Last month I was invited to Zanzibar to discover the new Park Hyatt Hotel. Admittedly I hesitated - the idea of packing my suitcase again after just returning from NYC and Iceland the previous weeks, seemed a little too exhausting, and then there was the 20hrs travel (door to door) for just a couple of nights, but I was sure this was going to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips that I couldn't bring myself to turn down. And I was not wrong. After the metro to gare du nord, RER to Charles de Gaulle airport, a 6hr flight to Doha (luckily we got the opportunity to lounge around in the business lounge ordering as many cups of tea/coffee and paninis that would could eat), followed by another 6 hour flight to Zanzibar, we finally emerged from the plane into a wonderful 30 degrees heat.
It was my first real foray into Africa. I've been on the continent to Morocco and I was born near Dubai, but I'd never visited what in my mind was 'real' Africa. Of course Zanzibar is off the coast of Tanzania and is greener, lusher and more humid than the arid plains of the Africa in my mind, films and photos, but I wasn't complaining! Driving through the rich, green vegetation towards the hotel, I felt immediately smug with my decision, dismissed any impending yawns and couldn't wait to see more.
We arrived at the hotel and were greeted with numerous smiling staff. The hotel is old UNESCO heritage building, with Arab influence that has been beautifully and thoughtfully transformed into a hotel. It's right on the beach too, so when I woke up the next day and opened the curtains to let the sun stream in, I could see the morning light dancing on the water. Heaven. The food, the rooms, the beach were all wonderful and we were treated to a massage in the spa and a water safari, which entailed sailing on a dhow, snorkelling in the turquoise blue sea and lunch on a private island! It might have been just two nights, but I felt like I was there for a week.