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“Almost perfect”

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Essque Zalu Zanzibar
Ranked #2 of 17 Hotels in Nungwi
Certificate of Excellence
Johannesburg, South Africa
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Almost perfect”
Reviewed 2 April 2013

We recently stayed at the Essque in a Sea View Suite, and were very happy with our room (# 24) which had an unobstructed view of the ocean. The suite itself was spacious and if not for the abundance of beautiful nooks around the resort in which to relax and unwind, we would have just relaxed on our patio overlooking the blue ocean.

As other reviews will attest to, this is one unforgettable place. The architecture is stunning, the ambiance is remarkable, and the service is almost impeccable. Nicholas, the GM, also makes a point to greet and check in with each guest. This is highly appreciated, especially for a resort of this caliber and style. So long as you are comfortable with the fact that there is not a beach on site (and it can be quite taxing to swim around the jetty, I tried), I would very much recommend staying at the Essque.

Food was exceptional, all around.

Two areas of dissatisfaction:

1) Prior to arriving, we had extensive e-mail correspondence with Godfrey, one of the reservations managers, about booking a one-way airport transfer ($100) for our departure. It was important that we had all our transport sorted out before arrival, so as to maximize our time at the resort before having to leave for the airport. At check in, we confirmed our transfer and the gentleman who checked us in said it would arrive at 2:30PM. But at 2:30, no transportation arrived. Turns out the transfer was never booked, despite our best efforts to ensure that it was. We waited about 15-20 minutes until the van showed up and thankfully made it to the airport just in time. This is a small issue, and it was likely the result of some very understandable miscommunication or clerical error. Those things happen, I know. But they really shouldn't at a place like this.

2) Prior to leaving, we asked for a small bottle of water to take on the 1.5 hour journey to the airport. We were told that it must be purchased from the bar, and that the only complimentary bottle of water is provided during the morning cleaning. We said no bottle had been provided, and following a check with her superior, the receptionist graced us with a complimentary bottle of water. This was kind of ridiculous. I understand that bottled water is not complimentary at this resort ($4 for a large bottle) (although it is free at some other resorts), but most standards of hotel courtesy (not to mention common sense) would provide a departing customer upon request with a small bottle of water for a long road journey. We shouldn't have had to negotiate for water.

Neither of these things would dissuade me from recommending this place, and I hope to have the chance to visit again. These are merely very small areas for improvement at a hotel that is on the path of becoming one of the most distinctive in the world.

Room Tip: Sea view suite 24 was superb.
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank SRP17087
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (124)
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English first
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
1 review
Reviewed 31 March 2013

An excellent place to relax and yet have all the luxuries be available. The check-in procedure is outstanding. No need to queue at the reception (they don't have a reception as such). You are taken straight to your suite after a welcome drink and a brief of the facilities.

The Jetty is an amazing place to have lunch or coffee in the evening. The view is simply breath taking.

Staff are all very friendly and at service at all times. For us it was the kind of break we were looking for. Privacy, quietness and Luxury. Food is remarkable and all freshly prepared.

Mr. Nicholas was always around and went out of the way to ensure the guests comfort.

One of the best hotel experience we have ever had!

Will definitely come back.

Thank you once again Mr. Nicholas, looking forward to another Zalu experience and seeing you again.

Regards

Mr. Relax (As you addressed me from my T-Shirt)

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank Jq007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
Reviewed 26 March 2013

I have resently just come home from a month long trip through Africa
1. Africa as a whole is incredible
2. This place was bliss- will definetly be going back
The nicest hotel you could ask for and the service was out of this world.
All the food in our package was included (was fantastic), and the drinks were very reasonably priced. We also had dinner at the fine dinning resturant which was seriously 5 star quality!
Also spent some time at the day spa- very lovely too!
Highly recommend this hotel, was a nice way to finish our trip.
I told my boyfriend if we ever get married I have found where we are going for our honeymoon, but also very suitable for a friends trip, or a family trip too
Facilites cater for everyone

Room Tip: We had a garden view suite as there were no sea front villas but the room was amazing! We had our o...
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled with friends
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    • Service
Helpful?
Thank madeleinechiller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NicolasKonig-GM, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, 29 March 2013
Bonjour Madeleine,

Trust you are having a wonderful Easter break in the 'Land Down Under' (Oz)

We are gratified by your fantastic feedback on your recent stay at Essque. We just want to say a BIG ASANTE SANA (Thank You) and of course we do hope to see you back here for your honeymoon should the big day come up for you!

The French (myself included) love to say A Bientot - until next time!

Warm regards

Nicolas Konig
General Manager
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Tel Aviv, Israel
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 March 2013

We spent 4 nights at Essque Zalu in March 2013 following 5 days of safari in Tanzania.
The hotel's premises are of very high quality with a beautiful infinity pool with magnificent views over the sea.
The rooms are very spacious and well maintained.
The food is of high quality too.

