Park Hyatt Zanzibar Review – I Think Our Room Was Cursed
Blunt truth: my Park Hyatt Zanzibar review isn’t a good one. I had desperately wanted to like this hotel. It has SO MUCH potential. Unfortunately, our stay was a comedy of errors. I’ve never had so many problems in 1 hotel stay before. Despite that, I’ll try to keep my Park Hyatt Zanzibar fair and cover what was good also. Then, we’ll get into the numerous problems we had during the stay and what the hotel staff did about them.
For now, the Park Hyatt Zanzibar is a category 4 property. There have been rumors about a category increase for this hotel, but nothing in writing and anyway Hyatt put those plans on hold. This means you can use your free night award from the World of Hyatt Card to stay here. Between my wife and I, we had 5 free night certificates and used those to book 5 nights at the Park Hyatt Zanzibar, including New Year’s Eve.
The hotel looks impressive. I’ll be honest about that. The details in the design are really nice.
The lobby is big and spacious. They had a Christmas tree in the middle, and there was always someone ready to help you out if you had a question.
Pool / Beach Area
The pool and beach-front area is where the hotel really shines.
Behind this, through the courtyard, there are changing rooms. I’m not sure how practical it is, because I can just change in my room before coming down to the pool.
There’s also ample seating, stretching from the pool over to the outdoor seating at the restaurant.
The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating.
At night, the outdoor dining looks beautiful and is really relaxing with the sound of the waves.
There are also small sitting areas in a few places. This is “The Living Room” which has a snacks/lighter fare menu available all day.
From the lobby going out to the beach area, on the left is “The Library”. There are no books in it, so I’m not sure why it has that name.
To the right is this small sitting area.
The walkways through the hotel are really beautiful.
There is a gym near the courtyard / changing rooms, but it was locked whenever I checked on it. It must be temporarily closed.
Our check in was really smooth. Since we had been in Zanzibar 2 days already before coming to the Park Hyatt, we showed up on foot. They were really surprised! The staff already knew that we had 2 reservations, with the first 2 nights in my wife’s name and the next 3 in mine. Another perk of this is that we both got credit for Hyatt Brand Explorer. We were thanked for being World of Hyatt members, and we were taken to our room on the right side building (above the restaurant, away from the pool).
The elevators were spacious and beautiful. Near the elevators and restaurants, there was always a full supply of face masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves. To be clear, I never saw any guests other than us using masks and definitely no one using hand sanitizer.
In the hallway to our room, the lighting in the afternoons was really weird. At other times of the day, it’s fully lit. Compare the pictures.
This is where our story takes a turn for the worse. We checked into room 3314, which is clearly cursed.
The Hotel Room
Don’t get me wrong. The room is spacious, beautiful, and on first appearances looks very impressive.
It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but you can close the netting around the bed. If you’re sleeping with the balcony door open during insect season, this is really useful.
Our room had a small balcony.
The bathroom is nice, as well. The sink has a lot of counter space for laying out your toothbrush, hair brush, etc.
The bathroom had a rain shower and also a bathtub. The toilet sits in its own cubby behind a door.
Toiletries Were Mehhh
I like that the hotel uses toiletries from a local business. We actually passed the shop for this business walking around one day.
The shampoo and body wash were good. My wife needed a TON of the conditioner to get any effect after swimming in the ocean. And the hand lotion was…useless.
That’s the actual consistency of the hand lotion trying to run out of my palm. It smelled great, but it was useless.
The bathroom had a scale, but it didn’t work.
The closet was a good size. It included bath robes and slippers, as well as a safe. The item that really caught my eye was the beach bag that you could use during your stay.
The mini bar had a lot of stuff. No alcohol, but it had a lot. A coffee machine, hot water kettle, bottles of water, tea, sugar, cups, and a sliding drawer underneath had take-way coffee cups & a bottle opener.
The fridge never got cold, and this was the first sign that our room had problems.
We had a plate of fresh fruits as a welcome gift, which was nice.
This is where we noticed problems right away. I hate that the TV is playing something annoying every time you arrive to a hotel room. We looked for the remote and took a while to find it. Never heard of a special case for the TV remote before. Not really a problem, but the exploration of other features came next.
Each side of the bed had a reading lamp, which we liked.
The night stand next to the bed had bottled water, a stereo/clock/alarm that looked nice, and a control panel. The clock constantly lost the time and showed whatever it wanted, never the right time. The buttons on the control panel controlled lights only, but the illusion they control the A/C was just that–an illusion.
Speaking of the A/C…
Speaking of the A/C, since we had a balcony, we didn’t want the A/C on. The man who showed us to our room said the A/C turns off automatically with the balcony doors open. By this time, the doors had been open 10+ minutes, and the A/C was still on. We started trying to figure out how to turn it off. These panels by the bed did nothing.
