Friday, 6 June 2014

Community Upliftment at Casa Rex

At Casa Rex & Sol Resorts we believe that strength lies in our community pulling together – we have seen it countless times with some remarkable results.

In the small coastal town of Vilanculos, there are many initiatives & efforts towards building a better & stronger community that go unnoticed. We would just like to point out a few that directly involve our staff & their families, & show them that we, too are committed to helping out wherever we can. As an example we have picked 2 incidences – the first where one of our staff has outdone himself in running a local English class from a make-shift classroom in his garden - & the second a touching story of the help given to 2 twin girls born to another one of our staff.

At the beginning of 2013 our dedicated Head Housekeeper -  Sr Sergio Manga founded the Escola de Inglês da Comunidade de Alto Macassa – the Alto Macassa Community English School.  He realized that there are many adults in his community who do not speak English and are, as a consequence, disadvantaged when applying for jobs in the predominant local tourism industry. He decided to teach them!
The move was welcomed by the Secretario de Bairro - the area Administrator, who himself asked to be a pupil and the fledging school was opened.
Sergio built benches from local wood under the trees in is garden paying for the transportation of wood himself.  Casa Rex and other members of the ex-pat community assisted with the purchase of books, pens, blackboards and chalk.
Teaching when he finishes work, Sergio already has two classes. One at 4.00  pm for children and another which starts at 6.00 pm for adults. The benches are filled to overflowing and the appreciative students are progressing well.
The good rains this year have however highlighted the need to build a more sheltered structure. Casa Rex has donated roofing and funds are currently being raised to purchase other building material and more exercise books and dictionaries.
Empowering the enthusiastic students is a worthy project and Sergio, our special Housekeeper, is deserving of support in his non-profit venture!

The second example involves one of our gardeners, Filemone Chissumba, working at Deacra (Sol Resorts’ self-catering villas).  A month ago, Filemone’s wife died tragically whilst giving birth to twin girls, leaving him with the monumental task of looking after these 2 babies. Our manager at Casa Rex (who we commend for always being ready to assist in like-situations), most effectively put the word out, encouraging the community to help out. It was very touching to see the community response, as Filemone has been inundated with donations of clothes & other essentials. As the picture indicates the girls are doing well & we will continue to follow their story!

To conclude, in the words of Mother Theresa – “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Romance is in the air...Weddings in Paradise at Casa Rex!

With Mozambique’s famous Bazaruto Archipelago Islands as your backdrop, Casa Rex Boutique Hotel in Vilanculos provides the ultimate venue for your dream wedding.
The hotel is perfectly situated for romantic occasions, with panoramic views across the multi-hued azure waters of the bay. Here nature conspires to make unforgettable memories…

Fourteen exceptional en-suite rooms, all with a great view of the bay & with air conditioners, fans and a hot beverage station await your guests. The Honeymoon Suite with its bougainvillea-fringed veranda and spacious interior is yours with our compliments.

Dedicating its entire facility to your event, the Casa Rex Wedding package includes:
Rooms:  2 Premium rooms, 4 double Acacia rooms, 4 twin Acacia Rooms and 4 Courtyard/Family Suites
Honeymoon suite: Complimentary with a welcome bottle of Sparkling Wine and Romantic Turndowns every evening.

Combined cost: US$3776 per night for couples or individuals sharing above rooms.
(20% discount off normal rates) The rate includes a full a la carte breakfast and airport transfers.

Breakfast – Included in room rate.
Dinner  - your choice of 3 courses from our delicious a la carte menu = US$35 per person.
Wedding feast: Seafood cooked with Mozambican flair is our specialty, but we are happy to discuss the menu with you to provide a banquet that is entirely to your requirements.

The ceremony:
With its elevated position and stunning views, the magnificent indigenous gardens at Casa Rex provide the perfect setting for your ceremony. A bougainvillea-bedecked arch frames both the view and the bridal couple as they confirm their union.  As the bride walks across the lawn to where her life partner awaits her, few can doubt the romance of the occasion.

Cost of decorations : As per requirement.
Cost of lay minister for blessing/ Photography/ Wedding cake : Per quotation

With a wide range of activities to choose from, Casa Rex staff are happy to organize these for your party. Snorkeling, scuba diving, kite boarding, sunset cruises, island visits, spa treatments and many other activities are available to suit every requirement.

...Casa Rex – Pristine Paradise, Picture-perfect Wedding                                   

Friday, 7 February 2014

Wining & dining in Mozambique...

In every country & culture, there are culinary favorites - Mozambique being no exception. Because of its heritage, Mozambique’s cuisine is largely Portuguese with Eastern influences. A visit to a local market, or Mercado, provides a wide range of fresh produce, fish & seafood, along with a host of other items that you would find in a regular supermarket.

