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“Fantastic fantastic place!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Residence Zanzibar

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The Residence Zanzibar
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Mchangamle, Kizimkazi 2404, Tanzania   |  
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Free Snorkelling!!!!!
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Kizimkazi
Kigali, Rwanda
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Fantastic fantastic place!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2012

We spent five nights at the Residence over Christmas and had a fantastic, relaxing time!

We stayed in an ocean view villa, and our villa was spectacular. Very luxurious, spacious, and comfortable, with attention to every detail. The bathroom was gorgeous, the view stunning, and the private pool an added treat. We slept very well, which is very important to us on vacation! I thought the turn down service every evening was exceptional, with a lot of attention to detail. I loved the small personal touches like the chilled, herbal infusion delivered to our room every evening and the tray of treats in the afternoon. Similarly, the property was exquisite...solidly built, lovely aesthetics, lots of attention to detail. The pool was great -- it offers a large shallow area great for kids to play, and a huge deep part great for doing laps. While the decor was very elegant, I felt that a little color was lacking...

The service was excellent, with a lot of personalized touches. On the first day I asked the person delivering our herbal infusion if he could make ours unsweetened...a few minutes later he brought us another pot that was unsweetened, and each following day they made sure ours was made the same way. We ordered a lot of our son's meals to our villa, and the in-villa dining was excellent. They were prompt, always got the order right, and set up the food very nicely (rather fancily for a 4 year old!). The staff everywhere were extremely friendly and extremely helpful, and really no request was too much. The only glitch -- the folks in billing were a bit clueless...they didn't record anywhere that we had paid our bill, and presented our bill to us again. The manager was extremely apologetic, and made up for it by giving us lunch on the house.

They made a huge amount of effort over the Christmas period to create a festive feeling, which I really appreciated! They delivered a small Christmas tree to our room with a string of lights -- which was very special! They arranged for "Santa" to visit the jetty on Christmas day, and he gave out presents to all the kids. There was a lavish Christmas eve dinner with beautiful place settings, and incredible desserts!

The kids club was alright. Great in theory, it provides an opportunity for you to leave your kids for a few hours a day. However, the staff didn't seem capable of really engaging the kids, and while the schedule looked fantastic on paper, in reality the kids were just hanging out doing their own thing. Our son didn't want to go to the kids club after a couple of times.

The food: on the positives -- the ingredients were fresh, extremely high quality, and lavish (guest traveling from outside Africa may not realize what a treat it is to enjoy fancier ingredients like pine nuts, cheeses, etc. in Africa, but we definitely did!). The fish and seafood were absolutely fantastic - fresh, and delicious. We ate dinners at the Pavilion (buffer rather than 3 course meal) since we don't eat meat and had more options there. We enjoyed the huge spread, the variety and the different theme every evening. On the negatives -- I thought the food lacked an authentic Zanzibari feel, and was trying to be too European (or something). I also found that the ethnic foods (Mexican, Thai, for example) were not at all authentic...the Thai curry for example tasted nothing like Thai curry, and the Pad Thai tasted like Chinese stir fried noodles. Nonetheless, all the food was delicious and very fresh. The room service/pool menu didn't look very exciting...can't say how it tasted because we didn't order anything from it.

The beach was disappointing, but that's just Zanzibar for you...they did do a great job keeping it clean, but there's nothing to be done about the seaweed, the sea urchins, the sludgy feeling under your toes.... However, the boat house staff tried their best to help us enjoy the ocean...in addition to taking us snorkeling each day, the crew at the boat house took us out into the ocean on a sail boat, let us swim for half an hour, and then brought us back. This was the only way we could get out into the beautiful, turquoise water a few hundred meters away.

We were a bit annoyed by all the extra charges. When you pay so much and go to such a beautiful place, you don't want to have to worry about all the extra charges. I thought the drinks were illogically priced -- water, which is complimentary by the pool or in your villa, costs $6 at meals. A 300 ml bottle of local soda water, which probably costs less than $0.30 to purchase, costs $6 (whereas a one liter bottle of imported Pellegrino only costs $4 more...). The airport transfer costs $150, whereas you can arrange your own transfer in a comfortable AC car for only $50.

