Gold Zanzibar (North Coast, Kendwa)
These photos are from my stay at the Gold Zanzibar Beach House and Spa on Zanzibar’s north coast. It was a lovely property, absolutely stunning architecture, which was complemented by the natural beauty of Zanzibar’s northern shore.
The Gold Zanzibar is a new property in the area, and it benefits greatly from having brand new rooms and new technology (for instance, streaming wifi from the tv, which is invaluable in a place with a severe lack of local infrastructure). The location is beautiful, although like most of the other hotels in the area, finding the entrance can be rather difficult, as you have to look carefully for and follow the signs off the main road from Stone Town. These signs take you down a winding dirt road before you come to the “official” entrance to the resort. Marked by a massively secured gate, flanked by two large signs stating the hotel’s name, the entrance leads you to a stunning open air lobby and beautifully manicured grounds. Once you step foot on the property, everything you could possibly need or want is taken care of for you; from plug adapters to food, drink and entertainment. Not that you need much entertaining in such a beautiful location–none the less, whatever you need, you get, no questions asked.
The spa is equally as beautiful as the rest of the hotel, if not a bit new and unused at the time of my visit. They offered the standard fare–massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and the like. They sadly did not do extractions during their facials (standard for most African hotel spas) but did have lovely private and shared couples treatment huts with open sides that allowed you to catch the local sea breezes and feel like you were out of doors while getting your treatments. The gym was next door and looked lovely, although I did not visit it myself (duh, why work out when you could sit on the beach and eat? lol).
The two resorts which flank the Gold Zanzibar share the same stretch of white sand beach, and while the popular “Kendwa Rocks” hotel next door can sometimes be noisy and loud and full of drunk gap year kids, it is a fun place to wander over to and hang with the crowds. They have loud parties on the weekends and plenty of diving, snorkeling and sailing touts willing to hook you up with whatever gear you need for a waterborne adventure. Which isn’t to say the Gold wouldn’t hook you up too, it’s just that the Kendwa Rocks touts will charge you less for the same thing. They also have a few nice massage huts on the beach which are cheaper than the beach massages offered by the Gold. If you get out on the beach, you can walk up and down and pass through several resorts and take your pick of the activities offered by the touts at each location. Because the Gold Zanzibar beach is actually private, there are no touts there, which is nice because they don’t bother you, but also more expensive if you choose to arrange your activities through the hotel. Just a heads up.
The food is typical resort style stuff–set course meals and the occasional buffet. Lunch isn’t included in the half board (which I paid for), so you can either eat at the Gold’s restaurant or walk the beach or drive into Stone Town (1 hr drive) for a meal. Since the hotel is owned by Italians, most of the food is Italian or continental fare.
I stayed in the beach suite, which opened right onto the combed white sand of the Kendwa beach. It had an absolutely lovely clean, white interior in a Zanzibar/Indian ocean style, with a huge ocean facing king bead with the traditional mosquito nets, along with a sliding door patio. The bathtub was huge and awesome, and the toilet had a bidet as well as a jet. There was plenty of storage for clothing, along with a safe, espresso maker, and hot water boiler.
All in all, the Gold Resort was very nice. I ended up in Kendwa, Zanzibar at the end of a 2 week long East African safari (with Acacia Tours), which began in Nairobi. After 2 weeks of essentially living in tents and bathing in concrete shower blocks lacking in hot water, the comfort of a few nights in a full service resort on a white sand beach was welcome. While I usually do NOT enjoy “full service” resorts, sometimes they are just what one needs. Plus, the resort that the tour had booked me (2 resorts down the beach from the Gold Zanzibar) was rather low end, so I ended up “upgrading” on my own nickel to the Gold because I figured that if I was going to be sorta “trapped” at a resort, it may as well be a good one. The north shore of Zanzibar is really just a row of full service resorts which line the white sand beaches in the area. If you are staying on the north shore, unless you rent a car, it is almost impossible to get to Stone Town for any meals or exploration. You are pretty much stuck with either watersports or beach activities. You can pick from low to high end hotels, Italian or French or British, but the Gold is one of the best in Kendwa, and while certainly not one of the best of the north shore, definitely a solid offering in the mid level luxury range.
Gold Zanzibar: Rooms from $200/night up to $800/night for a luxury villa retreat.
Acacia Tours: $2373, inclusive of meals, board, transport and park entry fees, 13 days.