EXCLUSIVE How Zanzibar will turn small islands into big-time holiday spots
19 small islands are to become prime luxury hideaways. THE FUMBA TIMES was given exclusive access to the amazing plans for the first of them, Pamunda A and B.
Meet Lukáš Šinogl, the new prince of – well, not Zamunda – but Pamunda. The 34 year old rightly feels like having entered a blockbuster, similar to Eddie Murphy as crown prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda, a Hollywood mega success in the 80s. Šinogls company, the owners of renowned 5-star Tulia Beach Resort in Pongwe Pwani, was given the much-fought-over green light to develop two tiny islands, Pamunda A and B, just south-west off the Fumba peninsula. Budget: 30-50 million dollars, coincidentally just what Hollywood spent on making Murphy’s “Coming to America”.
The uninhabited Pamunda isles – until now merely coral rag bush country – are two of ten small islands recently handed over to investors by the government for a total of 261,5 million dollars in expected investments. “This shall boost the blue economy and open up more investment opportunities for Zanzibar”, a government spokesperson explained the purpose of the deal, happy about the cash flow. And because the initiative, which attracted over 50 affluent bidders, went so well, Zanzibar immediately decided to put another nine of his small isles up for grabs.
Zanzibar goes Maldives
“But we do not sell them, we only lease them”, assured Shariff Ali Shariff the public. The director of the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA) and Investment Minister Mudrik R. Soraga are the driving force behind the island scheme. Strategic investment is the key word of the deal: the daring financiers, whether local or foreign, are promised wide benefits in return for their island venture such as a 50 per cent exemption of income tax for ten years.
The envisaged small-island-tourism will bring a touch of Maldives to Zanzibar. Pamunda’s winning design is not just luxury but upper-upper-luxury: a circle of stilted water villas will be connecting the two Pamunda islands of together six hectares. On the slightly elevated islands, premium restaurants, bars and event space will be placed. The 16 water and 7 coral villas, each ultra-spacious with more than 300 square metres, will form a private wellness world complete with a resident doctor, sauna, gym, spa, home office. Does the lady of the house require a hairdresser? “She’ll be served in her private salon”, envisages Šinogl. Guests arrive by boat or helicopter.
No bling-bling, please!
“Will have no bling-bling”, insists the gentle, down-to-earth manager, among whose clients has been the Sultan of Oman. “Even VIPs can take their masks off with us.” His visitors want “the real thing”, he says, “genuine, natural, quality relaxation, hakuna matata, but with quality.” The architectural plans for Pamunda are drawn, the environmental assessment studies done. “Zero harm to the environment”, promise the developers; bungalows will be placed four metres above sea level facing east, taking tides, wind and yes, also global warming, into consideration.
All small-island-candidates, the ministry says, were tested but only a few found worthy of the projects after screening their financial and operational capacity. All had to prove “ability to conserve the environment, biodiversity, cultural heritage and community development”- lest no one would accuse the government of selling its assets. For cultural festivities Zanzibari still have access to the islands. Lukáš Šinogl and the two investors behind him, all hailing from the Czech republic, passed the test without hesitation.
Green care learnt in Fumba
They have learnt to master the game at the Tulia resort, opened in 2015 and one of Zanzibar’s best five star retreats. 16 bungalow suites, 125 staff, manicured gardens and a service so perfect one doesn’t even notice it, are the backbone of the property. At Tulia, Champagne is all-inclusive and so is a waterslide, rather unusual for a luxury hotel but much loved by children. Especially impressive is the green back-up, developed by the permaculture team of Fumba Town: 250 hens and 150 ducks happily roam around a huge ever-green farm in the back of the beach property which produces all there is to eat and enjoy by Tulia guests. Friendly maids are mopping shiny mahogany villa floors with lemon grass concoction, a natural insect killer.
“Much of what we have learnt here, we will also put into practice at the future Pamunda resort”, says the general manager. There, villas will start at $3200 - per night. For Šinogl and the government the ultra-luxury concept makes sense. Presently, only one per cent of accommodation in Zanzibar is in the premium range. “Zanzibar is too small to go for quantity; high-value-tourism is the better option”, says the manager. And who knows, maybe the concept will harvest just as much for Zanzibar as the Prince of Zamunda, who brought in 350 million dollars at the box office.
By ANDREA TAPPER