When British bankers Christopher and Stella Bettany decided to trade in their City clothes for flip-flops and open a hotel, they knew it had to be on an island. After a year’s search, they settled on Mozambique. ‘We knew it could stand its ground against the world’s top island destinations,’ says Stella. ‘All we had to do was bring in a new level of luxury.’ And they did just that, opening Azura’ Benguerta to great acclaim in 2007. Three years later, they were asked to take on Quilalea, a 35-hectare island in the remote Quirimbas archipelago.
This had been the first private island retreat to open in the region, and with its nine villas, four sandy beaches, baobab trees and coral-rich reef, they knew it was a real find. They invested £2.4 million in updates but kept the castaway feel with sandy pathways and rough-hewn furniture. This year Quilalea emerged fresh from a refurb and is looking better than ever with an improved dinky spa overlooking the ocean and a new dining space with mangrove crabs and crayfish tails on the menu. So, knock back a baobab smoothie at breakfast, then snorkel back to your room – what better way to start a day in Africa?