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January 4 2020
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A favorite saying on the island of Príncipe is “Leve, leve,” or “Slowly, slowly.” Message received: here, we’re supposed to take it easy. At Sundy Praia, South African billionaire Mark Shuttleworth’s tented beachfront resort, this won’t be an especially arduous challenge. Located 130 miles west of the African coast, Príncipe is nicknamed the “African Galápagos,” an under-the-radar oasis that boasts more endemic species per square mile than anywhere else on earth.

The hotel in question is a Didier Lefort–designed escape, as idyllic as a full-fledged beachfront resort but without the crowds at the breakfast buffet and the flip-flops by the pool. Sundy sits on the northern side of the island, wedged between the rustling banana trees of a cacao plantation and the turquoise waters of the Atlantic. Guaranteed: the only other living creatures on the beach are nesting marine turtles.

A newly hatched sea turtle from a protected conservation area in São Tomé and Príncipe, Africa.

Accommodations include 15 tented villas, which are offered in one-, two-, or three-bedroom configurations. Each is spacious and comes with its own private stretch of beach, floor-to-ceiling windows, and, in certain cases, a private pool. The décor is charmingly bohemian—simple, lofty, and bright, with polished wood finishes and expansive waterfront terraces.

Despite the hotel’s intimate size, the service is meticulous and attentive. (The spa offers massages at any hour of the day or night, and guides are on hand to take guests to observe the spawning and hatching of sea turtles on nearby beaches.) But the quality restaurant is the real production. The spindly, fish-shaped wooden structure conjures visions of a child’s much beloved tree house; at the table, all ingredients are sourced from the hotel’s organic eco-reserve. The specialty? Local wahoo or tuna, finished with chocolate sourced from a nearby plantation. —Elena Clavarino

Rates for a one-bedroom tented villa at Sundy Praia begin at $875 per night;
more information is available at sundyprincipe.com

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