Tap into the trend towards all-inclusive stays on this high-end isle, suggests Katie McGonagle

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Beach towel? Check. Sunglasses and sun cream? Sorted. That novel you’ve been meaning to read? In the bag.

With all those beach essentials to remember, the last thing clients want to think about on a relaxing break in Mauritius is having to fumble around for change to buy an ice cream, or sacrificing valuable beach time to find a restaurant for dinner.

That’s where all-inclusive holidays come in: with the convenience of sorting out the practicalities up front, all that’s left to do in-resort is sit back and relax on those idyllic Indian Ocean shores.

Consumer demand is driving the trend: Western & Oriental and Sunset Faraway have seen 30% and 35% respective growth in all-inclusive bookings to Mauritius in the past year. Price is also a factor, with Caribtours finding all-inclusive bookings make up 20% of its business in peak season, but more than 70% off-peak when families and budget-conscious customers are more likely to travel.

If Only founder Brendan Maguire says: “Mauritius has reacted quickly to the demand for all-inclusive. Many of the island’s resort hotels are away from towns or villages that might offer alternative dining options, so an all-inclusive meal plan provides guests with the reassurance they can manage their spending money. Even the more ‘exclusive’ properties are now offering all-inclusive.”

The past couple of years have seen properties such as Heritage Le Telfair, The Residence Mauritius and Constance Belle Mare Plage enter the all-inclusive market. Some are taking the trend even further, with Centara Poste Lafayette Resort & Spa and Veranda Grand Baie the latest to go all-inclusive-only, from 2015.

But the term ‘all-inclusive’ covers a multitude, so it’s vital to know exactly what’s on offer for each kind of client.

Romance included




There’s a reason why honeymooners flock to Mauritius – warm waters, golden beaches and clear blue skies make the perfect recipe for relaxed romance.

Guests at recently-refurbished Solana Beach, exclusive to Kuoni from next May, can enjoy three à la carte dinners in their all-inclusive package, while those at sister Preskil Beach Resort enjoy tapas or steak house meals and a minibar that’s refilled daily.

Also breaking down any all-inclusive stereotypes, Cosmos favourite Heritage Le Telfair includes champagne while Heritage Awali adds a spa treatment and unlimited green fees. There are no restrictions on the all-inclusive offering at Gold Medal-recommended three-star Veranda Paul & Virginie Hotel & Spa. It starts when guests arrive and lasts until they leave, regardless of official check-out times. It’s going adult-only in November so couples can be assured of a quieter stay.

When it comes to activities, Mauritius really shines: most resorts include at least some land and watersports, and many tag on excursions for all-inclusive guests. Think waterskiing, glass-bottom boat trips, windsurfing, kayaking and sailing at Lux Le Morne. And at Tamarina Boutique Hotel, guests can choose between a golf or spa-focused package.

There won’t be any time to get bored at If Only’s recommendation, Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel, between weekly sundowner cocktail parties, introductory diving, lessons in cooking and cocktail-making, and sparkling wine at breakfast.

A family affair




Sending families to high-end Mauritius might once have raised a few eyebrows, but these days it’s de rigueur.

Shamira Kaumaya-Hatt, commercial director of Sunset Faraway Holidays, explains: “Mauritius is the ideal destination for a family trip because parents do not have to sacrifice quality for convenience. Try to take night flights when travelling with children to avoid jetlag.”

Sunset Faraway’s top choice is Zilwa Attitude, with a kids’ club offering treasure hunts for under-12s and 24-hour babysitting (extra cost), while Western & Oriental highlights its newest all-inclusive addition, The Residence Mauritius, for its range of kids’ activities and stellar service – there’s even a butler to unpack luggage.

There’s no hanging around on the way to Beachcomber Hotels’ Shandrani Resort & Spa. It’s barely 10 minutes from the airport, and has a Bob Marlin kids’ club to keep little ones entertained.

That’s true of the four-star Tamassa too. Under-12s can take part in art classes and treasure hunts; while teens can learn the local Creole language, play beach sports or explore the island.

