Situated on the pristine island of Nosy Ankao off the north-eastern coast of Madagascar, Time + Tide Miavana is the sparkling jewel of the western Indian Ocean Islands. This exquisite island sanctuary is a barefoot luxury in its finest form, coupled with the ethos that makes Time + Tide leaders in conservation.
Gazing down from my unobstructed view in the Miavana helicopter, I am elated that I get to ride ‘co-pilot’ when pilot Hein Brittz asks who would like to occupy the seat next to him. My daughter is sitting right behind me. Every now and again she taps me on the shoulder to show me the beauty of the landscape and lastly the ocean stretching out below us.
We left O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg at 09:30 on Airlink’s comfortable Embraer 135 to Nosy Be Airport in Madagascar. With Airlink’s year-round and additional seasonal flights between Johannesburg and Nosy Be, getting to Time + Tide Miavana is very convenient, which includes excellent on-board service. Being a three-and-half-hour flight, passengers are served a delicious meal, tea, coffee and a beverage of choice.
Upon arrival at Nosy Be Airport, we are met by pilot Hein from Time + Tide Miavana, who ensures that we make our way through passport control and out the other side to the stunning Miavana branded Robinson R66 Turbine helicopter. With our life jackets fastened and headsets on, we depart the tarmac into the blue yonder. The one- hour flight is over in a flash and as we set down on Time + Tide Miavana’s helipad, we are warmly welcomed by management couple Rosco and Sarah-Jane Wendover, and our butler Jero.
Jero whisks us away in an electric buggy (golf cart), which is the ideal way to get around on the island. My daughter and I are dropped off at our Villa and after changing into something a little bit cooler, we explore the island with our very own buggy! Witnessing the laborious work that went into constructing Time + Tide Miavana, it’s impossible not to get lost in the island feeling.
The team responsible for such an astounding project is Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, creating specialized high-end bespoke island design, safari lodges, and private homes for over twenty years. “It was very exciting to be asked to design and furnish Miavana,” says Silvio. “This was the perfect project for us, with a pure, clean canvas to take our journey designing island language to the next level.”
“For us, the idea was to create extreme luxury without the design becoming overpampered,” he explains. “Ultimately, our focus remained on the island and the experience, with the guests being submerged into a world of barefoot luxury, but with all the modern conveniences at hand. Extracting the island essence was imperative in creating a seamless connection between sea, sand, and sky.”
Looking down from the deck of our Villa and walking out onto the beach, I notice that the colors are all intertwined. Even the rocks used for the exteriors of the building bear the same shade of sand. Another captivating factor is the use of light for the buildings, with the architecture and design team’s clever application of a sophisticated proportioning system, merged with the simplicity of the structure.
We drive ourselves to dinner, served at the Time + Tide Miavana Village. The food is scrumptiously prepared, with the menu consisting of tsaky tsaky, beetroot & goat’s cheese, wood roast duck for the main course and lemon & thyme for dessert. The sky has become dark and looking up, the stars in the galaxy are out in full force.
Back at our Villa, we retire for the night after a cleansing shower with the fragrant Terres D’Afrique products. Our one-bedroom Villa is ample in size (4,844 sq ft), with a kitchen, dining room, lounge, a study (it can convert into a child’s bedroom), a main bedroom with inside and outside shower, deep soaking tub with views of the beach, an outside veranda and your own private pool.
After a good night’s sleep, we head to breakfast, consisting of an array of pastries, juices, bread, charcuterie, seasonal fruit and a hot breakfast of choice. We choose to unwind in our beautiful surroundings with the only activity being stand-up paddleboarding in the late afternoon.
A few more activities are lined up for Day 3, consisting of snorkeling off the house reef and lemur trekking in the afternoon. The lemurs were brought in from mainland Madagascar, where their biggest threat is poaching and deforestation. They are so happy here, that the family has grown with the addition of three lemur pups born in 2018. Flying through the air is evidently a lot of fun for them as we witness during our trek.
The day before our departure back to South Africa, we embark by boat on a visit to Nosy Manamphao, where about 70,000 terns have taken up residence. Prior to visiting the terns, we savor a delightful al-fresco picnic on the island. The sooty terns are nesting, and our first encounter is of new arrivals who are here for the breeding season. Next up are the ones who are guarding their precious eggs.
When guide Simon Andrianiaina instructs us to watch where we step as there are chicks everywhere, we first think he is joking. They are so well camouflaged that it’s really hard to spot them. It’s difficult to describe the overwhelming noise emitted from these birds, who feel threatened by human presence and we leave with a few ‘blessings’ (bird droppings) bestowed on us.
On our last morning, we enjoy a delectable breakfast and a swim in our pool. Time + Tide Miavana is a place of beauty and I observe what Silvio says in his parting words: “We wanted the décor to grow out of the island, with the color scheme being the sea and subaquatic world. One day, we were scuba diving and there seemed to be a very influential submerged space that led to the color choices for the curtains. When you close the curtains, it makes you feel as if you are in an underwater room, with soft light permeating into the room.”
As I open the curtains to take in the incredible vistas of the ocean and swaying palm trees through the floor to ceiling windows, I realize a lot of time and effort had gone into constructing an island paradise that is far off the beaten track. I am able to gather my thoughts during our helicopter flight from the island back to Nosy Be Airport. Sitting at the airport, I ponder on the amazing time we enjoyed at Time + Tide Miavana, even though we would have liked to have stayed longer.
My daughter is puzzled by our seat numbers for our flight to Johannesburg. I quietly wonder if there is a larger plane on its way as our inbound aircraft was the Airlink Embraer 135. We are both delighted to see the arrival of the Airlink Embraer E-Jet, flying us back in true Airlink style.
Thank you to Kayleigh Woodman and Mindy Roberts from Time + Tide Africa for our accommodation arrangements. Special thanks to the friendly and hospitable staff at Miavana for ensuring a memorable stay.
For more information, contact Kayleigh Woodman, [email protected]
*** Views expressed are the author’s own.
Airlink – How to Get There
Airlink: Airlink is a privately owned and funded entity. It operates as a Regional Feeder Airline and franchisee of South African Airways using its own visible brand intellectual property. Connecting travelers to more than 55 routes within southern Africa and St Helena island.
Route Specific Information: Direct scheduled flights from Johannesburg to Nosy Be, Madagascar.
Connectivity: Through our alliance with SAA, travelers can connect conveniently, effortlessly and seamlessly, with SAA, their Partner airlines and other carriers throughout Southern Africa and the world.
Frequent Flyer Programme: Airlink is a member of the South African Airways Loyalty program -Voyager.
Discover more: www.flyairlink.com
Visitors require a Visa when entering Madagascar. Ensure that you have enough USD or GDP in cash as they do not accept credit cards at the airport.