A few issues:
1- there is no sand beach at the hotel and it is located far away from the city center (>1h drive)
2- the staff generally speaks very poor english and one needs to repeat their requests 2 or 3 times before being understood. For a 5-star hotel, this is not acceptable and needs much improvement
3- the waiting time at the bar and at the restaurant between ordering and being served is too long. This adds to the feeling of poor service received overall.

  • Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank MJS1978
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NicolasKonig-GM, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, 29 March 2013
Bonjour and Easter greetings from Essque Zalu Zanzibar,

We are grateful for your feedback on your recent stay with us and delighted to know you had a great time and enjoyed the beautiful ambience and feel of the hotel, the food and the spacious rooms.

On the issues mentioned, allow me to shed some light on them:

1. We never market or promote Essque Zalu as a beach hotel; we are a contemporary Lifestyle Hotel with African chic ambience where our valued guests come to enjoy the tranquil and serene, zen-like ambience and open spaces. As mentioned in earlier posts, Essque Zalu Zanzibar not having a beach is a deliberate one rather than an accidental one; the reasons being the owners wanted a secluded space away from the crowd of beach boys that is now increasingly becoming a nuisance and a security threat in Zanzibar and since Zanzibar has a policy of public beaches, the owners wanted a spot that they are in control of who enters their premises rather than have movement of unauthorised folks.

On the distance from Stone Town, well the majority of quality hotels in Zanzibar are at a distance of about 45-90 minutes driving - us being at 55-60 minutes from Stone Town is considered good especially when more than 99% of the road is paved except for the last 1 km which is a well maintained dirt road.

2. The staff communications skills - The majority of our staff speaks very good English and communicate efficiently and for the ones lacking these skills, we already have an ongoing language training for them as I write. Allow me to mention that we are extremely proud of our team because they came from zero work experience or any hospitality training. We hired them from the nearby villages and invested in training them from zero experience to empower them with the basic and advanced hospitality training and giving them hands-on experience and instilling our brand ethos and philosophy. We do not believe in poaching staff from nearby hotels which is the standard norm in Zanzibar and we wanted to pioneer this zero to experienced hotelier concept on the island and we are proud to mention we have been very successful in our endeavours.

3. On the waiting time for the meals at the restaurant - This is purely due to quality reasons of the food ordered. Unlike other hotels where the service is as fast as saying ' Hot Chops' our culinary experts prepare every bit of the meal fresh i.e. fresh meat is cut to size and cooked fresh, vegetables are boiled/cooked fresh etc hence the processes do take time, but the joy and satisfaction of these meals is indeed one that will tickle your taste buds.

On the waiting time at the bar - we have taken note of your concern and will look into improvising the processes however when you order for e.g. Orange Juice, they physically squeeze the oranges to get you the orange juice and if in certain circumstances there are other fresh juice orders, your order is placed in the queue, but the point to note is we endeavour to serve you fresh items as fresh as possible.

On behalf of my team and myself, we thank you for your stay with us and wishing you a wonderful Easter break,

Warm regards,

Nicolas Konig
General Manager
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London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
71 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 March 2013 via mobile

This hotel was truly brilliant.

In terms of staff we would like to particularly mention Haji (in the downstairs restaurant), Valentino (upstairs) and Mohamed (reception). These were particularly friendly and really added to our experience. However every single member of staff including those that serviced the room, worked round the pool, worked on the pier, tended to the gardens and in the restaurants (amongst others) were all excellent.

Two recommendations: firstly visit the 'aquarium' 2 minutes walk from the hotel entrance. Actually, a recommendation to NICHOLAS the hotel general manager: advertise this place! It is not really an aquarium and really a turtle sanctuary that takes injured turtles to rehabilitate them. But whilst they are recovering you can swim with them in a lovely pool. They are clearly well looked after, the small fee paid to swim with them goes to good use, and the turtles seem to genuinely enjoy some human company in their pool!

Secondly, if you are interested in Scuba Diving, go to Diving Poisedon. Each morning they arranged a taxi to pick us up from the hotel at the appropriate time (typically 8.45) and it cost USD 6. We paid for 10 dives plus a few more which were USD 39 each. Fantastic dive shop and thoroughly recommended.

Back to the hotel: it is awesome. That's an overused word, but it really is. From when you walk in, to when you are inside, to when you are looking at it from the private pier (in fact from the dive boat too) you cannot help but be in awe.

A note about the food: Dinner is Michelin standard. We live in London and have eaten in many Michelin star restaurants. The dinner (downstairs, included in the DBB rate) is better than many of the meals we have had in these London Michelin restaurants. Whilst the price paid per night at the hotel is a lot; by UK standards at least the meal we enjoyed each night is easily worth over half the cost. The wine list is by no means exaggerated either. We had some lovely red and white at about GBP 20 per bottle.

Breakfast was a vast choice and excellent. Again the staff were very good. We didn't eat lunch a lot (when you've filled up at breakfast and have dinner to look forward to...) but when we did it was excellent.

My Mrs had a massage and said it was the best she's ever had. She's paid a lot of money in London, and had massages in Thailand, India and many other locations. So I think that's a pretty significant compliment...

