King of Zanzibar Season 1 Review – There are some serious Fyre Festival vibes going on here

Season 1

 

 

Episode Guide

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

 

Watching HBO Max’s latest three part docu-series will almost certainly bring up feelings of Deja vu. The idea of an entrepreneur hoodwinking unsuspecting holidaymakers into showing up at a tropical island only to find the advertised product is closer to a nightmare than a dream, has happened before. In fact, many people will remember the disasterclass around Fyre Festival – and King of Zanzibar is eerily similar.

Split across 3 episodes, each clocking in at around 50 minutes or so, Zanzibar sheds light on how a Polish entrepreneur, Wojciech Zabinski, opened a Zanzibar hotel business during the pandemic. This hotel network, called Pili Pili on the island, offered an escape from strict quarantine measures in place across the world.

Unfortunately, many Polish people booked their vacation… without realizing Wojtek was a master manipulator and subsequently hoodwinked many, high-tailing it away with millions. Well, I say running off, but despite having arrest warrants out for him, the ending will shock you as you learn exactly what happened to Wojtek – and where he is today.

The documentary features a lot of shots of Zanzibar, including particularly great aerial shots of the paradisaic landscape, which contrasts beautifully with the half-finished buildings and nightmare conditions further in-field. The visual design here is a particular highlight, although the documentary specifically gives light to the victims of this heinous crime, allowing them to tell their stories and how they feel now.

One guy gives off serious Stockholm Syndrome vibes as he speaks admirable about Wojciech, despite claiming he was held up inside with severe depression and anxiety for half a year. Similarly, another hotel owner believes it’s a fruitless endeavour to even try and get his money back from Wojciech. Each of the stories are unique, and it’s particularly poignant hearing what happened to each of these men and women. 

The show flows nicely, and the three episode structure works really well, giving the story a consistent flow of a three-arc tale. It also doubles up as a cautionary tale of sorts, warning against putting faith in individual entrepreneurs, something that dates all the way back to the snake oil salesmen of old – and Wojciech is no exception.

If you’re in the mood for a solid watch and haven’t heard this story before, there’s lots to like about Kings of Zanzibar, which is well worth checking out.


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  • Verdict - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
7.5/10

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