Zuri Zanzibar, the first Design Hotels™ member in the Tanzanian archipelago, has just opened its doors, welcoming the world to a hospitality experience shaped by this singular destination. Here on the coast of East Africa, some 30 kilometers off the mainland of Tanzania, the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar is a bounty of natural beauty; lush green flora abounds, as do pristine white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. A confluence of influences from Africa, Arabia, India, and Europe means a cultural mosaic that sets the scene for enriching adventures. Nestled on 300 meters of prime west-facing Kendwa beach, Zuri Zanzibar’s 55 villas and bungalows epitomize modern-meets-traditional African design, with the whole approach guided by environmentally sustainable methods. The high-luxury experience features seven sunset-facing restaurants and bars, a full yoga and wellness center, an infinity pool, a water sports center, and an impressive 1.6-hectare spice garden.
Taking its name from the Swahili word for “beautiful”, Zuri Zanzibar is simultaneously a celebration of contemporary design and traditional African craftsmanship. Designed by celebrated London- and Prague-based firm Jestico & Whiles, the 55 thatched bungalows and villas are the height of refined and uncomplicated luxury. The team was tasked with a brief to conceive a concept that was both chic and contemporary but with profound respect for traditional African design. A core inspiration borrows from the clustering of homes in a typical village style. Private and protected, the stilted villas peek from behind curtains of indigenous greenery, yet are placed so that most have ocean views with winding paths connecting to the many social spaces and environments.
Villas range from 66 sqm to 250 sqm, with the addition of an owner’s villa of 500 sqm. Unifying the design concept throughout the villas and bungalows are open and airy spaces dominated by natural wood, wicker, and a neutral color scheme. Indoor and outdoor areas are blurred, with each villa featuring its own expansive terrace and outdoor shower. Custom-crafted regional artworks have been produced by local artisans, including handmade wall murals, spice motif carved doors, beaded curtains, and lotus flower decorations. All guests have the exclusive benefit of a complimentary “villa service”, whereby a dedicated host can advise guests on everything relating to the resort as well as the many different activities to be found in Zanzibar, and can organize local activities, including a private villa lunch or dinner.
The dining experiences at Zuri Zanzibar are a reflection of the destination: a mix of African, European, Arabic, and Indian cuisines. Several distinct styles and environments will give guests ample variety during their stay—from casual beach beers and bites to the chic venue Upendo. Full, half board, all-inclusive, and all-inclusive ‘premium’ options are available. Guests looking to round out their days will find an abundance of activities on offer: an outdoor 32-meter infinity pool, an extensive library and movie collection, pool table, water sports, and a wellness center with outdoor gym and a yoga studio. A remarkably bio-diverse, 1.6-hectare Spice Garden includes ginger, turmeric, peppers, and cumin, among many more varieties. Guests can enjoy cooking classes with one of the hotel’s chefs at the central Spice House–an interactive and authentic way to discover more about Swahili cooking.
The delicate balance of life on this island means that with a project of this nature comes a responsibility to foster deep ties to the local community. This has been done through partnerships with organizations that are ensuring preservation, education, and quality employment remain at the forefront. Zuri Zanzibar provides guests with handpicked amenities and services from local, sustainable, and fair-trade organizations in an attempt to give back to the surrounding community.
The resort’s aim is to be as self-sufficient as possible and to be certified as ecologically responsible by using water from its own wells, a desalination plant, and the energy-efficient space cooling system ‘Evening Breeze’. Numerous initiatives have been undertaken to ensure that Zuri Zanzibar’s footprint is as light as possible, and that responsible tourism is paramount.
Zuri Zanzibar is located on a 300-meter stretch of pristine white-sand Kendwa Beach, on the northwestern coast of Zanzibar’s main island of Unguja—a sun-drenched spot perfect for beach-lounging, snorkeling, and overall mind-body wellness. The local Zanzibar International Airport is approximately a one-hour drive away, with the hotel providing pick-up and drop-off shuttle services. The island’s capital city of Stone Town is located one hour south of the resort.