Spain’s Meliá hotel chain took over management of this 40-acre, full-service beach resort from Kempinski in 2011. Airy, two-story blocks have rooms with huge baths and beach or garden views. Sheltered by a fringing reef on the eastern coast of Unguja, Zanzibar’s main island, the resort’s calm white-sand beach has a long, shallow drop-off that makes swimming (as opposed to wading) impossible at low tide. However, the long jetty immediately in front of the hotel means swimming and snorkeling are always possible near the rooms: Golf carts departing every 20 minutes transport guests to the best all-day swimming area a kilometer from the hotel outbuildings. Here, the Gabi Beach Club offers Balinese-style loungers and a restaurant grill. Souvenir hawkers sometimes haunt the public-access tide line, but discreet security staff prevent unwanted solicitation.
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The large grounds isolate the hotel from the handful of surrounding resorts. A scenic 45-minute drive past clove plantations, Stone Town is worth visiting to tour surviving examples of 19th-century Swahili architecture. Wildlife buffs head for Jozani National Park to photograph a rare endemic primate, the Zanzibar red Colobus monkey.
Need to Know
Rooms: 124 rooms; from $188 per person. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The full-board package covers a daily buffet of fresh fish, grills, and wood oven baked pizzas; alfresco meals at the Gabi Beach club; and dinners on the Jetty lounge serving Asian dishes, sushi, and tapas (reservations needed). The Aqua seafood restaurant on the roof of the main hotel building offers a more formal setting and seven-course meal of Mediterranean and African courses. Spa and gym: The Anantara-branded spa has six treatment rooms and includes a gym and sauna. The resort offers two swimming pools, as well as a tennis court and a dive center.
Who’s it for: Since Meliá took over, guests now include more package tourists and many European parents of small kids who take advantage of the babysitting club with daytime and evening activities for the 5-12 set. Our favorite rooms: Couples seeking privacy book the thatched pavilions on a small cliff with wood decks stilted above the sea. Plan ahead: When booking, select the full-board option, as the resort is a 40-minute taxi ride to the restaurants and nightlife of Stone Town. For peace and calm, avoid European school holidays; otherwise the spa infinity pool is the hotel’s most serene oasis.