The Residence has 66 private villas which means the hotel grounds cover a large area. Bicycles are provided with the villa for every guest to use or alternatively you can call the butler service and have a club cart drive you around the grounds if you prefer (especially useful when it’s raining!). The gardens are well kept and very beautiful so it’s lovely just to take your time and walk as well.
The Villas are probably the most elegantly furnished, sumptuously spacious and well equipped that I’ve experienced on Zanzibar. Welcome pastries and biscuits are a very nice touch when you arrive and Flat screen TV/DVD, ipod dock, mini bar and fantastic tea and coffee making facilities (with plenty of water) are all as standard.The en- suite facilities are of the highest quality with separate toilet (and bidet), high pressure shower and bathroom facilities. There's also a cold water shower outside for cooling down in the heat of the afternoon.
The ocean front villas are literally 20 metres from the beach, which means that you may find a garden villa more suitable if you want a feeling of privacy when using your infinity pool. The beach was generally quite quiet and there are no beach boys hanging around trying to sell you stuff, so this wasn’t too much of an issue. The Residence is also one of the few places that face West offering spectacular views of Zanzibar’s wonderful sunsets.
There is a set menu with a choice of two starters, two mains and two desserts in the main dining hall for guests staying on half board. There is the option to dine a la carte and the hotel will give you credit of $50 US per person against the bill which offers more choice and flexibility. If you're only looking to have two courses this will cost roughly about the same. The wine can be quite expensive but of very good quality and you can have the bottle kept for another meal if you don't want to finish the whole bottle in sitting.
The Pavillion is often open for dinner offering six courses with a particular theme on different nights and your bottle from the dining hall can be brought over if you wish. The food in both restaurants is simply superb and the waiting staff friendly and attentive. If you prefer a more private experience, you can also have meals served at your villa.
The excellent spa and kids club facilities means there's lots to enjoy here. Different activities are scheduled for kids everyday for specific age groups from 08.00 to 19.30 and a child minding service is available outside of these hours if Mum and Dad would like a quiet meal together later in the evening.
Kayaking, Snorkeling, Pedalo and Hobby Cat activities are also included but snorkelling from the boat needs to be arranged 24 hours in advance to guarantee a place on the boat from the jetty which departs at nine o’clock in the morning. Most of your time here tends to revolve around the villa and meal times, but there are tours and excursions available if you get itchy feet and fancy getting away from the resort for some exploration and adventure.
An extensive breakfast buffet selection provides everything you could possibly want in the way of cereals, pastries, a selection of tropical fruits, cooked items including eggs to order, bacon has rounds and three different types of sausage, yogurt, museli.... the list goes on. Guests due to check out early on their last day, can have anything on the breakfast menu delivered to the villa as early as 04.00 in the morning!
The Residence is one only a handful of true European 5 star standard hotels in Zanzibar. If you are looking for elegant luxury in a quiet and beautiful location then this will be perfect for you. The beach is good as it doesn't suffer from the same tidal variations as the East coast, but in balance doesn't boast the same coral white sand. Extras like drinks and food that aren’t included can be quite expensive, which can add up if you're not careful, but this is to be expected with such fine service and dining on offer.
This place is perfect if you’re looking for a luxurious and elegant beach resort that delivers a very high standard of service and dining.