The Zanzibar Collection

On the East Coast of Zanzibar, on one of the island’s award-winning beaches lies a trio of beach resorts, each with its own unique character, each exquisite in its own way. Sophie and Jonathan visited The Zanzibar Collection’s Breezes Beach Club, Baraza and The Palms and discovered peace, tranquility and proper beach-TLC!

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

Breezes

We’re impressed the moment we arrive at Breezes. Ayman has only been head of operations for one week and yet we get the impression that he’s been here for years – as he gives us a grand tour, his enthusiasm for this beautiful resort is obvious and makes us feel right at home.

Pool at Breezes

Pool at Breezes

It’s low-season and still Breezes is running at almost full capacity, and we quickly discover why this resort is a favorite among Zanzibar regulars. With everything a beach-lover’s heart could possible desire right on the doorstep, such as a PADI-certified dive centre, endless water sports opportunities (kayaks, wind and kite surfing and more), a beautiful pool, spa, gym and several dining venues – this place delivers.

Breezes villas

Breezes villas

After settling in to our tastefully appointed and well-equipped room we head straight to the pool for a swim (well-deserved after biking 60 km here from Stone Town!), followed by lunch in the pool bar. As a nice touch, Breezes offers all new arrivals a pre-dinner welcome drink and canapés on the first night – this creates a nice informal atmosphere and encourages guests to mingle. The Gala Dinner in the Sultan’s Restaurant is an à la carte 3-course gourmet experience with a good selection of seafood – a natural highlight of Zanzibar’s culinary delights. Accompanied by a live jazz band with excellent singers, we tuck into avocado hummus, coconut prawns, white snapper with rock lobster and finally passion fruit pavlova for dessert. Breezes may be a 4-star hotel but it certainly doesn’t ‘settle’ for that – the aspirations are sky high and that shows – we would happily award 5 stars!

Beachfront at Breezes

Beachfront at Breezes

Best for: Families and couples alike

Not so good for: Struggling with this one…

Our verdict: Excellent value for money – prime property on a prime beach with top-notch facilities.

Baraza

It’s a short bike ride for us the following day as we move 250 metres down the beach to Baraza, the 5-star sister hotel to Breezes. With its distinctive Omani design in not only the symmetrical architecture and layout but also in the interior décor, Baraza has 40 private villas, some with garden views, others ocean views and some with an exclusive ocean front location.

Pool at Baraza

Pool at Baraza

The 2-bedroom villas are perfect for two couples travelling together, or a family. Interiors are simple, yet lavish – brass lanterns, ornamental trays, private plunge pool, a king-sized bed, TV, mini-bar, bathrobes, slippers and the essential air-con. We are thoroughly impressed as manager Valeria shows us around the giant property – the feeling of space is overwhelming and even with a fully-packed Baraza it would never seem crowded. The pool is big enough to do laps (although there is also a separate lap pool in the spa), and the area is beautifully designed with lots of areas for relaxation.

Buffet at Baraza

Buffet at Baraza

Lunch is a culinary buffet – we are spoilt for choice as we struggle to decide between lobster sandwiches, chicken satay, pizzas, salads, not to mention the desserts (chocolate éclairs, coconut mousse, apple cake, and more)… the decadent lunch leaves us in need of some exercise. Luckily, Baraza has a fully equipped gym and even its own yoga instructor! We spend the afternoon lazing by the pool, enjoying the sea breeze and watching the tide come in. Just as we start to feel thirsty, one of the many waiters arrives with a bottle of water in an ice bucket… timed to perfection, what more could you ask for? A cocktail perhaps, so we order one of those.

Our suite at Baraza

Our suite at Baraza

The staff at Baraza deserve a special mention – gracious and welcoming, with incredible attention to detail, we were in good hands from start to finish. It is often the level of service that truly characterizes a place, and at Baraza they’ve got that down to a fine art. There’s even an impressive Kids Centre with its own pool and babysitters available. Before dinner we enjoy a cocktail in the Dhahabu Bar, where a group of musicians perform traditional live taarab music.

The culinary ambitions are not to be underestimated and for dinner we enjoy an outstanding Asian-themed buffet with (again!) an overwhelming amount of choice (including sushi, our favorite). Baraza delivers, on every level.

Good for: couples, honeymooners, families…basically everyone.

Not so good for: Still contemplating this one…!

Our verdict: An exquisite and quintessential 5-star resort with an outstanding level of service and amazing food. Our personal favorite of the three Zanzibar Collection resorts.