We found this main panel next to the bathroom. One look (the lights were flashing on & off) tells you this isn’t working properly. It correctly controls the lights in the bathroom. The display should show a temperature but doesn’t. We couldn’t turn the A/C on or off…ever. Not once during our stay. It did what it wanted. More on that later as I address the problems and the hotel response.
Not wanting to stick around in the room, we set off to explore the hotel. Imagine our surprise that this panel by the door with a “master” button doesn’t actually control all of the lights. It would only control the light immediately above the door. Another issue for later.
First Impressions – Park Hyatt Zanzibar Day 1
Hanging out by the pool on the first afternoon, one of the first things we noticed was the biodegradable straws in the drinks.
I will say I’m 100% behind this idea. And that’s especially true for a place on the beach. That being said, these weren’t very good quality. If you accidentally squeeze the straw, it cracks easily and becomes unusable. (Also, for those unaware, plastic bags are banned in Zanzibar, and airport staff has the right to inspect your luggage to confiscate plastic bags on arrival. The exception is your zip-top toiletries bag for airport security)
With all of the open space in the hotel, big doorways, etc. there is a feeling of fresh air in all of the public spaces within the hotel.
We found staff around the hotel really friendly. In fact, staff around the lobby, pool, breakfast, etc. became friendlier toward us throughout our stay. We actually treated them like people, while most guests just gave a head nod to respond to greetings from the staff. Thus, the staff liked us more than the other guests and smiled extra when they saw us. We found the staff willing to help at all times. One of the strong points of my Park Hyatt Zanzibar review is the friendliness of staff around the pool and the lobby, plus the woman who seats people at breakfast. That woman should win “smile of the year” for 2020 and 2021.
Unfortunately, wanting to help and actually fixing things are not the same. Let’s look at the many issues we ran into during our 5 days and how the hotel responded.
Park Hyatt Zanzibar Review – The Issues Were Endless
So far, from looking at the hotel and first impressions, my Park Hyatt Zanzibar review would seem pretty good. It has a lot of potential. It’s time to break down the many issues we had in our stay and how the hotel responded to them.
Issues 1, 2 & 3 – Room A/C, Hot Water Kettle & TV By Bathtub
I already mentioned the issues with the A/C controls in the room. Our first night, we also tried to use the hot water kettle to make tea. It didn’t work. We also couldn’t turn off the TV over the bathtub (but finally got it to mute, thank goodness).
At breakfast on day 2, the guest loyalty manager visited tables to ask people how their stays were going. I mentioned that we’d checked in the day before and had these 3 issues. She gave me her WhatsApp account and asked me to message her my room number and the issues to be addressed. With COVID, they also didn’t want to come to our room when we were there, so tell her when was a good time. Easy.
Hotel Response: We were told the engineers visited our room and everything was fixed. It wasn’t.
Issue 4 – Lights Stop Working In Room
We returned at 9pm that night to see that not only were the “they’re fixed” issues not fixed, but the lights in our room wouldn’t turn on. The only thing we could turn on was the TV, so we sat in the light of the TV waiting for someone to come. And waiting. After multiple phone calls, it took 90 minutes for someone to show up. It was now 10:30pm, and the engineer worked for nearly half an hour to get our lights restored.
Hotel Response: Issue 4 fixed, 1-3 still unresolved
Issue 5 – Free Lunch Disaster
At breakfast the next morning, the guest loyalty manager sought us out to ask if everything was going well. I told her that not only were the “fixed” things not fixed but told her about the lights situation. And I mentioned that “our lights don’t work” shouldn’t take 90 minutes / multiple calls. I was nice and polite about it, but I told her that’s pretty ridiculous. She made some notes and said she’d talk to the engineers.
I saw her talking to someone and gesturing toward our table. A few minutes later, the hotel manager, head engineer, and guest loyalty manager came to talk to us. They asked about what’s happening in our room. I mentioned all the problem-solving I’d tried but that the bathtub TV won’t turn off, kettle still broken, A/C constantly stuck “on” in the low setting, and the resolved issue with the lights. I mentioned this seems like something wrong with the electricity in our room. We set up a time for them to come work in our room that day when we would be out.
The hotel manager invited us to have lunch for free to apologize for the delay / trouble with the lights the night before. We thanked him, and they exited the breakfast area. Mistake: we didn’t get his name.
How a free lunch goes bad…
We went to The Living Room for lunch, which I mentioned above. We had a big breakfast, kind of late, so we weren’t super hungry. I ordered a salad. My wife got a wrap. We ordered 2 drinks (iced tea, fruit punch). Seems easy. It took 30 minutes to place our order. It took over 45 minutes to receive the food. When it was time for the bill, I mentioned to our waiter that we had some issues in our room and the hotel manager + the loyalty manager had told us to come eat for free. He said he’d confirm.
