News & Reviews Africa Tanzania Mnemba Island closing for most of 2024

Well, this is interesting.  Normally, a refurb would not warrant news, least of all on this highly prestigious, award-winning* blog, but seeing that they’re closing from 11th January until 1st October, this is clearly much more than a few new cushions and removing the stains from the sheets.

Whilst I have never been a fan of &Beyond, I am a fan of beach resorts and a huge fan of Africa.  According to internet folklore, Zanzibar has both beaches and is in Africa, so it passes the litmus test.  Zanzibar has so much beauty to offer, so it’s a shame that your options are either $33,000 per night Thanda Island, adults-only Xanadu or curling up with a good book, three litres of vodka and passing out on a beach.  This might change that.

I have nothing against &Beyond, it’s simply obvious the majority of their portfolio is not the top-end of the market, which is what I and our clients are interested in.  They’re not priced as it either, so it’s not like I can criticise them for it – that’s like moaning that McDonalds isn’t as good as Wolfgang Puck.  But in the case of Mnemba, it is priced at the luxury market whilst not warranting it.  That is the strangeness of chains and consistency, all the way from Four Seasons in Sydney feeling like it’s Peach Trees tower from Dredd to the Park Hyatt remarkably not being a dystopian nightmare – in fact, it’s the best option in the city (well, at least until Capella opened).

So, I’ve always had a passing interest in Mnemba but never desired to head there.  This might be about to change.

What’s new?

Everything.  Even the ocean and sky are being upgraded.  More precisely, new facilities, significant room upgrades, and entirely new interiors.  All 12 rooms and the two family suites receive contemporary interiors, additional space and more privacy.  For some reason, it was worth mentioning that they now have blinds, like it’s a breakthrough in technology.  There will be new guest areas, a Wellness Banda (aka spa with an outdoor yoga deck) and a Dive Centre that offers more activities and focuses on conservation and community programmes.  Children can join the turtle monitors or help with coral reef restoration projects, but they will have to fight me first – in all my travels, I still have not seen a turtle nest.

The major complaint of Mnemba is how close public boats come to the shore, so I’m not sure how they will resolve that unless scientists have finally cracked sharks with laser beams attached to their heads.

I won’t bore you with the usual guff of how nautilus shells inspired the design and mix nature and luxury.  We’ve heard it all before.  However, the renderings look great with their rustic/Middle Eastern blend.  Although most renderings look great, signing off on a render that looks like nuclear waste just washed away the resort would be weird.

* Son of the Year award.  Thanks, Mum.

Conclusion

With a small number of rooms on a private island with beautiful beaches, it’s usually the perfect mix.  Not yet.  With a major refurbishment and upgrade, this might finally be a worthy ending to a post-safari experience.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 24th Aug '23

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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