After a couple of weeks in Kenya on safari and exploring Nairobi, we finished our vacation with 4 nights in Zanzibar at the Residence. We were very lucky to have been upgraded to an unbelievable room on the beach. It was absolutely wonderful. The room was great -- wonderful bathroom, wonderful bed, a great private pool and an amazing view from each of the tub, the bed and the pool. There was also a living room for us to spread out in and eat in if we wanted.
Our flight to Zanzibar was a nightmare (avoid Precision Airlines if possible!) -- the hotel knew our luggage was not going to be arriving with us and they knew our flight was late, so they called our driver while we were on our way from the airport to ask what we wanted for dinner. It was ready for us in our lovely living room when we arrived. The hotel reception also went above and beyond but telling us we should skip check in that night and just do it in the morning since we had had such a tough day of traveling. They whisked us straight to our room and brought us a few essential pieces of clothing from the gift shop as a gift to help us kick off the vacation immediately. It made all of the difference. When going somewhere like Zanzibar for just 4 days -- you really want to hit the ground running and not spend the first 24 hours trying to track down flip flops, a t-shirt and your luggage. The hotel took care of everything for us without us even having to ask. They were fantastic!
I had read in advance about the beaches in Zanzibar so we were prepared. Its not the beautiful soft white-sand beaches of Mexico -- its very different. But I loved the Zanzibar beach all the more so for its specialness and how exotic and far away it felt. There were women and ox working the beach every morning and it helped to make the whole experience feel like we were in Zanzibar. Its a very important touch to have the actually working beach because sometimes a resort can feel so sterile that you have no idea what country you are in. This was not the case in Zanzibar -- this beach could not have been confused for one in the Caribbean or even Mauritius or Asia. It was beautiful and charming and the sort of new beach experience that one goes half the way around the world to find. However, it does mean that the private pools are even more essential. Had we not been at the Residence, we might not have loved the Zanzibar Beach quite like we did. They knew just how to create a resort that highlighted the attributes of Zanzibar while compensating for any disadvantages that the mud and tide could have brought with it. Since the beach is more for looking than for swimming and I don't like to sit around a pool, but rather to have my feet in the sand, the private pool on the beach was the perfect solution.
The jetty is also a great addition to the property. It provided a wonderful visual on the water and a great way to get out on the water and to take a dip in the Indian Ocean. They did a wonderful job of putting a sunset bar with champagne, etc. out on the jetty around sunset, which made for a great end to a day on the beach.
The food was very good. We had been to a resort in Mauritius just a few months earlier with off-the-charts outstanding food. This was not that -- but it was very, very good and we enjoyed all of it. It was so nice to be able to eat on the deck to our room, in private, with a wonderful view of the beach, the jetty and the stars. We ate all breakfasts on the deck and a dinner as well. We ate lunches on the beach from our beach chairs. The services was perfect.
One small snafu was the tennis. My fiance loves to play tennis on vacation and we had picked the Residence partly for the tennis. Since I don't play, its essential that the hotels we stay at offer a tennis pro so that he has someone to play with and so he can work on his game -- something he just loves to do. It was hard to book the pro and the pro himself was not very good. My fiance was a bit disappointed, but I think if we had just known about the problem in advance, the hotel would have been happy to accommodate us. If we were to go back, we would just make sure to tell them before hand, book up all 4 days, and ask for someone else.
The snorkeling was not great, but I believe that was simply a matter of the weather while we were there -- there were lots of bubbles and I think the boat didn't go to its normal place because of weather. We weren't able to see much and what we did see was not as special as we had hoped, but again, I think this is something that we could have fixed if we had known in advance and been a little more focused on find a better spot. As it was, we were happy to have just done a little snorkeling and get back to our books on the beach.
We had a couples massage. I'm very picky about massages and while it was relaxing, it wasn't very strong or particularly special. However, it was enjoyable and the space was lovely. My fiance, who is a little less picky than I am, loved his massage.
The service was at all times wonderful. Everyone was so helpful and hard working. It is clear that some of the staff are a bit green in the industry and are a bit awkward at times. Sometimes they were around a little too often and needed direction a lot of the time. At older resorts where people have been working there for 10-20 years, the staff are a bit better at knowing how to deliver the same level of service while also being practically invisible. Some of the staff at the Residence were clearly seasoned pros, but others were still learning. I'm sure the whole staff will get the hang of things in no time since, as I said, they are so hard working and so eager to do a good job. In any event, everyone was so well-intentioned and so well trained, that we had no complaints and enjoyed everyone we met.
We did a private tour of a spice farm and then of Stone Town. I highly recommend both.
I can't say enough about The Residence. Its worth every penny and we are now completely spoiled! Be sure to take a look at the stars at night from the beach -- they are just spectacular!
The rooms on the beach are wonderful and a room with a pool is essential given that Zanzibar beaches...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.