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Reviewed 22 February 2021 via mobile

Staff simply don’t care. Even if you push them, the response you get is ‘it’s not my department’.
Simple fried potato skins as a starter came 2.5hrs later. Then waited another 30min for our main course. Milkshakes can’t even be served by the bar man (after you’ve already paid for them), as they only come from the kitchen which is understaffed. 2h for milkshakes! There’s no leadership. Utterly disappointed and its unacceptable. Food for most of us was below average except the coastal Queen prawns which was great! Never going back there!

Date of stay: February 2021
Trip type: Travelled with family
Thank SRadarA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Distant Relatives, Owner at Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers, responded to this reviewResponded 15 March 2021

Hello there Ang,

Firstly, my apologies if this is not your correct name, this is the only name I can see from my account.

My name is Romain Mari, I'm one of the founders of Distant Relatives in Kilifi. We started the project in 2012 when it was only just a dream at the time. Since then much has changed and while we try our very very best to always aim for the highest standard of service and also to constantly improve and fix all problems, there is no doubt that once in a while things do not go as planned.
I am so so so sorry for the experience you had at Distant Relatives... This is very sad and disappointing and I can very much understand your frustration believe me. Waiting for hours for no good reason is not something I handle very well. I can also imagine what has caused this unfortunate experience you had…

As has been the case for so many other businesses, 2020 has been a real nightmare for us too. We had to let go of key staff including chefs and reduce expenses wherever possible just to be able to make it through the year. We are also now in great debt. As a result, the infrastructure and the service has suffered. Early 2021, we listed all the work we needed to do to get back to normal, from maintenance jobs to staffing and improvement of systems, and we are slowly rebuilding ourselves step by step. Works have begun, staff are being re-employed and we are already noticing the difference.

I wanted to ask you if you would be willing to come back and visit for a free meal (and free stay if you like), entirely at our cost, anytime from now, to see if perhaps we had managed to improve the issues you highlighted? If so, please could you contact me by email on office@kilifibackpackers.com ?

We feel very bad that your were left with such a bitter feeling… As you can imagine, that is obviously not what we aim for… We’re deeply disappointed and we’re working hard for this not to happen again.

Please let me know if you could consider visiting back, at our cost?

Once again, our apologies from the entire team.

I wish you a lovely day,
Take care,
Romain Mari

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 February 2021 via mobile

Even though i’m not usually the one to complain and it definitely being a nice place, i cannot say my stay was satisfactory. First of all, we checked in to find the oats all over the place and beds that they didn’t clean up after we asked them politely to do so. Besides that, their marketing is off, considering the prices, (plain toast being priced at 2EUR) it’s definitely not as “backpackers-friendly” as they promote it. And even if you do order the quite costly food, make sure to remind them, as they tend to forget the orders. Me and my friends used to wait on our food for 1h to say the least. We know another girl there who got her mango juice order 10h later.
All in all, if it weren’t for the group and people we were travelling with, our stay wouldn’t be as enjoyable.

Date of stay: February 2021
Trip type: Travelled with friends
Thank peterthepan2001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Distant Relatives, Owner at Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers, responded to this reviewResponded 15 March 2021

Hello there Romano/ peterthepan2001.
My name is Romain Mari, I'm one of the founders of Distant Relatives in Kilifi. I am sincerely so very sorry for this recent experience you had at Distant Relatives... On behalf of our entire team… we would first like to apologize. I can very much understand your frustration believe me. From waiting times to requests not fulfilled… this is just not acceptable.
If you allow me, let me give you a bit of background on what I can imagine has caused this and why I would hope your experience to be very different if you came back for a visit:
Unfortunately, as has been the case for so many other businesses, 2020 has been a real nightmare. We had to let go of key staff and reduce expenses wherever possible just to be able to make it through. We even had one of our Bandas that burnt down. As a result, we are also now in great debt. As a result, the infrastructure and the service has suffered. Early 2021 we listed all the work we needed to do to get back to normal, from maintenance jobs to staffing and improvement of systems, and we are slowly rebuilding ourselves. Works have begun, staff are being re-employed and we are already noticing the difference.
Thanks to your review, we have now significantly reduced the price for plain toast with butter and jam (and we might entirely remove it from the menu). And with regards to waiting times at the restaurant, we have now brought back the entire Kitchen team which seems to have significantly helped reduce waiting times.
I will try to contact you directly to see if we could chat some more about your experience and better understand some of the things you mention. I hope that is ok with you? We would love to also host you and your friends again to show you how things have changed since you last visited.
We feel very bad that you were left with such a bitter feeling… As you can imagine, that is obviously not what we aim for… We’re deeply disappointed and we’re working hard for this not to happen again.

