Baraza Zanzibar Feature on Univers Voyage
2nd March 2020
It is along the south-eastern coast of the island of Zanzibar, bordering one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, that the Raguz family has set up its chain of intimate and discreet hotels, "The Zanzibar Collection". Facing the coral reef, the Baraza is one of those preserved edens where the blue of the sky and the sea are the only limits to our dreams.
All the islands are dreams and contain stories of pirates and treasures. Zanzibar is no exception to this, which spreads its legends along its spicy ribs. From the airport, an hour's drive is enough to reach the Baraza, its pristine beach and discover a preserved address, thought of as a refuge open to the open sea. How not to give in to the timeless charm of a hotel where each guest is at the center of all attention. From the reception, attentive staff offer us a delicious hibiscus syrup. Before taking us to our spacious private Swahili-inspired villa where we will stay two nights.
Zanzibar. Baraza resort. Swahili-inspired decor in the hotel lobby.
The estate has thirty villas, ranging from 150 m² to 250 m², small sultan's palaces scattered between the seafront and the lush hotel garden.
Zanzibar. Baraza resort. The bathroom of Swahili sultana, with bath salts for lounging alone or in pairs.
Zanzibar. Baraza resort. Each villa has a private swimming pool, a haven of serenity, from which you can hear the waves washed up on the coral reef in the distance.
An eco-chic address
Mixed with Arab, Swahili, Persian and Indian influences, the establishment carries on its walls the history of the island. We find in the hotel, lanterns and arcades, brass and carved wood, white curtains and opulent fabrics, Islamic arabesques and geometric stained glass windows, all in a balance and harmony that borders on perfection.
Zanzibar. Baraza resort. The milk and honey shades of the villas blend elegantly with tropical vegetation.
To go from a villa to one of the shared spaces of the hotel or to the spa, you cross a garden which is in itself an invitation to travel and indulge the senses. Inspired by the Near East, the pool is lined with mosaics and surrounded by white arches bordered by palm trees, the leaves of which will be used to weave bags and hats thanks to the advice of a Swahili craftsman.
Zanzibar. the Baraza resort & spa highlights the Swahili culture: one day a week, during the “Swahili day”, craftsmen teach you how to make local objects; here, the first steps of a handbag.
The finished bag, entirely made with coconut leaves and decorated with bougainvillea flowers.
Snorkeling and relaxation
Zanzibar. Baraza resort. Invitation to laze under the straw huts.
The next day, the sun comes very early to tickle our feet. You quickly put on a swimsuit before taking a dip in the ocean or in the pool. After a hearty breakfast, the most athletic join the "water club" which offers all kinds of activities: windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, paddle. Or the diving center. Zanzibar being renowned for sheltering the most beautiful seabed of the Indian Ocean, we opt for a morning of snorkeling. Magnificent multicolored corals welcome leaf fish, jacks, turtles and lionfish. What splendor! The day continues with a biologist who works to reimplant the coral from the coast. Every day, at low tide, it organizes awareness sessions where we learn to discover the fauna and the fragile ecosystem of the coast and reefs.
Zanzibar. Barara resort. Frangipani spa reception room. © zanzibar collection.
In the afternoon, we chose to be pampered at the Frangipani spa. In this magnificent setting, enhanced by candles and aromas with spicy scents, each one finds a treatment at his convenience; whether it be the “ Killi foot treatment ”, which helps you get back on your feet after being heckled on the dusty roads of the African bush, or the “ Sultan's Bath ”, a unique experience of caring for two.
Zanzibar. Baraza resort. Of Indian origin, the access door to the spa's swimming pool testifies to an architectural tradition dating from the nineteenth century: the door informed the host about the social status of the inhabitant. The brass spikes, now ornamental, were in India intended to prevent elephants from charging.
Zanzibar. Baraza resort. The Sultan's bath, at Spa Frangipani. © zanzibar collection.
Zanzibar. Baraza resort. The swimming pool of the Frangipani spa in its setting of Moorish-inspired arcades.
The experience will be followed by an excellent spicy mango herbal tea and a relaxing break by the spa pool.
The sun sets early at this latitude. We take the opportunity to stroll on the white sand beach fringed by coconut palms while admiring the sun glowing on the horizon. We cannot give up this island ritual. A delight!
Zanzibar. Bwejuu sandy beach.
7am and already this light and the blue of the sky that envelop us. To start the day off right, a yoga and meditation session is offered by the hotel manager. Meet in a charming room decorated with carved woodwork. Sree, the yoga teacher and spa manager, helps everyone find or find the right posture, one that invites self-awareness and letting go.
Zanzibar. Baraza resort. Breathing exercise at the start of the yoga session. Breathing is slow and alternate, using one nostril after another. This practice is purifying and energizing.
In the afternoon, we leave with a guide to visit Bwejuu, an authentic small fishing village, far from the disgraces of globalization. Some children are afraid of being visited by a mzungu, in other words a white man. We admire the houses built in coral stone and covered with palm trees. While women dry seaweed in the sun. The harsh life of the islanders is a lesson. We forget the hyperconnected world and we end our walk with a visit to the village school. On the way back, we come across an octopus fisherman, one of the specialties we will have on our dinner menu.
Zanzibar. Octopus fisherman with spear on Bwejuu beach.
Zanzibar. Baraza resort. The kitchen gives pride of place to local products. © zanzibar collection.
The Baraza offers 3 restaurants: the “ Livingstone Terrace ” for breakfast, the “ Ocean Lounge Bar ”, close to the swimming pool, for lunch and for dinner the “ Sultan ” which offers traditional Swahili cuisine, mixed with various Arab and Indian influences. The “ all inclusive ” formula allows you to leave aside all pecuniary aspects during the stay, which only makes the experience more exotic.
The resort develops ethical and responsible practices. For ecological reasons, the hotel bans plastic, aims for energy autonomy (solar energy) and works to replant the coral. He contributes to the costs of the school and the clinic in the small adjacent village, Bwejuu, and ensures the well-being of his employees. Finally, the hotel links Zanzibarite traditions, history and culture by offering travelers activities and infrastructure in harmony with the environment.
Whether for a honeymoon or to celebrate the end of a Tanzania safari, whether with friends or family, the excellent Baraza lives up to its reputation. Bohemian happiness to savor without waiting.
Text: Capucine Ferry
Photos: Capucine Ferry and Jérémie Josten