The trend amongst Zanzibar hotels these days seems to be toward a certain uniformity. Understated luxury is key, in the form of tropical beaches, a spa of course, and big villas with traditional makuti roofs. The positive angle is that Zanzibar for the most part has bypassed the trend for big, pack-em-in-like-sardines multi-storey concrete behemoths that take no regard of their surroundings. Yet while hotels here tend to be more low-key and use authentic local materials, there is a blueprint that they seem all to stick to - whether it is the $1,250 per person per night Mnemba Island that is frequented by the likes of Bill Gates and Kylie Minogue, or some of the newer establishments in Zanzibar.
There are a few places that have sprung up organically over time that have more character and more joie de vivre than these identikit hotels that seem to have money-making as their main goal. Mustapha's is one of them. A new one looks to be the rather amazing Kilindi on the north of the Island. It will appeal to a totally different market from our guests, but it embraces theatre, experience and spectacle. It also sounds like it has been designed around some sound environmental principles rather than gratuitously bandying about the terms "eco" and "green" for kudos when there is no burden of proof. You can see more at www.kilindi.com and we plan to visit at the end of the month.
Also great, though darned expensive, is Chumbe Island, which has been entirely designed with the environment in mind and puts most other "eco-lodges" to shame. It also has stunning, stunning, stunning snorkelling. You can go on a day trip if the accommodation is too pricey - though bear it in mind for a birthday or anniversary treat.