Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO ZANZIBAR

Norwegian consultant Astrid Solvik describes her visit to this equatorial island with its lovely beaches, restless ocean, fascinating Stone Town and intriguing Arabian past. She visits two of the Select Collection hotels: one perfect for those who like it personal, and one perfect for those who like lots going on...

Essque Zalu Zanzibar


Essque Zalu is a friendly and personal boutique hotel. It is located in Nungwi, on the northern part of the island, about one hour from the airport and Stone Town. This is a nice drive, through local villages and green lush nature. At Essque you still find some local life nearby, including local restaurants.

On arrival I was given a nice welcome, with a small introduction before I was taken to my room. The minibar is empty on arrival, They call this a customized minibar, and fill it up with whatever the guest prefers. I missed a docking station and also coffee and tea making facilities but enjoyed the possibility to charge phone and tablet in the safe and free wifi throughout the hotel.

Essque jetty. There are big tidal differences but at low tide you can still dip into the sea at the far end of the jetty,

Suites & villas

There are 40 suites in total. Ocean front suites are in the front row facing the sea. Ocean view suites are in the second row, and the rest are garden suites. Rooms on first floor are often allocated for families since the rooms are a bit larger than ground floor. The villas, 9 of them, have 3 and 4 bedrooms with pool.

Oceanfront villa

Villa
Suite


The food is good at Essque. In low season they serve an excellent a la carte breakfast (Nov + April + May). Dinner is served a la carte in the main restaurant. In addition there is an a la carte restaurant. The lunch I had out at The Jetty, was very good, with a good selection of dishes with local influence. The hotel recommends that guests also have dinner at one of the local restaurants, where they serve fish and shellfish, beer and wine.


Facilities

I tried the spa, and was very happy with my treatment. The pool is a 15 meter long saltwater pool, with sunchairs around and the pool area faces the sea. A gym will be ready this year..

Even though the water will be gone for many hours of the day, due to low tides, you are able to dip yourself into the water from the pier.


Lounge
Low tide


Low tide near the pier - where swimmng is still possible


The Residence


Situated on the south west coast, about one hour drive from the airport and Stone Town.
This is a much bigger resort than Essque, with a stunning pool villa concept. The resort has more facilities, and sporty, active people will enjoy the range of activities. 

With regard to Zanzibar's tidal differences, there is a big difference between high and low tide at The Residence and at low tide you cannot take a dip in the sea.





Villas

There are 66 pool villas. All villas have a pool, and there are bikes parked outside of every villa. It is easy find your way around, or you can be taken around by buggy.

Nothing is missing in the villas. Here you have a docking station, coffee and tea making facilities, free wifi in room, TV and DVD player, minibar filled with water and soft drinks,a great bathroom with bathtub and separate shower as well as an outdoor shower, with cold water only.

Our villa
Our bed

Our view


Food

Main restaurant, the dining room, serves buffet for all meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is international, with no local influence. 

The other restaurant, the Pavillion, is open for dinner only, buffet style with different themes every night throughout the week. The food here was rather good.

Small lunch dishes are also served by the pool with same menu as the room service. Quite mundane - mainly pizzas, burgers and pasta dishes.

Facilities

The spa has a small outdoor pool area, but also a steamroom, sauna and a well equipped gym.

When it comes to activities, the resort offers floodlit tennis courts.

They also offer free snorkeling trips for guests every day, which last for about one and an half hours in total, including the boat ride. This is not the best spot for snorkeling. If you pay for a private snorkeling trip, they take you to another spot, about 40 minutes from the hotel. The conditions for diving and snorkeling here are better.

They often use Selous safari park for safari for their guests, which makes a good combinations since they offer direct flights from Zanzibar into the park. This can actually be done as a full day excursion. See the list of excursions recommended for Zanzibar.

Excursions to recommend on Zanzibar

Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. With colorful markets, narrow streets with an old fort and the sultans palace.
Visit the birthplace of the legendary Freddy Mercury
Snorkeling and diving, Mnemba island
Dhow sunset cruise
Jozani forest reserve is a forest and large mangrove swamp. Here you find red Colobus monkeys, Sykes monkeys, the tiny antelope duiker, and also birds and butterflies.
Big game fishing
Dolphin safaris
Two turtle sanctuaries near Essque, one where you can swim with turtles.
The newly open Cheeta’s Rock, http://cheetahsrock.com/

History


They gained independence from colonialism in 1963, forming a republic with Tanganyika (mainland) and Zanzibar, with the new name Tanzania. Some 97% of the people on the island are Islamic.
Zanzibar consists of several islands. The main island Unguja and Pemba are the biggest of them, and are where most of the people live.

Climate

The island is close to equator so they have warm weather all through the year, average temperature is about 27 deg C in summer, October to May. And average 25 deg C in their winter, June to September. Rainy season is April and May, called the long rains. Short rains in November with afternoon showers.


See our web page at www.selectcollection.com

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