Turtle Bay, The Oberoi Mauritius

Just back from Mauritius

At the start of December Alice set off to explore the exotic island of Mauritius, along with her husband and 20-month-old son, George. From east to west, north to south, they tried and tested all of the best resorts and beaches in order to compile the ultimate Sally and Alice Travel Co. guide to Mauritius…


MAURITIUS: THE FACTS

FLIGHT TIME: Around 12 hours direct flight from London with BA; with a GMT +3/4 hour time difference – Mauritius is relatively jetlag-free.

WHEN TO GO: Just 20 degrees south of the equator, the tropical island of Mauritius is a year-round beach destination, although most people from the Northern Hemisphere associate it with winter sun. The island’s peak season extends from October to April, which is hot, humid and rainy with a slight risk of cyclones January to March whilst the island’s winter, from May to September, is warm and dry ( hotel rates can drop by 30-50 per cent at this time).

WHY GO: See above – if we didn’t grab your attention with ‘tropical island’ and ‘winter sun’ then Mauritius probably isn’t the destination for you…


THE EAST COAST

The east coast of Mauritius is home to the most celebrated hotels and stretches of beautiful white sand beaches gently sloping in to a warm azure sea.

The Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita is set on a lagoon within a 64 acre protected nature sanctuary. Four Seasons is best suited to families, couples and honeymooners alike, especially those who would prefer the privacy of their own villa.

Why we like it…

  • All-villa accommodation: each has a private landscaped terrace with plunge pool, open-air bathroom with deep soaking tub and  private outdoor garden shower
  • Unlimited golf for guests on the adjoining golf course at no extra charge
  • Fun open air cinema nights on the beach
  • The seafood buffet at Bambou restaurant: one of our best meals, complete with sushi and oodles of grilled fish

Constance Le Prince Maurice is set along a sheltered coral sand beach and private lagoon on the north east coast of the island. Couples and honeymooners will be extremely happy here, along with families with less ‘boisterous’ children (whilst kids are very welcome here the overall vibe is very peaceful with the main pool as the central focus…not the place for dive-bombs?!)

Why we like it…

  • Over-water lagoon villas on stilts,  unique for Mauritius (although we personally preferred the beach-front villas)
  • Lovely and secluded garden spa
  • Barachois, the romantic floating restaurant reached via a lantern-lit walkway through the mangroves
  • Lovely staff who have worked there for years, notably Akshada from guest relations and Corine who has run the kids club for 10 years
  • Unlimited free green fees for guests on the two 18 hole courses at the Belle Mare Plage just 10 mins away

The Residence is built along the lovely Belle Mare Plage,  This resort is known in equal measure as a honeymoon and family getaway – no mean feat – and it also offers great value for money.

Why we like it…

  • The gorgeous beach  - a long stretch of gently sloping white sand ideal for children and those who enjoy a good walk
  • The staff’s welcoming and friendly attitude towards children (the babysitters we used were also very good)
  • Despite being a large resort it feels relatively peaceful and intimate compared to others we visited
  • A range of family-friendly accommodation with plenty of interconnecting rooms

Another notable mention on the east coast is Lux Belle Mare - next door to The Residence, similarly good value, and well suited for families and couples who want a bit more of a ‘buzzy’ atmosphere. The hotel was completely re-furbed in September (by British interior designer Kelly Hoppen) so everything looks fresh and new, we particularly liked the little extras throughout, an in-room iPad for use during your stay, the resort’s own Cafe Lux where they roast their own beans, the fresh juice bar and the vintage phone box from where guests can make international calls free of charge.


THE NORTH

Mauritius’ tourism hub is focused on the north coast around Grand Baie, which has the greatest concentration and variety of hotels, beaches ( including small coves) and entertainment/shopping.

Set in 20 acres of beautiful tropical gardens, The Oberoi overlooks Turtle Bay on the northwest coast of Mauritius.  This is a place for couple and honeymooners to come and unwind and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the beautiful tropical surrounds, and whilst kids are welcome it is really better suited for babies rather than older more active kids.