The Palms

It’s no coincidence that we visit The Palms on our last night. Located on the middle stretch of beach between Breezes and Baraza, The Palms is an exclusive collection of 6 colonial villas nestled amongst palm trees. The atmosphere here is laid back, quiet, relaxing – the guests are truly the centre of attention. Service is discrete and very respectful of those wanting an intimate, private holiday. Best of all? No kids allowed! In other words: this is honeymoon heaven. And with the added benefit of being able to use all the facilities at Baraza and Breezes, you really get the best of all worlds at The Palms.

Pool at The Palms

Pool at The Palms

As we walk into our villa, we are greeted by a bottle of complimentary champagne and there are traditional ‘kangas’ as gifts to wear on the beach. Each villa has its own plunge pool and its own private thatched beach “banda” with sun loungers and a sheltered day bed for that essential afternoon snooze. All meals are à la carte and the culinary levels are as high here as at Baraza – for dinner we have a trio of avocado, prawns with aubergine, fish stew with lobster and chocolate fondant for dessert. It’s the perfect wrap-up for our beach break.

The Palms

The Palms

Good for: Honeymoon couples and those wanting a very private holiday.

Not so good for: Those not wanting all meals à la carte – but then again, with the option of going next door to Baraza to indulge in their buffets, you really get the best of both.

Our verdict: An intimate resort with a compelling sense of peace and tranquility.

The Zanzibar Collection has something for everyone at different budgets and it’s our recommendation for beach resorts in Zanzibar. Whether you’re looking for a stand-alone beach break, or looking to unwind after an East Africa safari, you won’t be disappointed here.

For our top safari recommendations, see the safari section of our blog.

Tintswalo Atlantic

Francois talks about his and his wife’s trip to Tintswalo Atlantic.

This magnificent lodge is situated in one of the most stunning locations in Southern Africa! Positioned at the base of Chapman’s Peak, Tintswalo Atlantic overlooks the quaint fishing village of Hout Bay, Cape Town.

Klein Collection: How far is Tintswalo Atlantic from Cape Town?

Francois: About 25 km from Cape Town city centre with a beautiful scenic drive along the Atlantic seaboard, located at the start of the world renowned Chapmans Peak pass (just on the other side of Hout Bay).

Klein Collection: What made you decide to stay at Tintswalo Atlantic?

Francois: I have heard so many good things about Tinswalo and wanted to see and experience it myself.

Klein Collection: What was your first impression of Tintswalo Atlantic on arrival?

Francois: How is it possible that that there could be a boutique hotel so close to the ocean within a nature reserve? Its setting is absolutely amazing – probably one of the best in the world.

Klein Collection: What was the service like?

Francois: Personalised service has been redefined. We were welcomed by all Tintswalo staff on arrival. The staff have perfected the art to make things happen without you being aware that it has been done.

Klein Collection:  Is it child friendly?

Francois: Tintswalo Atlantic allows children older than twelve years of age.

Klein Collection: What activities are offered at Tintswalo Atlantic?

Francois: First and foremost to relax, allow yourself to take in the ocean’s rhythm, and then absorb the beautiful views from your suites’ private deck. Enjoying the culinary experience was also a highlight (dinner is a must).  Spa treatments are offered, but you can also enjoy plenty of other surrounding excursions (kayaking, wine tours, whale watching, etc.).

Klein Collection: What was the food like?

Francois: Really out of this world. The afternoon tea, dinner and breakfast. In all we had about seven courses and a chef making dishes according to our wishes.

Klein Collection: What was the highlight of your stay at Tintswalo Atlantic?

Francois: Everything! Really.

Klein Collection: What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois: Be prepared to be blown away. Try to check in as early as possible – allowing you to spend as much time at Tintswalo Atlantic as possible.

Klein Collection: Who is Tintswalo Atlantic ideal for?

Francois: The discerning traveller for whom only the best will do. Privacy, nature and food are key factors.

Point out of 5
Service  5
Location  5
Food  5
Facilities  5
Décor  5
Attention to detail  5
Value for money  5

Should Tintswalo Atlantic sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Views Boutique Hotel and Spa

Stephanus talks about his trip to Views Boutique Hotel & Spa in Wilderness…

Klein Collection: How far is Views Boutique Hotel & Spa from Cape Town?
Stephanus: 450km, or about 5.5 hours’ drive.

Klein Collection: What made you decide to stay at Views Boutique Hotel & Spa?
Stephanus: We wanted to sleep somewhere with great sea views.

Klein Collection: What was your first impression of Views Boutique Hotel & Spa on arrival?
Stephanus: We arrived very late in the evening, so we immediately tucked the kids into bed, then ordered room service and watched a movie from the comfort of our bed. Needless to say, we were ‘wowed’ by the stunning ocean views when we woke up the next morning.

Klein Collection: What was the service like?
Stephanus: They only have 18 suites, so the staff are really friendly and take a lot of pride in their establishment.

