Constance celebrates World Environment Day 2014

At our hotels and resorts across the Indian Ocean we have been celebrating World Environment Day.

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

World Environment Day, which this year fell on 5 June, is a global initiative created by the UN to raise awareness through a day of positive environmental action and individual participation.

Staff at Constance Hotels and Resorts have joined in the fun with a number of environmental activities for staff and guests including lagoon cleaning, special World Environment Day menus and renovating a path at a local school.

Here’s a look at some of the things we’ve been doing this year:

Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius

  • Endemic Tree planting
  • The launch of a college environment project competition
  • From 5-8 June guests can enjoy a special ‘tropical grated coconut scrub’ at the spa
  • A special World Environment Day menu at Heritage Restaurant
  • On 8 June an island cleaning project in partnership with Association Civique de Palmar
Barracudas in the Indian Ocean

Barracudas in the Indian Ocean

Constance Halaveli, Maldives

  • Lagoon cleaning
  • Tree planting
  • A tour for guests of our back-of-house with assistant resident engineer who explained our energy production and consumption
  • On 7 June we will be going to the local island of Ukulhas to help with island cleaning.

Constance Moofushi, Maldives

  • Coconut tree planting
  • Island cleaning
  • Reef cleaning

Constance Ephélia, Seychelles

  • Clean up and conservation of the resort’s mangrove area
  • An art exhibition by local painters with music by local bands on Port Launay Beach
  • From 1-10 June guests can enjoy a special World Environment Detox Spa Retreat
Constance Ephélia, Seychelles

Idyllic location: Constance Ephélia, Seychelles

  • Tree planting including red and blue coconut as well as coastal flora
  • Special events for kids at the Constance Kids Club
  • Local food, drink, dance and crafts celebrated at Seselwa Restaurant

Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

  • A video and talk about our coral restoration program at Legend Bar
  • We helped a local state primary school renovate their path, with tree planting planned for the future
  • We gave the school information about our coral regeneration project and turtle nesting so that they can share it with the students

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Recipe: Asian marinated BBQ Chicken

This fragrant chicken marinade created by Chef Alexis Voisin combines rich traditional Asian flavours.

Marinated BBQ chicken at Constance Lémuria

Marinated BBQ chicken at Constance Lémuria

The Asian marinated barbecued chicken is one of the most popular dishes among guests at Constance Lémuria, Seychelles and is a perfect marinade to spice up your chicken at home for a summer barbecue.

Ingredients (Serves 5)

  • 1.3kg chicken leg (without bone)
  • 70g oyster sauce
  • 50g honey
  • 50g grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 5g pepper (black or white)
  • 20g sugar
  • 20g chicken powder

Marinated BBQ Chicken

1. Put the boneless chicken leg in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and keep for at least 3 hours before grilling or roasting.

2. Place the chicken legs on the heated BBQ until the chicken is done.

3. Serve with steamed rice or barbecue fare such as salads and breads.

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Top French winemakers train Constance sommeliers

Leading winemakers from across France are visiting Constance Hotels to host tastings and talk to our sommeliers about their wine.

Leading French winemakers to visit Constance

Leading French winemakers to visit Constance

In recent weeks winemakers from vineyards in the Southern Rhône valley, the Loire valley and Sancerre have visited Constance Le Prince Maurice and Constance Belle Mare Plage.

Château Beaucastel

The sommeliers of Belle Mare Plage were thrilled to welcome Marc Perrin of Château Beaucastel in the Rhône valley, famous for its Châteauneuf du Pape wines.

With a total of 250 acres given over to vines, Beaucastel’s vineyards include all 13 grape varieties traditionally blended for a red Châteauneuf du Pape. Its special Vielles Vignes cuvée of Beaucastel’s white Châteauneuf du Pape is a varietal Roussanne wine, extremely rare in Châteauneuf du Pape.

