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Reviewed January 24, 2012

The Essque Zalu is an excellent resort (described well in detail in other reviews) and I would return there. It does however, have a few shortcomings:

The Ocean View Room category: This is probably the biggest shortcoming of all. They advertise this room category at booking as having magnificent views of the ocean, but it’s really not the case. The ocean is only viewed from one window, and from there it’s behind some plants, and not really visible. I have posted pictures of the view from each window to give a better idea. I did let the manager know how I felt and he agreed and tried to make up for it by pointing out that this room category received less wind than the Sea Front room category (which are the ones with the real ocean views). It’s really a bad feeling to pay a lot extra for a room category and not be delivered what was advertised.

Credit Card Fee: The hotel charges a 5% fee for paying your balance by credit card at check out. Though this is typical of lower grade accommodation in Africa, it is not typical of fine hotels that charge high rates. It’s not nice when you have to pay an extra 200 bucks because you didn’t happen to have over 3,000 dollars in cash on you. None of the finer hotels in Africa do this. Also, they took my booking with an American Express, but wouldn’t accept it at check out saying they only take Visa or MC, which was strange.

Service: The staff at the hotel is extremely pleasant and tries extremely hard. They just need a bit more training and a bit more time to get in the swing of things. I would say that this is typical, but it’s really not as all the other nice hotels we stayed at in Africa seem to have a staff that understands what their guests want a bit better. Things like ordering drinks and getting poolside chairs take a little longer to explain than they should. For example, we had to point to every item on the menu in order for them to understand what dish we were requesting. We would also often wait for 20 minutes just for a drink by the pool. Again, the staff is extremely nice and is putting in lots of effort, so you won’t find this bothering you much while there.

Beach: While the dock is a great thing to have at the resort (and has amazing food at the restaurant I should add), this hotel isn’t on the long white sand beaches you think of when you think of Zanzibar. It gets a little sand during low tide, but you’ll have to walk more into Nungwi to get a wider beach. This is something I knew going into it, so no points deducted for this.

In closing, I really did enjoy the resort and I would go back next time I was in Zanzibar (though I’d like to try the Palms hotel first), but I’d make sure to either pay more for a Sea Front room category or pay less and get a Garden View room. I’d also be sure to take cash to avoid paying more at checkout. Hope the above info helps!

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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14  Thank Six30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ezz11, Directeur général at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this reviewResponded February 2, 2012

Warm greetings from Essque Zalu Zanzibar,

May I first take this opportunity to extend my sincere gratitude to you for selecting Essque Zalu Zanzibar as your preferred hotel for your recent holiday in Zanzibar and I sincerely appreciate your honest and constructive feedback to our services during your stay with us.

At Essque Hotels, we take all comments and feedback, whether positive or negative, extremely seriously and consider them to be a vital source of information for us as such feedback enables us to get our valued guests’ perception of their experience with us. In the event that we receive negative comments, which I must mention is extremely rare, the management immediately prepares an action plan and takes remedial action to ensure that future guests do not experience the same problems again. Your comments below have been taken into consideration and may I assure you that we will endeavour to look into all your issues and make sure we rectify where required, however, please find my response to your feedback below:

The Ocean View Room Category: These suites are located right behind the Sea Front Suites and were designed to have unobtrusive Ocean Views from the inside of the suites (from the porch, the ocean is clearly visible with very little obstruction), however, our aim to have a matured garden area near the windows was to create a level of privacy for the guests hence we allowed our plants to mature to ensure this objective is met. Until now we have never had a complaint, only amazing feedback from guests in these room categories who appreciate this privacy factor and the amazing views from the porch, but your point is noted and we will surely see how we can trim the plants so that they do not create an obstruction from inside the rooms.

Credit Card Fee: The 5% credit card fee is a bank charge for processing the card and not a fee imposed by Essque Zalu Zanzibar, therefore we charge what the bank charges us with no mark up. Since we are part of the American Express Vacations Program we do have facilities to charge AMEX cards, but recently, there has been technical issues in the credit card machine hence was out of use due to technical reasons. This has been addressed with our navigators and the situation has already been rectified.

Service: Thank you for your encouraging words for our hoteliers who endeavour to please their guests, but taking into consideration that English is not their first language and also that they only learnt it while on the job, we have arranged special English lessons to increase their skill set and empower them to speak better English in order to serve and understand their guests better. This of course is taking place in tandem with the continuous customer service training we have in place for them. Furthermore, most of our hoteliers had zero work experience; we at Essque Zalu Zanzibar wanted to be pioneers to bring in a new trend of training new staff from zero experience as until now most of the hoteliers in all other hotels were obtained by poaching human resource from other hotels; we did not want to be part of that chain hence we embarked on a vigorous task to train the local people to be good hoteliers through constant training and interaction. This does bring teething issues and delays in serving, but we are extremely proud of them and appreciate their contribution in looking after our guests.

Food: Thank you for your positive note on the amazing food at the jetty restaurant, it is indeed one of our well talked about spot by all our guests. Moreover, our culinary delights has caught the eye of Master Chef SA who have selected our hotel and our local chef for their upcoming sequence which is going to be shot at Essque Zalu and other locations in Zanzibar end of February.

