Tanzania’s only member of World’s Leading Hotels, brand new (Summer 2011), large and sister to similar properties in the Mauritius and the Maldives, The Residence, Zanzibar, is a luxury resort located on the south-west coast of Unguja.
Situated in 32 hectares of maturing gardens, and lining a mile’s worth of beach, The Residence is a stone and tile build consisting of a centralised shared area and no less than 66 villas. The main hotel includes a reception, an enormous horizon pool, a clutch of bars and restaurants, a spa and 60 ft long jetty. Inspired by the garden pavilions of India and of the Far East, the reception is largely without sides, is set on a beautifully polished floor, and holds a desk, a seating area and not much more. Deliberately spare, the emphasis here is on space, a fact reflected in the pool’s stretch, the view, the sheer size of the sky.
Very similar in layout to a lot of large, exclusive and high end resorts, The Residence is rescued from being mistaken for anywhere else in the world by the standard of its Zanzibari accented food and by the standard of its service. There are 2 main restaurants: The Dining Room and The Pavilion. The first is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and specialises in international dishes cooked in Zanzibari sauces. The second opens only for dinner, and its menu is Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Turkish is flavour. Lunchtime seafood, pastas and snacks are available at the Beach and Poolside bar, while cocktails and canapés are served between 6 and 7 p.m. – either by the pool or on the jetty. Drinks of all kinds are available at the Dining Room Bar. As dizzying as it may sound, the careful choreographing of opening and closing times, ensures that guests are not too thinly spread across the resort’s public spaces. It goes without saying that the food is delicious.
The recipient of unreservedly excellent feedback, the service throughout The Residence is exceptional. Personally met on arrival, guests are assigned a 24 hour butler, their daily itineraries and needs overseen by a highly professional management team. From choice of diets to special interests to prescribed therapies, the care is personalised. Every guest matters. As does every family: a bonanza of activities is provided for 5 to 12 year olds, free of charge, and for much of the day.
There are 6 classes of villa. The standard Garden Pool (34) and Ocean Front (11) villas are beautiful and well kept suites consisting of a bedroom, lounge, bathroom, pool and private veranda. While the bed and furniture is custom made, and therefore new, it is excellently crafted, and the bathrooms are divine. Each room comes with air-con, fans, internet facilities and a host of amenities. The next class up – the Prestige Ocean Front (11) and Frangipani Garden Pool (5) – are similar, only bigger, while the Presidential Ocean Front villa is enormous. From window blinds to floor plan to overall look, the design is highly linear, and reminiscent of the designer getaways one finds up and down the west coast of America.
Activities include gym, tennis, spa facilities (including massage), beach games, snorkelling and kayaking. Extras include cultural excursions, deep sea fishing, dolphin safaris, dhow trips and diving.