New competition: the item I can't go on holiday without is…

Win a magnum of champagne

Will you choose Deutz Champagne, a Serge Lutens Fragrance or Art De Vignes wine?

Win your choice of a Magnum of Champagne Deutz, an amazing bottle of Wine from Art De Vignes or a bottle of one of France’s finest fragrances from Serge Lutens by entering our new competition.

To enter is simple, all you need to do is tell us the item you can’t go on holiday without.

You can comment on this blog post below, tweet us @constancehotels or post on our Facebook page saying:

The item I can’t go on holiday without is….[your comment here]

You can attach pictures if you want to and you can enter as many times as you like.

All eligible entries will be entered into a prize draw – if your entry wins, you can choose which of the above three prizes you’d like – but you can only win one of them!

The competition closes at midnight GMT on Tuesday 20 June. You can read our terms and conditions here.

Visit our Facebook or Twitter page to enter. Good luck!

Le Prince Maurice Prize for romantic literature

The winners of the 9th Le Prince Maurice Prize for romantic literature are Sophie Fontanel for her novel ‘Grandir’ (Robert Lafont) and Kéthévan Davrichewy for her novel ‘La mer noire’ (Sabine Wespieser).

Winning authors of the 2011 Le Prince Maurice prize for literature

Winning authors of the 2011 Le Prince Maurice prize for literature

The award ceremony took place on 11 June 2011. The winners were chosen from a shortlist of three authors, which also included Kettly Mars novel ‘Saisons Sauvages’.

The event was chaired by Daniel Picouly. The panel of judges included famous authors Paule Constant, Marc Lambron and Alain Mabanckou, and Mauritian writers Kumari Issur, Carl de Souza and Alain Gordon-Gentil.

The annual event marks an important cultural exchange between Mauritius, France and the UK. It celebrates the best in literary love stories, and alternates each year between French and British novelists.

This year, a new student prize was also introduced – offering a one-year grant to a Mauritian student to study at a French or English university. This year’s winner is Ambreen Rojee.

Winners of 2011 Le Prince Maurice prize for literature

Sophie Fontanel, Ambreen Rojee and Kéthévan Davrichewy (from left to right)

The authors get a second chance to visit Mauritius, to enjoy their prize of a 15-day holiday at the luxury Constance Le Prince Maurice.

Read our blog about celebrities who have supported Le Prince Maurice prize.

US Open Golf 2011 gets underway, 16–19 June

Golfer hitting ball

US Golf Open 2011

This year’s US Open golf championship at the Congressional Country Club in Bethseda, Maryland, 16-19 June, will see the best 156 golfers in the world playing for the $7,000,000 prize.

Tiger Woods has confirmed he won’t be playing due to left knee and achilles’ tendon injuries. Tim Clark from South Africa has also withdrawn due to an elbow injury.

  • Keep up to date with the latest action at the Congressional Country Club with the US Open website.
  • For the latest golf news and views, check out the Armchair golf blog.
  • And see what the writers at the Washington Post think about this year’s championship.

The winner of our most romantic holiday snap competition is…

Romantic sunset holiday picture

@lauraball123's winning romantic holiday snap

Many thanks to everyone who entered our #winfizz competition on Twitter this week.

All of your wonderful entries were place in our prize drawer and the lucky winner whose photograph was drawn is…

@lauraball123!

Many congratulations to Laura, a magnum of champagne will be winging its way to you shortly.

We had an amazing response to the competition and would like to thank everyone who entered. Here’s a couple of the other entries:

wedding on beach, bride in her bridal dress

Reuben Freeman and his beautiful bride on the beach

Couple enjoying the sun on holiday

A very happy couple! Entry from Hannah Davidson

Dressing gowns laid out on a bad - competition entry
Romantic dressing gowns from @alittlebitmoe

We’ll be launching another weekly competition later on today, so watch this space – and remember, you can still enter our amazing competition to win a holiday to Mauritius until 22 June.

As a thank you, here are just a few of the other worthy entries to the #winfizz competition on Twitter. Why not enter our next competition this week, guys – you might be luckier next time?

Snorkeling paradise: The Maldives

The islands of the Maldives are a snorkeling paradise. The warm water, incredible diversity of marine life and exceptional visibility make the Maldives one of the top spots for snorkeling and scuba diving in the world.

Marine fish in the Maldives

Snorkeling in the Maldives

The islands, or atolls, are surrounded by coral reefs. Here, you can find some 70 different species of coral, and over 700 species of fish and other marine life.

What makes the Maldives so unique for snorkeling?

One of the things that makes snorkeling in the Maldives so appealing is that you get some amazing underwater experiences without having to don a tank and go scuba diving.

