Top 5 reasons to go to Madagascar right now

If you’re looking for the perfect place to escape to right now, here are 5 great reasons to consider Madagascar.

1. Weather

Beach at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina

Beach at Lodge Tsarabanjina

Good weather ranks high on most people’s holiday wish list and from April-November, the weather in Madagascar is at its best.

Not too hot but still warm and sunny, diving conditions are excellent. Add in opportunities for sight-seeing at the world-renowned national parks, and the fabulous beaches at Lodge Tsarabanjina and you have a heady combination of paradise beach holiday mixed with exotic island escape.

2. Wildlife

Madagascar has long been known for its lemurs. The 33 species, all endemic to the island, include the ring-tailed lemur and Sifakas, or dancing lemurs.

In 2011, David Attenborough’s series onMadagascar put many other amazing creatures and land formations into the spotlight.

Home to some of the world’s rarest animals, 80% of the island’s plants and animals can’t be found anywhere else on the planet.

Read more about Wildlife of Madagascar.

3. Diving

Clown fish

Clown fish

Vibrant ocean life, clear warm water and unusual underwater rock formations make Madagascar a diver’s paradise.

Off the coast at Lodge Tsarabanjina, there are a number of dive sites accessible by boat for beginners to more experienced divers.

At the Four Brothers site, you’ll find 4 small volcanic islets teeming with fish, while the Tetons is a labyrinth of granite slabs, corridors and grottoes. Expect to see jack fish, scorpion fish, turtles, sponge gardens, angel fish and many many more.

Read more about the Top 5 diving sites off Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar.

4. Fresh, local food

Fresh, local produce features prominently on the menu at Lodge Tsarabanjina.

As Tsarabanjina, we use almost exclusively local products. The quality of the fruit and vegetables is fantastic – we buy great quality food from small farmers. Freshly caught fish and lobster is the norm here, and you can try a whole range of fish you may not normally see in other 5* luxury resorts.

Read more about regional and sustainable food at Constance

5. Barefoot and digital free

Restaurant and bar at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina

Restaurant and bar at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina

The latest trend for no technology holidays took off in a big way this year. On Madagascar you can turn off, tune out and embrace a simpler way of life.

The emphasis at Tsarabanjina is on relaxation and luxury – the only noises you’ll hear are the waves and the birds. Go bare foot, even in our bar, and enjoy the sand beneath your feet.

With stunning sunsets, a small house of your own on the beach and healthy and delicious food, you’ll truly enjoy the exclusive experience of a lifetime.

Visit the Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina website to find out more and don’t miss our Spotlight on Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina.

Top 8 washbag goodies to take on holiday

If you’re getting ready to jet off to the Indian Ocean or beyond, take a look at these hair and skincare favourites from InStyle’s 100 Best Beauty Buys 2012 to keep you looking and feeling fabulous on your holiday.

North Beach, Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles

North Beach, Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles

Pre-holiday skincare treats

1. Body exfoliator

Prep your skin so it’s glowing and polished with the delicious smelling Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish from REN.

2. Self-tan

Add some colour to wintery looking skin with the brilliant Self Tan Bronzing Mousse from  St Tropez. After exfoliating, use a moisturiser before applying the mousse sparingly.

In-flight lovelies

3. Eye de-puffer

Long-haul flights cause the skin to dehydrate, particularly the delicate area around the eyes. Origins’ No Puffery Cooling Mask for Puffy Eyes is tucked into the washbags of beauty insiders for good reason.

4. Wipe-off cleanser

Cleanse your skin before catching up on your beauty sleep, and you’ll wake up looking more refreshed. You only need a small amount of Lancôme’s Eau Micellaire Douceur to do the job.

5. Skin perfector

Constance Moofushi Resort, Maldives

Constance Moofushi Resort, Maldives

Even if you don’t sleep well on your flight, Estée Lauder’s Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator is easy to apply and does what it says on the tin, evens out skin tone and adds a glow with its pearly finish.

On holiday

6. Hair de-frizzer

Keep your tresses looking beautiful with Moroccanoil, massively popular since it came on the market a couple of years ago. The key ingredient is Argan oil, which nourishes your hair while smoothing out the frizz caused by humidity, sun and salt water.

7. Best waterproof mascara

Every woman needs a decent waterproof mascara that you know will stay on your lashes in a hot climate, and Lancôme’s Hypnôse Waterproof mascara is just the ticket.

8. Best bronzer

Enhance the look of your sun-kissed skin and some shimmer to your cheekbones, neck and décolleté with Guerlain’s Terracotta Moisturising Bronzing Powder.

