or Rhino (Rhino are not on the side of the river where Governors is located) next time if poss would probably do 1 night at Governors and the 2nd night at the Mara Safari Club as they do have Rhino in their vicinity. I did think 3 days personally for me was enough. Back at Mombassa went to the reptile farm (15 mins down the beach) and for a few pounds each this was well worth the money - hands on with snakes, lizards and baby crocs - they even have 2 giant tortoises!!! My only complaint about this holiday is "Wet and Wild", this is a company that is located in the "Aqualand" building in Pinewoods grounds - when you pay 310 euros to do a mangrove safari on jet ski for 90 mins, I expected the word safari to mean stopping to view the wildlife, be told what they were and have the opportunty to take photos, we had an underwater camera with us. Well the 310 euros ended up being a jet ski play which my partner and I could have done on the sea for a lot less money. We complained and tried to get our money back, but no use, what they wanted was another 155 euros to take us back (buy 1 get 1 free) to take the pictures that we should have been able to take in the first place - the phrase throwing good money after bad comes to mind!!! I don't want to appear to biased it was beautiful and an Irish couple we were out with enjoyed it, but it really wasn't what I was expecting and for the cost of that we could have spent a night at Pinewoods tree lodge in Shimba Hills or had an additional 1 night safari in Tsavo - mmmmm!!!! I've never felt ripped off on holiday before, and it's just taught me a valuable lesson - make sure you know exactly what you're getting before you hand any money over...
Gorgeous Pinewood Village in Kenya
We stayed in the Pinewood in November 2004 as a cheap getaway. What a lovely place. If you are looking for one of those big brash flashy resorts this isn't for you. If you want laid back style then this is for you.
The restaurant is near a small pond which is busy with weaver birds pretty much all day. They are fascinating to watch.
Plenty of monkies running around the grounds and lots of hornbill sightings.
Rooms are not flash but none the less really lovely. Fresh flowers on the bed everyday.
Gorgeous swimming pool with nice swim up bar. Lots of lovely lunch specials each day (like chilli crab toastie). Nice pizza restaurant down on the beach.
Water sports available.
Take the time to go to the beach and turn right (not left which leads to other hotels). There really is nothing else to the right but trees, white sand and you!!
This hotel has its own treehouse up in Shimba Hills. If you'd like to be treated like a film stay for a day then I highly recommend this trip. For around £100 -ish you are driven there in the afternoon. It is totally private and the bathroom is open air looking across the Shimba Hills.
The treehouse comes with bird watching books and binoculars (oh and some nice fluffy robes so kick back and relax).
Settle in with your own bar (included in price). You have a private butler to cater to your evey whim. Later they cook you a fab three course meals with drinks etc all included in your price. Then a hot tub is filled for you to relax in as the sun goes down. They bed is rolled out onto the deck under the stars. Next morning expect a sumptuous leisurely brekkie and watch some elephants making their way down the hills in the distance.
Whilst we were at Pinewood we overheard one couple had got engaged in the treehouse and its not hard to see why.
Any down side? It's down a long VERY BUMPY road but don't let that put you off. Go here and you won't regret it.
Fantastic chill-out place
Pinewood is a small hotel on the southern tip of Diani Beach called Galu Beach. The hotel has a combination of standard rooms (I think 28) and then 20 (I think) suites with their own chefs to prepare dinner each night. We had a suite which comprised of a bedroom with ceiling fan and air conditioning and en-suite bathroom with shower over bath. There was also a large separate lounge area as well as a kitchen for the chef to prepare the food. The suite also had a huge private patio which was probably over 30ft long and about 8-10ft deep and we had dinner outside on this patio every night.
There is a restaurant near reception where breakfast is served every morning and where dinner is served for those in standard rooms or for those who want a change from chef prepared meals. We had breakfast here most mornings and it was very nice - the usual selection of eggs/omelettes/pancakes cooked to order along with bacon, sausages, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, toast and jams, croissants, fruit, pastries, juices, tea, coffee, meats and cheeses and cereals. The only problem in the mornings at this restaurant were the wasps. They did their best to cover everything and candles were provided that helped to keep them away from the tables but this was not always very successful, However, being an open sided restaurant there is little that can be done about this. The food was always hot and amazingly, the bacon and the sausages were to UK tastes and that's hard enough to fine even in other parts of Europe!
There are two other places serving food - one is the pizza/pasta grill near the beach bar which serves from 11am until somewhere between 3-5pm (this seemed to vary) and they do excellent stone baked pizzas. The pastas were not as good. The other is the snack bar near to the pool bar which serves all sorts of food from light bites like toasted sandwiches to burger and fries, fried prawns (really good) and many other dishes. They also served ice cream (again to UK tastes) and sundaes, banana splits etc.