I hope you have a great day,
Take care,
Romain Mari

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 February 2021

I've been hearing about the Distant Relatives for years from friends and travellers around East Africa. Fortunately, i had the opportunity to come and experience it by myself.
The first night I met a wonderful group of people and I witness the Bioilluminescent plankton. It felt like a fairytale came to life.
The atmosphere is very warm and the personnel and crew super friendly. Not just as employees but also as a part of the community.
The food can be a bit pricey if you stay there for a longer period of time but DR offers a community kitchen that you can prepare your own meals.
Facilities and dorms are very clean and hygenic. The only issue I had some user complications with, was regarding the compost toilets but I guess we need to comply with the rules of preserving nature and the environment around us.
After all, I had a great experience and I would recommend Distant Relatives to everyone with good vibes who want to connect with other good vibe travellers and experience a sense of community while travelling.

Date of stay: February 2021
1  Thank Panos K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Romain Mari, Owner at Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers, responded to this reviewResponded 25 February 2021

Thank you very much Panos K
we really appreciate your excitement and we are happy we gave you an amazing experience. We hope to see you again soon and create more memorable experiences.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 February 2021

I stayed here for a total of 4 nights with many of my friends. Distant relatives was recommended by many people so I had high expectations that were not met. It is advertised as a backpackers sort of place but it is way to expensive to accommodate. I had many issues with my stay such as cleanliness and a huge lack of organisation (neither of which they dealt with suitably).

Date of stay: February 2021
Trip type: Travelled with friends
Thank Gapyearlol
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Distant Relatives, Owner at Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers, responded to this reviewResponded 16 March 2021

Hello Dorzy (@Gapyearlol),

My name is Romain Mari, I'm one of the founders of Distant Relatives in Kilifi. Thank you for sharing your feedback with us. Our sincerest apology on the negative experience that you had at Distant Relatives. We are extremely disheartened to read about your experience. Since 2012 when we started we have poured all our energy, love and tears into this place and, as I am sure you can imagine, receiving such a review from a disappointed guest is... disheartening to the very least.

I wonder if you would allow me to reach out to you directly to discuss your experience in further detail, just over quick phone call perhaps? As explained to others, we are undertaking some major improvements as we speak from how we manage day to day operations to actual maintenance, building and housekeeping. Unfortunately, as has been the case for so many other businesses, 2020 has been a real nightmare. We had to let go of key staff and reduce expenses wherever possible just to be able to make it through - this includes housekeeping and could explain the cleanliness issue you mention. We even had one of our Bandas that burnt down. As a result, we are also now in great debt. As a result, the infrastructure and the service has suffered. Early 2021 we listed all the work we needed to do to get back to normal, from maintenance jobs to staffing and improvement of systems, and we are slowly rebuilding ourselves. Works have begun, staff are being re-employed and we are already noticing the difference. But it's going to take a bit of time to get back to normal...
Once again, thank you and our apologies from the entire team..

I hope we manage to have a little chat when you find time.

I wish you a lovely day,
Take care, Romain Mari

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 January 2021 via mobile

Well, of course, when you are one of the few backpacking during Covid time, it will be less crowded then usual. The staff was very very friendly, the place has a good vibe. The food and drinks were affordable and very good quality. I worked from here remotely and the wifi was superstrong and enough spaces to sit behind laptop, including wall outlets for electricity. I slept in a safaritent, which was fun and in an very affordable dorm bedroom. I booked a sailing sunset trip with them which was good and when I left I got precise instructions from the owner about how to get to Diani by Matatu and tuktuk. I definately recommend this place!

Date of stay: January 2021
Trip type: Travelled solo
1  Thank Toms11212
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Romain Mari, Owner at Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers, responded to this reviewResponded 12 February 2021

Toms!! thank you so much for visiting us last year!! things were so quiet these sides so your support was well timed and much needed! thank you for sharing you vibes with us! thank you also for your review! we're so glad you enjoyed your time with us! Hope to see you soon!! Welcome to the family!!

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