Visitors see their holiday as a chance to unwind from the stress of every day life, relax and pamper themselves. Spas are popping up across the island, becoming a standard addition in hotels and resorts as a response to tourist demand. Ease out the knots with a massage as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean or recover from your flight with a refreshing facial or pedicure.
Thai and Balinese therapists run luxury spas, equipped with plunge pools, saunas and steam rooms, offering extensive treatment menus. Most spas in Zanzibar blend European and Asian influences with a unique Swahili element, offering treatments drawing on Tanzanian natural ingredients. Seaweed, tropical fruit and Pemban honey are used in facials to rehydrate and rejuvenate skin. Aloe vera grown across the country and salt water is used to sooth sunburnt skin. Essential oils hail from the island’s spice farms, soaps are made from cloves, lemon grass and cinnamon.
Zanzibar’s Swahili beauty rituals are celebrated with spas offering singo, an exfoliating spice scrub, traditionally for brides. A paste is prepared using jasmine, ylang ylang, rose petals, sandalwood and rose water and applied to the body, leaving skin smooth, fragrant and as soft as silk. Hamman baths hail back to Zanzibar’s Arab heritage. Coconut oil and clove oil are used in massages, hair is twisted into braids and hands and feet are adorned with henna.
Swahili men are also treated to revitalising and cleansing rituals. When cloves are distilled making clove oil, their left over stems and twigs are pressed into a little ball together with rosewater. This ball dries hard and when used gets softened with a bit of water so as to create an invigorating clove scrub. On Pemba, this remedy is used exclusively for men so as to boost their energy and to experience a unique heat sensation.