White Sand Luxury Villas and Spa hotel review: Watersports and eco-chic at this luxury Zanzibar resort

It’s good to start the evening with an African-accented cocktail – a passion fruit daiquiri or ginger mojito – on the roof of the champagne bar, watching the inland sunset

Nick Curtis
Friday 17 August 2018 15:31 BST
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Ocean’s eleven: the East African resort has 11 rustic-chic villas
Ocean’s eleven: the East African resort has 11 rustic-chic villas (Photos White Sand)

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In a nutshell: beautifully designed and landscaped eco-hotel on a white sand Indian Ocean beach

The look

Set in sprawling grounds, White Sand overlooks pristine Paje beach and the Indian Ocean and is a fascinating architectural blend of European concrete modernism and traditional African techniques – handrails and canopies are made of whole, irregular tree trunks and branches. The central complex is built around a cavernous dining room with a champagne bar on the roof and a terrace overlooking two oval swimming pools separated by a bridge that looks like it was inspired by a Japanese woodcut. There’s a wind turbine, solar panels and a fruit and veg garden.

White Sand borders pristine Paje beach
White Sand borders pristine Paje beach (White Sand)

The vibe

Service is friendly and cheerful and each villa has a private dining area where one of the hotel’s four butlers can organise meals. They will also organise trips to visit the rare red colobus monkeys in nearby Jozani forest, diving and snorkelling outings or boat rides to view dolphins. You can borrow bikes to get around the extensive grounds or to visit the nearby small town of Bwejuu.

Bed and bath

Some of the 11 villas can be rented whole or as separate first- and ground-floor apartments, and we found ourselves on the top floor with a family already ensconced below. While this meant we got a better view from our generous balcony, it also felt like they had already “shotgunned” the villa’s plunge pool and garden. The room was vast, with furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows made from local wood by local carpenters, but a little tired: there were slats missing from blinds and terrace doors that didn’t lock.

The bathroom is nicely designed, but big windows in the downpour shower made us feel a bit self-conscious: if we could see other villas and the champagne bar, presumably people could see us. I loved the blend of concrete and local wood, as mentioned above, and the modernist garden furniture. Wifi is free but slightly patchy.

Food and drink

It’s good to start the evening with an African-accented cocktail – a passion fruit daiquiri or ginger mojito – on the roof of the champagne bar, watching the inland sunset. One night, a sprawling buffet by the pool was augmented by fish or lush Tanzanian beef barbecued to order; the next we ate nouvelle cuisine on the terrace, including lobster and Thai chicken curry. This was well executed but somewhat poncified: our favourite meal was a grilled fish brochette washed down with Tusker beer at the beach bar.

Some villas can be rented whole or as separate apartments
Some villas can be rented whole or as separate apartments (White Sand)

Pools, spas and public areas

The two large pools are set back from the beach and popular with families, and there is a rather lovely and well equipped outdoor gym and a spa made up of circular huts set around landscaped pools, where we had a very good couples massage. This stretch of the beach is popular with kitesurfers and the watersports centre offers an all-action package of fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving in the glittering Indian Ocean. There’s also a shop in the grounds selling sarong-style African kangas and Tanzanite jewellery.

Nuts and bolts

Room count: 11 villas, some shared, some fronting onto the beach.

Freebies: food and most basic drinks, though some premium spirits and wines are charged.

In the bathroom: Inaya Zanzibar products.

Wifi: free but slightly patchy

Extra charges: laundry charges from $2-$5 per item, guaranteed late checkout at half room rate.

Minibar prices: n/a.

Disability access: villas do not have disabled access.

Pet policy: no pets allowed.

The hotel overlooks the Indian Ocean
The hotel overlooks the Indian Ocean (White Sand)

Bottom line

Best thing: the design and the proximity to the pristine beach and ocean.

Worst thing: the whole place needs a bit of love.

Perfect for: a family break if you’re into watersports.

Instagram from: the beach bar

Room rate: from €800 per night for a 1BR villa, half board.

whitesandvillas.com

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