Review: The Residence Zanzibar by Cenizaro, Tanzania


The Island of Zanzibar is usually thought of as a destination to spend a few days after an exotic safari in the Serengeti. There are fewer people that consider Zanzibar as a destination beach location. We’d try out The Residence Zanzibar as a destination beach resort for several days. How would this remote beach resort meet up to world class standards ?

This post is one chapter on our trip to the Republic of Tanzania and the Islands of the Seychelles. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and enhanced through World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: The Residence Zanzibar by Cenizaro, Tanzania

We arrived into the island of Zanzibar on Precision Air Dar Es Salaam – Zanzibar. We exited the airport baggage hall and moved through the throng of taxi mafia. We had at least two unsolicited approaches before we got to the row of drivers holding the hotel signs where we met our driver for the Residence. Our bags were loaded into the car which I had arranged through the hotel.

Booking the Residence Zanzibar:

I ended up locating this place as MrsWT73 was insistent on going to an all-inclusive resort. While the resort is not wholly an all-inclusive property, they did offer an advance purchase deal via their website where a 35% discount was offered in addition to half board. The booking was handled by the website without any issues and was “confirmed” within 24 hours by email.

Indeed the property looked much more appealing that the older DoubleTree, Hilton and independent hotel properties scattered around the island. Overall, the massive luxury property is an interesting statement on where companies believe that tourism is headed in Eastern Africa. Nevertheless, we had a very interesting, remote and isolated stay.

Getting to The Residence Zanzibar:

The Residence Zanzibar is located towards the south west portion of the island on Zanzibar. Once we were on board the hotel car, we were given fresh towels and water as we headed down for the drive to The Residence.

The driver announced a drive time of about 1 hour and 20 minutes. It was a bit longer than I had bargained for but it was actually an enjoyable experience. It certainly wouldn’t be something that I would enjoy arriving straight from an international flight.

The traffic and people around Stonetown and the airport were much heavier. We passed through Zanzibar’s urban area, passing through neighbourhoods and mosques as we made our way south.

Setting Out for The Residence Zanzibar
Street Scenes of Local Trucks…
…and journeys through half constructed buildings
amid children playing soccer.

At the end of rainy season, we had some flooding on the drive down. We rode through progressively more rural countryside, passing villages and local towns. As time went on, the traffic and countryside grew thinner and more scenic.

We passed through groves of mango trees and monkey forests as we made it to the Residence. We passed through the Jozani Forest which is known for it’s red colobus monkeys. Our driver slowed for us but we didn’t happen to see any monkeys crossing the rope bridges across the road. There were banana and strawberry vendors just off site of the park. It was pretty quiet for when we passed through.


Checking Into the Residence Zanzibar:

Our check in was handled in the lobby. We were offered a terrific lemongrass and ginger fruit juice that was super tasty and regional tasting. Our bags were loaded up into a golf cart and we were taken over to Prestige Ocean Front Villa – 116.

A Lemongrass and Ginger Fruit Juice

The Room: A Prestige Ocean Front Pool Villa

All the rooms at this property are villas in separate detached buildings. Our arrival host showed us the features of The Prestige Ocean Front Pool Villa. The Prestige Ocean Front Pool Villa itself was absolutely massive. It featured a separate bedroom, bathroom, living area, outdoor shower.

Our Assigned Bikes at the Ocean Front Villa
A Comfortable Living Space
Looking Towards the Bedroom
Sunset Views from the Living Room
Looking Down the Villa through the Bedroom
An Elegant Four Post King Size Bed

The bathroom itself was absolutely massive. It contained a soaker tub with ocean views.

A Spacious and Elegant Bathroom
A Double Vanity Sink Bathroom
An Elegant and Spacious Bathroom Space
Cenizaro Amenities

Our room also featured a cold water outdoor shower, along with an indoor shower that I never used.

Only Natural Cold Water in the Outdoor Shower

The room was well equipped with bottle water throughout our stay. There was also Nespresso coffee available in room.

Nespresso Coffees and Bottled Still Water

There were mosquito coils for both inside and outside of the property. We didn’t find the need to use them during our stay.

Outside the villa, there was a private plunge pool and deck area with lounger and a table and chairs. Unfortunately, due to the configuration of the room, it was a little bit of a dark space.

We caught the tail end of the sunset as we settled into our villa. The sun set fast notably fast here with some stellar views from our lanai. Thanks to a west facing villa, the view was specular right from the deck. It was super serene and pleasant.

Exceptionally Peaceful Sunset Views

Sunrise at The Residence Zanzibar:

I was up the next morning and had an espresso on the deck at about 8 AM while MrsWT73 slept as she adjusted to the time zone changes. It was beautiful out and we had great views from the lanai. It was breezy, which was okay because it kept away the mosquitos and I didn’t need to apply off / DEET insect repellent. I had visited the Traveling Medical Clinic before our trip and the registered nurse had recommended malaria pills for Tanzania. I ended up taking Mylan – Atovaquone Proguanuil for the duration of our time in Tanzania. It worked out great for me with no side effects.

One thing that is interesting and unique about this property, is that the tide goes way out. It’s both fascinating and an irritant. Unfortunately, and I think this is the only drawback about this property, is that it doesn’t have beautiful sand bars and beaches that you see in the brochures of Zanzibar. The low tide goes way out… perhaps a mile or so. It leaves behind awake of seaweed and ocean debris in it’s wake. When the tide is in, the water is a bit murky, which is not ideal for swimming. On the plus side, the area seems to attract a lot of locals that appear to harvest the seaweed and low tide fishies buried in the sand.

