Day 8 – Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa

I was keen to make the most of our last day in Zanzibar & wanted to go & visit The Residence Hotel having represented the hotel group previously and before the Zanzibar property being built.  I was so impressed at how impeccable the staff & service were and the whole hotel seemed so serene.  The infinity pool was particularly cool with the glass side walls…..it took all my will power not to dive in to cool down from the Zanzibari heat!

IMG_7865

Returning to Zanzibar White Sand, I realised the reason why I love working with smaller, more personal properties rather than bigger hotel chains.  The hotel is a real labour of love built on Natalia’s father’s passion for Zanzibar and it comes through in everything they are doing.  It is great fun to be part of that.  The service isn’t as slick or serene yet as The Residence (yet!) but the team are incredibly passionate and switched on and considering it is the owner’s first experience of opening a hotel, they have thought of everything. Most of the things I suggested they had considered or were in the process of doing.  Antoni the GM has opened two hotels in Europe & Dubai and is very professional and rather than being frustrated by the African pace of doing things, he is enjoying the challenge!

IMG_7884

The remainder of the day was spent chilling out in our stunning villa…..after all its critical that I know exactly how the sun loungers feel to lie on,  how comfy the swing bed is & the exact temperature of the plunge pool!  It wasn’t all play though as I did tap into the villas wireless internet to download all my emails.  Each of the villas will have wireless and sound systems, tvs etc for those guests who can’t switch off from the outside world.

IMG_7874

I am so glad that I got to see Zanzibar White Sand before it was completely finished as its always nice to then go back & see the finished product.  I have no doubt that Zanzibar White Sand will be a real success as the design, the team, the location, the food & the activities all combine to offer something very special for Zanzibar.  I will definitely be back very soon and maybe next time I’ll have time to give kite surfing a go!

IMG_7895

Day 7 – Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa

There is something very cool about arriving in the dark to a new hotel and only discovering your surroundings in the morning light.  Needless to say we were pretty delighted with our view when we opened the curtains…

IMG_7876

After a pre-breakfast plunge pool swim we were treated to a delicious breaky of unbelievable fresh fruit, still-warm Mandazi (donuts…..my new year diet is on hold!) and freshly squeezed orange juice.  Fuelled up we were ready for our tour of the property.

IMG_7878

ZWS consists of 5 one-bedroom villas, 5 two-bedroom villas and a 3 bedroom villa.  The one bedroom villas are all finished & ready for the hotels first guests who arrive on 20th Feb.  The two & three bedroom villas still have some finishing off to do but there is a 200 strong workforce working at quite some pace!

Villa 1 at Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa

Each of the villas are really spacious with stunning interiors.  The villas consist of two buildings – the bedroom and a dining/sitting room.

IMG_7880

IMG_7881

Bedroom at Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa

(Mosquito net & a few more soft furnishings still to be added!)

During our tour Natalia & Antoni also showed us their carpenters workshop where the majority of the furniture, roofing and flooring are made.

IMG_7855

It was fascinating to see how they are combining contemporary styles with traditional methods and using local wood.

IMG_7856

What I hadn’t realised from the photos I had seen of ZWSLVS was how the roofs are a real work of art.   They have beautiful curves and waves within them but are also thatched using wood slats.

IMG_7851

This is the lofty roof in the restaurant.  They will also have a ‘green’ wall which will be full of flowers & greenery.

IMG_7842

This is the view of restaurant & roof top bar as you drive into the hotel.

IMG_7836

This spa will be in a walled garden with swimming pool, sauna, hammam (picture above) and two open treatment rooms (pictured below).

IMG_7837

The gardens at ZWSLVS are stunning and colours of the flowers against the white stone walls are beautiful.

IMG_7872

The vegetable garden is blooming with chillies, tomatoes, herbs, salad & lots of other yummy edibles.

