Occasionally, you’ll stumble upon unique spaces that perfectly blend the calm of solitude with the harmonious cycles of nature. Places that bring out the sort of balance that comes with being in tune with self and spirit in a complete package that is Amani Tiwi Beach Resort.
A drive through the rustic village of Tiwi and a stone’s throw from the main Likoni – Lunga Lunga Highway, you find this gem of luxury, an assortment of best eco-practices and service with a very human touch.
Amani Tiwi Beach Resort lies on a very natural habitat bordering a preserved forest on the Northern side and a very sheltered private beach front on the opposite end. The expansive resort sprawls on a 20 acre piece of land and the architecture copies creation by fusing high rooftops, large windows, earthy colours, tendered gardens and meandering aquariums to give the roomiest aura you’ll ever savour.
It’s mid-September and though African tourism has suffered from the hysterics in international press and miniature efforts from local governments, Amani Tiwi Beach Resort is holding ground. Occupancy is just slightly more than half of capacity. It’s almost the end of high season and I’m told it could be better. Allow me to digress. In the African tourism market where perceptions majorly swing buying patterns, recent international media frenzies on Ebola and terrorism have meant all or nothing for many African markets. That said, Tiwi remains safer than Penn Station on any Saturday afternoon.
The resort may be enjoying slightly higher than average occupancy due to an amalgam of four things; a most cordial staff, the eight resto-bars, the 167meters long swimming pool and the most serene beach you’ll find along the East African coastline.
The Palm is the main restaurant and it hosts buffet breakfast, lunch and dinners. Of all the meals served here, Fish Masala – fish cooked in a blend of local spices, got me over the moon. Le Bella Vita, the Italian resto-bar sits pretty on the white sandy beach waiting to captivate you with the view or the lasagna.
A stunningly scenic Sultan Dhow, is a one of a kind Middle-Eastern restaurant curved from a former ship, MV Safina. The side of the ship that faces the beach makes the restaurant. The side facing the resort has these sails crafted to form a large arch which apes a stage used for special performances, events and weddings.
You’ll have to go to see.
Baharini resto-bar serves authentic Swahili meals on the beach front overlooking hammocks and the tropical Indian Ocean. Peponi bar, also on the beach allows for that tranquil space to work, read or just introspect. Walk through the lobby and spot a coffee shop, Kahawa Corner where they’ll make the best macchiato you’ll relish on the whole East African coastline. I’ll bet you my two cents. Both Kahawa corner and Wasafiri bar face the pool.
Amani Tiwi’s pool is arguably one of the largest swimming pools in East Africa. Dotted with three islands and at the length of 167 meters, the pool is a sight to behold. It cascades down through the middle of the resort giving enough area for a private dip even during peak season. There are sections for different water sports including, acclimatization for snorkeling and scuba diving and aquaerobics.
For health and fitness buffs, a gym, spa and salon offer a wide array of services. There’s a tennis court on site too and if all that still seems a tall order, legendary animation and dancing pieces every evening after dinner will most certainly get you dancing. The performances are either at the lobby, by the pool, on Sultan Dhow or at the beach. One young 21 year old bird, Stella- the ones with those banging tight bods curved by good genes and activity, caught my eye. She dances up a storm with her partner Moses, with such grandeur, poise and grace. The pair is an emblem for adorability.
Moses and Stella are an illustration of a zealous community integration culture that rolls through Amani Tiwi so modestly you wouldn’t notice. A good percentage of all the employees here are locals from Tiwi. It’s reflected in the customer service which transcends just amiable. There is a feeling of ownership here. Hamadi from the front office called me each evening to check if everything was satisfactory. The Chef, John Ambari after I’d missed dinner and lunch, came to check if I was alright, complete with a gourmet sundae made from a blend of fruit, ice cream and good intentions. Listen here folks, first he didn’t have to and two; he has cooked for way more significant guests. That man, in all his expertise and experience, still clings to good manners and amiability and that is something I will applaud.
Then there’s more. Amani Tiwi has these small curio shops that they rent out to the local artificers for aesthetes to admire and purchase. The management at Amani Tiwi organizes these beach cleaning activities with the locals periodically interchanging them with tennis tournaments. Let me tell you what this does to a community. The impending social degeneration from unemployment is reduced. In the calm ominous world of choice and opportunity, a chain of reaction is altered.
More eco-friendly practices work here than in any other resort that jumps to your head. They have a waste water treatment facility that makes sure the effluent is safe, some water is recycled and sludge is used as manure for organic farming. Their equipment is pollution and noise free. They supplement energy by using solar power. At the business center, they hold forums with experts, employees and locals to share information regarding protecting Turtles that nest commonly at Amani tiwi beach. If chance favors, you may encounter turtle eggs at the beach or freshly hatched batch of turtles wading to the ocean in the moonlight.
Imtyaz Mirza is the GM in Amani Tiwi, a witty guy with knack for reading people. I got to the resort Saturday, way past 10pm due to that mess at the ferry. He’d warned me, but he still waited and made sure I ate before settling in. I thought he was playing nice. Then I noticed he knew everyone by name. Even the dancers. All 30 of them. My experience at Amani Tiwi Beach Resort was like discovering that quaint coffee shop you can’t believe you went your whole life without visiting. It’s a place to breathe and be reborn. There on the boundary of terrestrial and maritime, propped on a hammock by the shores of Amani Tiwi, engulfed by surges of copious peace, you’ll find your place in the sun.