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Baraza Resort & Spa

Baraza Resort is a luxury hotel located near the village of Bwejuu on the south-east coat of Zanzibar.

Baraza is arguably the top luxury hotel on Zanzibar. When you take into account it’s size, location, facilities, ownership by the Zanzibar Collection and the general levels of food and service it offers, we rate it as the best option for anyone seeking a traditional 5 star experience on Zanzibar. Other equivalent alternatives are either too big or have poorer locations, but mostly they are also not as well run. The villas at Baraza are spacious and quite frankly opulent, with ocean-front and ocean-view villas enjoying use of an exclusive outdoor raised beach area with sun loungers etc. The family villas are excellent though they are set back from the beach and the second bedroom is designed for kids, not full grown adults. The running of the hotel is very good, with friendly staff, sophisticated service, superb food and a wide range of facilities, including an excellent spa. Plus the beach is gorgeous!

Rooms

Built in a fusion of Arabic, Swahili and Indian design, Baraza has seven Ocean Front one-bedroomed villas, seven further one bedroomed villas which are located behind the Ocean fronts and may have partial sea views through the lush tropical gardens, 15 two bedroomed villas (five Sultan sea facing and 10 Garden facing) all with private plunge pools. The two bedroomed ocean front Royal Beach villa is spacious and luxuriously furnished with a lounge area, two master bedrooms, bathroom (free standing bath, shower, double vanity and separate toilet). Each air conditioned villa is spacious and luxuriously furnished, with a lounge area, a master bedroom, bathroom (free-standing bath, shower, double vanity and separate toilet), dressing area, and an outdoor patio/terrace with a plunge pool. Other facilities include TV, CD player, mini bar and tea/coffee making facilities.

Central Areas

Centrally located are two restaurants (gentlemen are expected to wear long trousers to dinner), a lounge bar, library, business centre and meeting room, a boutique shop and a large swimming pool. Other facilities include tennis courts, a fitness centre, the Frangipani health spa and the water sports centre.

Facilities

Wi-Fi – Yes
Power for Charging – Yes
Swimming Pool – Yes

Habitat & Wildlife

Zanzibar’s, or more correctly Unguja’s (Zanzibar is the name of the archipelago which includes both Pemba and Unguja islands), history dates back more than 2000 years when the islands traded with ships from Persia, Arabia and India. From about the 10th century, groups of immigrants from Shiraz (Persia) settled on the island and mixed with the local people. In the 16th century, the Portuguese established a trading station before being ousted by Omani Arabs a couple of centuries later. In 1840, the Sultan Said moved his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar with the Omani Arabs forming an elite group of landlords and rulers. Indian settlers formed a merchant class and the island became an important centre of regional politics and the focus of the slave trade.

In 1890, Zanzibar became a British protectorate before gaining independence in 1963. In 1964, the Sultan was overthrown and nearly all Arabs and Indians expelled. Later that year, Zanzibar and Tanganyika combined to form Tanzania. Since then, many of the expelled peoples have returned.

In Zanzibar’s Stone Town (the old quarter and a UNESCO World Heritage site), a fascinating maze of narrow streets and alleyways lead past numerous old houses, mosques, ornate palaces, shops and bazaars reflecting the various influences through the ages – Arab, Persian, Indian and European. Many of the buildings date back to the 19th century and depict the wealth of its builder. Arab houses have plain outer walls with large doors leading to an inner courtyard. Conversely, Indian houses have a more open façade and large balconies with railings and balustrades. Take the chance to savour the atmosphere by dining at one of the rooftop restaurants.

The area outside the Stone Town is called Michenzani (New City), a failed attempt at becoming a modern city.

Depending on where you are staying on the island, there are a number of interesting excursions to consider. Visit a Spice Plantation, take a trip to the Jozani Forest (southern part of the island) where the rare red colobus monkey is found or visit Chumbe Island Coral Park (either as a day trip from Stone Town or overnight). Sundowner trips by traditional sailing dhow are available out of Stone Town. Due to environmental concerns, we no longer recommend swimming with dolphins.

Please remember that Zanzibar, like much of the East African coastline, has a strong Islamic culture, and that you should dress appropriately when in public areas and the Stone Town. During the month of Ramadan, further courtesy should be shown to those observing their faith, particularly in respect to service which you may find slower than usual. Dates for 2018 are the lunar month beginning around the 15th May.

The best beaches on the island are those found on the north and east coasts. However, please note that there are large tidal movements and sea swimming from most beaches during low tide is difficult. The best snorkelling is found around the Mnemba and Chumbe islands, but snorkelling is available along the length of the east coast where it is usually necessary to go out by boat to enjoy the best locations.

Like most of East Africa, the islands are affected by the monsoon winds – the Kuzi (or sometimes Kisi) which blows from April to September/October is a south-easterly which brings choppy sea conditions and seaweed to the shorelines, whereas the Kaskasi blows from the north-east from October/November to March producing calmer seas and slightly higher temperatures.

Activities

Baraza offers scuba diving through the next door Rising Sun Dive Centre and caters for all level of divers from total beginners to professionals. Snorkelling trips are also possible. In addition to a gym, excellent health spa and tennis court, there is a comprehensive water sports centre offering beach activities, paddle boards, kayaks, bicycle hire, sailing, reef walks, kite-surfing and windsurfing. The hotel also offers standard Zanzibar excursions including dolphin tours to Raz Kizimkazi (an over-crowded experience), Jozani Forest where you may catch sight of the Zanzibar red colobus monkey, Spice Farm Tours and day trips to Stone Town.

Seasons

Baraza is open all year round, though Zanzibar is best avoided during the main rainy season in April and May.

Baraza Resort is ideal for families looking for a 5 star stay on Zanzibar, offering the full range of activities and facilities, as well as an exclusive, upmarket beach ambience. The two bedroomed villas are ideal for families with children, with both bedrooms are en suite, the only comment we would make is that the second bedroom is designed for children/ teenagers not for fully grown adults.

Baraza Kids Club has a selection of activities, games and toys and are open during certain times of the day. During high season the club is supervised and children between 4 and 12 years are welcome to attend (as long as they are potty trained). Out of season there must be a parent or guardian with the children as the Club will not be supervised during this time.

The Zanzibar Collection, owners of Baraza, gives employment and training to those within the local communities. Around 90% of the staff are graduates of the local hotel school and have been taught life skills that they can carry with them throughout their future in tourism. They also employ a marine biologist specialising in conservation and run a programme for all staff members to educate them on manging the ocean and understanding its resources.

The Collection supports a maternity and children’s clinic in the village of Bwejuu and run the Baraza for Bwejuu charity which works to uplift the lives of those from the village through such means as supplying fresh water and medicine, donating school supplies and assisting in the building of a mosque. Each year staff from Baraza, along with another charity, clean the beaches and villages and repaint the clinic. They also organise football matches between local villages, donate balls and present prize money to both the winning and runner up teams which then goes back into their communities.

All of the villas at Baraza are powered by solar energy. They do not take their water from the source at the village, leaving that for the community, but instead use a local desalination plant. They obtain as many supplies as possible locally and fisherman bring their fresh fish to the resort. They also have a garden to grow local vegetables.

To minimise the usage of single use plastic bottles, drinking water is served in carafes refilled from recyclable water containers and the Collection is currently developing its own water bottling plant.

Much of the interior items at Baraza have been made by local craftsmen and women using traditional skills, supporting the communities through income and also using recycled materials instead of creating waste.

ALTERNATIVE CAMPS IN THE TANZANIA COAST AND ISLANDS