The Fairmont stands on a stunning Zanzibar beach, with powder-white sand and palm trees
Fairmont Zanzibar: Our full report
Oct 2011 update: The Fairmont Zanzibar has unfortunately closed due to a fire. There are plans for the hotel to be rebuilt, but at the last check when we visited the gate in July 2016, there was nobody available to provide information. As far as we know, the decompression chamber on site is still operational. Call us for the latest news.
The Fairmont Zanzibar opened in July 2007 following a US$10million redevelopment and expansion of the old Protea beach resort. It's a member of an international group, and aims for high standards. The resulting lush grounds, comfortable rooms, myriad facilities and immaculate staff have quickly made this Zanzibar's premium family resort.
The 109 newly-renovated rooms and suites at the Fairmont Zanzibar are dotted around the vast, tropical gardens to offer a range of sizes and styles of accommodation options.
- Fairmont Standard Rooms are built from traditional coral-rock blocks and have terrazzo floors, and located near to reception, at the back of the resort. They each have one king-size bed or two twin beds, and an en-suite bathroom, complete with a glass shower, modern fittings and glittering Zanzibari lamps. They're fairly compact (about 20 m²) with a built-in writing desk or vanity unit, and an open balcony with a view of the garden.
- Fairmont Island Cottages are very similar to the Standard Rooms, but have a private veranda, complete with an orange baraza bench for early morning drink or a cool afternoon snooze. Through the turquoise doors of these well designed, bijoux cottages, you will find locally-sourced coconut furniture, clean crisp lines and vibrant colours touching on the island exotic.
- Fairmont Oceanview Cottages
Situated beside the main 'Mwanga' pool and swim-up bar, these are slightly larger rooms (about 26.5m²), with sliding patio doors which give direct access to the pool and beach beyond – with lovely ocean views. Their fittings and décor are smartly done and similar to the rooms above, and each has one king-size bed.
- Deluxe Cliff Side Rooms have similarly smart facilities, but are larger again (30-42m²). They're situated on the rising land at the back of the resort and are popular with long-stay guests and families, who enjoy the extra space, high ceilings and sizeable deck overlooking the flower-filled gardens and swaying beachfront palms. They have stunning views over much of the rest of the resort, and the Indian Ocean beyond. Each has a king-size bed with a large patio and seating area.
- Deluxe Garden Villa
Deluxe garden villas are similarly large (typically 41m²), which makes them ideal for a couple with one or two small children, sharing a room. These are dotted around the Fairmont's grounds, and usually some with one king-size bed – and a view of the gardens.
- Signature Villa These are largely the same as the deluxe rooms, but have direct access to the Indian Ocean and the white beach, and obviously lovely views over the waves.
- Suites Discreetly situated within the resort, each of the Fairmont's two suites has direct access to either the beach or the pool. They are large, covering about 61m² and comprise of two rooms: a large bedroom with a king-size bed, spacious en-suite with bath and separate shower; and also a separate, large living-room.
Regardless of category though, all the rooms at the Fairmont Zanzibar are thoughtfully designed with contemporary conveniences, Zanzibari influences and a truly tropical palette. All rooms have air-conditioning, a ceiling fan, tea/coffee makers and mosquito netting – plus a hair-dryer in the bathroom.
Outside, there are two lovely pools and 350 meters of super-soft sandy beach, where seaside activities, some with a Swahili influence, are in abundance: escorted sunrise jogging, local ngalawa sailing lessons, water aerobics, scavenger hunts for children, Swahili lessons and sundown beach cricket to name but a few.
With Fairmont's pedigree in large Caribbean and Hawaiian resorts, all of these are properly organised and well staffed; daily activity schedules are even placed in guest rooms at turn-down for bedtime planning of the next day's events.
Divers are well catered for with an on-side dive centre and the region's only Decompression Chamber, with a Danish specialist dive doctor. Spa enthusiasts can visit 'Burahi' for spice-infused scrubs and professional massage.
A Fitness Centre features a well-equipped and maintained gym with modern equipment. It is complimentary for hotel guests and accessible 24 hours per day. Note that children under 16 years cannot use the gym.
The Burahi Spa is due to open in December 2008 – offering a wide range of treatments and massages using Zanzibar-infused products.
After a hard day's sunbathing or active exertion, the glistening mosaic of Nahodha Cocktail Bar beckons. Enjoy sundowners here before dinner at the à la carte restaurant (including southern African game meats and local seafood) or something more casual at Tradewinds buffet and pizza parlour, where a great beachfront deck with stylish ivory parasols make this a lovely location.
The Fairmont Zanzibar has brought a touch of sophistication and style to the island's resort scene, which combined with its family-friendly rates make it an exceptionally good choice in this bracket – and a very sharp match for older family favourites – like Breezes.
Ideal length of stay: 5-7 nights would be typical, and longer would be fine. We wouldn't suggest coming here for less than three nights.
Directions: The Fairmont Zanzibar is located on the northeast coast of Unguja, Zanzibar's main island. The resort is 45 minutes' drive from Zanzibar International Airport.
Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Property Chain - luxury hotel company
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Half Board
Food quality: The food is reliably good here, and there's an array of different places to eat:
The Tradewinds Restaurant is the main one on the resort and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It offers a number of local products, spices, and regional dishes from around the Indian Rim. There are also live action stations, outdoor BBQ's, and a pizza oven.
Zama Grill is the Fairmont's upscale a la carte restaurant. The menu offers an array of fresh local seafood, from fresh grilled lobsters to line caught tuna, diver squid to stone crabs, and finally banana leaf wrapped snapper. There are also some excellent African game-meat dishes.
The Nahodha Cocktail Bar is open in the evenings and serves tropical cocktails; ice-cold local beer, African wines as well as tapas-style Swahili fusion snack menus. Additionally, there is house music from local DJ's and/or a live band.
The Mchanga Beach Bar Adjoins the resort's main pool and is situated right on the beach. The bar also serves a daily a la carte lunch consisting of traditional pool side fare including grilled Mchanga beef burger, fried calamari, tropical salads, and sandwiches with a local twist.
Sandbank Picnics and Gourmet Pack Lunches
The culinary team prepares picnic lunches for those days that you want to participate in one of the many daily excursions on the island, gourmet pack lunches are also available
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Attitude towards children: Then Fairmont is a very child-friendly hotel.
Property’s age restrictions: No age restrictions.
Special activities & services: Babysitting is available on request – although done by local hotel staff who are not trained to European child-minding standards.
Equipment: A children's playground area includes a clubhouse, shallow splash pool, jungle gyms, 9-hole mini-golf course, swings and kiddies race track. There is also a play centre with TV and videos.
Generally recommended for children: Yes
Notes: Extra beds and/or cots for children are available in the rooms on request.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Business facilities and services are accessible 24 hours. Services include: computers, telephones, fax machines, photocopying, typing, secretarial services
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
Accepted payment on location: US Dollars cash are accepted at the resort.