Klein Collection: Is it child friendly?
Stephanus: Yes, they definitely cater for the whole family. The baby-cot was set up in our bedroom when we arrived and they had a baby-chair ready for us at breakfast. The hotel also has its own games room with a pool table – a great time killer with kids!

Klein Collection: What activities are offered at Views Boutique Hotel & Spa?
Stephanus: The hotel isn’t really an ‘activity’ type of hotel, although it does have a games room on-site and plenty of activities in close proximity (surfing at the beach, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, etc.). The hotel is best suited for individuals who wish to take in the breathtaking ocean views whilst relaxing in their spacious suites. It has also got a lovely cocktail deck which is ideal for intimate weddings or functions, particularly in the warmer summer months. The hotel also features a spa and gym, private pool deck, Sea View Lounge, Library Lounge and a Cocktail Deck overlooking the beach.

Klein Collection: What was the food like?
Stephanus: For dinner, my wife and I ordered room service and enjoyed a delicious seafood pizza and vanilla milkshake. The next morning, we had a scrumptious continental and full English breakfast with some of the best croissants ever!

Klein Collection: What was the highlight of your stay at Views Boutique Hotel & Spa?
Stephanus: The hotel is perched on a huge sand dune with views overlooking the Indian Ocean. Also, the suites are extremely spacious, clean and comfortable.

Klein Collection: What should potential visitors take note of?
Stephanus: Most of the suites have direct ocean views – you literally feel like you’re sleeping in a very luxurious and spacious cruise liner. However, a few of the suites have partially obstructed side ocean views. If you want to know which ones are really nice, contact us for insider tips.

Klein Collection: Who is Views Boutique Hotel & Spa ideal for?
Stephanus: Someone who just wants to take in the captivating beauty of the ocean, enjoy good food and be pampered, whilst still having the option of doing the occasional activity without driving too far. You’ll probably want to stay there at least 2 nights though, if not longer.

Should Views Boutique Hotel and Spa sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Almost eaten alive by a Great White Shark… just kidding.

– Independent review by our client, Grant Dreyer

Just before diving with Great White SharksBeing an ardent surfer and all round ocean lover going shark cage diving has never been high on my priority list of things to do. With names such as Great White, White Pointer, White Shark or White Death, reaching lengths up to 20 feet and weighing in close to 2 tons, you may understand my apprehension in getting into the water with these mammoth animals.

It is said that after the Kruger National Park, Great White sharks attract some of the highest number of tourists to South Africa for any singular activity, so on a recent trip out from the United States my brother in-law indicated that this would be a great experience, especially since Gansbaai (a 2 hour drive from Cape Town) is the world’s most notorious breeding ground for these impressive beasts.

The Shark Diving Unlimited team were absolutely great. Boasting visitors such as Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Leonardo Di Caprio, Halle Berry, Jeff Corwin and Prince Harry to mention just a few, you can be rest assured that you are in superb hands.

We arrived at the Shark Diving Unlimited team’s HQ at 12h00 and were greeted by some nervous faces from other unsuspecting victims. The breakfast was welcomed after the drive from Cape Town with very little beating a fresh pot of coffee and the ocean breeze. After a quick meal the party watched an educational movie on sharks which features Mike Rutzen also known internationally as the shark whisperer – who regularly features on the Discovery Channel and numerous National Geographic documentaries.

Shark Cage Diving with Klein Collection's Shark Diving Unlimited

Our trusted vessel... Shark Diving Unlimited's Barracuda

Once the safety briefing was completed we headed onto the ocean steed, the Barracuda, which is especially designed for shark cage diving and features the most sophisticated navigation and safety gear.

On the boat we realised that there was no backing out of this experience. However it was only until we reached our destination and spotted a few circling shadows, that the fear and reality of what we were about to do, started setting in. At this point we got told to suit up and the first batch of divers entered the water. The nervous expressions of the people in the cage looking through tiny windows into the ocean’s depth, the smell of the chum and the crew slinging fish heads to lure the giants closer, made one question whether this was a good idea.

Close shave with a Great White Shark

Close shave with a Great White Shark

Finally our turn came and in we went. After only a few seconds came our first encounter with these majestic animals, poised with the grace of a chess player, knowing that in the next move he will be victorious, its elusive speed only shown at the chance of a tasty snack. The essence of what was happening around us was brought to a halt as time seemed to freeze when the sharks glide past the cage. We could see straight into the abyss of its big black eyes, assessing each one of us and weighing up the chances of a meal in a calculated manner.

View Great White Sharks from the viewing deck if you fear getting into the water

View Great White Sharks from the viewing deck if you fear getting into the water

With every sling of the fish heads to lure the sharks closer, the excitement in us was stirred and we were again forced into a state of frozen fear and excitement, but with every sighting you realise how magnificent these animals are and find yourself being drawn closer to them.

