I awoke to the sun rising over the crystalline blue Indian Ocean. After a quick breakfast, we headed out to visit beachside lodges and resorts around the island.
Our first stop was The Residence, a beautiful 5-star resort on 79 acres on the southwest coast. Each of the 66 private villas has its own 8-meter pool and either a view of the beach or the resort’s well-manicured gardens. Visitors who want a larger pool can take a dip in the resort’s main pool — a glass-walled infinity pool that Conde Nast recently named as one of the top ten swimming pools in the world. Onsite activities include bicycling (each guest receives a bicycle to use during the stay), boating, a spa, fitness center, snorkeling, and dolphin safaris. A Kids Club offers activities for young ones ages 3 through 12, and an onsite petting zoo and bird sanctuary are fun for children of all ages.
We then visited Breezes Beach Club and Spa. I loved the lobby building, which was furnished with Persian-style brass lamps and intricately carved furniture. It also smelled like heaven, thanks to large urns of whole cloves and cardamon pods lining its open-air walkways.
The 74 air-conditioned rooms are similarly decorated, and each room has an assigned umbrella and set of loungers on the resort’s private beach. Diving excursions and spa services are available on site.
Konokono Beach Resort recently reopened after a two-year redesign and expansion project. Located on on Chwaka Bay on Zanzibar’s east coast, it now has 24 villas (up from 14) and a gorgeous seaside restaurant and pool. I was tempted to take a dip, but alas I did not have my swimsuit with me.
However, we did enjoy a delicious lunch in the outdoor boma, which was built in the Zanzibar style with modern touches such as Italian-designed metal chandeliers. The villas themselves are spacious and airy, with their own verandas and plunge pools. Other villa amenities include air conditioning, cable television, and a coffee station.
We then headed back toward Zanzibar’s northern tip to Essque Zalu Resort & Spa, our lodgings for the night. Essque-Zalu has been rated the island’s number five lodging by members of TripAdvisor, so I was excited to check it out for myself. I immediately saw why it ranks so highly. Essque Zalu is a luxurious retreat with a spacious lobby, three restaurants, three bars, a gorgeous swimming pool, and a high-end boutique featuring original fashions and art. It has 40 spacious suites and nine three- and four-bedroom villas with kitchens and outdoor jacuzzis, the latter of which are an excellent option for families.
Our host gave us a tour of the large spa. It offers massage, facials, manicures and pedicures using highly rated Africology products. Treatments may be given at the spa or at guests’ villas. We walked down the jetty, which goes out over the beach and water and has a restaurant at its end. Guests can access the beach and swimming from steps that run along it. After settling in our villa we had an outstanding dinner at The Market Kitchen, Essque Zalu’s main restaurant. There were three four-course offerings: a European-American-style meat option, a vegetarian option, and a Swahili option. All were delicious.
For more pictures of Essque Zalu, visit my Essque Zalu Facebook album.