Breathtakingly beautiful Mauritius A real gem in the Indian Ocean
1 Relax at LUX* Le Morne A holiday in Mauritius is all about relaxation. You'll soon be taken over by the slow pace of life and most of your time is likely to be centered around your world-class resort hotel.
LUX* Le Morne is a great example, beautifully located at the foot of Le Morne mountain, this stylish hotel adjoins a long sandy and sheltered beach and the nearby reef creates ideal conditions for a spot of snorkelling – nothing too energetic! The great thing about this deluxe hotel is that it feels like a small boutique property and yet the accommodation meanders through extensive casuarina and palm studded gardens, within which are three good size swimming pools each with its own unique appeal. And wherever you choose to chill out, a cool drink or light snack is never far away. In all of its hotels, LUX* has also come up with some great little extras that seem to pop up out of nowhere - ice cream parlours or mobile carts, secret bars for a refreshing drink and if you really must call home, there are even UK style phone boxes from where you can phone home for free! Then what better way than to round off the day with an amazing spa treatment followed by a cool Mojito while watching the sun sink beneath the horizon.
2 Explore by car Mauritius is definitely an outdoors destination. If you can drag yourself away from the beach there is fabulous scenery to be seen and a whole host of activities to suit all tastes. The local people are friendly and it is safe.
Unlike many holiday destinations, most hotels string out around the island's coastline rather than being concentrated in resorts - of which there are very few. I reckon the best way to explore is by car and 2 or 3 days rental is all you need to see a lot. Driving is really easy, as long as you are not in a hurry, and like the UK you drive on the left. Speed limits generally range from 40km/h in residential areas to 80 km/h on highways.
I will always choose to explore the winding coastal road, passing through sleepy fishing villages, finding great spots to picnic, seeing dramatic seascapes and discovering small coves or lagoons of turquoise and sapphire waters. If like me you love photography, the south of the island in particular has some amazing scenery. Steep pinnacle mountains – as if from another planet – rise up from vast fields of sugar cane to pierce the deep blue sky, impromptu streams and waterfalls and bougainvillea clad homes. You'll also notice some strange shapes, where the surf pounds the shore and sculpts the rocks – like at Gris Gris (witch) - a rock shaped like a pointed hat off the coast.
3 The perfect swing There is an abundance of sporting activities ranging from every conceivable type of water sport to horse riding, cycling, tennis plus much more.
If you are a keen golfer like me (serious or casual) you'll love Mauritius which is home to some of the finest courses including several championship ones. My choice of course would have to be the Bernhard Langer designed, par 72, 18-hole championship course at Ile Aux Cerfs, on the island's east coast. This was voted the 10th best course in the world by Golf World magazine (UK) but is accessible to players of all levels and a round of golf won’t break the bank either. The island setting, just off shore from the world renowned Le Touessrok hotel, is truly spectacular. Covering some 38 hectares, with no less than nine lakes, the course offers superb views of the ocean from all 18 holes.
Here you will also find a David Leadbetter Golf Academy and if your partner isn't into golf then there is still plenty to keep them occupied. Surrounded by sparkling coral sand beaches there is a sailing club, water sports plus a selection of restaurants. Even if I wasn't playing golf I think the clubhouse, with its spectacular views and fine restaurant, would be worth a relaxing visit.
4 Island cuisine If your view of island dining is fish and rice then think again. Mauritius offers a superb choice of fine local cuisine with a strong influence from Asia and France. Many hotels now also feature specialty dining among their choice of restaurants including – Thai, Indian, Italian, Japanese, seafood and Creole, as well as French style fine dining and extensive international buffets.
The hotel’s concierge however, will always be able to recommend a great local restaurant nearby – there is a myriad of them, usually tucked away off a side road in the countryside and often in the style of a typical Mauritian home or small chateau. Taxis are always available to reach these but I love to explore by car – stopping when I see something that takes my fancy – and I’ve never been disappointed. Whether it is for lunch or dinner you usually can’t beat a local restaurant for atmosphere. I can recommend The Beach Shack, Bottegita, Escale Créole and Le Saint Aubin Restaurant to name but a few.
When it comes to drink, the plethora of sugar mills is a strong indication that rum is the national drink – and what a variety they have. You must try the local Mojitos – probably the best I have ever had! The island though is a great importer of fine wines – especially from South Africa. When it comes to beer the local brew ‘Phoenix’ is a very acceptable larger and great with a lunchtime snack by the hotel pool.
BackBreathtakingly beautiful Mauritius
Breathtakingly beautiful Mauritius