Spring / Summer 2021

Hotels & Resorts
Hush-hush Hideaways

As I dance my hands across my MacBook keyboard in London, I dream of far-flung atolls and deep blue waters, of swaying palms on deserted beaches and slurping on freshly-plucked, just-ripe coconuts through bamboo straws.

The past year has seen the beauty and freedom of travel snatched away from us all, but it has also proffered us time to rethink our lifestyle narrative: how can we exist more sustainably and travel greener this year and beyond? 

Just seven or so nautical miles off the eastern shores of Mozambique a collective of artisans and curators have been hunkered down creating a hush-hush boutique hideaway.

Kisawa Sanctuary, nestled amongst 300 hectares of sand dunes and bucolic forest, marks a notable shift and a new direction for ecologically-minded island retreats. Just thirteen thatched bungalows, each with a private pool, are scattered along the southern tip of Benguerra Island, where manta rays and tiger sharks dart through protected waters, paradise fly catchers, with their elegant hot-orange tail streamers, swoop across the glimmering sea as they chase their shadows, hunting prey.

Finalising and staffing a new lodge on a remote island during a global pandemic has certainly presented its challenges, but nothing ever-resilient founder and chief creative flair Nina Flohr and her team could not overcome. Flohr has travelled far and wide to bring mainland African influences and one-of-a-kind pieces of art and furniture to this patch of nu-paradise.

Many of the reclaimed, 18th century Dutch-inspired chairs were hand-sourced in the Bamileki region of Cameroon, and offer a nod to the once-Dutch-governed country’s colonial past. A slick, glossy Tanzanian mahogany chest sits proudly in the lobby, solid Ethiopian cedar bed frames follow the ancient craftsmanship of the culture-rich Gurage tribe. 

Guests are invited to tuck into Mozambican-South Indian fusion dishes at the oh-so-cool dune-hugging Baracca, a laidback dining-lodge, where head chef Choki Wangmo has devised a seasonal-shifting colourful menu brimming with cross-cultural references. Sustainability, naturally, is at the heart of the lodge’s inception, and eco-conscious explorers are encouraged to visit Kisawa’s very own marine initiative, the Bazaruto Centre for Scientific Studies, a short drive away, to investigate monitoring the surrounding eco-systems by tracking and tagging sharks and tuna, knowing their island stay is contributing to a worthy cause.

A boat hop back onto the African peninsula and a jet over to the islands of the Seychelles, deeper still into the Indian Ocean, lies a different kind of narrative, one of soaring hills and jagged granite boulders, dense jungle and hidden scoops of sand. A speedy helicopter jump over to far-flung Félicité, one of the most easterly islands, lies Zil Pasyon, a mere dot on the map, and outpost from perennial eco-thinkers Six Senses. 

Just 33 contemporary, futuristic villas have been carefully slotted in amongst the giant, burnished boulders, mindfully undisruptive of the land’s flora and fauna. Although the resort only opened in 2018, the team have been developing a credit-worthy action plan for almost a decade to protect and reintroduce indigenous plants, birds, turtles and marine life, which forms part of a group-wide initiative to offer visiting guests insight into, and the ability to take part in, green campaigns.  Rather fantastically, to date, 7,000 indigenous species have been planted: this, along with the protection of 6,500 sqm of coral on the surrounding reef. 

It is not just on sleepy Félicité where mindful practices are taking shape. Over on Mahé, in the capital Victoria, Seychellois artist George Camille has renovated one of only two remaining traditional Creole houses in the city, which now welcome visitors to view his contemporary, primary-colour-pop artworks and sculptures in an authentic setting. As I think about the lovely sing-song dance of the Creole people and their smiley eyes, I vow to island hop my way across the deep-blue sea one day very soon, powered by the knowledge that my visit will in some tiny way help a local community to flourish.


*Timmy Coles-Liddle is the founder of NINE (nineconcierge.com), a private club crafting imaginative travel and lifestyle experiences for members globally. As part of the world’s ‘new beginning’, this year NINE is championing sustainability and supporting reforestation initiatives in Ecuador and Madagascar.  

© Al Hilal Group all rights reserved. Designed & Developed by North Star.