Another suggestion: One day we substituted our dinner on our half board rate for lunch, and went to a trip advisor highly recommended restaurant in Nungwi. It was OK. But not a patch on dinner at Zalu. Try Nungwi restaurants if you like, but don't sacrifice dinner in Zalu.

Finally a note about prices. Some reviews we read before arrival suggested high prices. Of course, it depends on your point of comparison. A bottle of 500ml nice lager is the equivalent of GBP 4. A lovely Caesar salad at lunch was GBP 12. Double baileys is about GBP 4. Compared to a bar in Nungwi, yes it costs more. Compared to London it's about the same. Is it fair given its a 5* hotel?- YES, beyond any doubt.

This is quite a truly brilliant hotel, at a very fair price. The staff are a credit to Nicholas and his team. Go here and enjoy,x

Stayed March 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
7 Thank LondonMike1983
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NicolasKonig-GM, General Manager at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, responded to this review, 29 March 2013
A warm bonjour from the spice island!

My team and myself are delighted to receive your feedback and both Valentino and Mohamed send their appreciations for your kind words.

We endeavour to meet the highest standards when it comes to gourmet meals and my team in the culinary department leave no stone unturned to ensure our guests have a thoroughly memorable time and enjoy their meals to the maximum. Thank you for availing your fabulous feedback on the meals you had during your stay with us - my team in this department sends their warm gratitude to you.

Indeed reading from you made our day since we distribute all reviews to our teams and I sure saw many smiles around Essque after reading your feedback.

Thank you for your time, you know where to find us next time you are coming to this side of the world,

PS - I personally love the turtles too hence try to recommend the place. Happy you loved it.

Warmly,

Nicolas Konig
General Manager
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Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 March 2013

My (new) husband & I stayed here in September 2012 for our honeymoon, and had a fab time. The food is 6 star quality - the breakfast (highly recommend their home-made granola or their omelettes!) and the evening meal was superb; 4 courses each night. We even had the lovely experience of trying some African cooking in the hotel kitchen - we got to eat everything we made! The staff are very friendly and attentive - at poolside, they bring drinks and snacks throughout the day. The bar on the jetty is well worth a visit for lunch - the freshly caught calamari is delightful. Walks along the beach to nearby Nungwi is a lovely way to spend a morning. Highly recommend a visit to this hotel.

Room Tip: Rooms away from the beach front are quieter.
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  • Stayed September 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank LynneyJay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
clevedon
Level 5 Contributor
82 reviews
57 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 March 2013

A great hotel which I visited for lunch and a look around....amazing location and premises and the staff were very good.

The rooms are all very nice and facilties were excellant. The food I ate was of a very high standard and although not having its own beach, the pool and water access out across the walkways was fantastic.

I would recommend upgrading to a sea view as if you dont you'll miss out on fantastic view each day.

Room Tip: Upgrade to a sea view !!!!
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled on business
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Helpful?
Thank CliveB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Essque Zalu Zanzibar

Property: Essque Zalu Zanzibar
Address: Nungwi 3151, Tanzania
Phone Number:
Region: Tanzania > Zanzibar Archipelago > Zanzibar Island > Nungwi
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Nungwi
#2 Family Hotel in Nungwi
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Nungwi
#2 Luxury Hotel in Nungwi
#5 Romantic Hotel in Nungwi
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — Essque Zalu Zanzibar 5*
Number of rooms: 48
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Take a deep breath of fresh Indian ocean air, relax and unwind. Essque Zalu Zanzibar is an intimate boutique destination nestled in a natural cove in the north east coast of Unguja (alias Zanzibar). Essque Zalu Zanzibar combines contemporary luxury with a real sense of place. This boutique hotel has the turquoise waters of the Indian ocean to one side and lush green forest to the other, and there is just a hint of spice in the warm and fragrant tropical air. At Essque Zalu Zanzibar, create your own personal paradise, your own kind of luxury, an experience of a lifetime. Choose from 40 individual suites and 8 villas all with picturesque views over the lush tropical garden or the ocean turquoise blue. Our suites offer a luxurious-styled space crafted from local materials, adorned with native artwork and housed under a traditional pitched makuti roof. From farm to table, we take great pride in our sumptuous cooking. Satisfy your taste buds with a choice of two unique restaurants, three well stocked bars and a variety of destination dining experiences. Unashamedly indulgent, the Spa comprises of two couples treatment rooms, four single rooms, vichy shower, a sauna and steam room - a haven of restorative and rejuvenating perfection. Using only 100% truly organic and natural ingredients, our focus is on capturing the intelligence of nature in the restorative process. We know that the essence of nature can synergistically interact with the energy system, and this knowledge forms the basis of our Africology creations, all orchestrated to help you lead a more holistic lifestyle. Essque Zalu is your outpost into the first steps of the wildness and tranquility of Zanzibar. Reconnect with nature and experience a land rich in life and uninhabited space. We offer guests the opportunity to partake in activities to experience some of the islands most Spectacular and scenic excursions. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Essque Zalu Zanzibar Hotel Nungwi
Essque Zalu Zanzibar Zanzibar Island/Nungwi

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