This article appears in Volume 21: The Islands Issue.
Tucked away in perfect isolation 130 miles off the coast of West Africa, Príncipe is the smaller of the two islands that make up São Tomé and Príncipe, Africa's second-smallest nation. In June Príncipe saw the opening of Roça Sundy, a beautifully converted cocoa plantation house located in the heart of the rainforest with stupendous views over the ocean.
Back in the early 20th century, Roça Sundy was home to wealthy Portuguese plantation owners who oversaw the production of cacao on the island. Today the company that owns it has sustainability at its heart, recruiting and training more than 90 per cent of its staff from the surrounding community, paying fair wages and playing an active part in the upkeep of the natural environment.
There are only 12 rooms - six in the main Plantation House and six in the Colonial House. Each one has been furnished with traditional pieces, many from the original house, and several have spacious balconies overlooking the square or the rainforest. In the restaurant - where the views from the restored verandah are astonishing - the chef Angelo Rosso creates dishes inspired by his environment using fresh and seasonal seafood, fruit and vegetables. Whatever isn't grown in the hotel's own organic gardens is negotiated for fairly with local producers.
Beyond the house, guests can enjoy activities such as hikes through the Unesco biosphere reserve, birdwatching, cookery courses, massage and yoga, as well as whale and turtle-watching. Later this year the owners will also open a beachfront resort on the island, which will provide Príncipe with its first five-star accommodation. Guests at Roça Sundy will be able to share its facilities, including a swimming pool, watersports, a wellness centre and a restaurant.