Mauritius hosted agents on a tour of its top-end hotels. Tamara Hinson lapped up the luxury
It’s midnight and I’m drinking champagne in the villa that Bill Gates stays at when he visits Mauritius. The resort’s sales manager is swimming, fully clothed, in the pool, the head chef is dishing out scoops of ice cream from a smoking bowl of dry ice and the marketing manager has just popped open another bottle of champagne.
Our venue is the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita, and the celebrations are to mark the final night of a mega-fam, organised by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority. Four groups of agents have come together after spending a week exploring different parts of the island.
With UK visitor numbers up nearly 12% on last year, the demand for holidays to this Indian Ocean hot spot is huge. But with such a wide choice of hotels, it can be hard to know which to pick. I joined the group of agents on the In Style itinerary, on which we visited 20 of Mauritius’s most luxurious hotels. Here’s our first hand feedback on some of the top properties on the market.
Best for… Privacy
Hotel: Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita (pictured above)
Location: The east coast, in Grand Riviere
Venue vibe: Luxurious. It’s an all villa affair, with 136 spread over 26 hectares and ranging in size from one to six bedrooms.There are five restaurants and 24-hour room service, and children under five dine for free. Guests can choose between bed and breakfast and half-board packages. Golf is free, and players get complimentary GPS-equipped buggies. Look out for the resident 100-year-old tortoise, Gromomo – he can usually be found near the ninth hole.
Wow factor: The location. The resort’s position on a finger of land stretching out into the sea makes it feel truly private.
Agent opinion: “I loved this resort,” says Natasja Last of Jules Boutin Travel. “It was incredible in every way, and not pretentious at all. Great fun, great food and great staff.”
Book it: From £560 per night.
Best for… Style Setters
Hotel: Sofitel So Mauritius
Location: The southern coast
Venue vibe: The five-star Sofitel So Mauritius has 92 suites and villas and was designed by Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada – even the larger-than-usual toiletry bottles are works of art. This is a resort which has shunned the traditional dark woods and opted for a brighter, fresher colour scheme – rooms have clean white walls and splashes of bright green and blue. All guests get 24-hour butler service and the spa specialises in acupuncture therapies. The resort is popular with golfers because the Heritage Golf Club course is just a five-minute drive away, and golf packages are available. There are several restaurants; we loved Le Flamboyant, where the tablewear is also designed by Kenzo Takada, and the seafood is served with a French twist.
Wow factor: The villas, which feel slightly Moroccan, thanks to their beautiful domed terraces and bright white walls.
Agent opinion: “I loved this resort, which sits on a gorgeous beach and feels very luxurious,” says Travelbag’s Toni Stoyanova. “The spacious bathrooms, with their outdoor baths, were fantastic too.”
Book it: From £220 per night.
Best for… Service
Hotel: St Regis Mauritius Resort
Location: The foot of Le Morne, on the southwest coast
Venue vibe: This resort has the island’s largest villa – a 16,100sq ft structure comprising four pools and a security team, villa manager and chef – but all guests enjoy butler service. There are six restaurants (including the Michelin-starred Simply India), 170 rooms and seven types of accommodation. Teenagers will love the gadget-filled Drawing Room, while guests aged between four and 12 can join the Kite Flyers club.
Wow factor: Simply India, where world-renowned chef Atul Kochhar whips up dishes almost too beautiful to eat.
Agent opinion: “The St Regis was my favourite,” says Honeymoon Dreams’ Neil Bullock. “It’s best described as an English manor house with a boutique luxury feel. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a luxury break in a smaller property. Think of the judges’ houses on The X Factor and you’re there!”
Book it: From £328 per night.
Best for… Relaxation
Hotel: Lux Le Morne
Location: The southwestern peninsula
Venue vibe: Quirky, with a bright, fresher colour scheme and some idiosyncratic fun touches, like the messages in bottles hidden in the grounds (prizes include nights at the resort) and the Lux red phone box, from which guests can phone home for free. Guests can relax while the hotel does all the little things for them – there’s an ice cream cart, a fresh coconut stall and films screened on the beach. Half-board, full-board or all-inclusive packages are available at the 149 suites and villas, all of which are sea-facing. There are four pools (one has a swim-up bar and another a child-friendly area), three restaurants and three bars.
Wow factor: Cafe Lux, the resort’s coffee bar, which serves coffee from all over the world between 9am and midnight.
Agent opinion: “I loved the dramatic views of Le Morne,” says Joanne Lunt of Liverpool-based Crown Travel. “I also loved the attention to detail, like the phone box and the mini iPads in rooms.”
Book it: From £328 per night.
Best for… Couples
Hotel: Angsana Balaclava
Location: The sheltered northwest coast of the island
Venue vibe: There are just 51 suites and one villa at this intimate resort. Guests can choose from the Imperial Pool Villa or the more affordable Garden and Beachfront Pool Suites. The resort feels truly Mauritian: the villas, built by local craftsmen, have lava stone floors and traditional thatched roofs. There are two restaurants, Oryza and the Passion Grill, which has a swim-up bar and romantic tables in the sand.
Wow factor: The spa, which has a beautiful yoga pavilion and therapists trained by experts from the Banyan Tree Spa Academy.
Agent opinion: “It’s a beautiful property with just 52 gorgeous suites and villas – ideal for honeymooners,” says Travelbag’s Toni Stoyanova. “I loved the Passion Grill, where guests can dine with their feet in the water.”
