This Island Resort in the Indian Ocean Is One of the Most Expensive Hotels in the World — Here’s What It’s Like to Stay

Three minutes. That’s all it required to identify my first chameleon after landing on Nosy Ankao, a palm-tufted island simply off the coast of northern Madagascar. I was giddy with excitement, however the striped lizard, about the size of a coke can, didn’t flinch. He tossed me a look with his lens-like eye and continued with his slow, jerky walk across the concrete course.

Together with the ylang ylang– scented cold towel and giant coconut I got after disembarking the helicopter that chose me up from Nosy Be airport, I couldn’t have actually requested for a much better welcome to Miavana. One of the most renowned island resorts in the Indian Ocean, Miavana opened in 2017. It’s backed by French-Mauritian financier Thierry Dalais, who likewise purchased the similarly legendary North Island resort in the Seychelles. It’s a high-flier hideaway for 1 percent of the 1 percent; a discrete and ultra-private retreat where you might have the likes of Martha Steward or Tom Cruise as your neighbor, and not even understand.
In my career as a travel journalist, I’ve been lucky enough to check out some of the dreamiest resorts around the world, however even before my arrival at Miavana, I knew I was in for something special. Nosy Ankao, the resort’s coral-fringed island base, which it shares with a small town of thatch-roofed huts and a dozen-or-so lemurs, is notoriously hard to get to.
Rows of beach chairs and umbrellas line the beach while the waves come in
What waited for was well-worth the schlep: mile after footprint-free mile of sugar-white beach, shared between simply 14 accommodations. Miavana calls them “villas,” but that looks like an understatement: with their spacious living areas, different lounge spaces, 2 breezy restrooms, and an outdoor shower, even the entry-level vacation homes are more similar to mini-estates. My villa, a two-bedroom retreat, included a detached totally fitted villa that would’ve been a top-category remain in many a beach resort. Here, it was simply the second bedroom.

Despite their classification, all rental properties open up to sprawling private gardens dotted with multiple sunbeds and Breton-striped bean bags around an ellipse-shaped swimming pool. Their interiors, created by South African architecture power-couple Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, deliver a breezy mix of wickerwork, regional limestone, and midcentury modern furniture accentuated with nautical touches such as copper porthole windows and fist-sized seashells.

With such a vast quantity of personal space and more pillow-strewn lounge nooks than I could depend on one hand, it was alarmingly simple to slip into a beachy bliss. From the sun chairs on my vacation home’s deck, I could look for hours at the blue-green horizon, enjoying whip-quick birds chase after flies in the jungle fringe and geckos indulging in the sun. In between dips in my personal pool and the gin-clear ocean out front, I ‘d challenge my Kindle batteries reading up on the interesting history of the African island that laid on the horizon. My butler was simply a WhatsApp-message away to provide fresh pineapple juice, iced lattes, or a full-fledged in-room breakfast or dinner with whatever from Malagasy vanilla crepes to cheese platters to healthy smoothie bowls topped with local cocoa nibs. I could’ve easily spent my midweek stay here, not leaving my vacation home at all. And as South African resort manager Craig Gemmell told me over dinner one night, numerous visitors would– some for more than 2 weeks at a time.
I, though, was itching to see more of the island and its environments. During a directed jungle walk around the island, I identified a number of more chameleons, lots of geckos, and orchid types that might only be discovered in this part of the nation.

Back at the resort, the Piazza, Miavana’s beachfront event area, offered more factors to leave my villa. It’s home to the communal pool– a sweeping white number lined with loungers and gauzy curtains billowing in the wind– and a small museum studded with taxidermied bugs and bones from now-extinct local animal types (the Madagasy pygmy hippopotamus and elephant bird eggs among them). One afternoon, I bought a table-spanning spread of Madagasy curries and grilled fish for lunch and a completely cheesy pizza margarita for dinner.

It’s among the most expensive resorts in the world, but the rate includes plenty of benefits: all meals and drinks, consisting of top-shelf spirits and numerous premium red wines. Visitors likewise don’t have to pay extra for scuba dives, boat cruises around the island chain, or assisted island excursions.

Still, it’s hard to put a price on a place this unique. “What makes Miavana unbeatable is its distance to some of the Earth’s most precious wildlife,” says Bjorn Behlert, senior travel consultant for Africa at high-end tour operator Scott Dunn, who routinely books his customers here. “From the tops of baobab trees to down deep in the coral reefs, there are surprises all over. Its stunning biodiversity combined with a genuinely distinct high-end experience is one of the many reasons visitors book– and re-book– this remote island resort.”

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