 

Spring Summer 2012′s hottest accessories

Give your wardrobe an instant lift with this season’s most covetable accessories.

Woman wearing sunglasses

Key trends this season

Bags, shoes, shades and hats

Check out Stylist’s pick of the best spring accessories, from funky shades to killer heels by way of some fabulous totes and every style of straw hat imaginable.  

Shoes

The fashionista’s online bible, Net-a-porter, features the most desirable heels this season – big this Spring are sexy colour-block heels and evening flats.

Shades

With the sun shining, it’s time to reach for your shades. Take inspiration from Elle magazine’s round up of early season shades featuring the loveliest sunglasses in the shops right now.  

Jewellery

Fast track your way to instant chic with one of this season’s easiest trends to wear – chunky bangles. Vogue shows you how to work the look.   

A-Z of our Constance culinary spirit

Bruno Le Gac, our Corporate Executive Chef, reveals his A-Z of the Constance culinary spirit.

Fresh lobster at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina
Fresh lobster at Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina

A: Artists

Our pastry chefs are artists. Passionate about their job, they invest a lot of time in searching for inspiration, developing their skills and techniques. They regularly participate in competitions and regularly bring back medals to their resort. In Constance Lémuria Resort of Praslin, everyone knows Chef Seedheeyan (he welcomes you on the buffet in the morning). Next time you go there, ask him to show you his pictures… and look at his smile.

In Mauritius, our chefs are already working on the next ‘fête du pain’, featuring art pieces made entirely of bread dough. I can’t wait to see what our bakers will create.

B: Bernardaud

Fantastic ‘porcelaine deLimoges’. Bernardaud is always creating new innovative lines, reinventing the shapes and design of the perfect plate, bowl or cup. Chefs normally get their inspiration from a product. Sometimes, the starting point is a plate and the question the chef asks himself is ‘what am I going to create on this beautiful plate?’. I see Bernardaud as true partners of our creativity.

C: Curry

Mauritius is a land of curry, and so are the Seychelles and Maldives. They are all very varied, and every chef, every house, every family probably has a different recipe.

At Constance Belle Mare Plage, we grind the spices ourselves using a traditional method. We crush the ingredient on a slab of lava stone, using a roll also made of stone (the baba cari). It’s definitely worth trying – the texture is so much better.

Dragonfruit

Dragonfruit

D: Dragonfruit

Dragonfruit may not be the tastiest fruit but have you ever seen anything more beautiful? The purple ones are a natural work of art. Inspired by a trip to Mexico, I like to splash its delicate flesh with a bit of lime juice, and sprinkle it with salt. It’s so refreshing.

E: Executive chef

Executive chef is a very difficult – but fantastic – job. An executive chef is not only a good chef. He must be a complete manager, and master of many different talents, skills and techniques. The executive chef is the boss of the kitchens and with teams of more than 100 people in some of our resorts, he must also be a great inspiring leader.

This March during the Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau, all our executive chefs will be in Mauritius for a week of fun, exchange, sharing and learning from each other. They will propose an amazing 14 hands dinner at Deer Hunter restaurant that is not to be missed.

F: Fish

At our island resorts, our guests naturally expect plenty of great quality fish. We take a lot of care in choosing our products, and there is a wide variety of fish dishes available in all our resorts. Look for fresh yellowfin tuna tartar at Constance Moofushi Resort, Maldives, baked whole bourgeois fish in Creole spices at Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles, home-cured sailfish marinated with olive oil and served with crispy fresh palmtree at Constance Belle Mare Plage.

G: Giraffe

Any idea what a ‘giraffe’ is?

It’s a common name in kitchens for a very large mixer, used to blend large quantities of soup, liquid etc… It takes its name from the shape of its rod, long and curved like the neck of a giraffe. At Constance Hotels Experience, we do not use giraffes. We prefer to prepare smaller quantities at a time, keep it fresh and blended with smaller yet more versatile hand mixers.

H: Hobart, Tasmania

I am very proud to announce that our culinary team at Constance Belle Mare Plage will be representing Mauritius in the great final of the Black Box competition organized by MLA (meat and livestock Australia) in Hobart at the end of May 2012.

They have qualified during the national final, and will have the honour to compete against more than 20 national teams from all over the world.

I: International

Our team is very international. I’ve lost count of how many nationalities are working in our kitchens, bars and restaurants. Here are just a few I can remember: Mauritian, Seychellois, Maldivian, Malagasi, French, New Zealander, Australian,  German, South African, Moroccan, Indian, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Burmese, Chinese, Kenyan, Bangladeshi, Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai, Nepalese…

Jing restaurant, Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives
Jing restaurant

J: Jing

Jing is our ‘Asian chic’ fine dining restaurant at Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives. At Jing, you can also dine on high chairs that face the kitchen, which allows you to follow all the action in the show kitchen. The chef can design a bespoke menu that is prepared in front of you. One thing that cannot be missed: chef Glen Cooper’s chocolate fondant with Thai green curry ice cream. It’s unique.

