All be it a little late, we reached Zanzibar this morning and checked in to the luxury Breezes Resort. After two nights in Nairobi we could not wait to get here and certainly were not let down when we arrived.
Breezes is based on the South East coast of Zanzibar and during the one hour drive from the airport our very friendly and knowledgeable taxi driver Abdul gave us the low down on the island. We were quite surprised to learn that Zanzibar has strong heritage and links to the Middle East and is actually 90% Muslim. This is because of a history of exporting spices to the region (hence the nickname the Spice Island). The tropical location makes Zanzibar a moderate muslim country which is peaceful (the whole country speaks one language unlike most of Africa) and welcoming of tourists. Although part of Tanzania, Abdul explained, that there is a growing wish for independence to try and develop the island which aspires to follow in the footsteps of other Indian Ocean Islands like Mauritius. This is needed because Zanzibar is quite a poor country where spice exports and agriculture are the major revenue sources. Outside of tourism, jobs are limited due to lots of immigration from East Africa and mainland Tanzania. This is one of the reasons for the Tanzanian government's has high visa fees for arriving tourists (that must be paid in USD at the airport) - $50 per person for Commonwealth countries and $100 for Irish and US citizens.
At Breezes we were met by Esther (British), Lars (Swedish) and Ali (Tanzanian) as well as other local members of staff and the lovely Resort Manager Jacobs. We were surprised to see European staff, but it was nice and would be reassuring and welcoming for new travelers and honeymoon couples. We spent the afternoon exploring. The weather is scorching, about 28 degrees and very direct and bright sunlight - much hotter than in Mauritius and Kenya. I think you would have to consider the right time to come to Zanzibar as the European winter may be too hot (35 degrees plus) for some people, but this seems to be a great time to visit.
The resort itself is beautiful, right on the beach and we have a well appointed and luxurious room. There is a chilled vibe about the resort and couples mingle and chat at lunch and in the bar. The Arab connection is evident in the decor with the comfortable cushions, loungers and bright colours, again this helps with the relaxed atmosphere.
We had lunch in the beach side restaurant and we have welcome cocktails with other new guests booked tonight (nice touch - good to get people talking). I think we are going to have a great time at this resort, the staff are very friendly and I can not wait to get back to the beach and pool - we even have a massage booked for tomorrow morning to make sure we are fully relaxed.