Beach: As for the beach, we do not promote the hotel as a beach hotel; we are more of a lifestyle hotel where guests get the feel of space and unsurpassed vistas of the turquoise ocean combined with a mix of contemporary architecture and local Swahili makuti roofs. Our guests enjoy their space and appreciate the serene ambience the hotel and its decor has to offer. Our beach is only available during low tides and we encourage guests to explore the nearby Nungwi village and beaches to enhance their experience of Zanzibar, however, at high tide, guests can enjoy swimming from the jetty where many of our guests enjoy jumping and diving from the jetty, bringing the child out of them...

All in all, your insightful feedback is highly appreciated and we look forward to welcoming you back to our hotel on your next trip to Zanzibar.

With thanks,

Nicolas König | General Manager | +255 77 36 01 799

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2012

Exemplary service in a stunning resort. A wonderful way to finish a lovely holiday. Would love to return some day. We felt thoroughly spoiled throughout our stay - thank-you.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Sanjay P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 10, 2012

My wife and I travel very frequently to luxurious locations all over the world and I can tell you that Essque Zalu surpassed even our high expectations. From the moment that we arrived at Zanzibar airport to the moment that we returned for our flight home, every whim or wish that we had was either anticipated or swiftly taken care of.

We were met at the airport by our driver who offered us chilled drinks and a 'freshen-up towel' and then smoothly delivered us to the hotel (ca. 1 hour drive). Upon Arrival at Zalu, we were greeted at the door by Godfrey with whom I had been communicating with by e-mail prior to our trip. We were escorted to the front door of our 'suite' and as we entered the suite we were overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the place.

As far as the hotel itself is concerned, I think that all the previous trip-advisor reviews have said it all. However, I would like to comment on the unique trust,honesty and genuine friendliness which we experienced from the fantastic staff at Zalu who were always there to attend to our needs but never in your face. For example, I endured a little bout of sunstroke and I had to stay indoors for the day. Needless to say that I had no appetite. Our favourite waiter, Amani, was so concerned for my wellbeing that every time he had a spare moment, he would rush to my suite to make sure that I was drinking fresh water and he even tried to encourage me to eat a little bread or toast.

Nicholas, the general manager, seemed to possess amazing energy. I'm sure that he had a whole range of office duties to attend to, but we would constantly see him moving around the grounds offering encouragement to his staff and having a friendly chat with the guests. Also, at dinner in the evening, Nicholas was around mingling with the guests and wishing everybody 'Bon Apetit'.

Nicholas, if you happen to read this then please accept a great big thank-you and please give your wonderful team a massive pat-on-the-back for making our holiday 'special'.

Bruce and Michelle Craig

Room Tip: The oceanfront suites are amazing but, as you would expect, they cost more.
  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank beecee9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 5, 2012

We enjoyed our stay here. If I could give it 4.5 instead of 4 I would. The facilities are great, food wonderful, staff very helpful. Here are my thoughts on what is right and what is not ideal for us, a young married couple with no kids...

RIGHT-
Food: Breakfast and dinner were included in the rate and superb. Lunch tons of options at ok prices. All food, considering you are in the middle of nowhere, was top notch. Its almost a foodies vacation. 4 course meals. Can not fault the food situation one bit. It is great.
Facilities: Rooms are large, well done and nice and cold during the hot day. 5 star rooms. The pier is thespot to eat lunch, watch the tides change. Pool is large and nicely done. The water is a bit too warm in the pool but that can not be helped.
Staff: Bravo to the managaers and employees for making everyone feel welcome. Tanzanians know how to make you feel welcome and enjoy your vacation.

NOT FOR US-
Pool: Not enough shade. Needs far more places to lounge. The hotel was full and the pool side loungers could not handle it. They need poolside beds with curtains all around so you dont feel like you have to rush everyday to stake claim on nice sun loungers. The mornings were stressful because you knew you had to put your items on a section to have a spot for the day. I bet they are already working on this since the place is new and working out the kinks.
Kids: For me, boutique means you wont have 25 kids splashing around in a pool all day. It was the holiday season so that contributes but it does not change my mind. I think to become a top 5 star global spot they need to open a second pool area that is adults only. It can not be boutique and cool while feeling like a RIU family resort by the pool.
The Little Things: Dont charge for bottles of water it feels nickle and dime. Sometimes water bottles are free, other times they are not, very confusing. Have water in the hotel transfer cars upon arrival. Ease up on the slightly cheesy resort entertainment/music. Stick with the local Zanzibar music.

Do not get me wrong, this place is Amazing! Design rocks, Food rocks, location rocks, service rocks. The things I have pointed out if changed could bring this hotel in to the top 100 in the world I bet.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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12  Thank UKUSTRIPS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 25, 2011

Wow! The decor is magnificent. Exactly what you can expect from Italian ownership. La Gemme Del'Est has finally got some competition! This is definitely a place you can call home for a few days.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Roshael H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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