We have just returned from 2 weeks at Royal Reserve and had a fantastic time. The hotel is comfortable, clean, well equipped and welcoming.
You do have to remember that you are on the East African coast not in a western city, so the infrastructure can look a little tired and the power drops out regularly. However, the generator kicks in quickly and the staff do their best to keep everything as ship shape as possible, especially the grounds which are a lush and green oasis.
On the way to the hotel it is easy to be put off by the extremes of mud huts and electric fences. Most of the people here are very poor, and the rich ones go to extremes to protect what they have - this was all part of the experience for us. If you feel the same, try and spend some time with the local people, easily arranged through your tour contact.
The hard sell for safaris and tours from both Simon at the hotel and the beach boys can be overwhelming. We overcame that in 2 ways:
1. We made contact by email with Kikambala Tours and Safaris (Via Google) who arranged our transfers and subsequently did us some great deals on our safari and various excursions. (Just over half the standard hotel price)
2. We were friendly and chatty with everyone but made it clear that we had arrangements in hand with a supplier we were already in contact with.
The hotel food is very good and quite good value. We had mixed results on meals out. Like some other reviewers we enjoyed the Maridadi and the Moorings, but our favourite was La Marina, who will send their transport to collect you and take you back. The food, service and setting were fabulous, a little more expensive, but worth it in our opinion.
The Kingfisher is the only bar/restaurant within a short walk, the food was poor quality, but the setting is great (in a lush green "Glade") making it a nice place to have a drink. However, insect repellent is a must and take a torch!
Taking a small torch is a good idea anyway, with the power cuts, lack of lighting outside the hotel and reading menu's in candlelight!
We thoroughly enjoyed our safari and various tours including snorkelling on the reef and a day on another beach, but trips are so personal you need to make up your own mind which ones you fancy. The only thing I would say is to trust the locals to look after you, but do negotiate a deal, and certainly don't be bulldozed in to booking through the hotel. It can be daunting parting with money to complete strangers, which is why we went for Kikambala Tours and Safaris, as they have an office next to the hotel. Also just pay a deposit with balance due on the trip itself.
The rooms on the beach side is quieter with sea views, but the other side has the better pool.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC