Princesse Bora Lodge is a superb hotel on the west coast of Ile Ste Marie. Twenty lovely, self-contained villas built of natural materials are set amidst a grove of coconut palms, beside the long white beach at the edge of the lagoon. Owned and run by Francois-Xavier Mayer, whose family has lived on the island since the 1790s, you will find a dedicated and professional team - with good English - ready to help you make the most of your stay.
All the Comfort and Luxury villas have the hallmark suspended double bed, a living area, private facilities with a separate wc and a private, sea-facing verandah. Comfort villas can accommodate two people. They are equipped with a fan and there is a hammock on the verandah. The six 55m2 octagonal luxury villas offer double basins, air-conditioning and a mezzanine room with twin beds.
The five executive beach villas are 95m2 and glass-fronted, to take full advantage of the tropical sunsets and the Indian Ocean panorama, taking two adults with a child under the age of 12 years. The wide terrace is provides another super vantage point. Beach villas are air-conditioned and can accommodate up to three people in one double and one single bed for child under 12 years. Facilities include a bath-tub.
The restaurant is known as the best on the island. Fresh seafood and fish is prominent on the menu. French, Creole and Malagasy influences are reflected in the cuisine. The lodge also has a pizza oven for an alternative to lunch. The bar, with its oak barrels of flavoured rums, is an ideal spot from which to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.
The lodge has a decked infinity pool and a wooden pontoon on the lagoon. Its watersports centre provides snorkelling equipment, pirogues and canoes. It also has boats for water-skiing and paragliding. Ile Ste Marie is a new and excellent surfing destination. Bicycle for exploring the island are available free of charge, or you can hire a motorbike, quads or a 4WD with driver. The nearby PADI dive centre offers courses and a full dive programme, including wreck and night dives. Fishermen will find the boats, equipment and fishing guides for some really fine fishing including: tuna, bonito, grey mullet, captains, sea-bream, and king mackerel.
Princesse Bora Lodge offers a full programme of island excursions. You can visit the only known pirates’ cemetery, the oldest church in Madgascar, the market in Ambodifotatra, the mangroves or the forest of Ampanihy. The cross-island walk takes you through pristine forests and empty beaches - and the hotel will pick you up. Take a pirogue to offshore Ile aux Nattes, with its brilliant, soft, white sand; or a guided walk, to discover the orchids, clove and cashew trees and growing cinnamon bark.
The Princesse Bora is affiliated to CetaMada, the association for research, observation and protection of marine mammals; in fact, it has a base at the lodge during the season. No one has failed to be impressed by owner Francois-Xavier Mayer's commitment to conservation or by the quality of the whale-watching programme. A specialist ecoguide briefs whale-watchers before and during the boat trip, which follows the code of good conduct for approaching these spectacular creatures. Once silently anchored within 100m of a group of whales, sit back and watch – or participate in the collection of data. You can also join the debriefing conference at the end of the day.
Note that whales are wild aimals so sightings can never be guaranteed.
Princesse Bora Lodge was built using local labour. Upon completion, everyone who had worked on the lodge was offered the opportunity of training for employment at the lodge.