When delegates at the Beachcomber Academy headed to Mauritius for an educational, the last thing they expected was to end up behind bars.

But getting ‘arrested’ was just one of the ways the group, composed of more than 20 travel agents who had completed the training for Beachcomber Hotels, learned to sell Mauritius better.

Instead of trawling around the hotels, delegates were given tasks such as a jeep treasure hunt across the island and a photo safari on foot, which involved travelling from Beachcomber’s Trou Aux Biches hotel to its Le Mauricia hotel by any means except taxi and hired transport.

Along the way they had to take photos and collect various treasures, including  evidence of a visit to a temple and a picture of the team behind bars. Calling in the police seemed the logical solution…


On the activities:

Beachcomber delegates beat the Photo Safari's 'no hired transport' rule with the help of the Mauritian police force

This was much more than a standard educational; it gave us a chance to see a completely different side of Mauritius. We were split into groups to do two treasure hunts – one with a Jeep and one on foot.

We were given tasks to do on the way, such as getting a photo of us behind bars. Some people went into a bar to serve a drink, but we went to a police station.

During the photo safari we had to travel between hotels without using a taxi or hired transport; some people asked the police to ‘arrest’ them so they could get a lift in the police van.

The Beachcomber team said the point was to show that Mauritius is one of the safest places you can go to. We saw a side of the island you don’t normally see on an educational.

There were many highlights, but two hours’ quad biking in the game reserve was fantastic, as was a helicopter ride. The island is beautiful from the air.

Jango Gazdar, managing director, Broadway Holidays


On the flight and hotels:

Beachcomber's Trou Aux Biches hotel, MauritiusWe flew Air Mauritius economy class, which took almost 12 hours.

The leg room was just about adequate. In addition to main meals, there were snacks and sandwiches available throughout the flight and the crew came around with soft drinks and water. You could also help yourself to drinks from the open larder.

There was only one film on the flight, which was King Kong. Generally, the aircraft was in good condition.

The transfer to the first hotel was approximately an hour.

We stayed in three hotels. The Dinarobin was my favourite. The rooms were so spacious and the layout was great, even though they were a little far from the beach. Guests there can use the facilities and restaurants at the adjacent Paradis hotel.

It would suit couples but there is no reason why people with children couldn’t go there, although there were hotels better suited to families. All the Beachcomber hotels have a kids’ club.

Trou Aux Biches has the best beaches on the island. The hotel was a bit tired and could do with a refurbishment. However, the service was very good.

At the Shandrani some of the food preparation was amazing. It’s not on the west coast so you don’t get the sunset, but there were three different types of beach – a long, sandy beach, a cove and a half-moon shingle cove.

Many of the rooms have been refurbished. The refurbished standard rooms were almost better than the superior rooms, as they were well presented and had rain showers.

Peter Ruck, general manager, Baldwins Travel


On the selling points:

Suite in Beachcomber's Dinarobin hotel, MauritiusService is definitely a selling point, it was excellent. Nothing was too much trouble.

I am vegetarian and I had some excellent food. A couple of the restaurants knew I was vegetarian and offered to cook me anything I asked for.

We saw the whole range of what Beachcomber had on offer. Each hotel had its own identity.

The Beachcomber hotels have a range of facilities for everyone. For golf and spa I would suggest the Dinarobin, an all-suite hotel with a Clarins spa.

In Dinarobin my suite really had the wow factor. It was beautifully decorated with calm and neutral colours, there was a big bed, large shower and plenty of space.

At Dinarobin you can also use the facilities for the Paradis next door. Paradis has a slightly more informal feel to it and offers plenty of water sports.

We inspected a room which had been set up for a family stay. In the children’s room there were special bedspreads, which would appeal to kids, a step up to the sink and special toilet seats.

All the hotels have kids’ clubs, with a staff-to-children ratio of one to seven. All the staff have recognised qualifications and organise activities for the youngsters.

Christine Curgenven, senior travel consultant, City Travel


Boutique hotels for super-rich customers

Tropical Locations is introducing several more Indian Ocean hotels into its new Boutique Collection brochure due in October.

Maia Resort in the Seychelles, 20 Degrees Sud in Mauritius and Rania Experience in the Maldives will all be included.

“The Maia will introduce a level of accommodation previously unseen on the main island of Mahe in the Seychelles,” said head of product and partner David Kevan.

Clients who choose the Rania Experience  get the whole island – with staff – to themselves. Accommodation consists of a main villa and three adjacent beach villas, all day à la carte dining and drinks, unlimited spa treatments and a private crewed yacht for three hours per day.

A week at the Rania Experience comes in at an eye-watering £17,500 per person, including business-class flights and seaplane transfers.

Obviously the price comes down the larger the group is, but it certainly offers exclusivity – no-one else is allowed on the island unless they are the customers’ guest.

A sample price for a stay at the Belle Mare Plage Villas on Mauritius leads in at £6,580 for a family of four in November. The accommodation includes a two-bedroom villa, each with a bathroom and plunge pool, breakfast, flights and transfers.

Kevan said the hotel is on one of the best beaches on the island and included in the price are activities, water sports and restaurants at the adjacent Belle Mare Plage Resort hotel.


Win a Six Senses Cookbook with Seasons in Style and Travel Weekly

If this feature has left you with a taste for luxury living, then award-winning tour operator Seasons in Style is offering agents the opportunity to experience the food on offer at a five-star resort.

Seasons in Style has 40 glossy cookbooks to give away containing mouth-watering recipes from the restaurants at Six Senses Resorts and Spas.

The Six Senses Cookbook offers a selection of Indian Ocean, Thai and Vietnamese, recipes.

How about cooking deep-fried red lentil crusted prawns, followed by herb-crusted Maldivian white tuna, orange-infused chevre and curried papaya chutney? And to finish, try cooking a hot chocolate soufflé with mango and mint ice cream.

And to tempt your clients, Seasons in Style is also offering a special rate of seven nights for the price of six at Soneva Fushi, one of the Six Senses Resorts and Spas situated in the Maldives from £1,790 per person twin-share, including flights with Emirates and private transfers. The price is valid to December 21 2006.

To win a copy of the cookbook just answer the following question:
Which language is widely spoken in many parts of the Maldives?

a) German
b) Dhivehi
c) Hindi

Send your answer to ‘Six Senses competition’, Travel Weekly, Quadrant House, the Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5AS, to be received no later than Friday October 27.