The Luxury Travel Bible - LUXURY RESORTS: BARAZA RESORT AND SPA, ZANZIBAR
14th February 2019
Ever since I was young I felt that there was something magical and romantic about the island of Zanzibar. Perhaps it is the name that sums up images of beaches and warmth, or the history of the spice trade and its melting pot of cultures and people. I always knew that there would be something special about Zanzibar. After spending a week at the Baraza Resort & Spa, I knew I was right. Driving up the long driveway and through the resort’s colourful floral gardens and towards the reception of the resort, we were immediately greeted by large planters full of fragrant cloves. This was the first indication that the resort draws heavily on the complex and intriguing history of the island. Walking through to the main reception we were greeted by a cool drink and stunning views of the gardens, the pool and the beautiful beach and horizon. Baraza Resort & Spa is part of the family-owned Zanzibar Collection of luxury resorts and is heavily influenced by Zanzibar’s history and the era of the Sultans. The luxury resort features a stylish and elegance blend of Arabic, Swahili and Indian design. Grand Swahili arches can be seen throughout the resort and design touches such as hand carved décor, rich fabrics and intricate brass lanterns add to the opulence of a bygone era. The resort also features traditional antiques and handmade furniture and art from skilled local craftspeople. I immediately felt welcomed and relaxed in my new Sultan’s Palace home for the week. Baraza Resort & Spa is located on South east coast of the island alongside an award-winning, beautifully pristine beach and features just 30 villas spread out across the fragrant and colourful gardens. The resort features both one- and two-bedroom villas, some of which are Ocean-view. My two-bedroom garden villa seriously had the ‘wow-factor’. As well as two large bedrooms, my villa also featured a large lounge area, two bathrooms (one of which was so spaciously I could quite happily have just move into it permanently!). The stand-out however had to be the patio area which led into a pretty garden area and private plunge pool. The clever lay out meant that although I knew I had neighbours I was able to sunbath and swim in privacy and quite happily sit with a good book and a drink from the mini-bar without disturbance. If you can bare to drag yourself from the sanctuary of your villa there are plenty of activities to keep guests, both young and old, entertained. Let’s start with the Little Luxies. Obviously, this beautiful resort will appeal to couples looking for a romantic island escape, but it will also be a perfect holiday for families as there is a dedicated Kid’s Club with a pool and toys, games and activities. The Luxury Travel Bible is a big believer that travel is the best education for children and The Zanzibar Collection shares this philosophy. Activities and experiences can be arranged such as a Swahili cooking or language lesson that will entertain and educate them about Zanzibar’s culture and environment. The tranquil beach-front is location for several activities for adults. Guests can hire bikes to explore the local beaches, take part in a guided reef walk, snorkelling, wind surfing, kite surfing, sailing and beginners to expert divers can use the only PADI 5* Gold Palm and National Geographic Dive Centre in Zanzibar. As part of The Zanzibar Collection’s committee to supporting and promoting local Zanzibar culture there are several activities which can be arranged such as sailing on a traditional Swahili dhow, learning local language, dance and games or taking part in a Swahili cooking lesson from one of the resort’s chefs. Guests can also venture outside of the resort to explore the fascinating and historic local area. Some highlights include visiting the Jozani forest which is home to Zanzibar-native, the playful Red Colobus monkey, visit to a Spice farm which supports local communities or visit the local village of Bwejuu which is supported by The Zanzibar Collection. Another must-do is a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town. We hired a local guide to take us around the town which was once the site of horrific slavery auctions and it gave insight into how Zanzibar formed it identity and culture. Of particular interest were the traditionally carved doors, churches, medieval forts and buildings, winding alleyways and streets and seeing the effects of wars and revolution. It was an educational and eye-opening day, and at times was harrowing, but one that is so important for visitors wishing to enjoy all that Zanzibar has to offer today. We also paid homage to Zanzibar’s most famous son, Farrokh Bulsara, aka Freddie Mercury at his birthplace, the Bulsara House. The people of Zanzibar are very proud of Freddie and his band Queen, and it means that you with have the wonderful songs of Queen in your head for the rest of your holiday.