Is it just me or is 2018 practically flying? Half the year has already flown by. So, when I decided to visit Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa with Diva, I asked my parents to join us because I thought we could all use with a little break from our hectic lives.
Opting to stay for three nights at the luxurious resort located on Diani Beach in Mombasa’s South coast, we flew directly from Nairobi to Diani. This was a first for me as we usually opt to drive. After a rather annoying flight delay, we landed on the Ukunda airstrip, we found our hotel taxis waiting for us, and five minutes later, we had arrived at the best weekend break in a while.
We arrived to a group of hotel staff dancing to warmly welcome us to the Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa. While we were checking in (rather seamlessly), I couldn’t help but notice that the reception had that classic African look with a thatched ceiling and wooden furnishings, including accent Masaai statues.
Sipping on fresh orange juice we were served, we asked the most important: what is the Wi-Fi password? To our delight, we were told that there’s free and fast Wi-Fi available throughout the resort. In fact, it was fast enough to watch Netflix, but who’d want to watch TV when by the beach?
I’m so thankful to the staff for collecting the wheelchair from Mombasa town that Dad had shipped to prior to our trip, as it is too heavy for local flights. So, after the hotel retrieved it from their storage, Dad fixed up my wheelchair before we settled in.
Our Rooms at Diani Reef
Once set up, we were whisked away to our room. Diani Reef has 143 rooms and suites, ranging from the standard and deluxe rooms to the junior suites and penthouses to two presidential suites.
Diva and I were upgraded to a Presidential Suite in the Flamingo wing. Waiting for us in the suite were a fruit basket, a chocolate dessert and a bottle of Brut waiting to be popped.
And a personal favorite were these branded straw hats, too.
Treats like those would pop up during our stay at the resort.
Fitted with several flamingo-themed décor pieces, the suite’s décor was a well-curated blend of modern design with a flair of local African culture. Upon entering the suite, we were greeted by a lounge area with a TV, a dining area, a bar and another lounge area with tea/coffee making facilities. There was a hidden kitchen too.
The main lounge led to a private verandah (which was rendered accessible for me with a temporary ramp) overlooking the garden, pool, palm trees and the Indian ocean. The verandah also had sunbeds and a little table, perfect to enjoy a sundowner in the evening breeze.
I was quite excited to get an ocean view room as I usually get a pool or garden view rooms in other hotels as the former is usually not accessible.
The open plan bedroom was huge and spacious with a gigantic bed, a vanity table, a walk-in closet with an electronic safe and a big bathroom with an expansive shower and a Jacuzzi. Of course, we also got a pack of toiletries and the bathroom had a hairdryer.Mom and Dad were placed in the adjoining Standard Sea Facing Room, which was interconnected to the suite, so it felt like an extension of our space. Their room was large with a double bed, a vanity area, a closet and all the modern amenities including a safe, a TV, tea/coffee making facilities and the standard bathroom features.
Our presidential suite experience was accompanied by butler services. We were lucky to be served by Ngomeni, a true gem. With a bright smile, positive nature, she was always on hand to accommodate us. From sourcing pool towels for us to surprising us with personalized pillows she left no stone unturned. We were truly living the SUITE life (pun intended)!
What to Do at Diani Reef
The structure of the resort is so that the reception, the main dining restaurant, the gym and some rooms were located on a floor above sea level.
Despite being multileveled, the entire resort was wheelchair accessible with ramps everywhere, however, they were a little slippery and so I needed some assistance. There is also a rather old lift to go down to the bottom floor to go to the pool and the beach. It was a little small for my wheelchair but I managed to fit in, although I did get stuck momentarily. With the efficient engineers onsite, I was safely out within ten minutes. However, I’m told the lift and the ramps will be upgraded so families with young children and babies who use strollers, the disabled and the elderly with their assistive devices can comfortably and safely use these facilities.The pool was my favorite place to be in. Curvaceous with a huge coral feature in the middle, the pool led to the pool bar, where we ended up seeking refuge after it started raining. Had it been sunnier on my trip, I don’t think I would have even left the pool.The Maya Spa offers several activities, including therapeutic and aromatherapy massages, facials, rassoul, steam and sauna facilities, and a Jacuzzi. Plenty to choose from for a relaxing afternoon. While we lounged around post-swim, Mom popped into the spa and enjoyed a massage and a soothing wrap. She came back feeling fresh and rejuvenated.
Let the Coco Jumbo Kids Club take care of your little humans (or hoomans, as Diva likes to call them), as you take a break and relax. And if you’re like me and forgot your sunglasses, you can stock up at the Shopping Arcade near the reception, which also sells souvenirs and everyday things like toothpaste and sunscreen.
Fitness enthusiasts will love the fully equipped Maya Gym as they exercise with a view of the palm trees and the ocean.
The resort also has state-of-the-art conference rooms. They are spacious and have audio and visual systems including a fully-fledged business center and secretarial services.But I know what you want to ask me about. The beach was PERFECT! Cleaned daily, the beach was easily accessible, even for me as there were no steps. And you could even choose to claim a sunbed and lounge on the sandy beach as you watch the camels stroll by and the waves come in.
Or get into the water and indulge in a few water sports. Can I just go back already?
Gastronomical Delights at Diani Reef
I could just gush about the food here. Understanding that good food is a necessity, Diani Reef’s Chef Deche, Chef Sekaran and their team would whip up gastronomical delights that were real treats. Just like Ngomeni, Robert too would overlook our dining requirements, especially making sure our table was always wheelchair accessible.