IMG_7858

After our tour & lunch the wind had picked up and the kite surfers were making the most of it.  It was so entertaining to sit on our roof terrace and enjoy watching the beautiful kites swirl & fly around…it was like a dance!   I have no idea how the 100 or so kites didn’t get completely tangled up in one big kite surfing ball!  Andre Niznik, the owner of ZWSLVS also owns the kite surfing school next door & his passion for the sport is the reason why the hotel was first dreamed up.

Kite surfers paradise, Zanzibar

IMG_7870

Unfortunately the obligatory sundowner had a stronger pull than giving kite surfing a go but I was seriously tempted….particularly as they made it look so easy!

Day 6 – Zanzibar here we come..

Matt & I were very sad to leave Naibor & the Mara after a couple of unforgettable days.   We had some fantastic game viewings and only saw 7 other cars during our 5 game drives.  There is something to be said for going to the Mara in the off season!!

IMG_7732

Next stop Zanzibar. ….but first we had to clear the buffalo off the runway!

DCIM100GOPRO

I last went to Zanzibar 19 years ago so I was fascinated to see how it had changed. We landed at 8.30 in the evening and were met by Antoni Rygiel, GM and Natalia Niznik, the Executive Assistant Manager & daughter of the owner of Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa.    Our first stop was the newly opened 6 degrees South restaurant (http://www.6degreessouth.co.tz)  It was ultra cool & I felt like I was sitting in Cape Town rather than the old, shabby Stone Town I remembered!   I would highly recommend it to anyone needing a watering hole in Stone Town!

Day 5 – Naibor

My wake up call was the sound of a lion calling.  I mistakenly thought it was far away only for me to find out later that a small pride of one male, a female & two young cubs were just outside our tent….I must have been deeply asleep to have got that so wrong!

IMG_7762

This female obviously approves of the Naibor tents as she had given birth to the two cubs just outside Little Naibor in November.

IMG_7761

The Mara showed us all her glory this morning with the most amazing photo opportunities….

IMG_7711

…..and the most stunning leopard sighting.  It was like he was working it for his audience as he chose the stunning river backdrop & proudly stretched & yawned & looked around. They call him goldenboy & I could see why…..he was beautiful.

IMG_7789

IMG_7801

After we returned from our game drive we had a guided tour of Naibor Wilderness.  Naibor Wilderness consists of 3 large tents with a communal mess tent.  Guests staying here can be incorporated into the activities/dinners etc at Main camp unless the camp is full in which case they will have dinner in their mess area.

IMG_7752

Naibor Wilderness is a great option for people whose budgets don’t quite stretch to main camp as they still have the same food, service, guiding experience and tent sizes.  The only difference is the location is slightly further away from main camp & the tents have wrought iron furniture rather than the lovely chunky wood furniture of main Naibor……but they are still stunning!  IMG_7750

Day 4 – Naibor

I was joined at Naibor by my husband who had flown out to meet me for the remainder of the trip.  I hadn’t been to Naibor for nearly 4 years so it was great to catch up on the camp & the team.

Our room

The new addition of the wooden floored mess area created a lovely light, airy lounge area which was perfect for chilling & going online with the surprisingly strong wireless (far faster than mine in rural Wiltshire!)

IMG_7728

Lunch was a deliciously light salad & yummy home made pizza under the trees overlooking the Talek river.  The beauty of Naibor is that you are right in the heart of the action.  Within yards of the camp we had come across elephants, lion, topje and buffalo and a hippo wallowing in the smallest puddle of mud!  We had been thoroughly spoilt within 15 minutes of our drive!

DCIM100GOPRO

IMG_7738

The rest of the drive was quite quiet but the Mara provides such a stunning backdrop that we were more than happy just to take in the vast open plains & huge skies…..just bliss!

DCIM100GOPRO

Day 3 – Enasoit, Laikipia

There was quite a welcoming committee out to greet me at Enasoit.  Over 100 animals were taking their mid-day refreshment at the watering hole in front of the camp.

Enasoit watering hole

I almost felt like I was watching a film rather than real life as the view  was so unbelieveable!

Giraffe at Enasoit

Mabel their pet Ostrich was also keen to meet the new guest.