10 minutes later, the waiter (in a rush) passes our table with a thumbs up and says “good to go”. So, we leave.
Walking down the hallway, someone comes running after us, “Hey, you have to pay for your lunch!” Embarrassing. Of course everyone is staring at us when we walk back to The Living Room with this employee we’ve never seen before, explaining to him the situation. “Well, the other guy didn’t tell me, and I manage the receipts. I need to confirm”
My thought: It’s not my fault you guys don’t communicate.
They finally got someone to confirm our story, a full 15 minutes later, and we were off.
Hotel Response: Lunch was free, another free lunch next day
The loyalty manager began seeking us out regularly at this point, and we saw her at breakfast again the next day. That’s when I told her about this situation, that I don’t appreciate being chased down the hallway & yelled after like a school kid skipping class, etc. The food & beverage manager happened to walk by, she grabbed him, and long story short he invited us to a free New Year’s Day lunch buffet that afternoon.
Issues 1-3 Update
After another visit from the engineers, the kettle was replaced & the bathtub TV was fixed. The engineer who worked in our room told me he disabled the override from the hotel and gave me direct control, so I should be able to control the A/C in our room. 2 minutes later, the head engineer came by and told me I’ll never be able to control the A/C, because they need a replacement part that won’t come for a few days. Which is it? Either way, we accepted the A/C issue wouldn’t be resolved during our stay.
Hotel Response: the loyalty manager offers a free massage. My wife got an appointment for that day, and mine was the next day.
The loyalty manager also offered for us to move to a different room. I went to look at it. It was exactly 2 floors under us, and it was a downgrade. No balcony, just a window that didn’t open. We decided not to move (need to pack, 2 days left, and it’s a downgrade).
Visiting The Spa
Given that my wife had a massage the day before and had no idea what to expect, I at least knew I’d get a 1-hour treatment. I also hadn’t been to this area of the hotel yet, so I showed up a few minutes early to poke around.
The spa entry area sits above the lobby, and access is through an elevator that goes only to the spa and back to the ground floor.
Venturing outside, I found the oceanfront suites. This is the entry to the handful of suites the hotel has along the ocean, with an outdoor walkway and balcony.
It was time for my massage, so I went to sign in.
I was greeted by name on arrival. In the waiting area, I filled out some forms about injuries, body parts to focus on, etc. The spa rooms all had names of spices grown on Zanzibar, and my room was cinnamon.
I changed into the robe and disposable underwear provided then hit the gong to let my masseuse know I was ready. I had the same masseuse as my wife from the day prior.
My treatment started with a hot water foot scrub and then 45 minutes of massage. “Wow, you have a lot of knots.” We worked on getting those out of my shoulders, and it became less of a relaxing massage and more of a grudge match. Throughout, the service was really good, relaxing music played, and there was a good smell from some candles.
I left feeling good. Upon exit, I drank some water in the waiting area while motivating myself to leave and left a tip for the masseuse. The spa visit was really good. If there’s a highlight to my Park Hyatt Zanzibar review, it’s the trip to the spa.
More Issues Arise
That evening, sitting in our room, we ran into the next issue. Again, it’s the electricity.
Issue 6 – Corner Lights Go Out
That night, we heard the “zap” and saw the lights in the corner of the room go out. This is near the balcony. We pushed buttons for a few seconds and then gave up. The issues with the electricity in our room had become tiring, and this one wasn’t big enough to call someone. We just deal with it.
Hotel Response: none sought
Issue 7 – Right Side Wall Electricity Stops Working
The next day was our last full day before check out. During the afternoon, we noticed that nothing along the right wall (this is the wall with our closet, mini bar, etc.) would turn on. The light in the closet, the mini bar area, plugs on that wall–nothing worked.
Issue 8 – Room Bill Incorrect
I also checked our room bill in the Hyatt app that afternoon and found it wrong. I messaged the loyalty manager and asked for an in-person meeting with her and the hotel manager that afternoon. We set up a meeting for 4pm.
At this meeting, I professionally and calmly outlined the numerous issues. The electricity. Being told things were fixed when they weren’t. The lunch fiasco. Now our room bill was incorrect.
The hotel had a New Year’s Eve Gala for $100/person. The hotel had mentioned this to us when they received our booking. From exchanging emails with the food & beverage team, the menu had basically nothing to offer us (we are both vegan). I told them they couldn’t justify $100 for rice and a salad, and we declined the meal. We told them we’d just eat elsewhere that night.
However, our room bill had charges for this. The manager sent the loyalty manager to go print our bill for him to see. While she was gone, I also mentioned to him that she offered us a room that was frankly a downgrade. I told him that I felt we’d been more than generous with our response to the many issues. I pointed out that most of the other guests would be in the lobby creating a scene if they had half the issues we’d experienced. However, I felt that our niceness was being taken advantage of, because nothing had improved. And I said there’s no way anyone could claim we got the experience or service we’d booked with our reservation. I wanted my free night certificates back.