Finally, I can't really put my finger on it, but I thought the Residence lacked a bit of soul...it felt like a luxurious bubble anywhere in the world. I didn't get a sense of being in Zanzibar and I didn't feel like our time there was a cultural experience in any sense of the word. We live in East Africa, so I guess it wasn't a huge deal for us, but if I were traveling from outside the continent I would have gone away feeling like the experience was a bit empty.

Room Tip: We stayed in 110, Ocean facing villa right past the jetty. Offered more privacy than the villas rig...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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465 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (129)
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English first
London, England, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2012

Hotel is beautiful, pool is outstanding, service was excellent. We found the staff made huge efforts to make everything perfect. Food was especially good. Beaches all along E. Africa have significant water recede at low tides making the use of the beaches during low tide undesirable. If you are choosing this hotel solely for the beach, look somewhere else besides E. Africa. The gentlemen at the water sports desk on the beach were especially helpful and kind. Our family enjoyed the snorkeling outing. Our family also rented a boat for half a day, and it was our favorite activity- the staff took us to a nearby, small island where we swam and snorkeled, and they sent us with a picnic basket full of snacks at our request. Linda at the Pavillion restaurant impressed us with how kind and helpful she was to children. In fact we witnessed all of the hotel staff being very accommodating and kind to their smallest guests. However, this is not a hotel overrun with messy, noisy, little kids. We noticed that families with young children tended to take meals in their villas where the kids can eat and swim and be silly in a more private setting. We are a family with 2 teenage boys and we found plenty of activities to keep us busy and happy. Childfree couples are also quite comfortable at this resort as well. One final special note- we had to depart the hotel at 4:30 AM (ouch!) and the concierge both wished us good night at 11 PM and was up again at 4:30 AM to see us off. Wow. Felt spoiled and well looked after. Thank you.

Room Tip: Hotel offers bikes for each guest at their villas, as the property is quite large. Golf carts also...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 26, 2012

Right from the outset I was worried - from the 4km bumpy ride to the resort front gate. We were greeted and whilst everyone else were given a welcome drink we were quickly forgotten and left sitting whilst everyone else was showed to their rooms. When we were the only ones sitting in reception we had three different people come over to greet us before someone rudely came up to us to tell us the agent we had booked through (and already paid!) hadn't sent them the payment. It was Saturday so we couldn't contact our agent - who was in South Africa, but we asked if they had followed up with him for payment - which they hadn't. We found it a bit off putting from the outset that they demanded payment from us without following up with our agent first. All this aside, we were shown to our room - which for a five star resort is fairly basic. The upside however is every room has its own individual pool. Note however that the Ocean Room views are essential, as if you select a garden room view everyone can see you swimming in your own pool - and you get no privacy whatsoever.
When booking this restaurant it says breakfast and dinner included. Please note, breakfast is included, however dinner is a set menu and if you don't like the set menu you get to spend $50 per person for dinner - and this does not include drinks. Also the main meals are about $38 dollars each and as we found out on the first night its $50 per person and you can't transfer so even though our meal was much lower than $100 for the two of us we had to pay an extra $35 due to the fact its $50 per head - regardless of whether the other person only eats something worth $20.
Tours are also quite expensive, however I think this is across the whole island - as tourism is their major source of income they really know how to pump money out of tourists. Even though we went to a number of other places in Tanzania and had much better service they never expected tips - this was quite different in Zanzibar and at The Residence where its almost expected - and not deserved.
Put simply, for the cost of this resort its far from five star. I would say service is about 3 star, facilities are 3 - 4 star and value for money sits about 2. I won't be returning.