Beaucastel wines tasted included:

  • Côtes de Provence Rosé Miraval, 2013
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, 2012
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Vieilles Vignes, 2011
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, 2006
  • Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, 2011

Domaine des Roches Neuves

Constance Le Prince Maurice welcomed innovative French winemaker Thierry Germain of Domaine des Roches Neuves of the Loire Valley.

Despite a rich tradition of winemaking going back five generations, Germain broke with tradition in 2000 when he became one of the first winemakers in France to be certified biodynamic, since which time he has guided other winemakers on biodynamic methods.

Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc are the most favoured grapes in the middle stretch of the Loire where Domaine des Roches Neuves is located, although Germain also grows some Chenin Blanc.

Our sommelier sampling the flavours

Our sommelier sampling the flavours

  • Domaine des Roches Neuves wines tasted included:
  • Saumur Champigny, Bulles de Roches, 2013
  • Saumur Champigny la Marginale, 2011
  • Saumur Champigny, Terres Chaudes, 2012
  • Saumur Champigny, Domaine des Roches Neuves, 2013

Domaine Alphonse Mellot

The rich history of winemaking in France was brought alive for the sommeliers at Le Prince Maurice by the visit of Alphonse Mellot whose family have been making wine in Sancerre since the 16th century.

The wines of Domaine Alphonse Mellot are produced from grapes grown on the upper Sancerre vineyard, the most famous of which is the Domaine La Moussiere, the high quality of which has led to it being officially classified as a unique category amongst Sancerre wines.

Domaine Alphonse Mellot wines tasted included:

  • Sancerre Génération dix-neuf, white, 2012
  • Sancerre La Moussière, red, 2010
  • Sancerre La Moussière, white, 2012
  • Sancerre Les Romains, white, 2012
  • Sancerre En Grands Champs, red, 2010
  • Sancerre La Demoiselle, white, 2012

Belle Mare Plage welcomes New World winemaker

Constance sommeliers look beyond the traditional wines of the old world to the new exciting winemakers of the new world with regular visits from winemakers from New Zealand and South Africa.

Exquisite wines at Constance

Exquisite wines at Constance

Belle Mare Plage recently welcomed David Sadie of David Wines, one of the premier winemakers of the exciting Swartland region of South Africa.

David gained his experience working in vineyards around the world including South Pacific Cellars (New Zealand), Chateau Quinault (France) and Yves Quilleron (France) where he gained his appreciation of Mediterranean grape varieties.

He describes his wine philosophy as taking a natural approach, using both organic and old bush vines untouched by commercial yeasts, enzymes and high sulphur levels. He boasts that, to date, they have only used old oak barrels rather than new.

David wines tasted included:

  • Aristargos 2013
  • Swartland Chenin blanc 2013
  • Genache noir 2013
  • Elpidios 2012 Syrah/Carignan/Grenache/Cinsaut blend

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Visit our website to find out more about Constance Belle Mare Plage and Constance Le Prince Maurice or to make a booking

Find out more about the winemakers mentioned here on their websites:

 

Food of the Maldives: authentic home-cooking at Constance Moofushi

Authentic home-cooked food can be a rich sensorial gateway into the cultures and traditions of a country.

Food of the Maldives: Hedhika

Food of the Maldives: Hedhika

So when we discovered that the mother of one of our staff cooked the best hedhika (a delicious finger food popular in Maldives) we asked her if she would make some for our guests at our weekly Management Cocktail.

Dhon Mariyabu, who lives on the neighbouring island of Himandhoo, was thrilled to be able to share her delicious parcels of onion, chilli, curry leaves, coconut, lime juice and tuna with our visitors.

Dhon makes three different kinds of hedhika: gulha which are round, mas roshi which are flat and circular and kavaabu which are dark and oval shaped.

The hedhika are made in Dhon’s kitchen at home on the day of the cocktail event and are then brought to Constance Moofushi by boat so that guests can enjoy this delicious treat fresh from Dhon’s oven.

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Vote for Constance in the International Hotel and Property Awards

Constance Le Prince Maurice and Constance Ephélia have been nominated in the esteemed International Hotel and Property Awards 2014.

