In the Gulf of Guinea hides an unknown archipelago, discovered by Portuguese navigators in the 15th century, made up of two volcanic islands, Sao Tome and Principe, covered with tropical forests, a veritable Eden as intact and preserved as in the early mornings of world.
After the declaration of independence and the departure of the Portuguese in 1975, the islands fell into oblivion until Mark Shuttleworth, a wealthy South African computer genius, fell in love with the island of Principe and decides to give it a new impetus.
Airport, road infrastructure, schools, cocoa plantations, protection of Praia Grande turtles, fauna and flora, the island of Principe is reborn in an ecological mode thanks to this generous patron, nicknamed "the man of the moon for being the second space tourist.
To attract the attention of a clientele concerned about the preserved environment, but also about comfort and modernity, Mark Shuttleworth entrusts Didier Lefort, founder of D.L.2.A and his team, with the restoration of an old planter's house. , a “Roça” (a farm in Portuguese).
It was in 2017 that DL2A undertook to modernize this house from the 1920s. He saved the beautiful wooden staircase and its period ramp, the original cement tile floors, the entire facade and its loggia. He redid the coffered ceilings identically, introduced all the necessary comfort by modernizing the bathrooms, lighting and air conditioning. It takes up part of the original furniture, to which it mixes more contemporary furniture.
Now composed of 14 rooms and a suite, divided between the main house, the old mansion, and a colonial annex called the "Superintendent House", Roça Sundy has been revived and regained its charm of yesteryear.
A bar has been created, cozy and intimate, in warm shades of yellow and Parma. On the wall, two photos recall the total solar eclipse which was observed just a century ago by astrophysicist Arthur Eddington, who had chosen Roça Sundy to install his telescopes.
The beautiful dining room, repainted in nattier blue, opens onto a large shaded terrace at mealtimes. Always simple and tasty, the menus are designed by chef Apolinario using local produce and fish. We will long remember its chocolate fondant. Most of the fruit and vegetables come from the vegetable garden of a neighboring plantation, "Paciencia", where coffee is roasted, bananas are dried, vanilla is grown and delicious jams are made in a mini-laboratory. based on papaya or guava.
On the 1st floor of Roça Sundy, the rooms with a large balcony overlook the exuberant vegetation: acacias, banana trees, Gabon tulip trees with fiery flowers, ylang ylang with an intoxicating scent, alocasis with so-called "elephant ear" leaves. , while on the horizon sparkles the Atlantic Ocean. A fantastic observatory in the early hours of the morning for those who like to watch the birds, face to face with nature, in the company of an "early morning tea".
On the ground floor, the rooms are romantic with four-poster beds, blade fans, Venetian mirrors in the bathrooms and even, sometimes, an old-fashioned free-standing bathtub.
Deep armchairs, a secretary with small drawers and engravings by Portuguese artists bring a touch of glamor to this beautiful
"Roça", with human dimensions, where you quickly feel at home.
For the record: Roça Sundy was first a "school hotel" intended to train the staff of Sundy Praia, the 5-star tent village on the North coast built by DL2A on the beach. The success of the school has been such that moving from theory to practice, Roça Sundy has quickly transformed into a 4-star boutique hotel where almost everyone who works there is from the "local community", as they are called. here, the plantation villages.
Photographer : Geraldine Bruneel