The open living spaces at Miavana by Time + Tide, Nosy Ankao, Madagascar

Miavana by Time + Tide
Nosy Ankao, Madagascar


A stay in Madagascar proves that escapist time out can encompass adventure and learning – worth noting, given how hard and costly it is to get to the island nation compared with, say, the Maldives or Mauritius. During our time at Miavana by Time + Tide, the ultra-exclusive hideaway delivers exceptional value, making it a game-changer in the Indian Ocean.

Miavana is set on a 2,500-acre castaway paradise that is the largest island in a private archipelago of five, just off Madagascar’s northeastern coast. The family-owned initiative was conceived by South African private-equity financier Thierry Dalais, and he and his team spent four years constructing the resort, with sustainable design as its guiding focus. Architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens were tasked with creating the haven, and the result is a resplendent expression of classic Malagasy craftsmanship, brought up to date with contemporary panache, natural and recycled materials, and an eye-catching mix of urban, modern and minimalist design, alongside creative landscaping and a dash of feng shui.

Even to us seasoned travellers, there was an indescribable something about the way energy flowed through the property, and the harmony between stone and sky, wind, water and whitewashed minimalism was undeniably special, adding up to a beautiful, escapist adventure-island playground with a unique soul.

Accommodation consists of 14 spacious (620 sqm-/1700 sqft-plus) seafront one-, two- or three-bedroomed villas. Lower-numbered villas face east – perfect for early birds who want to watch the sunrise; sunset lovers should ask for a higher-numbered address. Their design is underpinned by delicate craftsmanship, with generous use of local timber and stone, thatched roofs, and ceilings woven from bamboo and palm leaves. Indoor bathrooms have conical roofs, with a hole at the top for gazing at the clouds or stars, which sparkle with force in the dark nights here.

This Basecamp review is an extract from a longer feature article, first published in print. To read the full article, click here.

Perfect forFly intoRight on time
The EscapistDIE/NOS, then connect via helicopterGMT +3
While you’re Out There
Jump on a helicopter: Madagascar brims with adventure, and both flora and fauna are utterly distinctive and astounding. Guests of Miavana can visit sites like the Tsingy Rouge rock formation or Ankarana Special Reserve. Oh, and did we mention the lemurs?

In-room, the look is quintessentially Malagasy, with liberal use of white and turquoise, solid-wood furniture and sail-canvas screens. Floor-to-ceiling patio doors bring outdoors and indoors seamlessly together and remained mostly open throughout our stay. We drifted to sleep to the sound of crashing waves. A unique aeration system cools only the area around the bed, leaving the rest of the villa unairconditioned – an environmentally conscious choice – but the ever-present sea-breeze keeps the temperature pleasant. It also minimises the presence of harmless bugs – those, that is, that eluded our butler Reve’s tireless dedication to keeping them out. A sundeck fronting the beach and ocean runs the length of each villa, and features a private pool.

Elsewhere, resort living is luxurious. Breakfast on the beach is a delight, with everything from lobster omelettes and Malagasy eggs Benedict, to tropical fruit and nasi goreng on the menu. The last item is not only a nod to the island’s past settlers, but also to its new ones – many of the highly experienced team come from Indonesia.

They work alongside locals recruited through the Time + Tide Foundation community employment programme, and the friendly, attentive service is exceptional here.

Other meals we enjoyed also dazzled – stand-outs having been a feast of beautifully cooked Malagasy delicacies and a barbecue under the stars, serenaded by the dulcet voice and guitar-strumming of the island’s own experience manager Johnson, a proud Malagasy who doubles up as naturalist, historian, kite-surfer and all-round good-time guy.

He and his sidekick Hardy (a Time + Tide Foundation scholarship recipient) are in charge of excursions. From the comprehensive activity centre, we indulged in paddleboarding, watersports and seagoing experiences of all kinds. The island has many secluded beaches to hike, sunbathe or picnic on, and Madagascar is one of the world’s kite-surfing capitals. There’s even a conspiracy (yes, that’s the collective noun) of lemurs, thanks to the Time + Tide Foundation’s monitoring and conservation efforts, one of many initiatives including turtle and marine conservation, tern research and reforestation. What’s not to love about a resort that looks after the environment it’s in?

Photography by Andrew Macdonald and courtesy of Miavana

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