Richard Ashby: Creating $45 million of luxury holiday villas in Zanzibar

The front view of one of the holiday villas that  Richard's company has building in Zanzibar. PHOTO| COURTESY

Richard Ashby, 41, is a real  estate agent who moved to Zan­zibar from the UK because he want­ed to live free from Covid restrictions is creating a $45 million property empire on the paradise island.

He is full of  praised for the ‘enlightened’ Government in Zanzi­bar for helping his company to start three developments with Tanzanian developer Floton Africa Company Limited.

Three years ago, Ashby was earn­ing $250,000 a year selling exclusive apartments in London to rich inves­tors.

His world crashed with the start of the pandemic when all his lucra­tive deals stalled and he hated being isolated on his own during lockdown in his riverside flat in Chelsea, West London.

He searched the globe for an escape where he could build up a new business and live without Covid rules - and discovered Zanzibar.

Zanzibar has long been popular with safari-loving Brits who stop off for a week in the sun after enjoying the wildlife in the Serengeti or relax after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak. It is also a haven for kite surfers.

With a warm climate and average daytime temperatures of 28-degrees, Zanzibar largely avoided the lock­downs and mask wearing which Ash­by was determined to avoid.

It was one of the first places in the world to open its borders to tourists in June 2020.

Richard takes a stroll at the beach

Ashby said: “I could not live under lockdown for even a week and knew I had to get out of London where the property market lost its mind for six months while everyone adjusted to Covid. That is when I discovered Zanzibar.”

Zanzibar offered almost complete freedom - no one was wearing masks and we all carried on dancing the night away in bars and nightclubs. Covid was never really an issue and I could live the life of total freedom that I had always craved.

“I knew with the gorgeous tur­quoise waters, virtually no crime and an enlightened Government deter­mined to help developers create new luxury holiday homes that I found my little slice of paradise and I start­ed a property company so I would never have to go back to London.” He says.

Ashby teamed up with Tanzanian developer Floton Africa Company Limited and together with Ashby’s company they are working on three tropical village vil­la holiday complexes on the island worth around $45 million. They include:

Richard Ashby holding plans for the villas

* 20 units of two bedroom and three bedroom chalets, plus bigger villas - each with their own private pool - in a tropical village close to Paje on the south-east cost;

* A further (200) units on a beach-side plot on the north of the island at Nungwi with similar two and three bed chalet, plus separate apartments in Paje.

Prices off-plan for a holiday apart­ment start at $70,000. rising to $160,000 for the two bedroom cha­lets and $175,000 for the three beds and $220,000 for more luxurious three beds.

It is a third of the price of other winter sun favourites such as Dubai, the Maldives or the Caribbean.

Around 80 percent of the chalets in the first project in Paje are already sold as weary sun seekers look to escape the gloom, and investors from London and other locations such as Dubai eye Zanzibar as the next winter sun hot spot.

Ashby said “Once we have finished all the developments we will have created $45 million worth of new luxury holiday accommodation. It is all finished to the very highest stand­ards because we are working with the best local builders and trades people and the fantastic Floton Afri­ca in-house team.

He said: It is a complete accident that I ended up here. If it was not for Covid I would still be stuck in Lon­don selling flats.

“Zanzibar really is paradise with none of the problems you associate with other winter sun destinations - over development in Dubai and crime in some parts of the Carib­bean.

“It is almost completely under-de­veloped and there are miles and miles or beachside plots with white sand like dust and the most gorgeous, warm turquoise seas which are crys­tal clear and are being opened up for development.

“It is like discovering St Tropez as a quaint fishing village in the 1940s before the whole world arrived or Marbella in the 1950s when the Cos­ta del Sol was just a few beach huts outside the main towns.

“We have a blank page here and a progressive government which is determined to encourage invest­ment and create the next winter sun paradise.”

Ashby has no plans to ever return to the UK and views his homeland with rising interest rates, a cost of living crisis and a Covid debt that is crippling the economy with horror.

Ashby said: “Virtually the whole world went mad during Covid with some notable exceptions such as Sweden and also Zanzibar which is semi-autonomous from Tanzania and largely just carried on as normal.

“It offered me a haven to escape the madness and allowed me to build an incredible life and a fantastic busi­ness with the most wonderful peo­ple.

“It is only three hours ahead of the UK time-wise and there are dai­ly flights from Europe, Africa and the Middle East destinations such as Dubai.

“In a few years everyone will be coming to Zanzibar and I feel very lucky that I got here just before that huge explosion of growth.”

* For more details about invest­ing in luxury holiday chalets off plan in Zanzibar, check out Rich­ard Ashby’s Shivo Tanzania Insta­gram or his website - or by calling +255742100050.