Welcome to The Residence Zanzibar , the one hour and 20-minute drive from Zanzibar Kisauni airport means you are completely away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, but also reliant on a car to get anywhere. That said, the hotel is so beautiful, you may not even want to leave anyway. Security in and out of the resort is tight and the hotel will gladly arrange a taxi if wishing to venture out.
Just a 15-minute drive away is Kizimkazi, a small fishing village with a few ramshackle bars and dive schools; the coral reef in Zanzibar is excellent. Drive another hour and you’ll be in Stone Town, a beautiful, labyrinthine, Unesco World Heritage Site rich with history and the heady scents of spices being sold at market from dusk until dawn.
Style and Character
The complex, spread over 80 acres, has 66 villas across six categories, suitable for couples and families alike. From luxury villas with a garden to those with ocean views, each villa has a private pool, although it’s worth spending time at the hotel’s main feature pool, where complimentary ice cream cones are brought to your lounger after lunch and monkeys play in the palm trees which line the water.
Parked outside each property are pink bicycles to match the creeping bougainvillea, which knits nicely into the slightly unkempt but charming fauna of the former forest. In the evening, take your bike down to the jetty and watch the sun sets over the sea in a hundred shades of blue.
Service and Facilities
The traditional Swahili greeting “jambo” is used constantly throughout the hotel, typical of how friendly the staff are. For those wishing to explore outside of the resort, such as travelling to Prison Island or the Jozani National Forest Reserve, the hotel will arrange with a reassuring “hakuna matata” (Swahili for “no problem”), because nothing seems to be too much trouble to accommodate.
The manager will round you up for an evening game of volleyball, or encourage you to use the 24-hour tennis court; there is also a decent gym. The spa has six treatment suites, as well as a steam, sauna and jacuzzi. All therapies use oils from British brand ILA with flavours ranging from mango and basil to ginger and lime.
If the heat gets too much, find respite in the air-conditioned games room with snooker, table tennis and darts on offer, as well as bookcases stuffed to the brim. For an extra cost, there are dolphin excursions. However, sightings are not guaranteed, while kayaks and paddle boards can be borrowed free of charge from the Boat House.
The Residence Zanzibar Villas are airy and spacious with mahogany cupboards and coffee tables made in the traditional Zanzibar carpentry style. They are chic and not fussy. Beds are comfy and provided with mosquito nets while there are various repellents and candles to light, if you’re out on your deck at night (though mosquitoes seemed to be minimal on my stay).
Each bathroom is fitted with double sinks. Allow yourself to fully submerge in a tub drawn with clove-infused bath salts – this is the Spice Island, afterall – or stand under your rain shower big enough for two. Or head outside for a bracing cold wash in a private outside drencher attached to the bathroom.
Food and Drink
Guests have the choice between dining at the Pavillion, which offers a set menu, or at the Dining Room, which is buffet-style and offers a different culinary experience each night. The buffet on the beach, with traditional Swahili music and a fire pit in the distance, is a highlight; the beef skewers hot off the barbeque are tender and caramelly, as well as freshly grilled squid and juicy speared chicken.
The array of fresh salads each night are impressive offering bowls of mango, chilli and avocado as well as grilled octopus, lemon and garlic. The breakfast is also a highlight, with a detox juice bar and chefs preparing eggs any style.
There is a path that cuts through the resort as well as ramps, so that wheelchairs can be operated with ease. There’s also a stream of buggies to shuttle guests around the resort.
Very. There is a kids’ club hosting candy floss parties and movie nights; evening entertainment, from tribute bands to acrobatic shows, are on each night and are suitable for families. There is also a babysitting service at an additional cost.