K: Kids are welcome

Once in a while I enjoy spending a weekend or holiday at a nice resort with the family. It’s amazing to say but sadly I don’t feel that my kids are always welcome. They are not particularly loud or obnoxious, but one can tell from the attitude of the staff that they are dreaming of a planet with no children. Sounds familiar?

At Constance Hotels Experience we love kids – and they love us too. Our program ‘mini chefs’ features a tour of the kitchen full of fun and discoveries, kiddy cooking lessons and so much more. Running on the beach is allowed and so is having fun.

L: Lychees

In Mauritius, during the season of lychees (the best ones are in December/January) you can see large piles of them for sale along the side of the road. Lychees are picked ripe from the tree, and they literally explode with juice and flavour when you crack the skin open. It’s an experience not to be missed, a delicious gift of the gods and they are so good, they don’t need anything else.

Staff at Constance Le Prince Maurice

First class service at Constance hotels

M: Men

Men… and women. At Constance Hotels Experience we believe that our most precious capital is the men and women working together towards the ultimate guests’ experience. Some of our staff have been in the company for more than 25 years. At Constance Belle Mare Plage, Maitre D’ Christian Poché has seen 3 generations of fans of our hotels. We are now serving the grandchildren who will for sure come in a few years with their own children.

In our resorts, our guests are not a room number, they are part of the family.

N: Network

Chef’s World is a very small world. At Constance Hotels Experience we entertain a very close network with some of the best professionals in the world. Many are friends, some are guests. Most of them are both.

It’s great to be so remote from the real world and remain connected at the same time. The internet is the best friend of an island chef, and so is the professional press. But nothing compares to a few days of holiday touring the best restaurants of Singapore, seeing the freshest products in the summer markets ofFrance, sampling the latest creations of our favourite producers.

At the present moment, Chef Michael Scioli from Constance Le Prince Maurice is following the famous Omnivore culinary festival in Paris, while our head sommelier Jerome Fauré is touring the best vineyards of Burgundy. We never stop.

O: Octopus

In the Seychelles, we like to prepare octopus in a fresh salad with thinly sliced onions, strips of tomato, preserved lemon, grated ginger, chunks of cucumber, chopped coriander and flat parsley, and of course a touch of chilli. Lemon juice, a dash of extra virgin olive oil (preferably the ‘robust’ from Dandaragan Estate in Australia) and lots of pleasure. A chilled Seybrew (Seychellois local beer) and the breathtaking views of Port Launay marine park just in front. This could be my own definition of paradise…

P: Patrick Bertron

Patrick Bertron has been working with the great Bernard Loiseau for more than 20 years, and he took over the kitchen when his master disappeared. He has now developed his own cuisine, still respecting the bases taught by the famous chef, and is now the sole holder of his three Michelin stars. Every year, during Festival Culinaire Bernard Loiseau, he shares his knowledge, wisdom and talent with us.

We share many values as well as mutual respect. Constance Hotels Experience is very proud to know Patrick Bertron and to have built such a strong relationship together.

Sashimi at Constance Hotels Experience

Luxury food with the finest attention to detail

Q: Quality

Quality is an obsession for us. This is a word we pronounce several times a day. In the kitchen, it all starts with quality produce. The rest follows naturally.

R: Ribs

In our restaurant Adam & Eve at Constance Ephelia Resort, Seychelles, we like to prepare delicious pork spare ribs, heavily basted in our secret marinade, and served with grilled fresh pineapple from the hills of Mahé. Spare ribs should of course be eaten with your hands. The restaurant is very casual, sand flooring, tropical music… the perfect place to indulge.

S: Salvino

Chef Salvino Crivellari is a fantastic chef and a great friend. He is what we call a ‘freelance’ chef, and one of the best specialists I know of the classical, traditional Italian food. He helps us every year in our different units to perform training and share his talents and fabulous taste with us.

Our Italian guests regularly come to us with a smile and say: ‘I know this food was prepared by an Italian chef’. Thank you Salvino for being part of the Constance family.

T: Tequila

At Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives, we are crazy about tequila. The idea most people have about tequila is very different from the extraordinary range and variety of flavours, aromatic complexity and richness that can be found in the best tequilas. Just drop by the main bar at Halaveli and let our bartender surprise you.

