Long before it found its way into the hearts and minds of people around the world through the much-beloved soundtrack of “The Lion King” in 1994, the Swahili phrase Hakuna Matata – which roughly translates as “no worries” – was characterising life on Zanzibar, the African island famous for its spices and its long connection to the Arab World. To experience Hakuna Matata – in luxury no less – one need look no further than the Meliá Zanzibar.
Located near the northern Zanzibari village of Kiwenga – a 45 minute drive from the capital of Zanzibar City – the sprawling and verdant 40-acre Meliá property provides visitors with a calm and serene base from which to launch excursions across the island. Those simply seeking some quiet time away from the daily grind and pressure of business can simply relax and take in the area’s breathtaking natural beauty.
Among the hotel’s most attractive options is Gabi Beach, a private seaside club where one can enjoy a pristine, natural white beach – one that stands in stark contrast to the man-made variety to which we’ve become accustomed to in the Gulf.
For beach lovers, the coastline provides a unique experience: drastic tidal changes see the coast recede hundreds of metres in low tide, exposing an amazing panel of colours and underwater life. The area also provides a fascinating glimpse into the culture of Zanzibarians who deftly use the tides to fish at opportune moments and can often be seen zipping around the coast in miniature dhows.
The area’s beauty, however, extends far past its coastline. The hotel can take nature lovers to the nearby Jozani Forest to see the island’s unique Kirk Colobus monkeys. You can also go on an aquatic ‘seafari’ to go snorkelling and dolphin watching, or even see massive giant tortoises on Zanzibar’s Prison Island – some of which are over a century old.
Natural beauty aside, the main draw of the Meliá is that one can simply sit back and do nothing but enjoy the quiet and relaxing property, in accommodations which range from standard rooms to exquisite one, two and three-bedroom villas – complete with a private pool and butler – or ocean view bungalows located on a coastal clifftop and built in the traditional Makuti style, with roofs made from the dry leaves of a coconut tree.
To complement the room choices, the hotel has enough food and beverage options to ensure that one never becomes bored of the same cuisine, which range from the rustic offerings of Gabi Beach to a fine dining restaurant and, most impressively, an international “jetty” restaurant built at the end of a long wooden walkway jutting out into the Indian Ocean.
Even more impressive, however, is the staff – it is rare to find a hotel where each and every staff member, from the managers to the butlers, pays such close attention to detail and go above the call of duty to make one feel at home and turn the concept of Hakuna Matata into a relaxing reality.
With Zanzibar less than six hours away on a direct flight from Dubai, there is no excuse to miss out on a unique opportunity to explore the unique island in a luxury setting.
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