Those who honeymooned on Mauritius can return with the kids in tow, Joanna Booth discovers.
It always begins this way. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl go on holiday to an idyllic island in the Indian Ocean. Then one thing leads to another, and holidays for two become holidays for three, four or even five.
But the couple don’t want to stop holidaying on their idyllic Indian Ocean island just because they have children. And now, they really don’t need to.
While Mauritius has been viewed as a couples’ destination, hoteliers have recognised that those who honeymooned here want to return with the kids in tow, and have diversified their product accordingly.
The island lends itself to family holidays quite naturally. Though the 12-hour flight isn’t a quick hop, the three or four-hour time difference means jet lag isn’t too much of an issue. Mauritius isn’t malarial, and there are no poisonous snakes or dangerous insects for children to accidentally play with. And the coral reef means the majority of the beaches offer shallow, safe water for swimming.
Though holidays in Mauritius tend to be hotel-centric, there are things to keep the kids occupied. Those who love animals will be in heaven; they can walk with lions and spot African wildlife at Casela Nature & Leisure Park (zip-lining is on offer too); see tortoises, crocodiles and monkeys at La Vanille Reserve des Mascareignes; visit the Mauritius Aquarium for sealife and take a catamaran cruise to spot dolphins.
The renovated Trou aux Biches has family suites with a master bedroom, a separate children’s room and a private terrace or balcony. The Bob Marlin Mini Club is for ages three to 12 and the teens’ club is for 13 to 16-year-olds.
The kids’ area has its own pool, outdoor playground, stage for shows, painting corner, TV and games area and even a 75-seat restaurant where kids can dine buffet or à la carte. Teens are offered games consoles, DVDs, a DJ corner, pool and table football, computers and Wi-Fi access.
Shandrani Resort & Spa’s comprehensive all-inclusive package is suited to families that want action without extra costs. As well as the kids’ club, waterskiing, windsurfing, sailing, snorkelling, glass-bottomed boat trips, kayaks and pedal boat outings are all complimentary. Accommodation-wise, the family suites have a top floor dedicated to the kids, have their own private garden with a sandpit, and open directly on to the beach.
At Paradis Hotel & Golf Club, free baby care facilities and accessories come in all family and luxury family suites, and chefs will create vegetable and fruit purées for young children. There’s a free kids’ club for those aged three to 12.
The former Beau Rivage is now Lux Belle Mare. The five-star is still great for families, with a huge swimming pool and a watersports centre. The kids’ club Play – for three to 12s – has an indoor and outdoor area and activities from art classes to tennis lessons.
Studio 17 is the teens’ club (from 9am to 8pm) with activities including glass-bottomed boat trips, dance lessons, mini-golf and campfires on the beach. There are interconnecting rooms suited to families, with direct access to the pool and kids’ amenities.
Tamassa, a Lux four-star all-inclusive, has interconnecting family rooms with the option of bunk beds for the kids. The resort offers the same Play and Studio 17 clubs as the Lux Belle Mare, plus there are three pools, watersports and a dive centre. It’s a lively resort with plenty of evening entertainment so older kids won’t be bored.
The two Heritage hotels at Domaine de Bel Ombre have family packages available through operators including Sunset Faraway, Western & Oriental and The Private Travel Company.
The Villa Treat package starts from £6,020 for a seven-night stay at Heritage The Villas for up to six people, including accommodation in a three-bedroom villa, half-board, including dinner in one of seven à la carte restaurants, and breakfast served in the villa, unlimited green fees at the golf course and free use of a golf cart, beach club and kids’ club access, 24-hour concierge and free internet access.
At sister property Heritage Le Telfair, two children under 12 or one teenager under 17 can stay free in their own room until October 10 on a half-board basis. The Timomo & Friends Kids’ Club is available at two locations, open from 8.30am to 11.30pm every day, with a pool and playground, video games, arts and crafts and crab hunting at sunset. There’s a teens’ club too, with Wi-Fi, games consoles, a pool table and activities ranging from karaoke and golf to campfire parties.
Veranda offers child-friendly three-star options. Of Veranda Pointe aux Biches’ 115 rooms, 44 are for families with a separate bedroom for the kids sleeping up to five in total. There’s a kids’ pool, a kids’ club for three to 11-year-olds, and a host of complimentary activities including water polo, trampolining, snorkelling, beach volleyball, kayaking and table tennis. There’s nightly live entertainment and internet access is also free.
Veranda Palmar Beach and Veranda Grand Baie have similar kids’ club and free activities to Pointe aux Biches. The former is in a quiet east coast location with just the one category of room, but if families are happy to share, it’s possible to fit two adults and two kids under 12 in.
For a livelier holiday, try Veranda Grand Baie, just five minutes from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops. Room types here include a comfort family room with a second bedroom and bunk beds, and privilege suites with second rooms with twin beds and a living area.
The 200 standard rooms at La Pirogue come two per thatched bungalow, and many interconnect meaning families can feel as if they’re in their own private villa.
The hotel shares Flic en Flac beach with next door neighbour and fellow Sun Resort, the plantation-style Sugar Beach, and guests of either can use facilities at both hotels. Sugar Beach has 23 connecting rooms, and 76 rooms with two queen-size beds sleeping up to two adults and two kids under 12.
Land and non-motorised watersports are free, and both hotels offer Sun Kids’ Club for two to 11-year olds and @Sungeneration teens’ club for those between 12 and 17.
Large families should choose one of Long Beach’s 29 family rooms – the second bedroom sleeps up to three children, there’s an extra bathroom and even an additional TV. There’s a wide range of free sports and activities on water and land, evening entertainment and a nightclub. Both the Angels Kids’ Club and the Waves Teens’ Club have daily activities and dining every night.
Iconic luxury hotel Le Touessrok isn’t just for couples – its kids’ club has a Robin Hood theme with a tree house, pool and its own restaurant, and activities include fishing and stargazing. Child-sized equipment means waterskiing, sailing and windsurfing are possible, as well as horse riding, tennis and basketball. Teenagers have their own club with a loose programme to suit those who don’t want too much structure in their young lives.
Le Saint Geran’s Youth Fitness Programme is available to four to 17-year-olds during the school holidays, with bootcamp sessions, and classes teaching boxing, yoga, tai chi and swimming.
The spa offers junior treatments, and child food guru Annabel Karmel has designed the kids’ menu, with options including bento boxes and fajitas. The fitness classes cost extra, but the KidsOnly club is free for three to 11-year-olds. Activities are diverse, including kite making, cookery classes, night-time treasure hunts and watersports.
The Constance Belle Mare Plage has a mini-chef programme every Thursday. Kids decorate their own chef’s hat and tour the kitchen with the chef, before watching cooking demos and making their own pizza and decorating desserts before sitting down to lunch on their creations.
Sister property Constance Le Prince Maurice has a children’s spa menu, with Little Mermaid and Little Prince treatments for girls and boys. Both hotels have kids’ clubs running for four-12s every day, and free watersports.
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