Room Tip: The Ocean Room views are essential, as if you select a garden room view everyone can see you swimmin...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kavi L, Front Office Manager at The Residence Zanzibar, responded to this review, December 27, 2012
Dear Sir,
Many thanks for your comments and feed back you sent to us on your last visit to our resort.
I would like to sincerely apologise if you felt that the immediate service you received on arrival was not up to the standard you expected. In deed, we proud ourselves to treat all our guests in a very personalised way and your welcome drink and the arrival greetings, should have been extended to you without delay.
In a similar way, i will come back personally to the person that came to you for the administrative part of the checking-in as the approach was definitely not to the level of our usual standards.
I am delighted that you did enjoy your Ocean Front villa. For the rest of the 39 Garden View pool villas only, we are blessed to have them spread over a manicured garden of 32 hectares. Every one of our guest has the pleasure of enjoying his own private space and intimacy amongst lush vegetation.
I would like to add some clarity on the Half board meal plan you mentioned. In fact, unlike most of the hotels selling half board or full board, with a set-menu or buffet, we offer to our guest the additional benefit of enjoying our extensive a-la-carte menu. An allocation of usd50 per person food only is extended. Considering the pricing of our a-la-carte menu items, usd50 is more than enough to enjoy a beautiful 3-course menu.
Finally, i would also like to mention that The Residence Zanzibar has a very simple policy on tipping and most of our guests find it convenient and effective. We do not encourage tipping. However, in many cases, guests wish to leave a token of appreciation to our employes. To that extend, we have stated in various communication tools (guest directory etc...) available to our guests that they are most welcome to add anything they 'd like onto their hotel bill. In such a way, the tip is shared equally between all members of the staff, excluding management.
I hope I did answer your queries in the appropriate manner. in case you would like additional information, do not hesitate to come back to us. best regards. Kavi. Rooms Division Manager.
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Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
18 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 16, 2012 via mobile

We loved this place!!!! Amazing! We relaxed and had a wonderful time. The staff are amazing and will go out of their way to
Ensure you are happy and have everything you could wish for. From the moment we where collected from the airport to the time we left we felt the service and the resort is exceptional. If we where to be back in Zanzibar we would not hesitate to stay again

  • Stayed July 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 1, 2012

We stayed there for a few night the welcome was alright we had heard so much about this hotel that we had to see it for ourselves. the villas are spectacular like others i agree that the beach is not the best but the pools make up for it. the staff are nice and polite almost too automated response almost robot like and at times annoyingly so. the food was average nothing too great we hated our stay and would not want to revisit this particular hotel

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kavi L, Front Office Manager at The Residence Zanzibar, responded to this review, December 27, 2012
Dear Mr James,
Greetings from The Residence Zanzibar.
Thank you for taking the time to share your appreciation of your experience with us.
We are glad to hear that our 60 million dollars property pleased you as well as the comfort of our villas and our superb main pool.
It is very regretful that you found our staff being very stereotype and annoying. The Residence Zanzibar will continue to invest on our staff in terms of training at our Hotel Training Academy. We are however proud of the achievement which has been made in that aspect but there is nevertheless always room for improvement. And we rely on feedback of our valued guests such as yourself in order to continuously improve our standards.
It is also unfortunate that you did not enjoy our cuisine prepared by one of our many international chefs which you found rather average. One of the chefs would have gladly tailormade the menu of your choice daily. Mr James, once again we thank you for your input in helping us improve our service standards while sharing your comments with us.
May I seize this opportunity to wish you and your family a merry xmas and a happy new year 2013
Kind Regards, Kavi. Rooms Division Manager
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Johannesburg, South Africa
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2012

