There is no getting away from the fact that this is truly a five star hotel. The food was wonderful, the villas are huge and the services on offer are immense. To top it off it is set in a stunning location and is as close to paradise as you can ever get.
Having said all this, there are a number of things that you may want to keep in mind before you arrive. The "butlers", as nice as they are, rarely leave you alone. A number of times when we left the resort to explore the island we were greeted with such questions on our return as "where have you been?" or "why would you want to leave?" or "we've been looking for you". There is a constant undertone that you are being carefully watched, not for sinister purposes but to ensure that should you squeeze out a bead of sweat from your temple, someone will be on hand with a cool towel and a bottle of water before it gets to your chin.
Sadly it would also seem that the hotel does not, despite visitors paying (justifiably) enormous sums to stay at the hotel, pay its staff the minimum wage. This is actually the norm in Zanzibar and the mainland, but it means that butlers and service staff are always trying to do "extras" for you. My wife believed this was out of pure kindness but I suspect it was always to look for a tip and can add to a certain claustraphobic feeling which is ironic given the secluded nature of the resort.
The hotel does not employ Zanzibaris but rather people from the mainland. The reason, the staff say, is that locals reject the tourist boom in the island and because of their religion are not comfortable with bikini clad women and free flowing alcohol. This is categorically not true. We spoke to a number of Zanzibaris who would relish the opportunity to work in a place like Star of the East. I suspect the employment of mainlanders has come about through an agreement between the owners and the politicians in an attempt to smooth over some of the cracks in the union, though it would appear it is just making things worse.
Finally there was a corporate party that visited the sister hotel (Gemma Dell'Est - which is within the same complex) during our stay. We were forewarned about this and the hotel provided a wonderful evening at the Stars of the East restaurant so that they could use our beach for an event. This was all fine. However, the next evening, we were walking along the beach and to our horror found it littered with beer bottle tops and cigarette buds. Even after informing the manager we were still picking stuff out of the sand a few days later. Equally on the last day of our honeymoon the party were allowed to play dance music at full blast from their beach, which is immediately adjacent, and totally spoiled the serenity of our last day. I would advise not to vist Stars of the East if there is a corporate party on at Gemma Dell'Est.
These are just points to bear in mind but overall it was a fantastic holiday, with fantastic staff in a breathtaking setting.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A magnificent private sanctuary of eleven exclusive villas with their own plunge pool and a tastefully furnished terrace, a covered Makuti patio and a large tropical garden to enjoy exclusive privacy and the supreme view over the Indian Ocean and the famous Zanzibar sunset. The villas are named after eleven of the most precious gems in the world to match the modern and contemporary African style architecture. Personal butler service, a private beach and unmatched all-inclusive services accommodate the most discerning traveller with ultimate comfort, privacy and luxury. Literally everything and anything you could dream of is catered for at the very highest level of all-inclusive services including access to all facilities, restaurants and bars of Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est. Diamonds Star of the East is member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Diamonds Star Of The East Zanzibar Island/Nungwi