Mauritius: Where to stay

by Adam Jacot de Boinod

Mauritius is an unspoilt island whether for a honeymoon, a young family or in retirement. The hotels are excellent, the service is wonderful and the food local, fresh and delicious. Here are my recommendations...

As an island at which to settle, Mauritius was first discovered by the Arabs, then the Portuguese (16th century), the Dutch (17th century), then the French (18th century) before the British conquered the island in the 19th century. Eventually it became independent.

What I was so impressed by was the island’s syncretism and her approach to religion. This is an island comprising half of Hindi and the rest, principally of Christians and Muslims. Each Hindi house is visible from the road with its two red flags for purity and a small shrine. Interestingly Tamil temples are very colourful with all their Gods depicted on the exterior while Hindi temples depict their Gods discretely within with only a red and white plain exterior. It is so wholesome to see a complete freedom of religious discord. Even the island’s dead are all buried in the same cemetery together irrespective of their faith.

My first resting spot, the glamorous Four Seasons Resort, lies on the east coast at Anahita. It opened in 2008 and comprises purely of different grades of villa, and it’s all been thoroughly thought through. It’s classy. It’s all bridges, bicycles and buggies along fresh concrete alleyways. Perfect for kids as well as perfunctory for the demands on the staff. It attracts chiefly a British clientele though Dutch, French, Chinese and Koreans make up most of the rest.

For golfers, the hotel’s own course should be a sufficient challenge as it was designed by the famous Ernie Els, while the one opposite on the Île aux Cerfs was designed by Bernhard Langer. For sun worshippers, the lack of a remarkable beach, given that the water is too shallow to swim with any degree of confidence, is more than compensated for by the hourly option of a boat shuttle to the Île aux Cerfs. Here I stepped off the quay into a secluded cove only minutes away. A truly idyllic paradise. The whole stretch of beach to myself. Bliss!

At my next hotel, Lux Le Morne, the rooms have a neutral décor. Lots of decking, wood and white with no need mercifully for any embellishment. The foyer is cool and clean. Outside my rooms the gardeners play ‘hook and catch’ with coconuts using an averruncator (a long stick with shears for cutting high branches). Next to them there’s even a “Tree of Wishes” on which guests tag notes containing their personal dreams.  And for parents there is the relief of islands in the middle of creatively shaped swimming pools from which to watch over their kids’ safety from all angles. Perfect for a young family.

I then was to experience my next hotel The Residence. The rooms have beautiful white shutters and outside there are gazebos for quiet contemplation. The few lights on the trees at night make the leaves flow like an orchestra as the palm trees flutter. A perfect environment for dining in the choice of two restaurants: The Plantation, the lovely airy outdoor hall of an original planter’s house by the beach which has a menu befitting a gourmet. And The Verandah which offers the right variety as a high-class buffet for those who typically stay more than a week.

All felt invigorating and new though actually The Residence Mauritius has been open now for eighteen years, it’s the English who are the main punters. 50% of them come back time and again. Two weeks is their typical stay. And now increasingly come the Chinese, typically for only five days and only ever the once. They prefer not to sunbathe or use the hotel’s activities. Instead they go shopping and pose furiously with their parasols and couture frocks to be photographed by their patient and adoring boyfriends. I wish I had had two weeks here.

So on to my final place to stay the The Hideaways Club Stargazer.  The master bedroom is the only upstairs room (lording it over the other three more perfunctory bedrooms) and being the only distinguishing feature from the other Mauritian Hideaways property called Hibiscus. From the deep bath of its en suite bathroom, I saw the whole length of the southern coast with the waves crashing in from a distance. Stargazer was built in 2011 as part of Heritage Villas and it gave me free access to the Golf Course, Hotels Awani and Telfair and to the C Beach Club (C for Coast and the Place to C, the place to B” being the chant)!  [Membership of The Hideaways Club Classic Collection portfolio gives one access to properties all over the world. It’s perfect for someone who doesn’t want to be restricted to one location or have the hassle of maintenance.

All very spoiling on a very unspoilt island!

[Adam had support from Priority Pass and Gatwick Express. Discover: Mauritius - The Holiday Place has a wide range of holidays to Mauritius from just £1299 per person. Immerse yourself in boutique luxury right next to the amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site of Morne Braban Peak, staying 7 nights at Lux Le Morne and sharing a Superior room. Includes flights, accommodation and breakfast. To book call 020 7644 1770 or visit holidayplace.co.uk]

 

Adam Jacot de Boinod

Adam Jacot de Boinod worked on the first series of the BBC panel game QI for Stephen Fry. He is a British author having written three books about unusual words with Penguin Press.