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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Hotel Insider: Baraza Resort & Spa, Zanzibar 

A new all-inclusive 5-star resort with 30 villas, on Zanzibar's east coast

The lush gardens at  Baraza Resort & Spa, Zanzibar. Courtesy The Zanzibar Collection
The lush gardens at Baraza Resort & Spa, Zanzibar. Courtesy The Zanzibar Collection

The welcome

Despite being an hour and 10 minutes’ drive from Stone Town, Baraza Resort & Spa is relatively easy to find, thanks to a member of staff who stays on the phone and guides our driver. Swahili-style arches and Zanzibari ornaments span the entire perimeter of the main reception and dining building, giving the space an airy, palatial feel. The entrance is dotted with bronze antiques, lanterns and yellow sofas. The main desk is a wooden antique and staff are dressed in traditional attire. We are greeted with warm saffron drinks, hot towels and a manager keen to discuss the resort’s extensive amenities.

The neighbourhood

The Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, a forest in Zanzibar that is home to an endemic species of red monkey, is a short, 10-minute drive from the hotel. There are four hotels located within the resort: the high-end Baraza boutique where we are staying, a collection of four-star chalets called Breezes, and two other sets of luxury villas at the The Palms and Zawadi. We are given a tour and are told that residents can freely move between the four properties.

The scene

The Frangipani spa facility is in a separate building with many treatment rooms. We are welcomed with drinks before starting our massages (Dh260 for 30 minutes, including taxes).

The room

The Baraza has 30 private, detached, single-story villas, each surrounded by private gardens. All villas have their own swimming pool. We are upgraded to a sea view bungalow with deck chairs within our private garden, and another pair of lounges marked with our villa number in front of the Indian Ocean. The massive bathroom has a jacuzzi draped with bronze curtains, as well as a stand-alone shower. The living room has wooden furniture, and a flat screen television fitted within an antique closet. The most striking feature is an arch in the living room wall leading to an Arabic-style majlis on an elevated floor. The bed is draped with a mosquito net, and the window to my left has a padded seating area protruding from the wall.

Baraza villa bedroom at  Baraza Resort & Spa, Zanzibar. Courtesy The Zanzibar Collection
Baraza villa bedroom at Baraza Resort & Spa, Zanzibar. Courtesy The Zanzibar Collection

The service

Local staff are extremely keen to help. The manager is around at meal times to chat about our experience and activities – from snorkelling at the dive centre to spa treatments – which are offered to us at a discounted rate.

The food

Being an all-inclusive resort , the Baraza has four restaurants. Breakfast is served on the Livingstone Terrace, an open area with views overlooking the garden, pool and ocean. Crêpes, waffles, eggs and smoothies are all made on the spot. Lunch is served at the open salad bar and barbecue-style Ocean Lounge Bar & Restaurant. The Sultan’s Dining Room is where buffet and set menu dinners are served. From sushi to steak and lobster to linguini, it was hard to fault the taste or texture of anything on offer in the extensive continental buffet.

Loved

The Arabic, Swahili and Indian decor fusion. The rooms and main areas are dotted with hand-carved wooden ornaments and bronze antiques, handmade furniture and brass lanterns.

Frangipani Spa at  Baraza Resort & Spa, Zanzibar. Courtesy The Zanzibar Collection
Frangipani Spa at Baraza Resort & Spa, Zanzibar. Courtesy The Zanzibar Collection

Hated

The shallow area along the stretch of the east coast was filled with seaweed. We would have had to wade through it to reach the sea. As a result, we didn’t swim during our stay at the resort, which was disappointing. However, we were told that high tides regularly wash up the east coast shores.

The verdict

The beautiful decor and palatial feel almost made up for the seaweed along the shore. The suite was lavish and spacious, the staff attentive and the food exquisite.

The bottom line

Villas at the Baraza Resort & Spa (www.baraza-zanzibar.com) cost from Dh2,500 per night on a full-board basis. Special offers are available during low season.

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