I am unwell. In fact, I am gravely ill. It would seem I suffer from dreaded Stendhal syndrome – oh, the horror – so I do not know how much time I have before I shuffle off this mortal coil…
Stendhal syndrome (as everybody knows of course) causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to particularly beautiful art or a large amount of art in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world, according to my trusted expert, Wikipedia.
In my case, it is the knee-weakening vision of Zawadi Beach Villas in Zanzibar which has induced this condition.
An hour or so before this sudden onset of the Dreaded Lurgi, the lovely voice of Captain van der Westhuizen welcomes us to Zanzibar and thanks us for flying Mango Airlines from South Africa, a very comfortable three and a half hour flight.
Our driver PK from Tradewinds transfers promptly awaits us outside the tiny third-world airport and for the next hour I am immersed in the sights and sounds of Zanzibar as we pass cows, scooters carrying up to three passengers, women clothed in burkas and laughing children on their way home from school, all beneath giant swaying palm trees in the tropical heat. Brightly coloured clothes on lines billow in the breeze and flaming orange frangipani break up the impossible green of the palm trees and the metal grey sky.
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa with a population of about 1.4million people. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site. It is widely known as a haven for honeymooners and holiday makers because of its friendly people, tropical climate and world-class powdery white beaches with water the colour of blue crystal.
Upon arrival at Zawadi Hotel in the south-eastern part of the island, the meaning of the name becomes immediately evident. Zawadi means “gift” in Swahili and the beautifully simple and modern architecture of the buildings and its sophisticated white décor superimposed on the translucent sea beyond is certainly a gift of the most special order. Zawadi is the newest member of The Zanzibar Collection, a unique and global award winning group of hotels here on the island and this latest asset is an absolute gem.
It is one of the most exclusive properties on the island with just nine large villas set in a secluded spot atop a cliff.
The main guest area contains a large swimming pool, again with spectacular views; as well as the restaurant and bar area serving the renowned Zanzibar Collection food. Towards the centre of the property the cliffs recede and you can snorkel in a pristine cove directly from the beach.
The colour scheme throughout comprises only of nuanced creams and whites which beautifully off-sets the amazing natural array of pallets – the turquoise ocean, the blue skies and the mixes of red and fuchsia bougainvillea. We are greeted with fresh coconut water – straight from the coconut – after which our gracious and warm host Evelyn takes us to our villa.
The hypnotising view of the Indian Ocean in all its glimmering glory is the main focus of all of the villas, with the raised location giving some of the best views on the island. Each spacious villa, 100 square metres apiece, boasts a large en-suite bathroom and an open, breezy terrace directly overlooking the Indian Ocean. The decor is simple and modern, in keeping with the elegant and under stated atmosphere.
All the usual 5-star amenities are on offer of course like mini-bar, air conditioner, humungous bath with robes and slippers as well as the loveliest bath oils, soaps and bubbles.
We go for a spot of lunch at the restaurant with the sea stretching below us and the tide is already coming in. George and Raza serve us and a friendlier and funnier duo you will ne’er find. We feast on yellow fin tuna, grilled dorado and a lovely trio of sorbet for dessert. We laze around the pool for the rest of the afternoon, cocktail in hand, savouring the peace and tranquillity.
Read the rest of this magnificent tale here