Why we like it…

  • Stunningly beautiful and well-maintained gardens and grounds (travel between November – January and you’ll see the gardens ablaze with the red foliage of Mauritius’ famous flame trees)
  • Gorgeous ’adults only’ infinity pool which looks out over Turtle Bay
  • The intimate set up and table service at mealtimes, which makes the hotel feels less resort-y and more boutique
  • The overall peace and quiet of the resort

20 Degres Sud was the first boutique hotel on the island, built on a little coconut grove on the north-west coast of Mauritius a short distance from buzzy Grand Baie. This hotel is best suited to honeymooners and couples looking for a child-free break (no kids under 12 years accepted here). Also perfect for those who would value a discreet, stylish ambience more highly than a long stretch of beach.

Why we like it…

  • Owner-run by Michel & Anne who have worked hard to create a ‘home away from home’ atmosphere in the communal areas
  • Each of the 36 rooms and suites are tastefully furnished in a vintage chic style with carefully selected furnishings and antiques, and each is individual, i.e. some have a private terrace, some an outside bathtub
  • Despite being located in the busier Grand Baie area the hotel feels very peaceful and private, hidden away behind a heavy oak door

THE WEST

The west coast of Mauritius has flat golden sand beaches, shallow water and the best sunsets. The 4km Le Morne beach on a peninsula in the shadow of the dramatic rock of Le Morne Brabant mountain which once sheltered runaway slaves, has the most dramatic backdrop on the island. It’s also a hotspot for kite surfers.

The relatively new St Regis resort is set against the backdrop of the iconic Le Morne Mountain in south-west Mauritius and edges on to one of the most scenic shorelines on the island. St Regis was potentially our most exciting discovery on our trip, it ticked a lot of boxes…

Why we like it…

  • The location, a 1km stretch of sandy beach with the dramatic Le Morne in the background
  • The general style, shall we say ‘Hamptons meets Mauritius’?
  • The amazing west coast sunsets
  • Excellent food, from the smoked marlin tartine at the beach bar to the delicious Asian feast at the Floating Market restaurant
  • Facilities galore, including a huge spa and a proper in-house cinema with plush leather seats
  • Each room is assigned a ‘butler’ who takes care of your every need

Another notable mentions on the west coast is the family-friendly Lux Le Morne.


THE SOUTH

The “green” south coast is the island’s wilder side with clutches of hotels nestled in calm coves between pounding surf and cliff top walks. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy a day trip to Black River Gorges National Park in the south-west.

Lakaz Chamarel is set in the south-west of Mauritius at an altitude of 400 metres, surrounded by the natural heritage site of the Black River Gorges and the Chamarel Mountains. Best for nature lovers and those wanting complete peace and tranquility (who won’t miss TVs and resort facilities).  Children over 6 are accepted,  but there is a distinctly adult vibe here.

Why we like it…

  • Unlike any other hotel on Mauritius, a boutique retreat with just 20 rooms set amongst lush vegetation but only 15 minutes drive away from spectacular beaches
  • There is a focus on peace and tranquility, there are no TVs in the rooms and there is a beautiful ‘silent space’ platform where guests can meditate and yoga classes are held
  • The garden suites have plunge pools and expansive views out across the ‘jungle’

Shanti Maurice is by St Felix on the south coast of Mauritius, nestled between sugar cane fields and the ocean. It generally attracts spa-enthusiasts and couples looking for peace and quiet – children are welcome but older children may prefer a resort with more facilities/activities on offer.

Why we like it…

  • The resort feels small and intimate
  • All accommodation is ocean facing
  • There are no motorised water-sports available here so it is very quiet
  • The Rum Shed offers 180 varieties of rum…

THE END

That concludes the Sally and Alice Travel Co. guide to Mauritius -  a special thanks to George Callander for all his contributions.

If all you want for Christmas is a trip to Mauritius, contact Sally and Alice Travel Co.:

+44 (0)790 495 8194 (Sally)/ +44 (0)778 087 0085 (Alice)
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