Sundy Praia: A Luxurious Island Escape

For every breathless hyperbolic word I've  written about São Tomé and Príncipe I could write as many more about the luxurious resort at Sundy Praia. If Principe is  cast in the marketing literature as an idyllic "secret" island then Sundy Praia  is without doubt its hidden gem. 
While we were  at home in our Covid induced bubbles Sunday Praia seems like a  fever dream of perfection, I felt grateful to have visited when we did and it's somewhere I can give the highest recommendation.
No wonder National Geographic picks this as one of their Unique Lodges of the World. It's one of those ultra high-end properties where every room is large, private and luxurious - each its own private retreat. Principe is an island that is itself (in touristic terms) a smaller more exclusive destination than the larger São Tomé. For the lucky traveller Sundy Praia reminds me of those nested Russian dolls, a retreat inside a retreat, luxury inside even more luxury.
If you're not convinced yet let's have a look at the rooms. Because of some issues we encountered at their sister property Bom Bom, we were upgraded into one of the glorious private pool rooms. But whether you have a private pool or not, each of the Master Suites are the same and as you can see in the photographs each room is a separate, stunning and luxurious pavilion. 
I  deliberately avoided the word tent because this is less glamping than the serious luxury of the very best safari properties. This kind of construction is often used in ecologically sensitive terrains and Sundy Praia was built with serious environmental and community considerations. Indeed this property, and the others in the HBD portfolio, are linked to a series of initiatives on Principe focused on education,  employment, housing and the environment.
As you can see nothing about this room says camping, it's more a modern island interpretation of One Hundred and One Nights. The roof casts a beautiful luminous light throughout the day and they draw the  heavy curtains around the four poster bed at night which makes it feel intimate and enclosed.
Next to the bed is an enormous carved stone bathtub which feels simultaneously luxurious and glamorous. It's reminiscent of Balinese hotels and very lovely.
The room has plenty of private outdoor space with lots of lounging areas around the private pool, again it's all beautifully lit at night and you look over the pool down to the beach.
Exploring the beach in front of our room at sunset, in that moment when the sky and sea same to be the same blue.
The hotel also has a public infinity pool, next to the bar but because we spent so much time in our room with its own pool I didn't take a very good photograph. The bar has a trendy, natural feel and they made great juice blends and cocktails.
You can see the pool cabanas in the background above.
As you can see the public spaces are impressive, open and comfortable they feel welcoming and stylish but have a relaxed organic feel throughout. There's a sense of texture, color and pattern that threads through each of the distinctive areas and there are lots of places to sit and enjoy, whether you're relaxing over a long breakfast or having a more formal meal in the evening when it's beautifully lit both inside and out.
The  scale and design of the thatched dining area is more reminiscent of South East Asia than West Africa, but the building materials are sustainable and local. I wasn't surprised to read after our visit that it had been built by Indonesian craftspeople.  
The architects at Didier Lefort were awarded the 2019 Prix de Versailles for the restaurant design  recognized  "for exceptional architecture and design in the context of sustainable development" in Africa. The picture above is from their site.
Aesthetically I loved this property, from the modern plantings, ponds, pool and innovative architecture to the stone bath tubs, luxurious textiles and modern lighting.
 The island of Principe is stunning, you feel breathless with wonder and this property brings that sense into the hotel itself. The public spaces are open to the landscape and it's a pleasure to see, highly recommended.
It's worth mentioning is that while the situation of  Sundy Praia is very beautiful, it's fair to say that their larger mid-range property at Bom Bom has  the best location on the island. I'll certainly be keen to review it again when they've completed their needed and expected renovation. The only drawback to visiting is that Principe is one of those places that from the minute the wheels lift off on the runway you hope you'll be back.