Princesse Bora Lodge & Spa
$ 80 (Pps)
Princesse Bora Lodge is a relaxed yet upmarket hotel on the south-western part of the island. It's fairly close to the airport and Ile aux Nattes. It is protected by a bank of coral which creates a quiet lagoon of water, perfect for snorkelling and diving.
The main buildings of the hotel are a series of unpretentious interconnecting circular rooms. One is a bar, another a library, two make up the restaurant, one houses reception and the newest is an underground cellar in stone with watered gravel to keep the wines cool. A Zen infinity pool is set into a beautiful timber deck and palm trees line the white sandy beach. Sun loungers are set out on the beach each day and the perfect view is enhanced by the fetching jetty (with large bed-like loungers for true sun-worshippers) and the misty hills of the mainland in the distance.
The beachside restaurant offers meals with a mix of Malagasy, Creole and French influences with fresh seafood as the centrepiece - as you would imagine. There’s also a Jungle Spa offering a range of treatments.
The 20 villas at Princesse Bora Lodge are all integrated into the lush vegetation and built in natural materials such as cut stone and rosewood with traditional thatched roofs of dried leaves. Charme Villas are round with open sides to the gardens (closed with wooden shutters), en suite shower room, separate loo and fan. These have views to the sea but are not on the shoreline. Luxury Villas are octagonal, 40% larger and a bit grander with a mezzanine level for up to two extra beds (for children), twin wash basins and air-conditioning. The newest rooms are the five Executive Beach Villas which are a massive 90 square metres and offer the perfect mix of island simplicity and luxury. The king-sized bed has an impressive view of the lagoon and there’s a free standing stone bath and double shower in the stylish bathroom.
All rooms have a safe, wooden furniture and wrap-around veranda with easy chairs and a hammock. A footbath ensures that you don't trample sand all over your room.
Activities on offer at Princesse Bora
Despite all this invitation to decadence, guests are an active lot. Many take out mountain bikes for a full day exploration of the rest of the island or walk via a panoramic viewpoint to experience a beach on the east. 4x4 or Quad bike excursions (with a guide) take you to spots such as Coco Bay, the hotel's own private beach, for superb snorkelling or to mangroves and primary forest. You can also head to Ile aux Nattes on a traditional pirogue boat, or to Ilots au Sable for a picnic.
Princesse Bora Lodge has a Dive Centre. Snorkeling is possible from the reef in front of the lodge. You can also try water-skiing or wake-boarding in the Sainte Marie canal. Sports fishing can be arranged. From July through September, you can take one of the whale-watching boat trips to observe the whales in the company of an eco-guide.
Finally Princess Bora Lodge is the perfect setting for your Madagascar honeymoon with a special honeymoon package with airport transfers, flowers, romantic beach dinner and couples massages at their jungle spa.
Princesse Bora Lodge & Spa on the map
Princesse Bora Lodge review
I loved Princesse Bora Lodge. There is a great sense of space (which many of the other hotels on Ile Sainte Marie don’t have, being hemmed in by the road running alongside the coast.) This hotel however is spread out over lovely gardens with a stretch of almost private beach.
The three standards of rooms are quite different from each other so you have to decide whether you are going to splash out for the Luxury Villas which are massive suites or economize in the garden chalets (called Charme rooms).
There’s a large and very nice spa, shop, cosy sitting room with fireplace, restaurant and bar. There’s a large lap pool and a private jetty area with a swimming area from the jetty. (The tidal range is great on ile sainte marie so it’s best to swim from here.
The food was delicious both at lunch and dinner. I also had to sample the spa (in the interests of product research you understand!) This was very impressive, again one of the best in Madagascar and very well priced.
The Deluxe Villa suite was easily the smartest of accommodation on Ile Sainte Maire – a massive room with bedroom, dressing area, large open plan bathroom with massive sunken bath, double shower and enclosed loo. Outside your private deck with loungers leads down to your private garden area and your beach loungers. My only comment is that the massive bath would take an age to fill so I recommend taking their pre-prepared romantic bath option. I contented myself with the lovely double shower.
The garden chalets (Charme villas) are perfectly fine but a big difference in standard. They were probably the least impressive thing about Princesse Bora. They are simple wood and thatch chalets in the gardens close to the spa and restaurant. Some of them are close to the beach so that you would get a sea view but they cannot guarantee these rooms. The family chalets are similar in style to the garden chalets but have a mezzanine level with two beds for children, and a larger deck.
I strongly recommend - if you are going to spend the money on Princesse Bora - opt for the Deluxe Villa suites. Otherwise you may be vaguely disappointed by the garden chalets as they are not as smart as the main areas of the hotel.