As we enter the festive season, and prepare to finally leave 2020 behind, the tourism industry is already getting ready to present their new offerings for 2021. Following a challenging year for tourism, hotels across the world are looking towards the new year with optimism. Yehia El Mansoury – General Manager of DoubleTree by Hilton, Stone Town, Zanzibar – is no different.
After a temporary closure, DoubleTree by Hilton, Stone Town is now back open for business. I was lucky enough to interview Yehia El Mansoury – a seasoned hotelier – about the fascinating islands of Zanzibar and learn more about their enhanced safety measures and exciting plans for 2021.
Zanzibar is officially welcoming visitors again. What measures are DoubleTree by Hilton, Stone Town taking to keep guests safe and comfortable?
At the DoubleTree by Hilton- Stone Town- Zanzibar, the safety and comfort of our guests & team members are our utmost priority. Our brand, Hilton, has launched an enhanced cleaning program called CleanStay that brings new cleaning standards. We are strictly adhering to this programme, to provide a clean & safe environment for our guests & team members.
Stone Town is known as the major tourist hub in Zanzibar. What makes DoubleTree by Hilton stand out as a top choice for visitors?
Whether traveling on business or leisure, the hotel is a combination of Hilton comfort & Zanzibar authentic hospitality. With a prime location, set amongst the historic buildings of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in the heart of historic Stown Town, the hotel is an ideal place to start your exploration. While you walk through the winding alleys, they will reveal the many cultural and architectural influences that the city has seen over the past two centuries. It is walking distance to the historical buildings and night food market. Additionally, the hotel has a sophisticated roof top restaurant ‘Taarab’ run by a talented culinary team, with several accolades won!
I’ve noticed that the hotel seems to blend in with the local surroundings. What uniquely Zanzibari features can guests expect at the hotel?
The hotel was formerly an Old Court House that went into disrepair. It has now been restored, developed and decorated with ‘Zanzibari’ influences.
Our elegant one-bedroom Suites have a separate lounge area which is furnished in a traditional ‘Swahili Home’ coupled with all modern conveniences – ideal for work, entertaining or play. The multiple windows allow for the Old City atmosphere to immerse into the room.
What we are most proud of is the fact that the majority of the furniture is lovingly hand-carved by 21 wood carvers. Their skill is passed down from generations and we are delighted to be able to share this with you. Each of the well-appointed rooms is equipped with all the modern Hilton comforts. This includes air-conditioning, free WiFi, and multi-region power plugs.
What are some of the key facilities that guests will find at your hotel?
We have a fitness center and a reputable rooftop restaurant. Our hotel offers the age old hospitality and charm of the ‘Swahilis’ combined with the renowned cosiness of DoubleTree by Hilton – a perfect marriage of culture and comfort. We also have one of the biggest conference facilities in the city. The hotel offers flexible spaces with local flair and modern facilities.
When I think of Zanzibar, I of course think of it as one of the world’s greatest spice islands. What type of cuisine can your guests experience at the hotel?
Our roof top restaurant, the Taarab, is a sophisticated, ultra-modern restaurant that has won several accolades from Trip Advisor. We offer scrumptious breakfasts by day. By sun-down, it transforms into a romantic, atmospheric a la carte restaurant. While you dine at the restaurant you will see fascinating views of the majestic Indian ocean.
Our food philosophy is to cultivate and preserve Zanzibar local traditions , while embracing our desire to present our guests with authentic and new experiences. Our coconut crab soup and tuna degustation are one of the signature dishes that complies with the philosophy.
Guests will find your hotel centrally-located in Stone Town. What are some attractions your guests can experience in the area?
We are located close to key tourist sites like the Portuguese Old Fort, the Sultan’s Palace, the old Dhow Port, the Old Slave Market, the House of Wonders, the Old Dispensary and of course, the night food market – Forodhani. We’re a block from Baharia Hindi Beach, which provides access to Nakupenda Beach sandbank and a stone’s throw away Freddie Mercury Museum. Additionally, Forodhani Market and the Old Fort are a half-mile away and the airport is 20 minutes’ drive.
Does your hotel offer any tours to visitors?
We offer tours & excursions through a reputable third party service provider based at the hotel.
(YNBT: here are some suggested activities)
What cultural or music festivals should visitors be aware of to put in their schedule?
Sauti za Busara is an African music festival that happens every year in February in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The main stage is located in the Old Fort, with fringe events taking place around Stone Town – including a carnival street parade to open the festival.
As we approach the new year, are there are any festive offers or events planned at the hotel?
While we are setting the tone for the New Year programme, our culinary team is hoping to steal the show with 5-coarse set menu!
We are certainly excited to see all that 2021 has in store. To see what’s on offer, you can book directly with the hotel.