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Santa Maria Hotels

Established as a health cure

In 1967 a Belgian industrialist and inventor Georges Vynckier. built a small guest house on the beach at Santa Maria for his personal use and invited guests. The six mile long expanse of white sand is unquestionably one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The commitment of the Vynckier family to build the Pousada Morabeza was greatly enhanced by the necessity of South African Airways for facilities to lodge its flight crews in Ilha do Sal. For over 20 years, SAA was denied air passage rights by most African governments as part of the international anti-apartheid movement. Hotel Morabeza and the seeds of international tourism were sown in Santa Maria because of the convergence of these two factors.

In 1986 the Government of Cape Verde built the Hotel Belorizonte immediately adjacent to the Hotel Morabeza. Novotel, the French hotelier, was contracted to manage the property for five years, train a cadre of Cape Verdean hotel staff and began the initial investment in marketing and promotion of Ilha do Sal as an international tourism destination. Several private watersports companies (Dive Cape Verde, Ltd. founded by Ray Almeida and a windsurfing company operated by Francois Guy, an international French champion) joined with the hotels and the Government of Cape Verde to promote Santa Maria as a destination for windsurfing, scuba diving and big game fishing.

The Government of Cape Verde made the decision to develop Ilha do Sal, particularly the south and south western coastal areas as an international tourism hotel zone. In the coming decade the airport, energy and water production and port infrastructures would be dramatically expanded to support the systematic development of the Island. The future of Santa Maria and Ilha do Sal would be tied to tourism.

In 1989, Aeroflot, the Russian flagship air carrier was granted permission to construct and operate a hotel on the beach at Santa Maria.