Weekly round up, 5-11 September 2011

This weekly feature offers a round up of the content on our blog from the past week, in case you missed anything.

Moray eel

Moray eel

Split into categories, it’s another way for you to easily find the posts of value to you.

Competition

News

Culinary

Want to create some of our chefs’ amazing dishes yourself at home? Every Friday, we post some of the most amazing, delicious and popular recipes online.

Inspiration

Spa and sport

Top 10 highlights of Madagascar

The varied landscape and unique wildlife are undoubtedly the highlights of the vast and remote island of Madagascar.

Local Mitsio fishermen in Madagascar

Local Mitsio fishermen in Madagascar

Here you’ll find 32 different types of lemurs, all endemic to Madagascar and 250 bird species - 106 of which are only found on the island.

We’ve put together our must-see list of the island for a truly epic experience, with links to more useful information.

And, we want to know what you think – do you have an all-time favourite place in Madagascar that should have made it onto our list? Or photos you want to share? You can get in contact with us via Twitter, Facebook or the comments section below.

North Madagascar

1. Ankarana National Park

This national park is formed of a limestone massif with caves and canyons that have become home to many lemur and bird species.

2. Montagne d’Ambre National Park

This stunning landscape combines rainforest, volcanic massif and waterfalls. The park gets its name from the amber-coloured resin that drips from the trees here. You’ll find the crowned lemur, aye-aye, dwarf and rufous mouse lemurs. The reserve is also home to at least 11 species of chameleon including the tiny Brookesia minima.

3. Antsiranana

Gateway to both Montagne d’Ambre and Ankarana National Parks, Antsiranana is a brightly coloured port that retains a sense of its colonial past, with crumbling architecture and a deep water harbour.

Beachside villas at Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Beachside villa at Constance Tsarabanjina

4. Constance Tsarabanjina

Constance Tsarabanjina is situated in the Nosy Bé archipelago off the North-West coast. With unspoilt beaches and superb diving, Tsarabanjina offers a total get-away experience where barefoot luxury is the order of the day.  Hunker down or use it as a base for your Madagascan adventure.

East Madagascar

5. Ile Sainte Marie

This small tropical island sits off the east coast of Madagascar. The channel between the island and Madagascar is a great spot for whale watching as large groups of humpback whales come here to breed between July and October. Diving is also superb. Protected from sharks, the waters off Ile Sainte Marie are brimming with colourful corals and fish. Orchid lovers should head here in September, when the flowers are at their peak.

South West Madagascar

6. The Spiny Desert

Thorny trees make navigating this area very difficult for animals, and the wildlife here has had to adapt to survive in this hostile landscape. Visit the spiny desert and you’ll find the ring-tailed lemur, sifaka, Madagascar radiated tortoise and Grandidier’s mongoose.

7. Avenue of the Baobabs

Baobab trees in Madagascar

Baobab trees in Madagascar

Some of the tallest baobab trees are found along the avenue of trees near Morondava, a small beach town in the south west of Madagascar. Six of the world’s 8 baobab species are endemic to the island, and they can grow up to 30-40 metres.

8. Kirindy Reserve

This reserve is just north of Morondava. Madagascar’s dry tropical deciduous forest is under threat and this 10,000 hectare reserve offers a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in the landscape. Here you’ll find several species of lemur including the pygmy mouse and nocturnal lemurs, as well as reptiles and amphibians.

9. Ifaty

This popular, laid back beach resort is renowned for its long beaches, surfing and whale spotting sites. If you’re up for an adrenalin shot, there’s also the opportunity to dive with sharks.

Central Highlands

10. Antananarivo

The lively Malagasy capital is surrounded by hills and rice paddy fields. You can enjoy some buzzing local city life, and visit museums, botanical gardens, markets, churches and restaurants.

Luxury service from our staff

Chef with guests at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Chef with guests at Constance Le Prince Maurice

One of the things that makes the Constance Hotels Experience so special are the people who work there. So often the staff at Constance receive a special mention in the customer reviews we get on TripAdvisor, or in feedback sent by guests.

At Constance, we put a lot of time into training. Our Constance Hotels Training Academy, based in Mauritius is the hub for all staff training. Over the last 13 years, we’ve become a leader in the hospitality training sector.

Many of our staff come through our apprenticeship scheme, and have worked with us for over 10 years.

All this helps to make the Constance Hotels Experience so unique. When you stay at a Constance hotel, the staff very quickly come to know what you like, which makes you feel you’re being personally looked after.

Housekeeper decorating a bed at Constance Hotels Experience

Housekeeper decorating a bed

For many of our guests, that’s as much a part of the luxury experience as the hotel surroundings and decor.

Find out more about what it’s like to stay at a Constance hotel, or tell us your stories about staying with Constance and what made it stand out for you.

You can get in contact with us via Twitter, Facebook or the comments section below.

Customer reviews: thank you for a fantastic holiday

Constance Belle Mare Plage, pool and bar

Constance Belle Mare Plage, pool and bar

We recently received a thank you note from two of our guests, Tiffany and Willie, who stayed at Constance Belle Mare Plage last year. They had such a great time, we wanted to share their note with you:

“We just wanted to thank you and all of your staff for a fantastic holiday, we really enjoyed every minute!

And thank you so much again for the upgrade during our stay to the Le Prince Maurice which was just idyllic!!

I know that you said to us at the time that it was a good way to see some more of what Constance Hotels has to offer and this was a fantastic opportunity.

Aerial view of Constance Moofushi Resort, Maldives

Constance Moofushi Resort, Maldives

As a result of this we have just booked our honeymoon at the Constance Moofushi for May 2012 straight after our wedding and really cannot wait!

So again a huge thank you and we haven’t hesitated to recommend Constance Hotels to anyone and everyone!”

The giant pineapples of Madagascar

At our Constance Tsarabanjina Lodge in Madagascar, we cook with mainly local produce to provide the freshest ingredients to our guests.

Woman holding a giant pineapple from Madagascar

Giant pineapples in Madagascar can weigh up to 5kg

The North of the country is rich in amazing fruits and vegetables. No pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used – it’s nature at its very best.

If you head to the market in Nosy Bé, you’ll be struck not only by the abundance of fruit and vegetables but also by the size of everything on offer.

One of the most incredible sights are the giant pineapples. They come from the North-Western region of Sakatia or Marovato where the soil is particularly hot and humid. Here, the pineapples can grow up to whopping 5 kg.

Here are two great ways to enjoy the amazing flavours of pineapple:

  • Peel and cut the pineapple into wedges, then sprinkle with dried chilli flakes and salt crystals.
  • Peel and thinkly slice the pineapple, baste with a light vanilla syrup and serve with a scoop of lemongrass sorbet.

Simple, fresh and tasty.