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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Condé Nast Traveller describes Tsarabanjina as ‘everyone’s secret favourite’

Lisa Grainger explains the dual charm of Constance Tsarabanjina as both a luxury retreat and natural paradise in her article for the March edition of Condé Nast Traveller magazine.

Condé Nast Traveller describes Tsarabanjina as ‘everyone’s secret favourite’

Condé Nast Traveller describes Tsarabanjina as ‘everyone’s secret favourite’

She writes that the remote Madagascan island location with its hills and forests, two long beaches and only 25 wooden guest beach villas, make this the perfect place for guests to ‘live out their Robinson Crusoe fantasies’.

‘This is a no-shoes, no-news, hang-loose place,’ she says. ‘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.’

While some guests spend their days relaxing in the sun on loungers or hammocks, others choose to get out to explore and experience some of the unique biodiversity of the island.

Grainger spent much of her time on Constance Tsarabanjina ‘fossil-hunting on the island’s fringe of weather-beaten, mineral-rich rocks, luminous with swirls of ochres and rusts, and cut through with black tongues of hardened lava’.

Another favourite pastime was diving the relatively unexplored waters around Tsarabanjina.

The vibrant coral reefs of Constance Tsarabanjina

The vibrant coral reefs of Constance Tsarabanjina

Grainger writes, ‘The underwater scenery is trippy in its theatricality, designed by a god inspired by Jackson Pollock and inhabited by hilariously overdressed creatures.’

Grainger also applauded the ‘simple but delicious’ food available in the restaurant at Tsarabanjina including fresh grilled seafood, handmade pastas and salads as well as drinks infused by the flavours of fresh local fruits.

Relax with the Cristal Package

Our Cristal package contributes to the laid-back vibe at Constance Tsarabanjina - from the moment you arrive you can relax knowing everything is taken care with all meals and a range of super-premium drinks included in the price.

To find out more about Constance Tsarabanjina or to make a booking visit our website: Constance Hotels and Resorts

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Constance Le Prince Maurice recognised in Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards 2013

We’re very proud that Spa de Constance at Constance Le Prince Maurice has been recognised in the top 20 Overseas Hotel Spas category, in the coveted Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards.

Spa de Constance at Le Prince Maurice

Spa de Constance at Le Prince Maurice

The awards, now in their 16th year, celebrate the very best of the travel world as chosen by readers of Conde Nast Traveller.

Since it’s multi-million pound refurbishment last year, Constance Le Prince Maurice has become the must-book hotel on the island of Mauritius and is renowned for exceptional service and its intimate, luxurious atmosphere.

Offering Sisley treatments, classes led by fitness guru Isabelle Lamant, and Brice Nicham posture and podiatry treatments, the spa at Le Prince Maurice has been attracting international attention since the reopening.

Earlier this year, the UK’s The Times newspaper named the spa as one of their Top 50 places to go for a body and soul holiday.

Thank you to everyone who voted for us. We hope you can come back soon and enjoy another luxury holiday at Le Prince Maurice.

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Visit our website to find out more about Le Prince Maurice and check booking availability

Condé Nast Traveller rates spa at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Condé Nast Traveller raves about the spa at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius in the July issue of the luxury travel magazine.

Treatment room at Spa de Constance

Treatment room at Spa de Constance

Naming Le Prince Maurice as one of the ‘island’s most quietly glamorous hotels’, Condé Nast Traveller gives a run-down of the highlights you’ll discover at the hotel’s spa.

‘Sisley’s Sunleÿa line has some of the best suncare products around, and the treatments here are designed to hydrate, fill lines and plump skin… But this is not the only draw…’

The article goes on to mention ‘reflexologist extraordinaire’ Dajee Mohender.

Read the article in full in the July issue of the magazine, or visit the Condé Nast Traveller website.

Find out more about Le Prince Maurice

Top 5 reasons to go to Tsarabanjina in 2013

Discover a world still untouched on the remote island of Tsarabanjina, just off Madagascar.

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Beach at Tsarabanjina

Lonely Planet lists Madagascar as one of the top 10 countries to visit this year.

‘For visitors the time to go is now, before the country reappears in travel agents’ windows. Be prepared to be overwhelmed.’

Here are our top 5 reasons to visit Constance Tsarabanjina when it reopens in March after major refurbishment.

1. The ultimate in Crusoe Chic

Indulge in the peace and seclusion of a resort unlike any other. Constance Tsarabanjina combines a laid back, barefoot lifestyle – the general manager comes to work in a Madagascan sarong – with the luxury you expect from Constance Hotels & Resorts. Air-conditioning in the beach huts, a new spa and a deck specially designed for stargazing are among the new features.

2. Nature

Explore a country like no other and see things you’ll see nowhere else on earth thanks to the island’s evolutionary isolation. Madagascar is considered one of the most biodiverse places on the planet so it’s no surprise that Brian Cox visited here to film his latest Wonders of Life series for the BBC.

3. Perfect beaches

Dine on the beach at Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Dine on the beach at Tsarabanjina

Walk in sand undented by the tread of tourism. Tsarabanjina’s stunning beaches offer seclusion and privacy to its guests whether its for laid back sunbathing, sharing a bottle of wine as crabs scuttle past your feet or a massage on the beach at sunset.

4. Diving

Feel the exhilaration of diving in areas off the north-west coast of Madagascar that have never been explored by divers before. Be the first to discover stunning reefs, sunken wrecks and a raft of marine life which paint the ocean with vibrant colour.

5. Food

Savour the taste of fish pulled from the ocean that morning cooked with the freshest Madagascan spices, fruit and vegetables all sourced from the local market.

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Condé Nast Traveller recommends Le Prince Maurice spa

In the January edition of Condé Nast Traveller, retail editor Thea Darricotte features the spa at Le Prince Maurice in her ‘Most wanted’ column.

Suite on stilts at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius

Suite on stilts Le Prince Maurice

Of the recently refurbished spa, Darricotte gives it her ‘Thea loves’ seal of approval:

‘We recommend Sisleya Face & Body Exceptional Ritual which involves two and a half hours of pampering to remove signs of fatigue and leave you looking younger, healthier and ready for the sun’.

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