On the edge of the world

MAY 2011 – Situated in a magnificent location just south of Maputo, and blessed with endless beaches and far-reaching views of the aquamarine Indian Ocean, this exclusive resort is a welcome addition to Mozambique.

Sixty years ago, what is now Maputo was a playground for many a holidaymaker. Come summertime, the city’s stylish hotels, restaurants and cafés saw throngs of fashionable visitors making the most of the palm-treed paradise, sipping coffee and enjoying spiced Portuguese-Mozambican cuisine. Meanwhile in the more remote areas, rudimentary camps and lodges sprung up, ticking the boxes for those who didn’t mind roughing it, and who visited the country more for its extraordinary natural beauty, unspoilt beaches and dive sites than the allure of a glamorous holiday. Much has changed in the country since, but with political stability and the development of the tourism industry, so visitor numbers to Mozambique have increased, and likewise the demand for luxury boltholes has grown. The arrival of White Pearl Resorts, Ponta Mamoli reflects the demands of a jet-set clientele that relishes the opportunity to enjoy the luxurious details of a sophisticated resort, yet still wants a remote location on a pristine stretch of coastline.

Situated a mere 25 kilometres south of Maputo, this exclusive escape is a rarity indeed as, more often than not in Mozambique, visitors have to travel great distances by road or by air to reach any of the country’s five-star lodge and hotel experiences. The first property of its kind in these unspoilt southern reaches of the country, guests can access the resort by road (from the South African border it is about a 90-minute or 100-kilometre transfer) or – if they prefer, as many do – by a short and scenic helicopter flight. Once an unassuming and rustic destination famed for its world-class diving, White Pearl Resorts, Ponta Mamoli focuses on maintaining its unique location and breathtaking natural surrounds as the heroes. Each of the newly completed 22 suites is designed to blend into the lush environment as a sleek ‘beach bungalow’. Inside, interiors are an exercise in pared down modern style, featuring a blue-and-white palette with hints of glamour in the decorative details and décor nuances. Designed by renowned hotel, lodge and restaurant design specialist, Chris Browne, the Mid Century Modern style is something of a nod to the country’s mid- 20th-century heyday. Each of the suites comes complete with style-driven furnishings in tactile linens and cottons, 400-count bed linen, every mod con imaginable (from flat screen TVs to air-conditioning) and even a plunge pool. Most importantly, each haven features uninterrupted Indian Ocean views – thus ticking all the boxes for the guest who seeks both style and sanctuary. Although there is a seemingly endless menu of activities for guests to enjoy, the resort and suites are designed so that doing as little as possible and simply enjoying the incredible location is very much a part of the plan.

Superb diving ensures those who are keen underwater fans can get up close and personal with the pristine coral reefs and the creatures that call the waters here home. If you’re here at the right time of year, you may even witness the extraordinary spectacle of endangered loggerhead and leatherback turtles laying their eggs. There’s also deep-sea fishing, kayaking and horse riding along beautiful nature trails. And for those whose main priority is to recharge their batteries, what more could one ask for after a long walk on the beach than a massage in the comfort of your suite?

Inspired by the beach clubs of Ibiza and the likes of Nikki Beach in Marbella, the resort’s central guest area epitomises ‘beach chic’, complete with an almost all-white interior, low- slung sleek white leather couches, sophisticated lighting and an expansive deck with four-poster wooden loungers looking out to sea – a place where glamorous parties after days on the beach certainly wouldn’t go amiss. The lounge and bar offers sun kissed guests a chance to dress up as little or as much as they want and to linger over sunset cocktails while enjoying the mix of tapas on offer, but in true ‘who cares’ style, shoes are of course strictly optional. Later, once it’s time for dinner, the focus shifts to the cuisine on offer and, to a soundtrack of waves breaking on the beach, the staff share the specials on the menu – many of them, of course, seafood based. The focus here is on authenticity with the seasonal menus featuring typical Mozambican-Portuguese specialities. Couple this with the cocktails and excellent wines on offer and it’s no wonder that this sexy spot is making a name for itself as one of Mozambique’s most sophisticated secrets.

Thanks to its convenient location so close to the South African border, the resort is a perfect partner to a safari experience and, already since its opening just a few months ago, many guests have paid this style-driven escape a visit after time spent in the bush. It’s proximity to buzzing Maputo also offers visitors an opportunity to step into its sanctuary with the minimum of effort, allowing them to focus on the task at hand: to unwind and soak up the serenity and extraordinary surrounds that make this getaway so unique.

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