It took just a short flight across from mainland Tanzania to reach the archipelago that makes up Zanzibar’s islands. As we looked out of the window, we were enthralled with an idyllic bird’s eye view of the spectacular spice island at sunrise.
We landed at Unguja airport (Unguja is the name of the main, biggest atoll, which we commonly know as Zanzibar and is surrounded by several smaller islands) and travelled up to the northern tip near a village called Nungwi. After navigating through the local roads, we arrived at the grand gates of Essque Zalu Zanzibar.
A newly built, boutique resort (doors opened in June last year) that faces out on to the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, Essque knows how to showcase Zanzibar charm. Its pleasantly cool and calming foyer cleverly features no reception area to keep in sync with its laid-back luxury mode. Instead, a high partition wall has been constructed to avoid spoiling the surprise that waits behind it. Walk round to discover a glass walled restaurant on the right (called Market Kitchen, serving a varied menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hip cocktail bar (called Baobab) playing chill-out lounge tracks on the left.
This then leads you up to the ‘wow factor’ focal point for Essque Zalu Zanzibar – a huge infinity pool with incredibly relaxing sun-loungers and umbrellas. It certainly encouraged us to enjoy leisurely all-day lazing (swimming, drinking and grazing) under the African sun.
Wait, there’s more. As you look out further beyond and across to sea, here lies a long-stretching Jetty, which features its very own lunchtime eatery, serving up fresh Lebanese dishes (skewered fish, meat and chicken kebabs with fatoush salads, hummus, flat breads and more) and hosts another cocktail bar – perfect for watching the sun go down. When the tide is high, guests can lower into the sea from various points off the jetty. At low tide, you are able to take a stroll along the pale coral sand beach.
Culinary cuisine is a proud area for Essque. The Market Kitchen rustles up excellent four course menus for guests in the evening, which includes a gourmet Swahili menu option to sample the local flavours. The hotel also offers an a la carte fine dining experience above the Market Kitchen, serving more extravagant main plates such as impala, warthog and for the less adventurous, seafood broth with lobster.
With just 40 individual suites available here, you are sure to get a bespoke service, which is what the property prides itself on and manages to fulfill. Each room has a separate lounge area and private balcony or terrace and is equipped with modern amenities, plus a spacious bathroom and bedroom. If you prefer more space and privacy then opt for one of the nine villas, which include three or four bedrooms, a private plunge pool, kitchen and living room.
The healing EARTH on-site spa retreat is well worth the experience. We were lucky enough to try the couple’s massage – a sublime treatment for two, using scented essential oils for all its signature soul rituals.
We were also impressed to know that the resort has fantastic honeymoon packages – all newlyweds receive a complimentary upgrade from half board to fully inclusive during minimum five night stays, plus a complimentary 30 minute couples massage and private dinner for two out by the poolside.
Invited to be part of the elite collection of Preferred Boutique Hotels, this property also just recently won Zanzibar’s Leading Hotel at the World Travel Awards.