From dream to reality:
While working in South Africa as an engineer for oil and gas companies, Thomas explored Southern Africa and even became a certified guide. After his first visit to Mozambique, Thomas called his childhood friend, Fred, with whom he shared a lifelong dream to create a project one day. He thought he found just the place to make it a reality.
Fred and Thomas scoured the coast of Inhambane province looking for the perfect location to begin their endeavor. There was no road to The Dunes, so their first visit, they drove with their guides as far as the sandy road would take them and then trekked east toward the ocean. What they discovered was virgin coastal woodland, still ripe with native plants and trees, home to vervet monkeys, mongoose bush babies and more than a hundred different species of bird. With no nearby water source, the land was uninhabited by people. At sunset they arrived to the peak of The Dunes and captured their first view of the Indian Ocean.
With a rose and sherbet sunset sky set against the aquamarine Indian Ocean waves crashing against the reefs below, Fred and Thomas arrived at the peak of The Dunes and were immediately captivated. Even though they continued their search, they always returned to The Dunes. Despite the lack of basic resources like water and energy, The Dunes was it.
Thomas closed his chapter as an engineer and Fred, a farmer and an architect, packed up with his wife, Sophie Anne, and their three children and headed to Mozambique. They embarked on a four-year journey to create their vision of The Dunes: a sustainable and luxurious nature oasis that would conserve rather than detract from its glorious surroundings.
From February 2007 to the end of 2011, the road was long and arduous but their perseverance is in every last detail of The Dunes. They spent years training their team who all came from the local communities to be carpenters, electricians and plumbers and labored side-by-side to lay every brick, cast every wall, hammer every nail and smooth every plank that makes the Dunes. Assembly lines spent months passing cement bucket by bucket from the base camp up to lay the foundation. So many buckets were carried that members of the crew were called ‘Bucket’ back in the village. Over 1,500 tons of materials were hauled in, as much as possible sourced locally, and transformed into The Dunes. Every beam, bed frame, table and chair was crafted right here.
Two years into the project, a friend of Thomas’ working in Maputo came to visit and help with construction, bringing in tow her friend, Alexandra, from Paris. Alex and Thomas were taken with each other and the rest, as they say, is history. Nine months and a few trips back and forth later, Alex quit her job as a project lead in international racial and gender justice work, rented out her Paris flat and dove headfirst into work at The Dunes.
Alex, too, learned carpentry and masonry skills she never imagined would be part of her daily life. In her first months, Alex and Lazaro toiled daily to construct Bungalow Two and she started in on English lessons to prepare for the day the ‘doors’ of The Dunes would open. Once the team that would stay on after construction was selected, it was Alex that led the effort to train everyone in hospitality management and is at the helm of the kitchen. Each meal at The Dunes has been conceived and crafted by Alex and our chefs.
There is no part of your experience at The Dunes that hasn’t been carefully imagined and executed by Fred, Sophie-Anne, Thomas, Alexandra and the team. We all take tremendous pride in sharing our continuous labor of love with each visitor to The Dunes. We hope you feel that during your stay and look forward to meeting you!