Entertainment-hungry youngsters will be just as occupied at lively Long Beach, Kuoni’s top pick for its piazza-style main area and range of activities. Alternatively, there’s the five-star Maritim Hotel, where Premier Holidays offers free child places for under-12s plus activities ranging from windsurfing, sailing and kayaking to introductory diving lessons, tennis and golf, within its all-inclusive package.

Those who would rather escape the hubbub might be better off at Sugar Beach Resort, where jetskiing and waterskiing is prohibited immediately outside the hotel, making it safer for swimming and sailing, plus a quiet adults’ pool and spa. Children under 12 stay free if sharing with parents, or get a 25% discount in their own room.

Mauritius





Sample Product




Travel 2 offers eight nights’ all-inclusive at Centara Poste Lafayette Resort & Spa from £1,059, for travel in August or September, with flights and four free nights. travel2.com

A week at Tamassa with Gold Medal starts from £1,289 based on travel between September 13-24, with two free nights and Emirates flights from Gatwick. goldmedal.co.uk

Tried and tested




Club Med

Club Med

All-inclusive operator Club Med took 10 agents to its Mauritian resorts La Pointe aux Canonniers and La Plantation d’Albion. Travel Weekly’s Flora Ioannou joined them

I was told Club Med had endless sports academies, with facilities for more than 60 sports, so I was a little nervous visiting their Mauritius resorts for the first time. I’m not very sporty – was I out of my mind? Absolutely not, as I realised when I stepped into four-star resort La Pointe aux Canonniers.

I was looked after by their welcoming GOs (Great Organisers) who spent day and night making sure we enjoyed every minute of our stay. Be it hanging upside down from the trapeze, which I didn’t do, or lazing around by the beach, which I did.

The beach is all white sand and warm Indian Ocean, where you can try waterskiing, snorkelling, scuba diving and more, then by night, the GOs put on traditional dancing and music, which I didn’t mind taking part in.

“If music be the food of love, play on,” Shakespeare said, but with the food at these resorts, he should have said just keep on eating. The choice of fresh, locally-grown food, most cooked in front of you, was mind-blowing, and the five-star Albion also has an à la carte restaurant with Michelin-starred menu. Even the youngest guests have their own menus, little tables and chairs.

As the first resort to create kids’ clubs back in the 1960s, Club Med has perfected them, with bags of space and colourful facilities. Mini, Junior and Club Med Passworld cater for children aged four-17, plus there’s Baby and Petit Club Med from four to 23 months, at a supplement.

Price is certainly not a consideration when it comes to drinks as top international alcohol is available, making the best (and strongest) cocktails I have ever consumed, plus at La Plantation d’Albion, Champagne is available from 6pm every day.The rooms are clean and spacious and all have stunning views – you are in Mauritius after all.

My club room at La Pointe aux Canonniers was a little dark, as was the walk to the main hotel complex, but that wasn’t the case at La Plantation d’Albion where I had a light and spacious suite – definitely worth the extra money – and there was no need to walk anywhere as buggies would appear to escort you back and forth.

Club Med research found 92% of customers intend to return, so would I? Yes, definitely. The atmosphere can be either animated or calm – Club Med was all about choice and the choice was entirely mine.

Book it: A week with flights departing Heathrow on August 30 starts at £1,589 per adult or £1,045 per child at La Plantation d’Albion, or £1,519 and £1,015 at La Pointe aux Canonniers.

clubmed.co.uk

What the agents said




Catherine Fetherston, Travel Counsellors

“Both are premium resorts, but I liked that La Pointe offers motorised watersports and childcare from four months, while the Albion is a bigger resort offering more activities, plus the option to book fabulous butler-service villas.”

Dave Smith, Village Travel

“I’m so pleased I had the opportunity to experience Club Med. There are so many activities but no pressure to do any, the food choice is amazing and the GOs’ shows are fantastic. A quality product to suit families, couples or singles.”