If you had a chance to read my article, “A Luxe Solo Retreat: Rest and Reset in Zanzibar,” for Cuisine Noir last month, you’ll notice that I saved the big details about where I stayed and celebrated my birthday last year for now. Once you read this story, it will be easy to see why. Some things need an article to themselves.
As an avid solo traveler, planning for trips starts months in advance and is not always predicated on the best deals. Location, culture and the local vibe all play a role in where I plan to fly next. When it comes to my birthday celebrations each year, I put in a little more planning.
When I decided that Tanzania would be the country to welcome this birthday girl, my search for accommodations eventually stopped at the luxury resort on the island of Zanzibar that is known to serious vacationers as Zanzi Resort.
Behind the lush greenery is a “hidden gem” that only guests able to secure one of the 13 available rooms at a time can experience. Last October, I was one of them.
A Stay Fit For a Queen
The boutique resort nestled against the Indian Ocean lives up to its promise for privacy and tranquility. My goal on this trip was quite simple…to relax. And that is exactly what I did. The rooms are spacious and well-appointed. They also offer ocean view and ocean access villas with a private pool. Guests can enjoy an open-air gym equipped with elliptical machines and free weights. For bookworms (like me), there is a library along with a comfortable sitting room where you can choose from a selection of books to read or bring your own. While there, you can mix and mingle with staff and other guests.
The property's intimacy allows the staff, especially the sales manager Emeline Malisa, to know you by name and take pride in accommodating any request you may have during your stay.
If you choose to venture into Stone Town, a private driver is provided for you. Zanzi Resort will also provide you will a local phone while you’re out, so you can call your driver or the resort if you need to at any time.
My villa was completely private, which I loved. Nothing beats being in your own private pool under the glow and warmth of the African sun.
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The resort is guarded by Maasai warriors who walk the grounds in their traditional attire. This lets you know that not only are you well protected but invokes a feeling of being royalty. Their serenade to me on my birthday sealed the deal.
Behind Every Gem
During my stay, I had the opportunity to connect with Malisa, who joined the resort in December 2018. Her background is impressive, and in one conversation, you'll be convinced to stay as long as you can. Most guests stay an average of six to eight nights.
Her attention to detail and impeccable hospitality level is just one of the reasons Zanzi Resort was recognized for having The Best Service in Tanzania in 2019.
Born and raised in Tanzania, Malisa studied business and human resources at the University of India. After returning to Tanzania and finding it hard to get a job in human resources, she started her hospitality career working for a company called Adventure Camps. For four years, she worked with clients to coordinate flights and accommodations, create itineraries and anything else to make camping adventures memorable.
Wanting to switch career gears, she went in a different direction by becoming a mining investigator. Malisa moved onto a mine site within a village, and for eight to nine hours a day, she says she was dealing with every type of crime from theft to death and even rape. Another challenging part of the job was having to deliver unfortunate news of loss to loved ones. She stayed in this role for three years.
A phone call from a friend would change her career trajectory again, but this time back into the hospitality industry.
Malisa’s friend decided to turn down a position at Zanzi Resort and referred her instead. “I was like yeah, it is something I have done before, so it won’t be too hard to get back on it,” Malisa recalls. She met with the general manager, who she clicked with right away and has been there ever since.
We’re in This Together
“It's a gem, I can say. My first time when I actually knew I was coming to work here, I was extremely excited. Not because I was leaving the mining industry. It was because I had never seen a place so beautiful and I am not talking this because I am the sales manager here. I am saying this from experience that I had and the experience our guests are having,” says Malisa.
Together with her team, they create an oasis that attracts guests from Russia, Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, France, the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, Ethiopia, Japan, China, Kenya and Poland to name a few countries.
“Our key selling point is mostly privacy. It’s the perfect location for romance, if you want to get away from the chaos, the traffic and everything. You just want to think to yourself, meditate, it’s like the perfect place for just that.”
Zanzi Resort was not immune to the impact of COVID-19 and shut down from March 30 until July 15. As of Aug. 1, they were fully operational again.
“During this closure, with no income generated, we decided to keep our staff rather than concentrate on major repairs around the property because we did not want to lose the team that we have worked so hard to build together over the years of working at Zanzi Resort. We wanted to make sure our team was well taken care of by providing training on health and safety protocols provided, provide food, medical and shelter for those in need.”
Malisa is the first boast about the team they worked so hard to build, including the resort's chef, which she says, “We have the best chef in Zanzibar. I want to make that very clear.” Guests are treated to a mix of cuisines that represent different continents. They have a set menu for breakfast and lunch, and one that changes nightly for dinner. Inspiration comes from the guests and where they are from. In addition, she notes before the pandemic, they hosted barbecue nights that served as a way for guests to meet one another.
New Guidelines, Same Zanzi
Before re-opening, Malisa and her team were hard at work preparing for the day they would welcome guests back to the property. With health and safety becoming a priority alongside privacy, they carefully monitor where guests are coming in from. Also, protocols are sent to all guests before arriving that include:
- Presenting a certificate noting a negative COVID-19 status from countries where testing is required for traveling. It is recommended to get tested within a week of arriving. Testing is available on Zanzibar, but results will take a few days to come back.
- Guests are required to wear masks and social distance at all times while in the public areas.
- Guests’ temperatures are taken daily by an infrared thermometer.
- Room service will be provided daily at guests’ doorsteps.
- Rooms will be cleaned twice a day while guests are in the pool or other common areas.
These are just five out of more than twenty health and safety protocols.
Finally, by nature, Zanzi Resort has always been designed to provide as much or as little privacy as one could want. Malisa says, “Zanzi Resort is the best location for the post COVID era as we provide seclusion, free room services, private pools, 100% privacy to all our guests, sanitizers, gloves, immunity boosters like ginger tea, fresh coconuts, vegetables grown from our own garden and so much more.”
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Knowing that they are a little more fortunate than other properties in that they have been able to keep their full staff and maintain the highest standards of service possible, Malisa is hopeful that the hospitality industry overall will see better days in 2021 and eventually bounce back.
Paradise awaits you at Zanzi Resort now or in the future. For more information and to book your stay, visit https://www.zanziresort.com/. Follow the resort for updates and specials on Facebookand Instagram.