Constance Le Prince Maurice, nominated at the International Hotel and Property Awards 2014

Constance Le Prince Maurice, nominated at the International Hotel and Property Awards 2014

Hosted by leading UK design magazine, design et al, the awards celebrate ‘the best in hospitality interior design and architecture from across the globe’.

The International Hotel and Property Awards are unique within the design world is decided by votes from industry professionals, design et al readers and you, the guests who have experienced the hotels first hand.

The awards aim to reward innovative luxe design and creative interior and architectural thinking. Le Prince Maurice has been nominated in the Hotel 50-200 room category, while Ephélia is nominated in the Beach Hotel category.

Voting has already begun and will be open until 4.30pm, Friday 13 June. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Friday 20 June at Hotel Cipriani, Venice.

Vote now and help us to win one of these prestigious rewards.

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Spotlight on Constance Tsarabanjina: Madagascar

It may only be a small, remote island off the northwest shore of Madagascar but Constance Tsarabanjina has become a by-word for barefoot chic among those seeking authentic Crusoe seclusion with a dash of luxury.

The castaway island of Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

The castaway island of Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

With perfect white sand beaches encircled by vibrant coral reefs, an interior of richly bio-diverse hills and forests, and just 25 palm-thatched villas spread over two beaches, Constance Tsarabanjina has all the ingredients for an idyllic holiday hideaway.

What the papers say

This perfect mixture of authentic castaway charm blended with discreet modern luxury has proved a popular combination.

Accolades in recent months have included awards from Tatler for Best Barefoot Adventure 2014, Harper’s Bazaar – who declared it best for a secluded honeymoon – and Condé Nast Traveller whose reviewer Jenny Zarins, described it:

‘This is a no-shoes, no-news, hang-loose place. The air-conditioned thatched bandas, newly revamped by the island’s owners, Constance Hotels and Resorts, have all the basics – hot showers, capacious wardrobes, fridges with cold drinks – as well as outdoor banquettes and hammocks for afternoon snoozes, and fragrant coconut oil to drench sunburnt skin.’

From desert island to exclusive resort

Before 1990 Tsarabanjina was completely uninhabited. The island was then only known to neighbouring islanders as the location of the tombs of their Sakalava kings (the tombs still exist today, a protected spot on the east of the island where Mitsio islanders come to bring offerings).

But in 1990 things began to change for Tsarabanjina when South African adventurer Richard Walker came to the island and fell in love with the place.

In a bid to protect the stunning unspoilt beauty of the island, Walker bought it and built a small resort of 8 bungalows so others could share the unique experience of Tsarabanjina.

A multi-million pound renovation

In 2006 he passed the mantel of protector of his beloved island on to us at Constance and in 2013 we undertook the delicate process of renovating the resort while carefully retaining its authentic castaway appeal and environmental considerations.

Beach Villas draped in Malagasy charm

Beach Villas draped in Malagasy charm

The first decision we made as part of the multi-million pound makeover was to ensure that in rebuilding the 25 beach villas to include modern luxuries such as air conditioning and spacious bathrooms, they still retained their rustic Malagasy charm.

We worked with architects who understood local Malagasy design and the importance of using sustainable local materials from the mainland.

We then employed local tradespeople with a tradition of Malagasy construction techniques and local craftsmen specialising in traditional weaving, art and sculpture to create items to decorate the villas.

In supporting the local Malagasy trades we are upholding traditions in building and crafts that have been handed down from generation to generation.

A boutique hotel with laidback Malagasy charm

The result – simple, stylish rosewood villas with traditional palm-thatching, large comfortable terraces, decorated with Madagascan art and sculptures inspired by the island itself.

In keeping with the laidback vibe of the island, each villa has its own private hammock slung by the trees surrounding the villa and its own sandy path leading down to the beach.

