Set on its own stretch of private beach, with pure white sand, pearly pink shells and a vibrant turquoise sea, the all-villa Baraza Resort & Spa is five-star, all-inclusive and multi award-winning. Just one hour here and you know you’ve arrived somewhere special.
The family-owned property - positioned on Bwejuu - Paje Beach, about an hour’s drive from Zanzibar airport in East Africa - is designed like a Sultan’s Palace. Individual, low-level white buildings feature Swahili arches, hand-carved décor and heavy wooden doors of Arabic townhouses. Inside, you’ll find pale walls, antique pieces, brass lanterns and large plants. There are gold touches everywhere, too, from the cushions to the curtains and the bath taps to the plant stands. It’s exotic and stylish - yet instantly calming.
We loved walking around the little pathways between villas, inhaling the smell of fresh flowers and spotting butterflies so pretty they put ours to shame. Come evening, the whole place sparkles with fairy-lights wrapped around palm trees.
The ornate white, gold and dark wood palette continues into the resort’s 30 individual villas (14 one-bed, 15 two-bed and one presidential). Our Ocean View villa had an open-plan bedroom/lounge with king-sized bed draped in a mosquito net (and secured by a gold bow), cushioned day bed and large flat-screen. There’s a small kitchen with fridge containing local beer and soft drinks (included in your stay) and a larger-than average bathroom with freestanding tub, walk-in shower and toiletries from the resort’s own spa. Outside on the large terrace, you’ll find a double day bed on which to relax and, tucked away around the corner, the jewel in the accommodation crown: your own private plunge pool. Grab a cold drink, slide into the pool and look out to sea – life doesn’t get much better.
From here you can pad barefoot straight to the beach (about 10 steps ought to do it). Remember your villa number and look out for your pre-reserved lounger, complete with table and shade. Stroll along the sand (we often had the entire beach to ourselves), take a swim in the warm sea or order a drink from a waiter. Fancy a coconut? Just say the word and a pristinely-dressed gentleman will shimmy up a tree, lob one off, take off the top and pop a straw in. It’s worth it just for the show.
You can swim leisurely lengths in the resort’s 25-metre outdoor pool before resting on one of four comfy day beds positioned at the end. Order snacks from the restaurant (the iced coffee is divine) or simply relax in the afternoon sun.
Four restaurants cater for your breakfast, lunch and dinner needs; order a pre-dinner cocktail or sparkling wine at the Livingstone Terrace bar and listen to the sound of cicada’s – a really civilised way to begin your evening.
If all this relaxing has you feeling restless, morning and early evening yoga is included in your stay; the resort will also organise trips to Zanzibar town, local schools (a real highlight) or spice farms (Zanzibar is known as the ‘spice island’), as well as snorkelling, surfing, watersports or diving excursions on the unspoilt coral reefs, and sunset cruises through the mangroves.
Here with your family? Take them to the kids’ club and head to the Frangipani Spa, a long white building with the same hypnotic décor as the hotel. There’s another outdoor swimming pool here - this one with underwater music - as well as six treatment rooms, a dark relaxation room and a yoga studio.
Booked in for a Frangipani Signature Massage (75 minutes), my Balinese therapist, Eva, met me at the spa reception and led me to a cosy treatment room where she asked me to lie face down on a warm bed. Using a citrusy body butter from Thailand, Eva put a good dollop on my back and performed an assured, rigorous massage, climbing on the bed at times to work out my determined knots. At one point it felt like there were four hands at work.
Turning over, Eva repeated the same massage on my front, paying attention to my legs, stomach, arms and head, before ending the whole treatment with a facial massage. My entire body felt soft and supple for a couple of days afterwards.
Eva was also my therapist for my second treatment, a facial using Thann products. The treatment began with a green tea cleanser followed by a light toner and a scrub, which Eva washed off with hot mitts. Eva then used a light cream to massage my face before adding a mask. While this hardened, she massaged my hands and arms using the same citrusy body butter. Wiping the mask off, Eva applied a rich face cream before combing my fringe back into place (a nice touch) and leading me to the relaxation room to drink a spicy ginger tea.
While sipping a cocktail in the bar later that evening, my fellow travellers remarked on my new-found radiance
Food plays an important role at Bazara Resort & Spa with fresh, local ingredients prepared by esteemed chefs. Breakfasts consist of a buffet so large your eyes will pop out – try the local yoghurt drizzled with honey, omelettes made to order and fresh, colourful fruit. Lunch can be as casual or formal as you wish with daily-changing five-course menus or, for a quick bite, tuck into a fresh buffet. Skipped lunch? Afternoon tea is served each day from 4pm, with mint tea, homemade cakes and scones.
We loved the spice night buffet at The Sultan’s Restaurant – several small curry dishes prepared using local herbs and spices and put in the middle of the table for all to share. The verdict? As good as anything we’ve eaten in India.
In the Bazara Restaurant, five-course daily changing menus include delectable dishes like pumpkin, green cardamom and ginger soup; grilled baby rock lobster with Swahili coconut sauce and creole rice (the fish here is beautifully fresh); and Moroccan slow-cooked lamb leg with cous-cous and baby vegetables. Cocktails served at the Dhahabu bar are local takes on the classics, too – try a mango Cosmopolitan or a spiced Old Fashioned.
A morning or evening yoga session: A great way to start or end the day.
A trip to the local school: Watching five-year-old children count to 10 in English will melt the coldest of hearts.
The history teller experience: Sit out on the Livingston Terrace with an evening cocktail and listen as a local historian regales stories of Zanzibar and Tanzania, past and present.
Families: The kids’ club will ensure parents claw back some much-needed ‘me’ time.
Water-lovers: Between the plunge pool and the sea (not to mention the two outdoor pools), you could be in the water all day.
Honeymooners: Want an island idyll that’s not in the The Caribbean or The Indian Ocean? Ta-dah…
Good Spa Guide travelled from London to Zanzibar via Nairobi with Kenya Airways. One night at the Bazara Resort & Spa on an all-inclusive basis starts at £660 for two adults sharing a one-bedroom Ocean View Villa.
26th December 2018
Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching.
Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones.
Behind the scenes