  • National specialties include peri-peri chicken, Zambezi shellfish & succulent prawns.
  •  Vilanculos is known for its bountiful seafood – prawns, lobster & calamari (lulas), as well as game fish such as sea bass, red snapper, kingfish, tuna & dorado caught in the warm waters of the Bazaruto Archipelago. Fresh fish & seafood is also often available from local fishermen on the beach.
  • For in-between times, Portuguese-style bread & pastries are also a favorite, with cafes & ‘pastelarias’ being a common characteristic of most of the bigger cities & small coastal towns.   
  • Cashew nuts & huge, juicy pineapples for sale typify Mozambican roadsides & are definitely worth sampling.
  • Local Mozambican beer is hugely popular with 2M (Doiseme) being the favored brand & known far outside its borders. Wine lists, however, usually include a selection of imported South African & Portuguese wines.
At Casa Rex's a la carte restaurant you’ll find the aromas of classic Mozambican & Portuguese dishes in the air: prawns cooked with lemon and garlic butter, the spicy & smoked flavor of peri-peri chicken, the specially-prepared crayfish feast or the traditional creamy codfish or ‘gomes de sa’. If a light lunch (or hearty snack!) takes your fancy, there’s nothing better than a seasoned prego or steak roll.
A beach holiday conjures up images of relaxing in the sun with a cocktail in hand, & Casa Rex’s menu does not disappoint, offering traditional cocktails like pina coladas, caipirinhas & the essential Bloody Mary.

Mozambique’s gastronomy is as much a part of the whole holiday experience as the majestic palm trees, pristine beaches & spectacular sunsets over the ocean. A must for those who haven’t tried it yet!   

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Dreaming of a sun-kissed beach?

With brutally cold temperatures in the US & Canada this past month (ushering temperatures   in the US Midwest of –37C and shattering a 118 year old low temperature record on the East coast in early January), and with more than 100 flood warnings in England, Scotland & Wales earlier this month, at CasaRex we’re extremely fortunate, and grateful, to have some of the best weather conditions in the world for the most part of the year!

With a tropical climate, the weather along the coast of Mozambique is sunny and warm even in midwinter. The summer months from October through to April bring the rainy season & very warm & humid conditions, whist the winter months from April to September are cooler & drier.

Being directly on the coast has meant that Vilanculos has seen a number of tropical cyclones over the years, perhaps the most significant being Cyclone Favio in February 2007. What is interesting to note however, is that being as structurally sound as it is, Casa Rex has never been grossly affected by any of these.

Coastal temperatures during the day average 27C and can rise up to 32C in the summer, and 13C to 24C in the winter. The average annual rainfall of Mozambique is 800 to 900 mm. Water temperature is generally between 22C in winter & 27C in summer.

Tips for the best time to visit weather-wise if you love to…
Ø  Dive!
June to September if you want to see migrating humpback whales. Whale sharks can be seen most of the year, but the best time to see them is from October to March. Visibility is from 25 – 40 meters.
Ø  Fish!
Between September & November is the best time to catch large black & striped marlin in the warm waters around the Bazaruto Archipelago. May to September is peak time for sailfish, May to August for yellowfin tuna, August to March for king mackerel & September to April for kingfish.
Ø  Kite-surf! 
August through March is when the wind is best with trade winds blowing between 15 – 22 knots either from the SE or NE. Preferable not to kite-surf when it’s wet & there’s not much wind.

…these & many more activities are on offer whilst in Vilanculos.

So if you have had to endure freezing temperatures or incessant rain this January and are dreaming of a sun-kissed beach…come visit us at Casa Rex, a warm welcome is just the start!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas in Vilanculos anyone?

How often do you get to spend Christmas in a beautiful tropical country against a backdrop of sandy white beaches & the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean? For some it’s a once in a life-time experience, but it’s often asked how Christmas is celebrated in our parts, so we’d like to share.

There are approximately 350 million Christians in Africa & Christmas is celebrated throughout the African continent. In Mozambique, along with the indigenous religions, the main religions practiced are Christianity & Islam as a result of the cultures that have dominated the country throughout history. Whilst the Arab traders introduced Islam, the Portuguese made it one of their missions to spread Christianity in the 1400’s. Statistically, 60 percent of the Mozambican population practices a form of traditional indigenized religion, 30 percent are Christian, and about 10 percent are Muslim.
The strong Christian presence means that Christmas is a special & reverent time.  In the bigger cities such as Maputo, there are large Catholic cathedrals which hold traditional midnight Christmas Eve ceremonies where age-old carols are sung. Additionally, decorations are hung & celebratory dances held, often with elaborate traditional costumes.

