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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.