Princesse Bora was the last leg of our recent visit to Madagascar. Our children flew in independently from Johannesburg to join us (already we were 2 weeks on the go) for some holiday fun and New Years celebration, plus a very long awaited opportunity to share Madagascar with them. Our youngest is mostly wheelchair bound so we were a little dubious about difficulties.
With huge anticipation and excitement our plane landed on Ille St. Marie and we all climbed out, got the luggage and were met by the lodge's landrover and zebu cart. In we piled and tootled off to the lodge. What a warm and professional reception! The kids hit it off with the staff right away. Our briefing was efficient and soon we were on our way to our rooms. What an awesome reception area! Whoever designed the place and decor must have had loads of fun. But what creativity to admire. The walkways are sandy and were reasonably easy to push the wheelchair. Some places not so easy but then there were some grass paths for relief. We occupied an executive villa and the kids had a comfort room right next to the pool/pub/restaurant area. This suited them down to the ground being so close to all the activity. Our room was awesome, spacious, ingeniously designed and furnished with every comfort we could imagine. The kids room was cool, functional and enough space, even for two messy boys! All rooms have a hose by the stairs to eliminate excess sand on the verandah and in the room. The style of the lodge rooms is totally original and transports one to another place in another time. The laundry service was excellent.
The pool area is wonderful with a well positioned rimflow overlooking the immediate sea, beach and jetty and various recliners and brollies are all set up around the area for the sun worshippers. Close by is the sea activities/towels rondavel offering kayaking (in VERY stable kayaks), snorkelling gear, water-skiing boards, towels etc. Our youngest couldn't wait to get into the kayak and had a ball paddling around the area, quite safely. The staff at Princesse Bora are so friendly and helpful and always resplendent in their Princesse Bora uniform which aptly states: "Princesse Bora Lifestyle", it really is a lifestyle and a pretty luxurious one. So there are plenty of water activities and snorkelling gets very good some 500m past the general reef. There were a few younger children there and they were having a ball too, jumping into the tidal pool and fishing from the jetty. Princesse Bora is all about having fun in the sun, whatever your fancy. As their website says, "just be there". There is too much to see and appreciate at this place to put it all down on paper.
We opted to explore the island by quad bike with a guide! What a blast! Full day outing with lunch in true Malagsy style, then a pirogue ride through the mangroves to then find our way to Clipper Bay! Fresh coconuts off the beach and a clear turquoise bay to loll around in. Like little children finding treasure we unearthed live pansy shells and then truly amazing, some old coins and white crockery! Well, we left them behind as we assumed it was part of some ceremony and re-buried the pansies of course! We motored right around the whole island, up hill and down dale, hooting at geese who got cheeky and ran after our bikes to tricky negotiations across wooden bridges and very steep inclines and declines to coasting down the road right next to the sea with the wind in our faces enjoying so many wonderful sights, sounds and smells! Exhausted we dropped into our lovely accommodation only to prepare and change for cocktails and one of their delicious dinners.
On another day we took the Coco Bay option which consisted of snorkel gear on a boat and a heavenly boat ride down the coast to Coco Bay. There lies a peaceful house with lawns and table set out under the trees for lunch. Everything is laid on.! There is an awesome rocky lookout point and snorkelling at this place is different. Patience and slow and thorough looking is required to see out of the ordinary sealife here - it's a whole different system. After a lazy lunch and snooze, it's back to the boat and home to the lodge, suntanned, happy and more good times spent together with the family. Only one warning: try and get the boat and outing with only your party. Two would probably be too little but we were four and it would have been fine except we think another family insisted on barging in at the last moment. They weren't keen to share anything! Not sitting up front in the boat, nor the 5 comfy chairs on the vehandah vs hard benches against the wall nor any good humour! They stuck with their lot of 5 and hogged what they could including the view on top of the rocks and were most unfriendly. So if you want an intimate family outing, try and get exclusive use or make sure you are a little acquainted with the other party and if they seem at all hostile, rather go another time if possible as that sort of thing really threatens to ruin it all. Princesse Bora is all about good times with the people you are there with, easy going, friendly and a certain refinement and balance of "coastal chique".
One of our most special memories was that evening of the day we arrived! After lunch we found invitation slips under our doors to attend cocktails and sundowners on the jetty! We don't know how they did it, but the jetty was beautifully decorated with palm leaves, flowers, all recliners single and double had clean crisp white sheets on, comfy deck chairs were dotted about with lots of cream brollies up; beautiful music playing like Cafe del Mar and some dreamy French acoustic and lyrics, the likes of which we haven't heard. Waiters were milling around finding seats for everyone and offering delicate tasties and snacks along with loads of champagne and cocktails...... AWESOME! There was a wonderfully cooling breeze blowing and the sunset simply took your breath away. Seated there, our family, all together with all the other families in our various huddles, either sitting or lying down, whatever the mood took, the scene was magical and all or any troubles or sadnesses just melted away until it was just you and your family chilling, laughing, relaxing and enjoying one another. There is no price or value on such moments, they are indeed priceless, timeless and treasures of the heart forever. Even the weather was tailormade - shining when it needed to and blowing at the appropriate times!
New Year's eve arrived in all it's glory and anticipation. Again, the little slip under the door inviting all for cocktails at sunset and then dress-up! The theme was music in the eighties and to boot, all manner of hilarious and festive regalia was available to choose from and get all dolled up. So utterly ridiculous, fun and festive and everyone joined in the merriment. Time to let the hair down, enjoy the amazing dinner laid on and then party, party, party and dance, dance, dance and bring the new year in with a very flamboyant flourish! New Year's day was quiet, as to be expected with another little note, inviting all to open the lobster/crayfish season with a lunchtime poolside barbeque! Yum! Eat all you want and we did! What a spoil and the desserts were equally as enticing.
The staff were untiring and relentless in their quest to please and be of assistance in whatever form they could; the owner was here, there and everywhere making sure the place was running in top form, mingling with guests and keeping his eye on absolutely everything. Well done Princesse Bora and congratulations on having the finest establishment ever! We loved your place and wish to return time and again. The beauty of it all imprinted on our minds and hearts. We say thank you for making what was already a very special holiday for us, turn out to be way beyond our expectations. Came the day we had to leave it was with lumps in our throats and a yearning to try and stay and prolong it all - we would have found any excuse to stay and carry on building the good times. We didn't get to say goodbye in time to some of the dear folk we met there but exchanged contact details and fervently hope to hear from some of them soon.
Thank you again Princess Bora for making one very special dream come true and for your truly excellent hospitality!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Lodge of charm, allying luxury and wild nature in a typically tropical environment, Princesse Bora Lodge and Spa is a warm and human sized hotel. It takes place on Sainte Marie Island, East of Madagascar, a heaven of peace, far from mass tourism. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Princesse Bora Lodge And Spa
- Princesse Bora Hotel Ile Sainte-Marie (Nosy Boraha)
- Princesse Bora Lodge & Spa Madagascar/Nosy Boraha