U: U’luwka vodka

This famous extra super premium vodka is available in all our bars at Constance Halaveli Resort. You can also order a smaller bottle through our In Villa Dining service, and enjoy your favourite drink in your villa, while watching the sun go down.

V: Vanilla

Every time I go to Madagascar, I always make sure that I stop at Nosy Bé market to buy fresh vanilla. There are plenty of people selling this fantastic product there but there is only one lady who always has the best quality available. It’s such a pleasure to pick up a fat, utterly fragrant and extra glossy bunch of fresh vanilla beans and smell it, touch it, feel it. Each bunch weights 1 kilo. It’s a privilege that few people get the chance to enjoy.

W: Wow

One of my favourite words, it says so much in just 3 letters. When our chefs find the perfect recipe and I try the dish for the first time, I always feel emotion. When I am ‘wowed’ I always make sure that every member of the team knows about it. A chef, a cook, a sommelier, a waiter’s utmost pleasure is to see the guest surprised and delighted. It’s the best reward you can get in this job.

X: Xocoatl

The ancient name for chocolate in the Aztec language. We are absolute fans of chocolate. With Easter coming soon, it’s a great occasion for our pastry chefs to showcase their talent and creativity. At Blue Penny Café, with their coffee, guests are presented a chocolate menu featuring the best creations by Chef Thierry. The chocolates are presented in a lovely lacquered box, just like jewels.

Y: Yes

At Constance Hotels Experience, we don’t like to say no to the special requests of our guests. A specific diet? Allergic to one or more ingredient? You don’t like the garnish and want something else? You are craving something that is not on our menus? Our chefs will meet you personally and find the solution. Holidays should be a pleasure so just relax, and we take care of the rest.

Z: Zébu

In Madagascar, zébus are all over the place. At Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar, Chef Claude Raherivelo likes to prepare its delicious flesh in 2 different ways – raw in a carpaccio, just sprinkled with chopped fresh herbs and marinated oil, and grilled in mignons to be served with a compote of onions with mustard and voatsiperifery pepper.

Top 5 reasons to go to the Seychelles this Easter

With Easter only a month away, here are our top 5 reasons to head to the Seychelles this April.

Constance Lemuria Resort, Seychelles

Constance Lemuria Resort, Seychelles

1. Weather

April is one of the best months of the year to visit the Seychelles, when the rainy season winds down, temperatures average 29°C and there’s plenty of warm sunshine and a calm breeze. Perfect for enjoying the Seychelles’ breathtaking beaches and the warm water of the Indian Ocean.

2. Diving

The Seychelles is one of the greatest places for diving in the world. Diving conditions are superb at this time of year, with the water temperature reaching up to 29°C and visibility often 30 metres or more.

Featuring an impressive 6 national marine parks, there’s an abundance of spectacular scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities.

Find out more about the top 3 diving sites in the Seychelles, and watch a video of diving in the Seychelles.

3. Seychelles Arts Festival

This month long festival attracts visitors from across the islands. It’s a lively and vibrant celebration of the arts with performances, exhibitions, forums, workshops and a huge range of other activities for all the family. Local and international artists showcase their work.

Find out more about the Seychelles Arts Festival.

4. Fishing

The best time of year for deep sea fishing in the Seychelles is April-October. The Seychelles is known for its excellent fishing potential, where you can expect to catch tuna, barracuda, wahoo, sailfish and marlin.

5. Easter celebrations

Throughout the Easter week there are a number of local processions, festivities and religious ceremonies. At Constance, we offer Easter fun activities for our younger visitors and special menus at our fabulous restaurants.

PCB Creation – the secret friend of pastry chefs

Bruno Le Gac, Corporate Executive Chef at Constance Hotels Experience, reveals an insider’s tip for decorating desserts and pastries.

PCB Creation pastry and dessert decoration

PCB Creation pastry and dessert decoration

The world of pastry has been completely revolutionised these last years. One aspect is the evolution of small operating equipment, moulds and so on.

Design kicked in long ago in this job, and the creativity of pastry chefs has never been so intense. Basically everything is possible nowadays and the combinations of shapes, design, colours and finish are amazing.

One brand I love is PCB Creation. Each time we receive their catalogue, it feels like we are children looking through the latest Playmobil Christmas catalogue.

Below are a few examples of some of the crazier designs they propose. The creativity of the PCB Creations designers has no limit.

It’s fantastic for us to be able to count on this kind of thing to help our pastry chefs enhance the decoration of their desserts.

PCB Creation designs

Angel design by PCB Creation

 

PCB Creation design for desserts

Amazing creations from PCB