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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Discover the wildlife of Mauritius

The beautiful island of Mauritius with its tropical beaches, forested, mountainous interior and extensive national parks is a paradise for nature-lovers.

The beautiful island of Mauritius

The beautiful island of Mauritius

Here you’ll find 670 native species of flowering plants, 100 species of birds and a number of endemic reptiles.

Conservation in Mauritius

Conservation is taken very seriously in the country that boasts the having once been home to the dodo.

Early deforestation and the introduction of new species of flora and fauna have put native species under threat so that in recent years ecologists have had to work hard to protect the rare indigenous species which remain.

It’s been a difficult road but the story so far is a happy one thanks to the work of organisations like the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation which has brought rare species such as the Mauritius kestrel, the echo parakeet and the pink pigeon back from the brink of extinction.

Bird watching

Besides the rescued Mauritian species there are many other winged visitors to the island for bird-lovers to see including albatrosses, frigatebirds, boobies, herons, eagles, rails, sandpipers and terns.

Discover the wildlife of Mauritius

Discover the wildlife of Mauritius

Black River Gorges National Park

One of the best places for visitors to get close to the island’s wildlife is the beautiful Black River Gorges National Park in the south west of the country. Extending over 65 square km the park is home to many of the island’s indigenous reptile population, birds including the pink pigeon, Mauritian Kestrel and echo parakeet and mammals including the Mauritian flying fox.

Read Air Mauritius’ Tips for hiking trails through Black River Gorges.

Beneath the waves

Below the ocean waves is a cornucopia of rich marine life from whales and sharks to vibrant reefs supporting an array of colourful sea life.

Keen sports fishers will recognise the glimmer of swordfish, barracuda, yellowfin and skipjack tuna, while divers will marvel at the stunning coral, bringing angel fish, Moorish idol, butterfly fish, snappers, groupers and turtles amongst many more.

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Constance Halaveli staff rescue reef shark

Constance Halaveli staff hit the headlines this month for the rescue of a small black tip reef shark which had become entangled in a piece of rope.

Rescuing the reef shark at Constance Halaveli

Rescuing the reef shark at Constance Halaveli

The shark was spotted by concerned guests, including Austrian journalist Maggies Entenfellner, who saw the shark swimming in the waters around Halaveli with a piece of rope constricting its neck.

The guests alerted Halaveli manager Dominik Kuenstle who set his team the difficult task of catching the shark in shallow waters and freeing it from its dangerous necklace.

We contacted Kolumne to let her know that the shark was safe and well, and she’s since written about what happened in the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung.

Read the full story and see pictures of our shark rescue at Krone.at.

At Constance Halaveli we work hard to ensure we live in harmony with the marine life which surrounds us.

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Constance Hotels golf courses recognised in new MCB Championship deal

Constance Belle Mare Plage will continue to host the thrilling MCB Championship, the finale to the European Senior Tour, for a further three years.

Luxury golf holidays at Constance

Luxury golf holidays at Constance

The announcement follows a renewal agreement between event partners Constance Hotels & Resorts, the European Senior Tour and sponsor Mauritius Commercial Bank.

The MCB Championship has been held on Constance’s Legend golf course for the last four years.

It is a testament to the high quality design and maintenance of the course that the Europe Senior Tour has chosen to retain it as the stage for the final leg of their annual tour where the John Jacobs Trophy is awarded to the Tour leader.

Managing Director of the European Senior Tour, Andy Stubbs, said, ‘The idyllic island setting of Mauritius is the perfect place for the Senior Tour to bring our season to a close, and the hospitality shown to us by the Constance Group, at their hotels Le Prince Maurice and Belle Mare Plage, has ensured the strongest possible fields over the past three years.’

He continued, ‘The Legend Course is a great examination for the leading Senior Tour players and has ensured that the contest for the John Jacobs Trophy comes to a fitting finale.’

The event has in recent years included golfing legends such as Tom Lehman, Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance and David Frost.

Jean-Jacques Vallet, CEO of Constance, said, ‘Our promise is not only to continue raising the level of the quality of Constance Hotels & Resorts’ golf courses and accommodation, but also to do our best to be the perfect ambassador of golf and inevitably boost the country’s image as a premier golf destination.’

This year’s MCB Tour Championship will take place at Constance Belle Mare Plage from 12-14 December.

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Growing a kitchen garden

The food scandals of recent years have meant that we have all become increasingly conscious of where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Constance Lémuria's kitchen garden

Constance Lémuria’s kitchen garden

More and more of us at home are choosing to grow our own vegetables rather than rely on produce imported from growers thousands of miles away.

A delightful side effect of this trend has been the re-discovery of how delicious familiar produce can be when it’s eaten freshly picked.

This is something quality-conscious chefs and hoteliers have always known – choosing to cultivate their own kitchen gardens in order to guarantee their guests the very best flavours.

At Constance Lémuria we offer guests dishes created from the very freshest ingredients, taking advantage of the fertile tropical soil and climate of the Seychelles to grow a range of delicious produce.

In our garden you will find chillies, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, corn and parsley (when we can keep the peacocks from eating them all). We are also in the process of creating our own herb garden.

But while we enjoy tending to our expanding kitchen garden we are also blessed with a wide variety of plants offering a feast of delicious fresh ingredients such as bananas, passion fruit, bread fruit and mangoes all growing naturally in the hotel grounds.

Constance Lémuria's chefs collect the day's ingredients

Constance Lémuria’s chefs collect the day’s ingredients

The bread fruit trees around the resort offer fruit which is used in purees, soups and a desert called Bread Fruit Daube. At Sea Horse guests can enjoy bread fruit puree with truffle oil, grilled leek hearts and wild mushroom sauce.

During the mango season the chefs include mangoes picked from our own trees in the breakfast buffet as well as in desserts, while at Takamaka guests can enjoy a lunch of chicken with mango, fresh tomato with a Creole dressing and papaya salad.

One of our most prized ingredients is the wild spinach that grows around the hotel’s golf course.

Our chef at Sea Horse has used it to create a delicious dish of poached local spinach, ricotta, parmesan and candied tomatoes in a light saffron sauce and a poached Job Fish which he serves with roasted potatoes, poached egg and the local spinach. At the Beach Bar & Grill you can enjoy a light lunch of local spinach and chicken spaghetti with a spicy tomato sauce.

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