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  • Susana Vidal

The Bahia Mar Journey

Our history, from Cashew Trees to Corporate Functions

Mozambique’s development was seriously curtailed by the war for Independence which started in 1964, followed by the protracted civil war which ravaged the country from 1982 to 1990. There was no formal agriculture during this period as the opposing forces lived off the land, existing rather than cultivating.

It was toward the end of this time that Mr Paulo Zucula, a Mozambican citizen and qualified agronomist with a passion for agriculture, discovered a stand of impressive land on the Vilanculos beachfront. Believing that the end of the conflict was in sight, and certain that the land was fit for cashew production he decided to acquire that land and use it for research and development into proficient cashew nut farming with a focus on more effective propagation and species cloning. Paulo explains -“When I found the land it wasn’t incorporated into the Vilanculos Village Municipality and consequently it could be farmed. I dreamed of establishing a viable cashew nut farm and research facility there and eventually retiring to enjoy the magnificent sea views and a quiet lifestyle. As soon as I started planting cashew trees and built the research laboratory the war was over and the government had plans for tourism that included my beautiful piece of land. I had to move away from the beachfront if I wanted to pursue the cashew dream.”

Conference Facilities

At that time the only hotel in the area – The Dona Ana, had been closed since the start of hostilities and was in need of considerable renovation. Vilanculos Beach Lodge was being built however and, after consultation with the owners, Paulo decided to turn his attention from cashew nuts to corporate functions. “We agreed that a Conference Centre would greatly enhance the opportunities in the area, and so I built the Vilanculos Conference Centre which was completed in 2003. It was a big shift in focus for me but I had worked in tourism planning before and I knew tourism would benefit the development of the country as well as cashew farming would do.”

The initial success of this new enterprise was curtailed by Cyclone Flavio, which made land in February 2007 destroying some infrastructure including the conference center. With no insurance cover for Acts of God available at that time, it was necessary to raise capital to rebuild by bringing a new partner. Plans to extend the facility to include a swimming pool and bar were generated to broaden its scope and attract investors. “We wanted to develop it as a more social environment – a club as well as a corporate function venue” Paulo expands. “I was however appointed as Mozambique’s Minister of Transport in 2008 and the demands this position made on my time meant that these plans were delayed until 2013. ”

Paulo resigned his Government position in 2013 and was again able to turn his attention fully to the facility, building the rooms, spa, gymnasium and staff facilities all of which were completed for the official opening of the Bahia Mar Club in April 2014.

The new 10 rooms and SPA were concluded by the end of 2019 and Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel looks forward to continue to welcome guests from both far and near.

Bahia Mar is expanding the facilities and services to include environmental protection and contribute to primary education through its Corporate Social Responsibility.


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