Five questions about Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spas

Why Zanzibar?

21 July 2010. André Niznik and his three children, Nathalia, Yan and Alex, are at the top of Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa. This ascent is one of those joys that cement the family spirit. A few days in Zanzibar conclude this holiday in Tanzania. On the program: sun, rest in a hotel feet in the water and especially kitesurfing, the passion of André and his family.

Zanzibar has only been open to tourism for ten years. The main hotel structures are grouped in the north, a hundred kilometers from Paje where the family stays. From the first awakening, she is under the spell of this site with intact authenticity. The silence is surprising, the sand of an incredible white, the crystal clear water. The coral massif is of astonishing richness. Dhows and galawas animate the horizon. The tides are of a singular amplitude. Twice a day, the ocean retreats for a kilometer. It gives way to a floury expanse on which one walks without sandals. The water temperature rises from 27 to 36 degrees in six hours. These variations of atmosphere make Paje the paradise of the bather and kitesurfer. No need to have water above the knees to surf without fear. Lush forests, flora, friendliness of the population complete to conquer the Niznik family. Just like the absence of a hurricane season and the proximity of the medina of Stone Town (capital of the archipelago), classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From the first evening, facing the Indian Ocean, the table comes alive. Why not buy or build a second home here? The hotel project is then not topical, André and his children having no experience of the profession. It will not prevail until a few months later.


For a quarter of a century, for work or holidays, André Niznik has been traveling the world, booking in hotels, renting villas in Morocco, Egypt, Mexico, the United States, Brazil, Thailand... Never, he only stayed in such a place which also has the advantage of being easily connected with Europe and located on the same time zone. The quality of computer networks is an additional asset. Having passed the milestone of his fifties, he is looking for a holiday resort from where he can also take care of his business; its field of activity allowing it.

Originally from southern Poland, André Niznik set foot for the first time in France in December 1981. Twenty-four years old, a student at the Polytechnic School of Krakow, he planned to stay there only fifteen days... History has turned everything upside down. At the end of the year, a state of siege is declared in Warsaw. General Jaruzelski begins an interminable tug-of-war with Lech Walesa and the Solidarnosc union. Immersed in France, he completed his studies at the INSA (National Institute of Applied Sciences) in Toulouse. To finance his daily life and help his family in Poland, he works on construction sites or in factories.

André Niznik wants to move towards teaching in an engineering school. His doctorate decides otherwise. He writes software for designing and calculating structures. Robot (this is its name) verifies compliance with standards, optimizes costs, takes into account the seismic and climatic dangers of building and mechanical structures. IT professionals are interested. Il goes for it...

Naturalized French in 1986, he created his company first in Toulouse and then in Grenoble. Trade shows ensure double-digit growth. In 1990, a first subsidiary opened in Poland, eight years later, a second and a third in the United States and Great Britain. From then on, the creation of new products and services, multiplication of agencies mark the development of the company. French and European leaders, Robobat's products are used in more than a hundred countries. Proposed worldwide through a network of more than thirty distributors, they equip more than ten thousand design offices. One in two constructions in France is calculated with Robobat software. In 2008, André Niznik's company, which then had two hundred employees, married Autodesk, the world leader in design software in the architecture, building and mechanical sectors.

Paje's Choice

Luck. At the end of July 2010, a plot of about one and a half hectares is available. It extends over two hundred meters on the edge of the beach of Paje. Before returning to Grenoble, the Nizniks have time to discover it. She "belongs" to a charming and influential family from Zanzibar (Karume (1st president) family . Anxious to preserve the paje region, specialized in the production of perfume plants, it is generally not a seller. However, it is ready to make an exception. A few years ago, the opening of a small tourist complex was envisaged on this site. Three or four rustic bungalows were built. No further action.

Back in France, André Niznik took advantage of August to deepen his project. Is he opportun for his family? Doesn't this postal map decoration hide disillusionment to come? Will they be able to go there regularly? In September, he is back with his partner, Catherine. Questions are jostling. Where to find the ideal site? How and what to build on it? Etc. This second stay is very busy. Ils overlook the beaches at an altitude of a hundred meters. The pilot dismantled the doors of the twin-engined aircraft. Thrills but unpublished photos. Back on land, they visit about twenty other plots of land for sale and, finally, decide to... the plot of Paje.

It remains to negotiate the acquisition. Zanzibar is not France. The uses and conditions of transaction are different. Here, the real owner is the state. It grants occupation permits for forty years. A kind of renewable leasing in the absence of problems. This particularism is complicated for foreigners. Unless you benefit from a hypothetical pass-right or enter into a partnership contract with a Zanzibarese, owning a plot of land or even a simple villa is impossible. An option that André Niznik does not consider.

In fact, the government then requires a minimum professional investment of two and a half million dollars for a foreigner to fully benefit (with all guarantees) from his acquisition. This financial constraint totally modifies the initial wish. The construction of a dream villa by the beach disappears in favor of the realization of a luxury hotel establishment with a family soul.

The outcome will take a little longer but the Niznik family already has at least one roof: one of the "huts" built on the edge of the beach. Cette hutte, initially without running water or electricity, will welcome him several times a year to follow the site. Unforgettable evenings. Robinson Crusoe and Friday were never far away...