Mabel, Enasoit

Both Tusitiri and Enasoit are owned by a Norwegian family and until very recently Enasoit was their Kenyan home.  It has an understated elegance which makes you feel very at home.  Their interiors are very stylish but designed for a family rather than having the staged interiors of a property designed for tourists.  Peter & Karen Glover are the managers at Enasoit and are the perfect combination of being great fun, excellent raconteurs and very welcoming making you feel at ease immediately.  It seems that they have become part of the family and they make you feel the same.

Watering hole at Enasoit

Enasoit has 6 tents on wooden platforms and two thatched rooms at the pool which is a 5 minute drive away. The tented rooms were initially built as temporary rooms but the owner liked them so much he decided to abandon his plans to build a house & keep the rooms instead….I can see exactly why!

Bedrooms at Enasoit

IMG_7563

As Enasoit is only available on an exclusive use, it means that the guests can choose excactly what they want to do when.   The ranch itself is 4500 acres but they also have traversing rights to go onto the two neighbouring ranches as well so there are limitless options for exploring.  I would have been quite happy to sit & enjoy the game water hole all afternoonbut I had the ardous task of experiencing the most heavenly massage by their beautician…..sometimes this job is so hard!

IMG_7593

After my massage we ventured out on a game drive and quickly encountered a herd of over 30 elephants.   We were treated to lots of other game including Oryx, giraffe, Zebra before enjoying some sundowners overlooking the ranch.

IMG_7604

Sundowners at Enasoit

Before I left the next morning, I had the great priviledge of meeting another of Enasoit’s colourful pets….Ziggy the Zebra.  Yes I even matched my outfit to hers!

Ziggy the Zebra at Enasoit

Enasoit is asbolutely ideal for a large group looking  for complete privacy and flexibility.   You can choose exactly what you would like to do when there and the game is so prolific around the main mess area that there is almost no need to go on game drives!  This would be a perfect place to come with young children who maybe don’t have the ability to sit for hours in safari vehicles as through the Enasoit pets and the game surrounding them they can experience so much at the main lodge without even getting in a car.   However for those who are keen to venture further afield they can charter the owner’s helicopter to explore Mt Kenya or Northern Kenya…..maybe next time I’ll be lucky enough to experience this!!

heli2_highres

Day 2 – Tusitiri dhow, Lamu

Day 2 started with a refreshing swim across to the sand bar off which we were moored.  What was supposed to be a relaxing little swim turned into a full on work out when I realised the current was so strong I was going to miss the dhow & end up out to sea!

Lulu & I ventured into Lamu which was fascinating.   I have travelled extensively around Kenya but never to Lamu & was really amazed by the fact that such a mix of people live so close to each other in relative harmony.  I also couldn’t believe the number of donkeys that you encounter when wandering around the narrow roads.

IMG_7425

Once back on Tusitiri John decided it was time to show Tusitiri in all its full glory with its sails up.  It was then that I realized why they needed 14 staff….!  Getting a 1000sq foot sail up manually was a serious operation but once it was up it was an incredible sight to see.

Tusitiri sailing

There is something truly magical about sailing along on a magnificent vessel  whose concept has changed little over hundreds of years.

Putting up the Tusitiri sail

We travelled around the back of Lamu island through the mangrove channel to Kizingoni beach.  Tusitiri use Kizingoni beach as a mooring during a 3 day safari and use it as a base to go off exploring, snorkeling, fishing and even on a safari to the Amu Conservancy … www.lamuconservationtrust.org – community owned and run programme which is supported by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Searching for pansy shells

A delicious lunch of fresh crab caught that morning was the perfect send off for my 24 hours in Lamu.

Tusitiri is perfect for groups or families who want a really unique adventure and have a sense of fun.  I felt very privileged to have experienced such a stunning, huge vessel which is so traditional and which hasn’t changed for centuries.  Tusitiri really is a work of art and with her Zanzibari antiques, Swahili textiles and incredible seafood few on-board experiences can replicate the historical tradition of boat travel as beautifully.