As the grand gates of Zawadi Hotel in Zanzibar open, you are awarded a breathtaking view. The circular driveway and architecture of the entrance cleverly frame your sight through the door to the beautiful gardens, the deep blue swimming pool and enchanting turquoise ocean beyond. The foyer indicates the theme of the entire hotel, in muted grey stone tones and clean lines with natural ornaments. As we attempted to process everything, we were warmly greeted by a flawlessly dressed member of staff, who served fragrant cold flannels and coconuts to drink.
The manageress by the name of Evelyn welcomed us and took us to our king-sized villa. At 100 sqm, we have loads of space. It has been thoughtfully laid out with a wall behind the bed which shields a massive wardrobe, luggage area and the bathroom. In the closet, is a safe, hairdryer, medical kit, shoehorn, clothes brush, additional towels for use on the terrace loungers, as well as a few yoga mats should you be in the mood for practising your yoga poses or meditating. The large terrace outside or the lounge area inside would be perfect as it provides ample space.
The bathroom is enormous that one would consider it to be bigger than some entire hotel rooms and comprises a double sink area, a shower area with the giant shower head or hand held option and a bath area which has a beautiful stand-alone bath that looks out to the gardens and sea beyond. You can relax in your scented tub and admire the stunning scenery. There is also a chair for clothes, hanging rails for towels and a separate toilet and bidet.
In the bedroom, there is a huge bed which can be configured as one large bed or as twin beds. An extra bed can be added to the side of the living area if required. No more than three guests may occupy the villas. The accommodation is perched on top of cliffs, so the garden areas beyond the terraces are out of bounds and make Zawadi unsuitable for young children and the whole resort is for over 16's only.
Stunning Communal Areas
There are countless carefully thought out communal areas. The pool bar and restaurant are used for lunch and have a wooden deck and furniture perfectly suited for stepping off the beach and is a few steps from the pool. It is open and airy and overlooks the pool and beach areas. It gives incredible views as you enjoy your meal. Beyond the bar area on a lower deck, there is a selection of more comfortable wicker seating ideal for a coffee mid-morning or after lunch.
Located above the pool area are two restaurant/bar areas that are designed in the same tranquil yet modern stone grey pallet. The decor screams sophistication and serene comfort.
One area is used for pre-dinner drinks and was very breezy tonight, while the other is used for dinner.
Below the pool bar area are two beach zones with plush loungers. These are the places to venture off to if you're looking for some cool shade, as there are sturdy, thatched beach umbrellas to sit under and relax. There aren't any umbrellas at the poolside so that the views of the beach are uninterrupted.
All of the villas situated on the cliff top, five of the six alongside each other, and the 6th on its own. All enjoy an ocean view, and it is a joy to sit on the balcony and watch the changing view as the tides sway in and out while the light changes. Along the paths to all the villas are tall palm trees and swathes of colourful bougainvillaea.
Best Food in Zanzibar
The food at Zawadi deserves praise as it is some of the best food on Zanzibar. The menus were altered to the preference of the people staying in the hotel at that time, and with only six villas they able to cater to most of the guests All dietary requirements can be seen to and guests requests taken into account. For example, when a guest recently asked about sampling the cuisine that local people eat, a dish was added to the menu to show this. Each course is beautifully presented and tastes fantastic. Bread and pastries are baked at one of Zawadi's sister properties and are fresh, scrumptious and come in a variety of sizes, shapes and flavours. Breakfast is generous, you start off with a plate of sweet tropical fruits and then order from a lovely selection of savoury dishes. Before this arrived, a basket of warm pastries, fresh rolls and toast came. They looked so inviting; it was impossible to resist that I had a moist, cinnamon whirl with Zanzibar spice.
After such an enormous breakfast we decided to try out the snorkelling - at Zawadi, you can snorkel from their beach. They have constructed a coral, white, concrete path out into the ocean which means you can stroll along without damaging any coral - or your feet. Even if you don't snorkel, it is worth wandering along this path as you can see into the pools left at low tide - nurseries for baby fish, bright red hermit crabs looking for food and otherworldly eel-like creatures with tentacles probing the water for bites.
Once in the water, there are many seaweed beds, but also an array of gorgeous corals and lots of different fish. These were different to the ones we had seen at Matemwe and, being shallower, easier to see.
After our snorkelling session, we headed off to the hotel pool which is just cold enough to be refreshing but warm enough to avoid a frightening gasp as you enter! Another option for keeping fit at Zawadi is the 1km running track around the property with chin-up bars, benches and monkey bars providing a further challenge. There is even a set of weights to help you earn your dinner.
A description of Zawadi cannot be complete without mentioning the staff. The manager Evelyn is welcoming and helpful, while the rest of the team are attentive and friendly. With more than 60 employees, there is always someone to assist. We were delighted to hear that most of them were from the local village, with some coming from other parts of Zanzibar or Tanzania, providing excellent employment prospects for local people.
Zawadi is the perfect destination if you're looking for a mixture of fun and relaxation. Either spend the day lounging at the pool or grab your swimsuit for a sun-filled adventure below the reef and witness colourful sea creatures.
By Anne Beaty