I have been on beach holidays all of my life but this is a really exceptional hotel and must rate as the very best beach hotel I have stayed at - easily surpassing other hotels I have visited in South Africa, Zanzibar, Mocambique and Mauritius. We arrived in the late afternoon and asked to be upgarded to a two bedroom unit (we had mistakenly booked a luxury villa and needed something slightly bigger). The switch was painelss and fauirly quick. Although it cost a little extra the new villa was absolutely stunning and more suitable - although I did not see the unit we were originally booked into. The unit had a huge private pool and was virtually on the beach. The rooms were very well appointed and extremely comfortable with a noiseless airconditioner. The water pressure was brilliant and we had both indoor and outrdoor showers - extremely luxurious bathrooms. There was a good selection of TV channels as well (not that we watched TV). The resort itself is very large and a nice touch was to give the guests bicycles so that they can get around (made eating slightly more guilt free as well!). They offer various restaurants and in-room and beach dining at no extra charge as well. The food was brilliant and the variety was exceptional. The spa facilities were also ultra modern and clean. A wide variety of massages were offered at reasonable rates and although I didn't have one, two of our party did and really appreciated them. There are other activities such as volleyball and tennis but we din't use those facilities - they looked good though. Snorkelling and other water sports were free of charge and the diving was great (in a marine reserve so the sea life was extensive. The staff were amazing, pleasant and very helpful and never in your face (something which many resorts don't get right - the Residence certainly does get it right). I only have one 'complaint' and that was at the cost of the drinks. The pricing was excessive and should be moderated considerably. To pay USD 7 for a local beer (cost about USD 1 at a local shop) and the cheapest wine - admittedly a really great South African wine - was USD 44 per bottle - and these cost around USD 5 in South Africa) and gin and tonic at USD 10 each was really a little over the top. I guess they are catering for the European travellers and in that context it may not be seen to be excessive. This appears to be significantly more than other hotels on Zanzibar (in my experience anyway - in fact many include all drinks as part of the package). It didn't spoil my perception of what is a truly remarkable hotel

Room Tip: All the rooms are exceptional
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2012

Spent one night at the residence with a group of friends. We had been all over Zanzibar and decided we were ready for a secluded resort where every need was taken care of. Our rooms were amazing. Everything was well prepared for our arrival by 11 am. Private pool at your villa allows you to choose between joining others at the main pool or having a romantic hideaway swim. The villa comes with 24 hour butler service. Great for replenishing ice, renting a DVD when the rain came for an hour or so, and a beautiful breakfast in bed.

The food was very well done. Many options to chose from. The seafood BBQ was wonderful. The staff were exceptional. They took care of our every need.

For those looking to save some money on their trip to the residence, I would suggest bringing your own drinks for those cocktails by your pool. A local beer was 6 usd. A bottle of water was 5 used.

Things to remember: This is still Zanzibar. There will be power outages, which only last a few seconds as their generators kick in. The beach is secluded so you won't find any wild beach parties here. Get a taxi from the airport. They are safe, they should know how to get there, and it will cost you far less then the price the hotel charges.

I would highly recommend the residence and look forward to booking at their other hotels outside of Zanzibar.

Room Tip: While beach villas have a great view, everyone will have a direct view to you in your "private...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Residence Zanzibar

Address: Mchangamle, Kizimkazi 2404, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Location: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar > Kizimkazi
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Kizimkazi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — The Residence Zanzibar 5*
Number of rooms: 66
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Residence Zanzibar lies within a lush, forested 32-hectare estate where five-star luxuries sit harmoniously alongside nature's untouched beauty. Feel your spirits soar amid extensive tropical gardens that meet with powder-soft white sand lapped by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Inspired by the island's eclectic cultures, our luxury Zanzibar resort blends modern comforts with Swahili, Omani, British and Indian influences. Indulge in the privacy of the spacious villas, attended on if you wish by your own personal butler. Enjoy carefree days relaxing by your private pool, on the beach, or exploring the gardens on foot or by bicycle. Savour a taste of the Spice Island's unique blend of cultures and cuisines, and the pleasure of sensational spa treatments. Discover more of the island and the waters that surround it in a myriad of activities, from visiting historic sites and rare natural wonders to deep sea fishing and diving with dolphins. Whether you dream of a quiet couple's retreat or fun in the sun for the whole family, embrace all the delights of our island life at The Residence Zanzibar. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Residence Zanzibar Hotel Kizimkazi
The Residence Zanzibar Kizimkazi

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