The resort has three main restaurants. Coral Rock Café is the main dining area which served breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets with live cooking counters.
Sake Oriental Restaurant serves a range of pan Asian cuisine, including Japanese, Chinese and Indian cuisines, and can even offer an exclusive Teppanyaki dining experience. Fins Seafood Grill, which as the name suggests, serves a variety of fresh seafood and light Mediterranean food.Besides the three restaurants, the resort has a pool bar, which serves a variety of cocktails and mocktails for guests to enjoy while in the pool. There’s also the Zebra Square Bar & Piano Lounge where you can just chill as you enjoy a drink.
Because we reached quite late on the first day, freshly-baked pizzas, a margherita and two veggie pizzas, were delivered to our suite. Super delicious, we washed them down with fresh coconut water (madafu), which soon became a daily must-have.
Dad asked for unripe mango with a sugar-salt-chili mix and it was the ideal post-lunch snack.We would have breakfast and dinner at the Coral Reef Café. Breakfasts would involve a selection of porridge, fresh fruit cuts and juices, meats, eggs, pastries, pancakes, waffles and dosas. On the first day, I tried a waffle topped with cinnamon sugar and assorted fruits. Fluffy and super soft, the waffle hit all the right spots.
I had dosas for breakfast for the rest of my stay.
A pat of butter on the crispy dosas expertly made by Chef Sekaran, the dosas were absolutely yummy when paired with the accompanying red and white coconut chutneys.
On our second day, Dad asked for puri, which Chef Sekaran gladly fried and served it up with potato curry and chickpea curry.
Breakfast was usually finished off with a steaming hot cup of masala chai for Mom and Dad, and coffee for Diva and me.
We would enjoy our lunches at the Fins Seafood Grill, which was by the beach. On our second day, we enjoyed a nice lunch of a citrus salad, a vegetarian burger and fries, perfect after a swim, especially when served up with fresh madafu, followed by scooping out that succulent coconut flesh.
Dad also enjoyed a platter of crispy vegetable samosas.
When Mom’s friends from Mombasa joined us the next day, we enjoyed another al fresco lunch at Fins. As we caught up, we sipped on fresh madafu picked from the tree with a shot of Malibu. Chef Deche and his team prepared a Mediterranean feast composed of falafel, pita, couscous tabbouleh and an array of dips including chickpea hummus, red pepper hummus, baba ghanoush, guacamole and salsa, that we enjoyed with a fruity rosé wine. This was tasty but the veggie chapatti wrap served later was better and had far more flavor.Chef Deche and chef Sekaran’s culinary skills shone when they made us Italian, pan Asian and Indian gastronomical delights which made the inner foodie in me super happy. For dinner one night, we sampled Chef Deche’s Italian cuisine. The broccoli soup for starters was followed by an option of penne arrabiata, fusilli in white sauce with mushrooms, veggie risotto and vegetable lasagne, which we shared. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the sauces were well-seasoned and flavorful. I quite enjoyed the risotto, which Diva also really loved. We paired all this with a crisp white wine – Goiya Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc.
The next night, Chef Deche made us sushi, spring rolls, vegetable fried rice and stir-fried vegetables. He even insisted on making vegetable chowmein, but we had to convince him that we wouldn’t be able to finish all the wonderful delicacies he was cooking up for us. The vegetarian sushi, which was composed of avocado rolls, mango rolls, carrot and cucumber nigiri-style rolls, looked incredible and tasted scrumptious. The spring rolls, rice and vegetables were very tasty and you could tell that a skilled chef was making the food.
Chef Sekaran made us a chilli paneer too, but I thought it was quite rubbery and didn’t really enjoy it.
Chef Sekaran cooked us an Indian meal on our last night. We got paneer tikka, which was melt-in-your-mouth quality, a potato curry, a mixed vegetable curry and hot buttered naans. While I’m probably a harsh critic of Indian food, these dishes were incredibly appetizing.For dessert, we often enjoyed a variety of chocolate desserts, from chocolate mousse to fresh crepes with strawberries, kiwis and chocolate sauce. Ultra-decadent, we really adored the chocolate cake, which was so ridiculously good that Dad ordered even more. But the absolute favorite were these addictive warm chocolate brownies, that we would repeatedly request for dessert. Simply moreish! We would wrap up the incredible dining experiences at night with spicy masala chai – perfect to lull us to sleep on those cozy beds.
See? When I said I could just go on about the food, I wasn’t kidding. The food was all amazing and I can’t wait to go back knowing that the chefs will keep delighting me with spectacular dishes. What I also particularly loved were the customized napkins Diva and I received that made dining a whole other experience.
With impeccable service, brilliant food and a great location along Diani Beach, Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa has won my heart. The warmth and friendliness of all the staff made us feel so welcome and at home. This was even more so with all the personal touches such as calling us by our names and surprising us with the monogrammed pillows and napkins that made the entire experience super-extraordinary. They even sent us the napkins and pillows home as souvenir keepsakes, when they kindly sent my wheelchair back to Mombasa town so that it could be shipped home to me.
So, whether you’re looking to host a wedding (including a big, fat Indian wedding), a business conference or just to enjoy a tranquil beach holiday, Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa is the place.
DISCLOSURE: I was invited to stay at Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa to experience their property firsthand. Return flights and accommodation for Diva, my caregiver and me were complimentary, however, as always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.
Photos by Hitesh & Diva Shah