Book it: From £236 per night.
Best for… Foodies
Hotel: Constance Le Prince Maurice Resort
Location: The northeast coast
Venue vibe: Luxurious. There are just 89 suites and villas. It’s the only Mauritian resort with overwater villas, and has been designed according to the principles of feng shui. The beds, for example, stand high above the floor to aid the circulation of chi, or energy flow. There are regular events for foodies, including presentations by top chefs and wine-tasting sessions. Guests can have their food paired with wine from the cellar, and dine on the ocean wave at Le Barachois, the floating restaurant. Half and full-board packages are available.
Wow factor: The wine cellar – it’s the largest in Mauritius, with 25,000 bottles.
Agent opinion: “The floating restaurant offered an amazing dining experience in a beautiful setting,” says Rebecca Baines from Mr & Mrs Smith. “I also loved the fantastic service and beautiful rooms.”
Book it: From £300 per night.
Best for… Foodies
Hotel: Anahita The Resort
Location: The east coast, in Grand Riviere
Venue vibe: A five-star resort with 70 suites and 28 villas, designed for guests who want a home-from-home. It’s got a village feel, with a coffee shop, sweet shop, two restaurants and one bar, but fresh food can also be delivered. There are kids’ and teens’ clubs, free for those aged four to 13, and running from 8.30am to 8pm. Guests get access to a private beach on a tiny nearby island, Ile aux Cerfs, where there’s also a golf course. There are bed-and-breakfast, half and full-board packages.
Wow factor: Ile aux Cerfs. A speedboat shuttle whisks guests to the island for a round of golf or a sunset cocktail on the private beach.
Agent opinion: “It’s a stunning property with beautifully furnished accommodation,” says Travelbag’s Toni Stoyanova. “Its unique features are the 18-hole golf course, shared with the Four Seasons resort, and the off-site island.”
Book it: From £364 per night.
Best for… Activities
Hotel: Maritim Hotel Mauritius
Location: In the sheltered northwest on a 25-hectare estate
Venue vibe: There are 215 ocean-facing rooms, suites and villas at this all-inclusive property. While there is plenty here for honeymooners, the range of activities makes it popular with families too. There are many water sports available and guests can enjoy horse riding (it’s the only resort with an equestrian centre) and golf on the nine-hole course. Port Louis and Grand Baie are a 20-minute drive away. There are six restaurants. Château Mon Désir, a beautiful colonial-style mansion, is the fine dining option and although it’s not included in the all-inclusive packages, guests get a credit to spend.
Wow factor: Château Mon Désir; it’s regarded as one of the island’s best restaurants.
Agent opinion: “Although this is one of the larger hotels, the grounds are so vast and beautiful that it didn’t feel too big,” says Stewart Travel’s Michelle Lemmens. “The facilities are endless, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening at Château Mon Désir, which offers a stunning location with exceptional service.”
Book it: From £368 per night.
Best for… Variety
Hotel: Outrigger Mauritius Resort & Spa
Location: The southwest coast, in Bel Ombre
Venue vibe: With 181 sea-facing rooms and six accommodation categories, the Outrigger has a broad appeal. There are four pools (one is a designated quiet zone) and four restaurants. Guests can opt for bed and breakfast, half-board, full-board or all-inclusive packages. The Edgewater Bar and Grill and the Plantation Club (the fine dining option) are the only restaurants not included, but guests get a credit of about £30 for both. The Coral Club takes children between three and 11.
Wow factor: The Navasana spa, with its octagonal pool and Moroccan-inspired decor.
Agent opinion: “The Outrigger is a super five-star hotel right on the beach,” says Joe Bennett of Windseeker Holidays. “The food was fantastic, and we were treated like royalty by the friendly staff. As the sun went down we found ourselves in the beachfront bar, rubbing shoulders with movie stars.”
Book it: From £272 per night.
Agents on: Culture
Agents who joined the Culture & Adventure-themed trip tried a huge range of activities, including jeep safaris, bike rides, ziplining, climbing, abseiling, kayaking and sea karting. Luckily, they also got to wind down with yoga, a spa treatment and a plantation tour.
Travel 2’s Nicola Kerr said: “The sea karting was loads of fun, especially as Mauritius is the only place in the world you can do it. The Mauritian people were incredibly friendly, and all the different culture and customs made for lots of unique experiences.”
Agents on: Relaxation
The Relax & Rejuvenate itinerary gave the agents an insight into why Mauritius is a leading destination for spa and wellness tourism, with a wide range of treatments based on Asian, African and European practices. As well as massages at The Residence and treatments at Tamarina, agents found time for a catamaran trip.
Value Added Travel’s Imran Nasar said: “I was blown away by Mauritius. The hotels, not to mention the spas, were out of this world. Plus, the great variety on offer makes Mauritius the perfect holiday destination.”
Agents on: Discovery
Agents on the Discovery itinerary saw a diverse selection of hotels and got a sense of the breadth of product available in Mauritius. It wasn’t all site visits, however: there was time for snorkelling and a visit to the Rhumerie de Chamarel rum distillery (pictured).
Best at Travel’s Sev Wright said: “The trip was incredibly well-thought out. Since returning I have already briefed my colleagues on the hotels we visited, and I can say that I will definitely be able to sell those more confidently after having personally visited them.”
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