While the idyllic setting of crystal waters and lush, verdant interior have always been an important part of Tsarabanjina’s appeal, we believe that the special charm of the place comes from its people too.

At Tsarabanjina there is no dress code, shoes can be kicked off on arrival and put away for the duration of your holiday and the service is friendly and relaxed.

Time for a digital detox

Guests tired of the hustle and bustle of modern life can seize the opportunity on Tsarabanjina to undergo a digital detox.

With WiFi only available in the main building you can leave your phones and modern technology in your suitcase and begin to move at the slower pace of island life.

Creating unique, fresh dishes for all our guests

Creating unique, fresh dishes for all our guests

Traditional Malagasy cuisine

Even dining is a laidback island affair with seafood caught by local fishermen and delivered by fishing boat to the shore in front of Tsarabanjina’s only restaurant.

The fishermen of Mitsio, the only other inhabited island in the Mitsio Archipelago, still fish the same way their ancestors have for many generations.

Using hollowed out wooden boats called pirogues, they cast their nets over the water and only when they’re satisfied with their catch do they travel the 3 or 4 hours to Tsarabanjina to hand over their catch to our chefs.

Our local chefs create a unique menu based around what the fishermen have caught together with the fresh fruit and vegetables they were able to find that day in the market at Nosy Be.

Using local herbs and spices to create dishes of warm curries, grilled fish and other delicious treats, our chefs understand the delicate blend of Southeast Asian, African, European and Chinese flavours which go into creating sumptuous Madagascan cuisine.

Explore the underwater ocean life

Guests are even encouraged to try their hand at fishing the local waters themselves from a traditional pirogue. In true island style, whatever you catch can then be handed over to the chefs to prepare Malagasy-style for your dinner that night.

Those searching for a little more high-octane excitement can pit their wits against the giant sports fish that call the waters around Tsarabanjina home.

Marlins, giant trevally, yellowfin and dogtooth tuna, wahoos and sailfish can all be caught in our waters making the area a Mecca for sports fishermen.

The other ocean pastime which continues to bring visitors to our shores is the opportunity to dive in waters still largely unexplored by scuba divers. One of the last accessible places where you can discover virgin reefs rarely dived before, sponge gardens few but you have ever seen.

The waters around Tsarabanjina offer a rich variety of dive sites for scuba divers of all levels from beginners exploring the house reef to more experienced divers swimming through the tunnels at the Tétons.

The unique bird life of Madagascar

The unique bird life of Madagascar

The rich biodiversity of Madagascar

Of course nature lovers have always been drawn to the appeal of Madagascar with its famously unique biodiversity, a trait Tsarabanjina shares with the mainland.

Walk around the island and you’ll discover Madagascar’s famous Traveller’s Palm, the Pachypodium and a wide variety of birds including the dazzling fody bird, the beautiful long-tailed Madagscan flycatcher (the emblem of the island) and fish eagles. Biologists even claim to have found the world’s smallest chameleon species on Tsarabanjina.

Our staff share our passion for the island and are happy to give guided nature walks with an explanation of the local flora and fauna to interested guests.

Bird enthusiasts can take a boat ride to the neighbouring Quatre Frère, a series of rocks in the ocean which are home to a rich colony of seabirds including northern gannets, frigate birds and white-tailed tropic birds.

Don’t forget to take your snorkel and discover the plethora of marine life living in the reefs below the waves.

A dash of luxury Crusoe wouldn’t have had

Of course we wouldn’t be a favourite exclusive retreat without a little hint of luxury but on Tsarabanjina luxury is delivered in unique laidback style. So our massage room is a rustic beach villa with a stunning outdoor shower hewn into the rock of the island itself.

Or if you prefer you can have a massage on the beach as you watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

The question of how the tiny island of Tsarabanjina became one of the world’s most desirable hotels is difficult to answer. It has a lot to do with the beauty of the island itself, a little to do with the luxury we were able to add, but most of all, it’s down to the spirit of the island itself, a spirit of laidback charm, slow island living and warm welcomes.

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