Careful specifications

A resort means a return on investment. At first, André Niznik thought of building three or four villas. This is insufficient to be profitable. In eighteen months, he acquired two neighboring plots of land bringing the total area to almost five hectares. This optimal configuration made it possible to build on three lines facing the Indian Ocean – and about thirty meters from the shore for five of them – twelve independent villas. Each will benefit from a swimming pool and a privatized garden of one thousand five hundred square meters. Offering three times as many houses would be accepted. But the DNA of the project is first and foremost its family character. This will differentiate it from the competition.

There are also two bars-restaurants and of course a kitesurf centre. At the back, the technical buildings will be harmoniously developed: a lingerie, a pantry, a water desalination plant, kitchens, garages, a workshop, staff housing... If baobabs, coconut trees and other endemic species will be preserved, uprooting the bush to plant forty thousand trees, shrubs and flowers is a priority. Ten years later, the hotel is also a remarkable garden with even an organic vegetable garden and several hives. Also some animals that make the happiness of children (for example 2 donkeys saved from moving treatments: 'Catherine' and 'Andre', several rabbits, some chickens and roosters, .. )

These are the main lines of the approval document submitted in 2011 to the Zanzibar Investment Agency. The "one-stop shop" grants regulatory guarantees and assists in the implementation of construction sites. By thus ensuring the seriousness of the file, he avoids anarchic constructions or poorly "tied" budgetarily. And, unlike what some once idyllic coasts of the planet now offer, it ensures respect for the environment. Thus, in the vicinity of Paje practically no establishment has more than fifty rooms.

The eco-responsible dimension of the project responds to this concern. In addition to the desalination of water that will limit, among other things, the use of plastic bottles, the installation of solar panels and water heaters or a wind turbine to produce electricity is specified. For construction, there is no question of taking sand from the beach (hence increasing difficulties to find it in Zanzibar by the way); nor is it conceivable to privatize it or prohibit it from fishermen.

The social aspect is not hidden. If the local population has always led a simple existence, it now has to work, to face expenses unknown until recently. The complex, which will employ one hundred and forty people under the direction of a general manager, will support two hundred families from the village. Many employees will be trained; especially to carpentry to make local wooden furniture. In addition, hotel taxes (and taxes) paid to the State will be added. Tourism accounts for almost half of Zanzibar's GDP, which will contribute to the development of the archipelago's infrastructure.

Du site at the opening

At the same time, André Niznik began looking for an architect. Of French origin, based in South Africa, Niel Rocher specializes in the design of high-end ecolodges. National parks and dream beaches on the east coast of Africa are its "playgrounds". His method seduces. Having moved to Paje, he observes the vegetation, the height of the trees, the orientation of the terrain, the gravitation of the sun. Then, grabbing a stick, he draws on the beach and on a real scale the location of the villas. Particularly concrete...

At the beginning of 2012, half a dozen engineers were recruited in Europe. Their mission? Supervise the two hundred workers and solve the slightest unforeseen event. On a construction site ten thousand kilometers away from France, delay is the worst of evils. The poor quality of some products as well. Catherine takes care of all the decoration part, the choice of furniture, interior equipment ... After prospecting in Italy, France, Germany, the USA, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, she negotiates the terms of purchase with designers and suppliers and then the terms of shipping, reception, assembly ...

Even today, rather than buying locally "Chinese", two containers of electrical equipment and equipment for kitchens and bathrooms are loaded several times a year in Europe... On site, the maintenance department – about twenty employees – is constantly mobilized to maintain installations battered by a corrosive climate.

At the end of 2014, the last of the villas came out of the ground. Within a few months, the five-star hotel, with its explicit name, acquired an international reputation. Press and tour operators highlight the excellence of the service, the refinement of the gastronomy, the continuous search for improvements and this family atmosphere permanently anchored. In 2018, obtaining the Relais & Châteaux certification, the first issued in Tanzania, is a consecration.

Here, English parliamentarians, American artists and sportsmen, showbiz stars, ambassadors, French bankers with their children cross paths... without seeing each other. Appreciating the confidentiality and tranquility of the place, sensitive "aux plus" constantly brought to the welcome and comfort, they return gladly. Many are on the water from morning to night. Some practice fishing, swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, paddle ... Others benefit from the advice of the five professional instructors of the kite school, the best on the island.

What about the Niznik family ? On site or remotely, everyone masters their score. To André the technical improvements, to Natalia who resigned from Google, marketing and reservations, to Yan the computer. Alex, André's second son, is a kitesurfing champion. He trains regularly on this world-renowned spot, while being teleworking ; optical fiber ensuring the quality and speed of Internet links. Bozena (Catherine's Maman) watches over the harmony of the garden. In addition to renewing the decorations and equipment of the villas, Catherine who created her line of decoration and clothing – Catherine African Spirit – manages the shopkeeper of the hotel. In January and December 2021, in Stone Town, she opened two new addresses that are meeting with increasing success.

More than ever, Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spas is the family home of the Nizniks. Very attached to Paje, all stay there as soon as their belongings do not hold them in Europe or elsewhere. Scattered in France, Poland, Switzerland and Italy, they meet together at least once a year, often accompanied by friends. Whether recent or loyal, guests are always open to this endearing and amazing family atmosphere.