We have just returned from a four night stay at Mnemba Island Lodge. Anyone considering heading out there should have a quick look at the “experience” below. Yes the island provides an exclusive experience, however I truly feel there is work to be done.
Upon arrival on the Island we were greeted by Peter who explained the ins-and out of the islands and immediately brought the relaxed spirit by mentioning that no dress code is required on the island and that I could throw away my shoes if I wanted too. It was an informal remark, which clearly showed that we could kick back and enjoy. And so we did. Daily we went on two dives which were very professionally guided by Sarah. She provided after-dive feedback which we truly appreciated. On the second day we did mention two points that were bothering us to the local manager Mike. Both were related to smells. Our shower clearly smelled mouldy and our waiter had a strong body odour which disturbed us. I do feel that the local management on the island is on the ball and the communication with guests is excellent. The shower problem was remedied with a lot of product and the waiter smelled OK for … one meal.
As our stay continued I could not ignore to notice the monotonous menu structure. The breakfast was truly poor. Fruits, eggs dish and a special of the day. One day the waffles were so tough and heavy, the next day the worst pancakes of my life. The second day we were served bread that clearly prepared from moulded flower. Overall our remark is that the bread was nothing special on the island. Lunch was always a soup, main course and sorbet (which I do not quite consider a dessert to eat every single day). On one day the menu would show apples in the soup and apples in the desert, while the main course would be prepared with ginger, and the sorbet with ginger. One evening we had a curried appetizer and a curried main course. Being in the food business this shows bad menu planning. As we started to get bored with this menu structure we started to change the menu on a daily basis and found out that most guests staying more than two nights were doing so. On the last morning I ordered steak, and found the meat to be a mediocre quality. The food experience on the island is not at all up to standards.
One evening we socialized with some other guests to find us discussing the same problems we had encountered on the island. Bad body odour from the staff and menu-blues. A couple was so happy that they only booked seven nights and not 14 nights on the island and mentioned the same menu problems we found. Another family found that the Island did not provide value for money. These people are all very well-heeled and are not the kind of people that will write any feed-back, but they will tell their friends who are well-heeled too.
The Island truly has it all to provide the greatest experience ever; however details as body odour and bad menu planning can ruin such experience. Improving it will hardly cost more to the operator, but on the level it is now I can only foresee that its fame will fade if not improved immediately. As I am in the hospitality business I do not think the remarks are only to be blamed on the local management, but on the actual head office which should make sure that perfection is achieved at all times.
Yes our experience at Mnmeba was good, but if the details above would be sorted out it would have been the best experience ever. At the current level there are many more islands in the world that provide better experience at a better value.
If you are truely looking for that Island getaway, you could not possibly do better! Imagine waking up in your beautiful banda and stepping out onto the pristine white beach and looking out over the crystal clear aqua marine waters at the traditional dhows fishing.
We were there for 5 days and each and everyone of them seemed unique. The staff are utmost professionals while maintaining a very relaxed atmosphere. The food was phenomenal, you never eat the same thing twice and you have your own personal butler who organises every request from cocktails at the waters edge to an intimate dinner of exquisite seafood.
They offer a range of activities, at your own leisure, the snorkeling is a must as they have unique and protected reefs which are beautiful. There is also kyaking, diving, fishing, etc. We were so relaxed and spoilt we didn't want to leave and have vowed to go back when we feel the world gets to big and to fast for us!