This makes it perfect for people who are a bit nervous about going too deep, as well as for children and anyone just wanting to explore the waters near their resort.

The best place for snorkeling is along the coral reefs. Many resorts, including Constance Moofushi and Constance Halaveli, have house reefs – a coral reef surrounding each resort. Here, you can see many rare species such as the Napoleon Wrasse, sharks, turtles, octopus, manta rays and eels. Many resorts also organise boat trips to some of the finest dive sites, also suitable for snorkeling.

Where to go snorkeling

Marine fish in anemone, Maldives

Marine fish in anemone, Maldives

Both the North and South Ari Atolls offer exceptional snorkeling conditions.

Constance Moofushi is renowned as being one of the finest diving resorts in the Maldives. For snorkelers, it’s also great news. There are three large lagoons and a superb house reef where you might see lion-fish, stingrays, dolphins, whale sharks and breathtaking corals.

Off Constance Halaveli, the house reef is exceptional and home to turtles, manta rays and sharks. With a very gentle current, this snorkelling site is perfect for anyone wanting to experience the magic of snorkelling without too much effort.

Holiday inspiration: Madagascar – walks on the wild side

Bungalow at Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Bungalow at Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, is brimming with lush forests, endemic wildlife, coral reefs and mile upon mile of beautiful beaches.

Visitors to the island are spoilt for choice when it comes to discovering the natural landscape. There are a number of different walks and tours you can do around the island, depending on how adventurous you want to be and your fitness levels.

Easy walking – Andasibe-Mantadia National Park

Lemur, Madagascar

Lemur, Madagascar

If you prefer to see the island’s best known animals – the tree-dwelling lemurs – without too much difficulty, Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is an easy drive east from the capital Antananarivo. Andasibe (also known as Perinet) and Mantadia are, in fact, two parks adjacent to each other.

At Andasibe there are well marked, flat trails through the lush humid forest covered with moss, ferns and over 100 species of orchid that bloom from September – January.

Due to the number of visitors to the park, the wildlife is fairly used to humans. You’re likely to see the largest lemur, the indri, as well as bamboo and brown lemurs. Their loud calls echo through the forests in the early morning and again in the late afternoon.

There are over 100 different species of birds including the Madagascar baza, wagtail, yellowbrow and vanga. You’ll also find chameleons, geckos and a host of insects in the thick undergrowth.

Mantadia is larger and more remote than its neighbour, situated 15km north of Andasibe. Less visited by tourists, the trails are more varied, steeper and can be slippery after rain. There are several short circuits to choose from.

The park is home to many lemurs including the rare black and white ruffed lemurs. Rare birds including mesites, ground rollers, greenbuls and asitys have all been spotted here.

For the more adventurous – Ankarana National Park

Chameleon, Madagascar

Chameleon, Madagascar

If you like the idea of wildlife but also want to get off the beaten track and enjoy a challenging hike, then Ankarana National Park in the north of the island is the place to head. It’s recommended that you hire a guide to take you into the park.

Ankarana’s defining feature is the ‘tsingy’ – spectacular eroded limestone spires, set against tropical rainforest, deciduous forest, lakes, caves and canyons.

The reserve has a high number of primates, as well as large populations of crowned lemurs, black lemurs and dwarf lemurs. There are some 100 species of birds, as well as reptiles and frogs. The labyrinth of caves is home to 14 different species of bat and the world’s only cave-living crocodiles. Some of Madagascar’s endemic Baobab trees can also be found here.

There are a number of half day hikes you can take into the reserve.  If you’re looking for a longer trek, consult with your guide about options that can take in all of the locations listed below. The three entry points to the park are:

  • Mahamasina – the most accessible
  • to the West near Amboandriky, which requires a 4×4
  • North at Matsaborimanga, only accessible during the dry season.

For nature lovers looking for an all-out challenge – Marojejy National Park

Frog, Madagascar

Frog, Madagascar

If you want wild, breathtaking and unspoilt natural landscapes then Marojejy National Park to the North East of the island is undoubtedly one of the most impressive places you could visit in the world.

Some 90% of the park is covered with original primary forest. For years the park was only open to scientists, and so has remained relatively untouched. Marojejy was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

Marojejy National Park is just one of two sites where the highly endangered silky sifaka lemur can be found, along with the Indri, bamboo and Weasel sportive lemurs among others. There are over 100 bird species, including the helmet vanga and short legged ground roller, some 60 frogs, and geckos and chameleons. There are at least 275 species of ferns and over 50 varieties of palms.

Typically, visitors to the park explore during a strenuous three day hike, entering the park at the main entrance of Andapa.

Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Our luxury resort, Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina, is situated on the beautiful island of Madagascar. For more details and booking, visit the website.