Photography and report by Bert Duplessis
High resolution photos available on Flickr!
TO BREEZES AND BARAZA, ZANZIBAR SOUTH-EAST COAST
June 13. We took it easy this morning at Matemwe before a road transfer of about 1 hr 30 minutes to Breezes, a much larger (70 room) resort on Zanzibar’s East Coast. The first impression was that of a slick, well-managed resort and closer inspection confirmed that the property was immaculately maintained with a carefully groomed garden. Security was very visible with a 24-7 guard at the entrance to the residents’ accommodation area.
After an introductory talk we were shown to our room #26, one of the deluxe rooms built in clusters of 8 to a block. It was a fairly generic hotel room with a king size bed, no TV, good air-conditioning, a phone, and a separate bathroom (small) and shower. In the front there is an outside patio with very little privacy, just a screen separating you from neighbors on either side. The room also had a mini-bar stocked with a few soft drinks.
On a stroll through the property we noticed a shop (with lots of clothing and other items from India), a gym (very compact and crowded) and various restaurants including the Sultan’s Table, the Pool Bar – where we had some bruschetta, spring rolls and a beer – Breakers Restaurant and the bigger Salama restaurant where breakfast and dinner is served.
The resort is lively and would appeal to people who are gregarious and like to be around other people. There are several different common areas, many facilities (including a beautiful large swimming pool and tennis court) and a top-notch diving center, one of the best in Zanzibar. The Frangipani Spa is impressive and with professional therapists from Thailand, Bali and India, it offers a full range of massages, health and beauty treatments. The beach at Breezes is one of the prettiest we had seen in a long while.
Dinner was an elaborate buffet with multiple salad and main course choices: mixed green salad, beetroot, octopus salad, green papaya salad, sushi, Thai beef salad, spinach, potatoes, lentil curry, lamb kabobs, stir-fried crab, seafood spring rolls, beef, fish fillet and many others. Plus an ample selection of desserts.
FROM BREEZES TO BARAZA
Breakfast this morning likewise offered a wide variety of choices: seven kinds of fresh fruit including jack fruit, papaya, watermelon, grapefruit, orange, grape and mango; eggs to order, pancakes, omelettes, bacon, sausage, sautéed potatoes, baked beans, porridge, crepes, waffles, hardboiled eggs, cold cuts, various cheeses, breads, cinnamon rolls and more.
We inspected a suite at Breezes: it is similar in size to the standard room but it has a much bigger bathroom and walk-in closet and an expansive patio with a lot more privacy.
From Breezes we walked across to the adjacent property – The Palm – which is one of the three properties in the Zanzibari Collection. It is in a price category slightly higher than Baraza, where we would spend our last night in Zanzibar. The Palm is the smallest of the three properties with just 6 exquisite villas, in Swahili style. Each villa has two rooms – and can sleep 4 persons. No children under 12 accommodated. The villas have large bathrooms with shower and bath.
At The Palm, it is essentially a matter of ‘what you want, when you want it’, with highly personalized service. Each room has it own exclusive beach hut and private dining either in a beach cabana or in the main dining area.
From there we walked to Baraza. After half an hour or so – we were offered and accepted some coffee while we waited – we were shown to our villa #5 – one of the superb ocean view villas, about 50 meters or so from the edge of the ocean. Each room has it own private designated beach umbrella stand with loungers, with food and drink service.
By then, it was time for lunch and we enjoyed a lavish spread of salads, a pasta bar, various pizzas, several fresh seafood options, Swahili-style octopus stew, grilled squid steak, crab claws, chicken sate and many more. Plus multiple dessert options. No one’s going hungry here!!
Even though I would have been perfectly fine selecting from the many vegetarian choices, Baraza had prepared a special vegan meal for me: a triple avocado surprise to start, a curried vegetable main course and a fruit mélange for dessert.
All the meals at Baraza were excellent but the chef – like others earlier on in Tanzania – seemed to assume that vegans eat mostly vegetables so it was vegetable pockets, vegetable curry, braised vegetable and various other vegetable dishes, on an on. It is time for a vegan ‘time-out’ on my next Africa trip!
Although our stay at Baraza was all too brief we thought that it was the best of the Zanzibar beach properties we had seen: small enough not to have a large, impersonal resort feel yet lively and exciting with stunningly beautiful rooms, common areas, pool and the most attentive of staffs. Take something nice to wear for dinner – you’ll feel like dressing up a bit at Baraza to fully appreciate its elegant ambience.
LAST DAY IN ZANZIBAR
We had a very nice breakfast at Baraza this morning, spent some time at the pool and the beach and then made our way to Zanzibar Airport for the flight to Nairobi.
Should you have to fly from Zanzibar to Nairobi one of these days, I hope for your sake it is after the completion of the new Zanzibar Airport. In its present iteration the ZNZ International Airport is the dump of all dumps – and we’ve seen a few. The security and immigration facility – if you can even call it that – is laughingly inadequate and procedurally inept, with no signage at all except for where to pay your steep $48.00 departure tax.
You’re fortunate to stumble into the passport control line and security is just for show with people going in and out of the security area with minimal checking. The seating area is dismal with dirty stained beige-colored walls, barely improved by the ubiquitous photographs of the presidents of Tanzania and Zanzibar staring down at you. The ceiling is something out of a post-apocalyptic movie with gaping holes and large water stains, and there are exposed cables everywhere.
Every now and then the muted din would be interrupted by a horrendously loud airport gong sound, preceding a distorted announcement of the next flight to board from Gate #1 or #2. There is a gate #3 but it is non-functional as our seats were right in front of it. I wish I could say that the ‘duty free’ shops were great, but that would not be the truth.
I was glad to get out of there. Running just 15 minutes or so late, we took a hot bus ride from the gate to the apron, boarded our Kenya Airways aircraft and took off for Nairobi. The 1hr 40 minute flight was uneventful – with a nice sighting of Mt. Kilimanjaro en route – and soon enough we were descending over Nairobi National Park on final approach for Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
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