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The Residence - Zanzibar

Stellar, Stellar Service!


The Residence - Zanzibar: Formerly known as the Kempinski Resort, The Residence Zanzibar, took over the luxury resort in the spring of 2011. Located an hour away from the airport on a private stretch of beach, it boasts an air of sophistication and casual ambience. I was more than stoked to experience this 5-star resort in Zanzibar.

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First Impression/Lobby: As we pulled in the driveway, members of the staff came to our car to greet us. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, we were then escorted into the open air lobby. The lobby was rather nondescript, with a few tables and couches and a large bouquet of flowers on a circular table. What was impressive though was the great view of the sea. It was as if the sparseness of The Residence Zanzibar was designed to not take away from the sweeping view beauty of the seascape.

Reception: Though we did not wait too long before we were shown our villas, we were offered cool towels to refresh ourselves as well as cold drinks to quench our parched throats. This was a nice touch especially after the hour drive on narrow and often busy (with both people and cows) roads. After a refreshing pick me up, we were ready to enjoy the rest of our stay.

The Villa: We stayed in a Prestige Ocean Front Pool Villa, whose living room – like the lobby – was sparsely decorated save for a couch and side chair. Both were a bit uncomfortable. Maybe it was designed that way so one would be outside and not much time was spent watching the big screen TV.

The bedroom was separated from the living room by sliding French doors. The focal point of the bedroom was the large bed, centered in the middle of the room and topped with a mosquito net (that would come in handy at night I’m sure). To serve as our closets were two huge armoires that flanked the walls behind the bed. There was also a small work desk in the corner which offered a small, but out of the way desk for working when there were important details to tend to. Nicely done.

After the bedroom, another set of sliding doors beckoned us to enter and within, we were greeted with a huge bathroom. The bathroom was fitted with a large soaking tub, twin sinks, a huge shower stall, a private toilet stall and an outdoor shower that only had cold water. Needless to say, the outdoor shower at The Residence Zanzibar went unused.

Both the bedroom and living room had sliding glass doors that offered great views of the sea and opened to the large wooden deck outside. The deck offered us a day bed, two lounge chairs, a small table and two chairs perfect for dining al fresco (which we obliged to do often), and a small plunge pool.

One huge negative to The Residence Zanzibar was the intermittent power interruptions. It seems Zanzibar has rolling blackouts every so often, so the villa goes dark, everything shuts down and after a few seconds, the power comes back on when the generator kicks in. Even though the interruption per se happens for just a few seconds, it’s enough to shut off the TV (typically right during an important part of the DVD we were watching or a critical part of the news, or when I was in the middle of an upload on the computer – Murphy’s Law.) Needless to say, it was very frustrating.

Room Service: Room service was pretty good to say the least. The menu had a varied array of choices, ordering was simple, the accuracy of the order was almost 100% save for the occasional forgotten utensil or condiment, the delivery was on-time while the setup and presentation was top-notch. However, the quality of food was average.

Housekeeping: Perfect, perfect, perfect! Our butler even unpacked and packed for us. Not much to be said here except: simply perfect.

Restaurant: The Residence Zanzibar has two restaurants and two bars. The Dining Room is the main restaurant and when we dined there, they were having an Indian dinner night. The selection of food was huge, though the quality was mediocre at best.

There is also the Pavilion Restaurant which offers Middle-Eastern, Greek, Turkish and Mediterranean fare, but it was not open during our short stay at The Residence Zanzibar.

As for the bars, there was The Library Bar where guests are treated to a colonial atmosphere and follow Dr. Livingstone’s journey through books, while sipping malt whiskey or other spirits. If you need a more traditional bar experience, you can also indulge yourself at The Dining Room Bar.

Pool/Spa/Activities: There is a main pool for those wishing a larger pool than their plunge pool (all villas have their own plunge pool), or you can opt to go to the beach for the salty embrace of the sea. There are also activities for kids where trained staff introduces the kids to the local culture. Excursions are also available where you can tour Stone Town, The Jozani Natural Forest Reserve or the Spice Plantation among others.

The Residence Zanzibar also has a spa with six treatment pavilions. There is also a Hair Spa and Hairdresser Pavilion, as well as a Ohashiatsu Pavilion if you prefer to get a massage with an oriental flavor.

We took time out to visit the gym, but we were rather disappointed. Not only did the cardio equipment lack individual TVs, the whole gym didn’t have one at all.

Check-Out: As with the reception and housekeeping, check-out was handled with a warm heart and professionalism by the staff. The bill was quick and accurate and all was completed in mere minutes.

Overall Impression: It has been a long time since I have been so overly impressed with the staff of a large resort. It was obvious that their desire to provide excellent service came from the heart, and not from management demanding it. This type of from-the-heart service is a rarity and we’ll cherish the memory of it for a long time to come.

Everyone was sincere, kind, welcoming and natural. We were made to feel welcome. The property is gorgeous, the beach - while not that perfect for swimming - was still inviting, and the villas were more than comfortable.

The biggest disappointment was the food. Though the presentation and variety were top-notch, there were many a time we had to put our plates aside after one bite.
Despite that one negative, the service was and will always remain in my mind and heart as I look back at The Residence Zanzibar.

Our rating for The Residence Zanzibar is Bombastic!

What I liked: - Impeccable service from reception to check out, beautiful view of the sea, comfortable villas, presentation and wide variety of food

What I Didn’t Like: Quality of the food
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