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Issue 3
Africa Travel> Issue 3
UPDATED: August 27, 2014
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
There is a tiny piece of Greece to be found on beautiful Vilanculous in Mozambique
By Jo Kromburg

Santorini courtyard with enclosed pool is a presentation in luxurious perfection (JO KROMBURG)

I have been to the isle of Santorini in Greece. This was circa 1989. The black volcanic mass suddenly rising out of the vast deep-blue Aegean Sea like the Phoenix. The narrow cobble stone streets and quaint blue and whitewashed houses. The black volcanic sand. The intense soft violet-pink sunsets over the ocean. It was like nothing I had ever seen. Or so I thought...

I am on my way to "Santorini" again but this time it is in Vilanculos in Mozambique. I step off the twin propeller Airlink flight from Johannesburg into a gush of a wind and cloud but underneath it the year-round tropical heat slyly emerges. Neil, one of my hosts for the next three days, meets me and we set off to on the 20 minute drive to Villa Santorini through the metropolis of Vilanculos. Neil says the population of this coastal town in Mozambique, lying in the Vilanculos District of Inhambane Province, is 20,000 depending on whom you believe.

My exhaustion evaporates in an instant as he tells me about the villa and jokes in our lazy and charming African way. And then the eggshell white gates loom before us and a guard opens the gates to heaven. In all my travels I have never seen such a place. As a travel writer one can get jaded but every once in a while - if you are lucky - you find a place so inspiring that prose flows out of you like golden, wanton molasses. As I enter the courtyard (with al fresco seating area beside a pizza oven and gas BBQ), the sparkling pool before me gives way to the massive lounge beyond and beyond that is the green and blue hues of the Indian Ocean through massive windows as far as the eye can see. The ocean front deck has a pale blue martini pool, which faces directly onto the sea where you can relax, meditate and entertain on the covered sala, upstairs from the courtyard. There is also another deck for private massages or romantic dinners, to the left on a top floor. The Villa has a staircase to the beach.

Neil's wonderful and forever-smiling wife Christie takes me on a tour of the magnificent villa before lunch. The house is a superb example of design fusion of simplicity and luxury and the utmost care has been taken with the selection of every detail in terms of color scheme, fabrics, fixtures, paintings etc. The elegant white and blue theme of the Greek Isles pervades the house of course but beautiful personal touches make it feel like home. The multi-level design creates areas of solitude and space. Villa Santorini boasts two dining areas, a martini deck, TV room and library, children's bedroom (which can double up as a normal guests room with double or twin bed facility), a communal computer terminal with internet access and multi-functional levels tucked away for your inner serenity. Yet another unique feature of this project is that there were no formal architectural drawings used in the construction. All the builders, Hooper and Louw, had to work on foundation plans and a 3D artist's impression of the completed building, which you will find framed at the entrance to the TV lounge. There is a beautifully lit and comfortably furnished boma set away from the main villa. For the convenience of guests it has its own toilet facilities.

There is direct access to the beach with palm trees, thatched umbrellas and deck chairs for the ultimate in relaxation.

Five majestic en-suite bedrooms feature private balconies and breathtaking sea views. The Villa can sleep 10 people or eight adults and six children and the Chapel can accommodate another 2 people in utmost luxury. For lunch I sit down to fabulous fare.

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