With the start of the year well behind us we get a moment to breathe and think about holidays for the year ahead. This got me thinking about one of our favourites when we flew to Zanzibar on the spur of the moment.
Not sure why we picked Zanzibar but so glad we did. It is one of a handful of places we will return to again without hesitation if we get a spare week sometime. As soon as we got off the plane, the pace of life changed and this was reinforced when we got into the hotel when the team just welcomed us in with open arms, suggested we get to our room, get settled and then call room service to save any need to venture out well after the kids bedtime. This alone made me realise that the staff at the Melia Zanzibar understood kids and traveling with them.
We stayed at the hotel for a week and had one of the most relaxing kids included holidays we have ever had. It is an all-inclusive resort with four restaurants and a lounge bar and catered perfectly to all tastes. The all-inclusive bit made it super easy to accommodate the kids desire to graze and find their new favourites. Of course there was Spices, a buffet restaurant that suited us down to the ground for breakfast and a couple of themed dinners but what really suited me was the Jetty Lounge and its Asian tapas menu that was just treat after treat. The pool bar was a regular lunch stop but the one that won the kids hearts was Gabi Beach.
The resort is built along a shoreline where the largest part of the resort is above a cliff edge. But if you are craving sand there is a fabulous path that leads you through the resort, past the villas and Anantara operated spa (which was lovely and well worth scheduling a visit or two), through a neighbouring property and down to Gabi Beach where there are cabanas, white sand galore and at low tide fabulous exploring for hidden treasures below the high tide line. The restaurant is beach side so no need to do anything but pick yourself up from the beach and wander in and the chefs make a mean pizza.
Now of course to be there a week with two kids we had to think hard about the room type we wanted. The villas had gorgeous private pools but with two little ones, at the time, we thought a more standard room would suit us, and our intrepid travellers, better. So we picked a family room and were blown away by it. Double in size of a typical room one half was a dedicated dining room and lounge. Having this extra space with the kids was heaven, The design of the room was bright and inviting. The housekeepers had set up a single bed and cot at one end, both with mosquito nets, and this didn’t encroach on the rest of the space at all. The bedroom and bathroom were the same size as a standard room and were spacious in their own right. The bathroom was just what we needed as the bath was huge and there were two separate showers – an outdoor tropical one and a spacious indoor one, which really reminded us that we were in a resort. The room photos are from Melia’s website (as I wasn’t quick enough to take photos on the night we arrived and you wouldn’t want to see what it looked like the next morning once we had unpacked). But I can promise you that the room looked exactly like this.
I have pretty much just talked about the resort and we were quite content spending time down at Gabi Beach, hanging out in the pool (with its spacious kids section – and don’t panic it is a plastic doll floating face down in the photo) but we did venture out for one day to get a flavour of Stone Town with a very knowledgeable guide all arranged by the hotel’s concierge team. We wandered the streets of stone town learning its fascinating history, spotting doors from various eras of the towns construction, wandering horrifically smelly fish markets and having an obligatory pitstop at the main playground for the kids to have a run around. It seems that most tours also include an obligatory stop at a spice farm and whilst we rolled our eyes at the idea it was actually a lot of fun and informative at the same time.
So that is our holiday at the Melia Zanzibar in a nutshell, other than to mention how lovely all the staff were and how kid friendly they were no matter where wee were in the resort. If you are thinking about going to Zanzibar my top tips would be:
- Try to fly direct into Zanzibar itself, we had a harrowing connection in Dar Es Salaam on the way home – picture me carrying two kids running between terminals doing some serious fast talking to stop the flight from being closed until we could get our luggage across from the domestic terminal. For those Dubai based FlyDubai does this.
- Consider booking the family room – it is pricier than their standard rooms but it was worth every cent. You can check out your options on Melia’s website.
- There were two levels of the all-inclusive package. Try to wait until you have been at the resort for a day or so before you decide to take the upgraded one as you will know if it is something that will suit you or not. We loved it because it meant we got extra choices on the menus but the wider choice of beverages wasn’t necessary because we were quite happy with the base options.
- If you are going outside of school holidays check if the kids club will be open if this is something you are keen on using. We were there very much in low season so it wasn’t open but had been a few weeks before when the resort had been full.
- If the kids can cope it is possible to do the Stone Town tour instead of an airport transfer which might suit an early arrival time.
- Don’t plan too much ahead of arriving as you might just find you slip into the relaxed routine of eating, swimming and resting very quickly and not want to do anything else.
Writing this has got me thinking about when we should go back. Soon, that is for sure, and hopefully next time we will get a chance to try one of the villas as they look fabulous as well.