We were fortunate in that although it was the low season as far as shark viewings were concerned, we had about 30-35 sightings in our one trip alone, which is incredible.

The experience was truly amazing and we walked away with a newfound respect for these amazing creatures and a better understanding of how wrong the perceptions created by movies and Hollywood are.

Cost:

  • R1350 per person

Included:

  • Breakfast (before trip)
  • Picnic lunch (during trip)
  • Soft drinks and water (during trip)
  • Lunch (after trip)
  • All diving equipment
  • Dry towels

To experience what Grant experienced…

Complete the short form below. Alternatively, contact us on +27 21 813 661 or info@kleincollection.com. We’ve done it (read the shark cage diving review by Kim, Klein Collection’s Marketing Manager) and our clients have done it. It’s about time you do it too!

Mosaic Farm: a truthful nature experience in Stanford

Mosaic Farm, Stanford

Mosaic Farm, Stanford

Dropping off the kids at my parents’ place in Paarl is a standard detour when my wife and I want to spend some time by ourselves. This time we incorporated the Boland scenic route into our trip to Stanford. Our destination? Mosaic Farm.

I took a shortcut, which landed us on a gravel road. Our desire for some peace and quite was tempered by what turned out to be a 4-hour journey. I should have listened to the GarMap voice prompts…

Finally the beautiful coastal farm village was visible from a distance. We made it, not on time, but still – we were there.

I love the authenticity of Stanford. It is as if you have turned back the clock of time and halved the normal pace of life. Small antiques, coffee shops, art and other interesting things greet you in the main road as you drive past.

View at Die Gat, Mosaic Farm

We arrived at Mosaic Farm and Nadine (the manager on duty) welcomed us with a warm smile. Our bags were taken care of while we were offered a welcome drink in the lounge. Nadine talked us through the list of activities that they offer, informed us about the dinner arrangements and also gave us some history of the place. The possibilities seemed endless: picnic on the beach, nature walks, cycle wine tour, kayaking on the lake, private dinner, and more. One thing was clear: we should have come for two nights! There were so many things to do and see and I wanted to experience them all.

Francois enjoying the outside shower at Mosaic Farm

Francois enjoying the outside shower at Mosaic Farm

We stayed in one of the free-standing lodge suites under the Milkwood trees. These beautifully designed and decorated units were built from stone and other natural materials sourced from the surrounding area. Our bedroom and deck overlooked the lagoon, positioned in a way to optimise privacy and views – with a rather daring outside shower…

The bird life at Mosaic Farm is overwhelming. Their songs created a fitting background to the silence of the nature reserve.

Carien having dinner at Mosaic Farm

Carien having dinner at Mosaic Farm

Our private dinner, with the chef introducing herself and taking us through the menu for the evening, is definitely a unique touch. There is no rush or time schedule here and we ended up having a 4 hour dinner – surrounded by the amazing views of nature, a warm fire place, friendly staff and just the two of us for a change… a winning recipe for a memorable experience.

Milkwood trees at Mosaic Farm

Milkwood trees at Mosaic Farm

As luck would have it – we were fortunate to meet the US-based owners Kathryn and Breese Johnson. With their love for God, nature and people, Mosaic Farm is truly their monument of what they stand for. They are the drivers behind outreach programs that uplift the local Stanford community by focusing on education, rehabilitation and job creation. The Johnsons are also highly committed to bringing the Stanford nature reserve back to its natural indigenous fauna and flora and they are continuously removing invasive trees – a massive project and investment!

Mosaic Farm also caters for exclusive weddings, conferences as well as team building break aways.

Outside deck at Mosaic Farm

Outside deck at Mosaic Farm

Therefore, the question is not whether you should come to Mosaic Farm, but rather whether you will be fortunate enough to experience this level of personal hospitality and service with God’s creation as the canvas. Mosaic Farm is ideal for those who want to connect to nature, looking for a honest and truthful setting where opulence is not the draw card.

Oh, and by the way – you have to go for lunch at Madre’s kitchen on the Sir Robert Stanford estate just outside the Stanford village. Their wines are also great and the tasting is free.

 

Need more information? Visit Mosaic Farm on Klein Collection’s website to view more property details, images and rates.

Whale spotting from a bird’s eye view

Hermanus is well known for land based whale watching, but imagine the viewing opportunity if you were spotting whales from the air… from a small plane!

Klein Collection can offer you these special and unique experiences.

Contact us for more information at info@kleincollection.com.

The sound of the ocean at Tintswalo Atlantic

No words can describe the sound of the ocean at Tintswalo Atlantic. Hopefully the video will help to explain the mind massaging effect of the ocean. The fortunate few that have been there will know what I mean…