Soft launched in April 2021, the ultra-luxury Kisawa Sanctuary Mozambique has now fully opened with a series of 22 bungalows, each located within its own acre of beachfront and forest. Jenny Southan reports
Located on 5km of beachfront and coastal forest on Mozambique’s Benguerra Island, Kisawa Sanctuary is the vision of entrepreneur, creative director and philanthropist Nina Flohr.
With all-inclusive stays costing €5,000 per night, the ultra-luxury Indian Ocean resort was designed to have the “lightest possible footprint on the land”, with no heavy machinery used in its construction.
Instead, a sand and seaweed mortar was applied via a 3D printer to create flooring, countertops, tiles and even stools, tables, vases and vessels. The buildings themselves are made of wood with non-cement plaster.
(Cement is bad for the environment as the production of it creates a huge amount of CO2 and consumes vast quantities of fresh water. Read more on the BBC.)Local weavers, thatchers, carpenters and textile makers from Benguerra and the neighbouring islands were also employed to showcase their skills, with bespoke furniture and artwork all coming together to provide a “thoughtful and authentic sense of place”.Kisawa fully opened this month with 22 bungalows across 12 residences across the island. Some lie on the calmer cove side, while others shelter in the dunes on the ocean side, yet all are positioned within their own secluded plot of at least one acre of beachfront, dunes and forest.Each bungalow has either one, two or three bedrooms and comes with a private swimming pool, shaded day area with an outdoor kitchen, and pantry stocked to guest preferences.
Although the nightly rate is expensive, in-room charges are not required because the intention is to “enable guests to enjoy their Mozambican home and fully recharge and reconnect without the worry about daily expenses”. Stays also include access to a private butler and chef, free laundry and unpacking services, transfers, a jet lag recovery treatment at the Natural Wellness Center including a 90-minute massage, all meals, soft
drinks, house wine and cocktails, excursions and water sports.
Each bungalow sleeps at least two people. Some stand alone, while others are positioned in groups, so family or friends can have a balance of privacy and togetherness. A 24/7 personal service team, plus a fleet of electric Mini Mokes, mean the Kisawa experience is “intuitive and self-directed”.
It’s worth noting that Flohr has invested “significantly” in the community, with 80 per cent of the construction workforce from Benguerra Island itself, and half of whom were women. Today, Kisawa is run by 220 staff, with 90 per cent of the operational team from Africa and the remainder combining various expertise from around the world.
What kinds of facilities are on offer at Kisawa Sanctuary? There is a Natural Wellness Centre providing treatments rooted in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, as well as a state–of–the–art Japanese Iyashi dome
sauna using gentle infrared heat to promote healing. Meanwhile a fully equipped gym has Pilates reformer machines for guests to use alone or with expert tuition.Its seven restaurants and bars share a commitment to sanctuary-grown produce, zero-waste and no processed food. Kisawa relies on a network of farmers and producers to ensure fresh local ingredients daily.
Kisawa Sanctuary also has its own nearby marine research centre at sister property the Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies, which also happens to be Africa’s first permanent ocean observatory. Their parallel operations create a new, symbiotic business model whereby for-profit hospitality contributes directly to nonprofit marine science and research.
The data and knowledge output of BCSS informs the environmental decisions of the sanctuary, ranging
from design choices and ocean awareness, to meaningful guest experiences – such as spending the day tagging sharks from the deck of the research vessel.
Benguerra Island is part of the Bazaruto Archipelago, home to some of the richest yet least explored subtropical ecosystems in the Indian Ocean. It hosts more than 150 bird species, including flamingos and parrots, as well as the rare dugong (cousin of the manatee), Nile crocodiles and samango monkeys.
Humpback whales, orca, several species of rays and sharks, including whale sharks, five species of sea turtles, marlin, tuna, groupers, and an assortment of dolphins are either regular visitors or permanent residents.
Benguerra Island is situated 14km off Mozambique, on the Eastern coast of Africa. The nearest airport is
Vilankulo (VNX) with commercial flights from Johannesburg (JNB) and Maputo (MPT).
Personalised helicopter charters from Vilankulo Airport to the Sanctuary can be organised by the Kisawa team, with a flight time of five to ten minutes. A transfer to Kisawa from Vilanculos by private boat is about 30 minutes.