Ciela Resort and Spa: Our full report
Smart and luxurious, the Ciela Resort and Spa is just 10km from Lusaka International Airport.It was opened in 2020, within a 100-hectare gated estate whose landscaped grounds make the hotel feel relatively remote from its city setting.
Ciela forms part of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio, a collection of independent boutique hotels located across the world. While the word “boutique” may conjure up a smaller, more intimate space, Ciela is set in a substantial estate, complete with 18-hole golf course, the Lusaka International Convention Centre, a spa, swimming pool and several choices for dining. The location is beautiful and, though you’re just a 20-minute drive from the airport and very much city-based, the resort exudes an air of tranquility, despite its size.
When we visited Ciela Resort in May 2023, its large, glass-fronted and balconied exterior, made for an impressive welcome as we drove in through the well-manicured grounds.
With 249 rooms across the ground and first floors, all with views out over the vast estate, it may be sizeable, but the interior design is much more akin to that of a smaller hotel. Local art throughout along with quirky woven lightshades, painted pots and sculptures as wall décor and colourful carpeting add to the boutique style.
163 'executive' rooms have a large king-size bed, while 77 'deluxe' rooms feature two queen-size beds, but otherwise facilities are the same across the two. All rooms are fitted with air conditioning, and come with a fridge, plus tea- and coffee-making facilities. Junior and Presidential Suites have equally spacious interleading rooms, with a large lounge area in between. All of the rooms are en-suite, with a rainfall shower in the bathroom, while the suite bathrooms also have a bathtub and twin basins.
A spacious reception area is located on the ground floor, with plentiful seating areas and a juice bar, which also serves coffee (and cake!). Downstairs you’ll find a large restaurant, The Elements, where a breakfast buffet is laid out each morning.
For lunch and evening meals, there are five very different options, from light meals at the Bonanza Clubhouse, next to the golf course, snacks at the Poolside Bar, along with a sundowner menu, and the pub-like craft beers and American-style dishes of The Brewery. For more substantial fair there’s The Elements, which is open all day, while if you are in the mood for something a little fancier in the evening, Botanica offers “fine dining”.
A walkway from the main area leads to a spa and children’s play area, and a sizeable fitness suite, with 24-hour access, is located towards the back of the resort, next to a tennis court and a large swimming pool, surrounded by sunloungers. The spa is very popular, so if you wish to use the facilities here during your stay, it is advisable to pre-book.
The estate offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor time – with rental bicycles available, and self-guided routes mapped out around the resort. Various nature trails wind through the property and, with numerous bird species sighted in the area, plus the ever-present monkeys, there’s plenty to ensure a peaceful yet interesting wander through the grounds.
Craft market stalls are set up regularly, showcasing local Zambian art, textiles and culture and giving the opportunity to buy some stylish curios, and a farmer’s market is held monthly with organic and locally sourced food products.
Though the relatively short distance from the airport makes Ciela a handy option for an overnight stay, day rooms can also be booked. Many of our travellers stop just for the day after a safari, in between the arrival of a flight with Zambia’s domestic airline, Proflight, and an international departure. It is also possible to store baggage at reception and – for shorter stops – simply to make use of the dining facilities, to save a longer wait at the airport. Having said that, the resort is also a good alternative if you wish for a few days for relaxation before or after a safari holiday.
Despite its size, the Ciela Resort and Spa has an unexpectedly serene feel. Though we do have other smaller boutique options for a night stay in Lusaka, its proximity to the airport makes this a convenient stop for a night or even just half a day before or after a safari in Zambia.
- Lusaka area, Zambia
- Ideal length of stay
- Ciela Resort is a great option for a one-night stopover in Lusaka, and is also one of the city's better options for a longer stay.
- Ciela Resort is about a 15-minute drive from Lusaka Airport.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Bed & Breakfast
- Food quality
- Breakfast is included in the room rate and is served, buffet style, in The Elements, the main restaurant area, with continental and full English options. There is also a menu of breakfast options that may be served to your room.
Though we did not get the chance to enjoy a meal at all the restaurant options during our last visit in May 2023, the menus looked impressive.
Ciela Resort has five dining options for lunch and evening meals, to cater for a variety of occasions, smart and casual.
The Elements is an all-day restaurant, offering a mixture of appetisers and tapas-style plates, as well as an array of main courses, vegetarian options and a grill menu.
The Bonanza Clubhouse serves freshly made wood-fired pizzas, light meals and snacks.
The Poolside Bar offers light snacks, along with a sundowner menu.
Altogether smarter is Botanica, which is open Tuesday to Sunday evenings. Its six- or twelve-course set tasting menus, with suggested wine pairings, focus on indigenous Zambian ingredients (including, at the time of our visit, guinea fowl, nshima, calabash and hibiscus) are a good way to showcase local produce.
On our last stay, we enjoyed lunch and dinner at The Brewery, just a short walk across the resort grounds from the main reception area. With a more Western pub experience, local craft beers are on offer to wash down American-style dishes.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- A room service menu is available in the rooms, which changes regularly to offer a variety of dishes.
- Drinks included
- Bottled water and tea- and coffee-making facilities are provided in the rooms. All other drinks cost extra.
- With a full spa on site, an outdoor heated pool, nature walks, an 18-hole golf course and the option of fine dining , all set in beautiful grounds, Ciela Resort offers a luxurious break in the Zambian capital on arrival or before departure.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Children of all ages are welcome at Ciela Resort.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- Ciela has a dedicated children’s area with indoor and outdoor play zones, and child-minding services are available on request.
- Cots and highchairs can be provided on request.
- Generally recommended for children
- We feel that Ciela is fine for children of all ages though, in general, we find that a safari in Zambia lends itself to older children.
- Parents and guardians should be aware that the swimming pool is unfenced, and children should be supervised at all times around this area. Monkeys are found on the nature trails, and the walking paths go close to the golf course so, while warning signs are in place, additional caution should be taken in these areas.
- Power supply notes
- Power points are located in all of the rooms, and international adaptors are available.
- There are phones in each room and also at reception. There is strong cellphone reception in all areas, and complimentary WiFi is available throughout the resort.
- TV & radio
- Each room has a flatscreen TV with DSTV and satellite channels.
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- All rooms have plumbed flushing toilets, plus hot and cold shower. Suites have a bathtub.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- First-aid kits are located at reception and in the restaurants, and several management staff are first-aid trained. Appointments with a local doctor can be arranged at reception. In the event of a medical emergency, Lusaka has several international standard private clinics.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- The resort is located within a secure, gated estate. Security guards are on site 24 hours a day.
- Fire safety
- Fire extinguishers are located in the central areas, corridors and dining areas and staff are trained in their use.
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A laundry service is available, at additional cost.
- There is an electronic safe in each room.
- Accepted payment on location
- Visa, Mastercard and American Express are accepted. Cash payments may be made in Zambian kwacha and US dollars.
Other lodges in Lusaka area
Alternative places to stay in this same area.