There are 3 bars - one near reception which has a lovely seating area from where you can watch the weaver birds weaving their nests or the many monkeys traversing the hotel grounds (they have velvet monkeys, baboons and colobus monkeys). There is also a TV in that bar area. This is always the quietest bar and we found that the drinks were better here too - they mix the world's best dawa here!!
There is a bar also at the pool which closes about 5pm and one on the beach that closes late - whenever the last guest leaves. You order food from the bars and any of the food available at either of the serveries can be ordered from any of the bars and will be served direct to where ever you are sitting.
There is a lovely pool area with a large deck and this was never over-crowded. They provide pool/beach towels clean every day. There were never any problems with towels being put down to "save" loungers etc. There were a few parasols in this area, lots of loungers and a few tables and chairs.
There was also a sandy sunbathing area adjacent to the beach bar with padded loungers and parasols and some more tables and chairs next to the grill.
The beach was wonderfully quiet and deserted. No beach boys!! There was one "shop" run by a beach boy but apart from one visit from a man selling camel rides, this was the only beach seller. It was a delight to be able to utilise the beach without being hassled.
The sea was very tidal here - it went out quite a long way and sometimes the sea was quite rough - great for surfing or body boarding and other days it was very still. This does however mean that the snorkelling is not great off the beach as the sand on the bottom is stirred up so much. The sea was very warm. There is quite a bit of seaweed that gets washed up on the beach along with millions of shells too. There is a large area of coral bed and there can also be sea urchins so it's best to wear beach shoes or similar in the sea.
The Chefs were fantastic. We had a chef called Evan and he worked so hard. Every day, you chose from their huge suggested menu, what you wanted for starters, main and dessert and wrote this down on a pad and left it in the kitchen for the Chef to collect. Each day he arrived at about 3.30pm to start preparing our dinner for 7.30pm - everything was cooked from scratch and prepared especially for you. It was an extra 600KSH each for lobster or king prawn dishes (about 4.50GBP) and these are well worth trying. The Chef would also arrange for your wine to be brought to your table. The house wine came in cartons and the red was very palatable. The white was on the sweet side but fine. Wed did however get a little bored with the house wine towards the end. You can pay extra for bottles of other South African wines and they ranged from around 1000 KSH to about 1500 KSH (about £8-£12). The food was always beautifully presented and we were very pleased with the quality.
The all-inclusive deal is very good value here as there are no time limits on anything. All drinks are included except premium brand spirits and some of the cocktails and only house wine was included. All food was included, regardless of what and where ordered from. You sign for all orders and each receipt clearly states how much (usually all) of what you have ordered is included in the all-inclusive. You put your room no on all receipts and then the cashier, when they get your receipts will just write off the amounts if your room no is on the all inclusive deal. This worked well and there were no funnies on our room bill at check out and was great as meant none of those horrible all inclusive plastic wrist bands.
Wedding in Pinewood!
My husband and I got married in Pinewood in July 2005 and the whole experience was totally amazing. Pinewood is a very quiet place, great for a total chill out time. The staff will go beyond the call of duty, food amazing, location beautiful and all the wedding preparations were taken care of so we had nothing to worry about. We had a pampering session on the morning of the wedding and our photographer was exceptional. We went on a day safari, a jet ski safari and the robinson crusoe cruise...which added to an already amazing time in magical africa. A truly special place...we will return!
Superb Peaceful Haven
My family and I stayed here in Summer 2003. We had an entire 3-bedroom villa with our own chef and maid. The staff were fantastic. The communal BBQ and curry nights were excellent but the meals served in the villa by your own chef can vary in standard, although they are generally very good. Pinewood has only 20 villas in a private and quiet setting, being the last resort location on the wonderful stretch of Galu Beach. The only downside is that the Resort is a little remote and the nightlife is a bit limited and quiet. There are good watersports and some pampering facilities such as full body massage, facial, etc. The resort does provide a shuttle service into Diani, where there is a small market and a few boutique shops and bars. It is about a 2km walk North along the beach to the next hotel complex and heading South there is just pure, white sand and little in the way of civilisation. I would recommend Pinewood for a few days of super chill out, following a safari trip. The resort can organise safaris and they also have another location suitable for the first night of a honeymoon. They also specialise in weddings.
TripAdvisor Reviews Pinewood Beach Resort & Spa Ukunda
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