This morning, the tides were way out; a remarkable scene for a morning coffee. It was a peaceful wake up in an area that had no one around.

A Morning Coffee View with Tides that were way out
A Shady Local Villa Pool
The Zanzibar Jetty
The Zanzibar Beach Area
The Lone Tree

Villa Sunsets:

During our stay, we often enjoyed sunsets from the deck of our villa. It was quite comfortable having sunset from the comfort of our deck. It was a bit of a cloudy evening being the shoulder of rainy season. Like the beach, the photos were less than spectacular.


Food and Beverage:

The Dining Room

During our stay, we would wander down to the Dining Room for a daily included breakfast. Breakfasts were available in the Dining Room. We walked along the beach from the villa to where breakfast was being served. We were able to take breakfast outside, which was always an excellent way to wake up.

Our Path to Morning Breakfast along the beach
Morning Views for the Beach
Breakfast for Two
Breakfast Morning Views

Breakfast itself was of very good to excellent quality considering we were in the middle of East Africa on an island and 90 minutes from the nearest town. There was an omelette station, a salad station and an excellent bakery section with fluffy croissants. What made the breakfast even better was the setting of eating outside on the beach.

The Interior of the Dining Room
An Elaborate Breakfast Station
Breakfast at The Dining Room
Fluffy Croissants

With half board being included, we had a variety of dinners on the property. The first night we had a beach dinner as a themed middle eastern buffet. MrsWT73 was super pleased with this as it offered her all the hummus she could ever want. The buffet was included in our half board package. I’m not usually a buffet fan since I don’t enjoy self gorging myself. Admittedly, a buffet is easier to swallow when you are not paying a high price out front or out right for it. The buffet also had a themed African trio of singers that entertained us, adding a faux but at the same time authentic African feel to the atmosphere.

One of the highlights of the trip to Zanizbar were the excellent regional foods. We were able to try delicious Zanzibar chapati. The bread was rolled from dough and fried in front of your eyes fresh. We were also able to try Zanzibar Pilau rice, Zanzibar Coconut Rice and Zanzibar Prawn Curry. The prawns were super fresh with juicy prawns that were so well cooked, I can still taste them in memory – six months later.

I also got to try some strange local Okra stew, which was tasty without being too exciting. I also had the Urogoyo (Beef and Potato) soup – surprisingly a good combination and tasty. It was somehow thick but not chunky. This was finished off with dessert – malwa pudding – thick and sweet textured. All were interesting Zanzibar Spice food items that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten the opportunity to taste.

Thankfully, there was also international food for MrsWT73 who doesn’t have my adventurous exotic tastes.

Around the Property:

The Outdoor Pool

After breakfast, instead of staying at the villa plunge pool which wasn’t facing the morning sun, we headed down to the main pool area. Occupancy at the hotel wasn’t very high so we had most of the place to ourselves. The Residence has a beautifully large infinity pool which was one of the better features of the property.

The Residence Pool Area
The Residence Zanzibar Pool Area
A Beautiful Infiniti Pool
Views of the Resort Beach Over the Pool
The Lone Tree on the Resort Beach
Comfortable Loungers in a Comfortable View.

Hanging out here was a relaxing way to start the trip. The resort pool was among the best pools I’ve had the opportunity to experience in Africa.


The Ila Spa and Health Club:

We eventually made our way up to the spa. The Residence Zanzibar property was massive and it was easily a 7 – 10 minute walk to get to the Ila Spa. The spa was nice, remote and tranquil. It had an outdoor jacuzzi pool which was not heated. There were one hour massages being offered for special rate of $65 USD or two for $130.

Walking to the Ila Spa
The Spa by Ila.
Spa Reception
The Exercise Room at the Spa by Ila
The Outdoor Jacuzzi (unheated)
Spa Reception and Change Areas

We wandered back to the room for self-catered sundowner cocktails. It was a grey sunset by the villa pool tonight.

The day closed with sundowners with awesome La Motte from South Africa. We collected these from the Istanbul Duty Free store and hand carried it over to the island.

Tanzanians are charming people. True to perhaps British form, they spend a little time exchanging pleasantries before getting down to business. Many have holdover British names like William or Nancy. We had an easy last day at the pool enjoying a little relax time.


The Residence Beach and Pier:

I ran out onto the pier to take a few last photos of the incredible low tide that this property has. It seems to leave and deposit a lot of sea weed against the shores; which didn’t make for a great brochure quality photograph.

The beach didn’t look all too good from land, but makes for some interesting photographs when out on the jetty.

An Interesting Natural Beach
The Natural Beach Wonders in Zanzibar
The Residence Zanzibar Jetty
A View of the Coastline from the Jetty
Looking Out Towards the Ocean
Views of the Villas at The Residence
Locals Harvesting the Beach
The Lone Tree at the Resort Beach

The Bottom Line: The Residence Zanzibar

We had a truly and interesting and amazing stay at the Residence Zanzibar. It would be unlike any other beach holiday that we have had in the past, thanks to the uniqueness of the environment, the isolated nature of this property, and the interesting Swahili cultured food that we experienced. The hard product was exceptional. Unfortunately, the beach was not the best one out there. You won’t get terrific beach photographs, great snorkelling or a clean Maldivian swimming experience here. However, in terms of relaxing, chilling out and getting off the grid, it’s hard to beat the remote nature of this particular resort in East Africa.

If you visited beach resorts in Zanzibar, did you experience a great beach while on the island ?

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