Review: Constance Aiyana, Zanzibar
It may take an age to get to this island paradise but it’s worth every second
LOCATION: On the northern most tip of a small island called Pemba. Located off the coast of Zanzibar this island is home to the destination’s best kept secret – Constance Aiyana. Read on, because I want to share the secret with you.
It may take an age to get to this island paradise - a 30-minute flight from Zanzibar followed by a bumpy hour and a half long transfer from Pemba airport through adorable African villages and the magnificent Ngezi Forest Reserve - but it’s worth every second.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS:After a warm Swahili greeting at the lobby entrance, a refreshing hand wash with hibiscus and bougainvillea petaled water, I was immediately blown away by the greatest sight of the day, the turquoise hues of the Indian Ocean hugging the glittering white sandy shore. I felt like I’d just stepped into the garden of Eden, with the hotel surrounded by beautiful flora, which is apt as the world Aiyana means ‘everlasting garden’.
Local artwork gives the property an authentic feel, although be warned, some is a little on the erotic side.
THE FACTS: This 30-villa property was taken over by Constance Hotels & Resorts collection just last year, a year after it first opened its doors.
Of the villas, 26 are one-bedroom, two are two-bed Ambassador Villas and one is the illustrious three-bedroom Royal Villas which has a private infinity pool. The piece-de-resistance on the room front is the Presidential Villa which lies on the north of the hotel site, ensuring guests ultimate privacy and seclusion.
There is only one restaurant, Neema which offers a fusion of traditional Zanzibari cuisine, international flavours and boosts more than 100 different wines from around the world.
EXPLORE: Exploring the island is easy, but choosing your method of exploration is more of a challenge. Head out on a Dhow trip, kayak around the mangroves, or sail out to the nearby sandbank. Whatever you do, make sure you take a dip in the sea. Pemba is renowned for the quality of its coral reefs and the vast array of fish on parade. Back inland there is plenty to do, from a visit to the capital city of Chake-Chake, the ruins and fortress at Chwaka or spice farms that Pemba is famed for.
But if that’s all too much, simply sit back and soak up the sun on the perfect white beaches and watch the world go by. You won’t see much action, though, as this place is extremely secluded, but that adds to the hotel’s attraction.
WOW: The nearby sandbank is outstanding. We hoped onboard the hotel’s boat and set sail for this tiny strip of sandy, untouched paradise. We landed and spent hours playing like children under the sun on the virgin sands while a table of drinks and snacks was set up for us. A personal highlight for me was when we sat watching a galaxy of glittering stars above us when suddenly a shooting star shot across the dark sky like a firework. Apparently they are ten to the dozen in Pemba, but I took my chances and made a wish, you never know!
As the art editor and production editor of all Travel Weekly Group products, Flora is responsible for the visual style and images in our print publications. She also creates the overall design and supervises others working on the production desk. She has more than 30 years in the travel industry and has built up a great knowledge of the luxury travel sector.