Good to know:
  • Ø  Christmas Day is also called Family Day in Mozambique.
  • Ø  A dove (symbolizing peace) and a cross form Mozambique's logo for the Christian Council, and this symbol is often found on trees during Christmas time each year.
  • Ø  Gifts are given at Christmas but the holiday is not quite as commercial as it is in Europe or America, with a new set of clothes for the Christmas church service being a most popular gift.
  • Ø  Various international organizations operating in Africa make sure that the very poor receive food donations to make the day special.
  • Ø  Unless you're in the mountains, there's little chance of having a white Christmas in Africa!

For us, close to the coast, Christmas Eve dinner at Casa Rex includes popular seafood delicacies & inherited Portuguese favorites.  Lunch on Christmas Day is sumptuous with more time-honored fare such as ham, turkey, lamb roast & all the trimmings just to give those far from home a taste of the traditional. Finished, of course, with a decadent sweet!

Check our website next week for our full Christmas menu. Casa Rex’s a la carte restaurant is open throughout the holidays & it is essential to book early. Call us on +258-293-82048

No need to worry about over-indulging – there’s always lots to do to work it off – from a simple walk along the beach as the sun sets, to the more adrenalin-inducing activities & water-sports that the area has to offer in the days that follow…

However you choose to spend it, we take this opportunity to wish all our guests, business colleagues & you - our readers – a fun-filled & memorable holiday season.

Boas Festas from sunny Vilanculos & we hope to see you in the New Year!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Meet the Dugong...

Dugongs of the Bazaruto Archipelago - Photos courtesy of

Part of a National Park & a World Heritage site, the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago lie off the coast of Mozambique & can be seen from mainland Vilanculos. 4 of the 5 islands which make up the Archipelago (namely Bazaruto, Benguerra, Margaruque, Santa Carolina & Bangue) are visible from Casa Rex. The shallow, protected coastal waters between the sand-dunes of the islands & the mainland are home to the dugong – the rare & unusual marine mammal, whose last viable population lives in the western Indian Ocean.

Interesting to note:
  • Ø  The dugongs’ half fish & half mammal appearance may have inspired the concept & sea-faring stories of mermaids & sirens.
  • Ø  They are often referred to as sea-cows with a diet that consists largely of sea grass, but are actually more closely related to the elephant.
  • Ø  Dugongs can stay underwater for 6 minutes before surfacing & can breathe by standing on their tails with their heads above water.
  • Ø  The difference between a dugong & a manatee is the dugong’s fluked tail, which is much like that of a whale. 

Sadly, the dugong population is under threat – from a combination of: habitat loss from the silting of sea grass beds, pollution, boat traffic & illegal hunting especially in developing countries. They have been listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species & international trade in dugongs is banned by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The United Nations Environment Program has also addressed the status & protection of the dugong.

Like to get a glimpse of a dugong? Contact us for information on year-round dhow safari options to the islands. We’ll be happy to accommodate you at Casa Rex or Sol Resorts Rentals!

Want to help? See Through conservation efforts, education (via the “Observe, Preserve and Conserve”  initiative), research & the recruitment of sponsors & ambassadors, they are doing all they can to: 
(i) in the long term provide a better & broader understanding of the conservation and sustainability of the marine environment; and 
(ii) more immediately, save these gentle mermaids of the sea from extinction.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

We're thankful for...

...our Management & Staff!

Casa Rex is perfectly placed in a bay, high above the pristine beaches, yet on the beachfront, affording unsurpassed views from every vantage point. Being architecturally sound & aesthetically pleasing further make it an excellent choice for holidaymakers, honeymooners, business people & guests stopping over for a night or 2 on the way to the islands. 
However - what really makes the difference at Casa Rex is the personal touch – the feeling you are looked after from the moment you walk in the door. The warm hospitality extended to our guests has been a large part of our success.  

Since its inception, Casa Rex have been privileged to have a staff complement of approximately 35 people that are in the words of one of our guests “..friendly, warm and helpful in the extreme. They go out of your way to ensure you have all that you need.” (Trip Advisor Review, Sept 2013) Paired with a super-efficient, hands-on management team, our staff have made all the difference over the years in making sure that our guests have - not just a pleasant stay - but an unforgettable one.

To quote James Cash Penney –
“Growth is never by mere chance – it is the result of forces working together.”   

This week our team lost a special member, Sr Vicente, who had worked with us for over 15 years, since even before Casa Rex’s opening in our days of operating on Magaruque island. 
Sr Vicente was a dedicated & loyal member of staff who will be sadly missed & remembered with respect & fondness.