(And before anyone asks, at no point during our stay did I try to leverage anything by threatening to write a bad Park Hyatt Zanzibar review, saying I write for a travel site, etc. My reviews are always 100% my own, because the airlines and hotels likely have no idea who I am.)
He agreed that we had been more than patient and thanked me for not trying to nickel and dime them over everything, constantly demanding freebies.
The hotel manager offered to waive our entire room bill. This included taxes, some snacks we’d ordered to the room, drinks by the pool–anything on there. Next, he told the loyalty manager to coordinate with his personal driver for our ride to the airport the next morning at no charge.
Additionally, he said he would refund our stay, no questions asked. He also placed our room on “do not use” status, until it could be 100% functional. This can avoid similar issues for other guests.
Next, he said someone just checked out from a suite, and we could go there for the evening after housekeeping finished cleaning it. While enticing, our meeting ended close to 5. We would need to pack, so let’s say we get to the suite around 5:30-ish. We needed to leave for the airport at 9 in the morning. Was it really worth the effort for one night? Not really. I thanked him but said we didn’t feel like packing, unpacking, repacking just for a night, especially since the majority of the time we’d “have” the suite would be sleeping or dinner, not actually enjoying it.
Speaking of dinner, he invited us to come to dinner that night. I said my wife already planned to go to the Japanese restaurant we saw while walking around, but thank you. The hotel manager replied that the owner is a friend of us. He would pick up our dinner tab and have a table set aside for us to make sure we didn’t have to wait. We planned for 7:30.
Dinner went off without a hitch. They were expecting us and told us that our bill was taken care of. It was really the one thing that went right during our stay.
That night, I checked our room bill in my Hyatt app. It showed $0. That was fast! I took a screen shot. Good thing.
Issue 9 – Room Bill Wrong Again At Check Out
Wouldn’t you know it, they tried to charge us at check out the next morning. All of our charges were back, including the New Year’s Eve dinner we didn’t have. I was beyond exhausted with all of this. I explained to the desk agent that the bill should be $0 and showed her my screen shot from the night before.
The charges were there again in my app, to be clear. Within 2 minutes, the front desk manager arrived and told the woman to throw the bill away. She thanked us for our stay and gave us an awkward “I’m supposed to smile, but I know you guys had a bad stay” facial expression. We think she was expecting something dramatic on our exit, like “screw you guys!” or some kind of commotion tell them their hotel sucks, “expect a bad Park Hyatt Zanzibar review on TripAdvisor from us!” or something like this. Why? The front desk staff didn’t do anything wrong. Her goodbye was awkward.
The driver was ready for us outside and all smiles. He was great. We were flying to the other side of Tanzania for a safari, and he mentioned it’s near his home town. We liked him.
The day after our check out from Park Hyatt Zanzibar, I received a WhatsApp message from the hotel manager. He thanked us for visiting and acknowledged that the hotel experience we had wasn’t a good one. He asked for our World of Hyatt numbers, so he can refund our stays, and he told us to enjoy our safari.
The following day, 48 hours after check out, I got an email from the Rooms Division Manager at Park Hyatt Zanzibar. She told me the free night awards had been refunded to our account. It wasn’t that simple, though. I believe Hyatt’s website keeps “using” the certs ,because it sees that the reservation wasn’t canceled. This woman keeps refunding them, according to her emails, and Hyatt’s website keeps using them.
After a few days of this, she gave up and just issued us points as a Quality Assurance Bonus in our accounts. 5 nights x 15,000 points per night. I’m satisfied with that. It should’ve been simpler, but a couple of extra emails I had to write doesn’t change much in my Park Hyatt Zanzbar review, honestly.
Final Thoughts on Park Hyatt Zanzibar Review
Wow, a lot happened. I’m a week removed from our stay and can look back on it. Was the hotel willing to help? Yes. Does “willingness” make the issues better? No, unfortunately. Yes, we got some free meals and free massages. Yes, we got a free ride to the airport and should be getting our points back. However, that doesn’t make up for the let-down that our stay turned out to be.
The high point of the Park Hyatt Zanzibar review would be the spa. The low point would be the issues that led to more issues, often due to staff not communicating well. We were really, really excited for this stay. Instead of the dreamy New Year’s Eve we thought we’d get here, we spent 1-2 hours per day dealing with maintenance and issues and needing to plan to be out of our room at certain times, so they could work. Is that how you want to spend a holiday?
I’d trade back the freebies to just have a normal stay with no issues. My ideal stay would be paying, staying, leaving. I’d trade back the points in my account, meals & massage to just have a hotel visit that was relaxing & free from issues. The hotel has potential, but my experience and my Park Hyatt Zanzibar review are not good. Plain truth.