My wife and I stayed here on one leg of our honeymoon (in July 2003, actually) and it was one of the few places that really delivered what we typically want in a holiday i.e. a place that was very challenging to get to (not accessible by charter flights) and a "resort" (for want of a more appropriate word) that is understated and does not have all the fussiness and cloying over-attentiveness that you get at many of the top-end chain hotels (not to mention obnoxious patrons). We arrived in Antananarivo via Johannesburg, overnighted there and then flew to Nosy Be, on a scheduled flight, via some random place in the north east (had various animals grazing randomly on the airfield etc). After the transfer from Nosy Be airport to the seaport, we accessed our ride to Tsarabanjina by climbing over a couple of large, rusty fishing trawlers with our luggage.
Our speedboat landed on one of the stunning beaches and we were met by the sarong-clad hotel manager and told we wouldn't be needing any shoes for the duration of our stay. The accommodation is basic relative to the top hotels (relief!). There are no electronics to be seen and the only contact with the outside world is/was by dial-up internet and radio-phone at the main reception.
From there it was sun-bathe, eat, sleep, snorkel, dive, relax in a steady cycle for a week. An honesty bar on the beach, 50 yards from our hut for sun-downers every evening. The huts open directly onto the gorgeous white sand and are about 20/30 yards to the water's edge. The water is acquamarine and crystal clear and the diving/snorkelling off the beach is fantastic. Have a pre-prandial drink at the bar before dinner and bury your feet in the glorious white sand, which is the bar floor, while sipping on that G&T. The food is basic but very good and all fresh (no pretentious presentation or nouvelle garbage). Service is exactly as you'd expect in such a laid-back environment. Just avoid the local wine! French is expensive so go South African, which is adequate in quality. My wife and I went fishing early one morning and caught a grouper and a queen mackerel which went on the dinner menu in the restaurant that same night - without fail the best fish I have ever had.
There were only about 8 other guests on the island while we were there so we felt as though we had the place to ourselves. If I had a complaint it would be that one of the executives of a French company that farms prawns on the mainland popped over twice for dinner in a helicopter, which shattered the peace briefly. Additionally they allocated one hour every morning for guests to go water-skiing or wakeboarding, which you'd normally associate with large, tacky hotels. But one hour a day is reasonable so not the end of the world.
Otherwise, this place is for those like things understated and off-the-beaten-track. It's very comfortable and it is as close to paradise as you're likely to get. It will NOT suit people who want to spot celebs, name-drop about hotels they've stayed at, and collect designer shampoo miniatures etc. Nightlife is limited to socialising with guests and staff, playing back-gammon and nursing cocktails/night-caps while listening to the waves lapping on the shore. It's bliss.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Tsarabanjina is the sort of castaway island that travellers dream of finding. With the doors again reopen at the resort following a major refurbishment, guests are discovering that we’ve introduced a few more luxuries to make it all the more comfortable while retaining the barefoot charm of the place.Off the beaten track, this unique island get-away already enjoys a loyal following with its reputation as a place to escape from it all – a place that perfectly captures the mood for a simpler take on luxury.Beach villasCareful to maintain the barefoot charm and eco-friendliness, while embracing Malagasy culture, interiors have been updated using natural materials and local art and sculpture based on marine life to create a boutique feel to the beachfront villas. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Constance Lodge Tsarabanjina Hotel Tsarabanjina
- Constance Hotel Tsarabanjina