PUBLISHED: 10:57 24 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:25 20 February 2013
Eileen Wise enjoys a taste of the good life on this beautiful tropical island
Eileen Wise enjoys a taste of the good life on this beautiful tropical island
After spontaneously (and successfully) bidding for a Mauritian holiday at a charity ball , Roger my other half and I had high expectations of the adventure ahead.
Mauritius is often referred to as the jewel in the crown of the Indian Ocean, and it certainly lives up to that accolade. The island boasts tree-lined perfect white beaches, high mountains, deep gorges, tropical forests, lagoons and coral reefs for divers. It is a melting pot of different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and languages.
We flew Air Mauritius, which was the only disappointing part of the holiday due to their inedible food. Other than that the flight was fine and the crew obliging, especially when they moved us to an exit seat to accommodate Rogers long legs.
On arrival we were met by a friendly driver from the Anahita resort the first stop on our Mauritian adventure. After a pleasant 45 minute journey with the balmy tropical air wafting in through the cars open windows, we headed south along a sparkling coastline, arriving to find a very new and modern resort. We were greeted by charming staff with a cooling fruit punch and a welcome cold towel to mop our tired brows, and then shown to our plush and comfortable bungalow where our personal butler, Jaguar, was waiting to see to our every need!
Inside we found a sitting room with comfy squashy sofas, a fully equipped kitchen and a bed big enough to sleep four. Outside in the small garden nestled a private plunge pool with great views out to the sea. Jaguar was enthusiastic and friendly, making our stay stress-free and seeing to our every need. He often appeared to be there before we even knew we wanted him, either to serve us a cold G&T in the evening, organise an in-room massage, and be on hand when we woke up to serve our fresh fruit breakfast on starched linen table cloths on our sunny and private terrace.
The attraction of Anahita for Roger was the five star Ernie Els designed golf course only minutes away, which he played five out of the six days of our stay. Whilst he was off playing golf it left me to relax on the small beach with plenty of good books and attentive waiters to serve refreshing drinks or afternoon tea. I also took a small boat across the bay to visit a pretty little island where the locals go to swim and picnic. On occasion, I would meander along to have a drink at the smart Four Seasons Hotel (which is affiliated with the Anahita Resort) just minutes away.
Anahita is ideal for families as the bungalows are spacious and the resort offers a crche and childrens activities, plus plenty of water sports for all ages. Deep sea fishing trips can be arranged, as they can all over the island.
Whilst expensive, the food in the two restaurants is good. However, for the more adventurous, the village of Trou DEau Douce is just a short taxi ride away, and here there are some charming local restaurants serving fresh, tasty fish and delicious traditional Creole curries, where you would pay about 30 for two including drinks.
We also took a drive to the local town of Flacq where theres a colourful market full of unusual food. We tried tasty samosa-type snacks and savoury pancakes from roadside stalls, and returned to the hotel laden down with wonderful aromatic spices and herbs.
Mauritius is best known for its luxurious and large four and five star resorts, but I wanted to see if there were any decent smaller, intimate, boutique style hotels. So after a week of five star treatment at Anahita we said farewell and headed for the peace and quiet of the mountains.
We hired a small soft top car and drove along the pretty west coast, taking a detour up a long and windy mountain path to buy some locally produced (and world famous) Ylang Ylang oil. We headed for the village of Chamarel, where the undulating landscape is coloured blue, green, red and yellow, the result of erosion of volcanic ash.
We stayed at the stunning Lakaz Chamarel, a charming small boutique hotel with 12 wooden lodges sympathetically built into the mountain side.
Sadly, during our stay we were visited by a cyclone (aptly named Cyclone Gael) which meant torrential rain descended for our three days in the mountains. So unfortunately we were unable to enjoy the colourful bird life wed been looking forward to. Nevertheless, the views from our little hillside hideaway were spectacular.
The food at Lakaz was sublime, and the memory of the succulent and tender fillet steak we had on our first night overlooking the small lake in front of the hotel will stay with us forever. We hope to return one day, as this really is the ideal place for nature and bird lovers in search of some real peace and quiet.
Back in our little soft top, we trundled off further up the west coast towards the north of the island. While driving through the tiny village of Casa Noyale we came across a most unlikely discount outlet store, full of designer wear at ridiculously low prices. I bought a pair of shoes for 40 which would have cost 300 or more in Bond Street!
Our next port of call was 20 Sud, a small (35 rooms) seaside gem of a hotel owned by a Belgian couple. The story behind its creation is that the couple who already lived on the island found that when friends asked advice on where to stay, they could not recommend somewhere stylish, small and intimate. So, as one does, they decided to open their own place and fill the gap in the market. Were glad they did, as this surely was one of the nicest hotels weve visited anywhere in the world.
Our bright, white, airy, spacious room was but a few steps down to the glittering blue sea: a more idyllic situation could not be imagined. The staff were attentive and friendly and the whole ambiance welcoming and warm. Breakfast and dinner were served by waiters in crisp old fashioned linen tunics in a pleasant restaurant overlooking the lapping waves, with the food being a mix of modern French and Asian, but also with some Creole dishes.
One tip to remember is that reasonable wine in Mauritius is approximately twice as expensive as in UK restaurants. So we often chose cocktails instead, which were delicious and fun and made with all the lovely fresh tropical fruits.
For the last few days we headed up to the very tip of the island to stay in the lively coastal resort of Grand Baie at The Royal Palm hotel, reputedly the grandest and best on Mauritius. Nestled behind a long row of incredibly tall palm trees, the Royal Palm has been a home from home for the rich and famous for many years. It trades on its discretion, appreciated greatly by the clientele who value their privacy.
It has a most impressive new health spa, with lots of comfortable treatment rooms (Clarins products) and the relaxing sound of running water everywhere.
Sadly the bedrooms let the Royal Palm down: they seemed just a little bit tired and predictable, and it seemed unlikely that theyve updated since the hotel opened in the 1980s. However the beach with its turquoise sea is certainly the best on the island, and its swept and cleaned every morning while the well-heeled guests are still sleeping in their comfortable beds.
The larger of the two restaurants is quite formal in the evening and we preferred the smaller, more modern one built into the rocks, with waves lapping away quietly while you enjoy a delicious six course menu. It sounds a bit too much, but the portions were small and really tasty.
Mauritius is a beautiful island to travel around (45km in width and 65km long) and ideal if youre looking for a restful beach holiday; its not necessarily for those in search of plentiful cultural activities. There are the obligatory water falls, and some lovely temples. Some people hire bikes and this is an ideal, if not a rather hot way, to see tropical fruit trees, the fields and fields of sugar cane and many exotic flowers.
So for those of you yearning for a relaxing and stress free beach holiday, Mauritius could be just the answer. We hope to return one day.
Anahita Resort www.anahita.mu
Tel: +230 402 2200
Room rates for a one bed bungalow on half board, low season 350, mid 425 and high 500
For package deals contact: Scott Dunn 0208 682 5000 www.scottdunn.com
Elegant Resorts 01244 897 505
Tropical Locations 0845 277 3310
Lakaz Chamarel www.lakazchamarel.com
Tel: +230 483 5240
Simple room 180.55 for two per night to a suite with private pool 280 for two per night
Tel: +230 263 5000
Beach front rooms start at 175 per person per night rising to 350 pppn
Royal Palm Hotel
Tel: + 230 209 8300
Junior suites start from 1262 per day for two to the Presidential Suite at 3910 per day for two
Flights: British Airways www.BA.com
Tel: 0844 493 0787
Air Mauritius www.airmauritius.com
Tel: 0207 434 4375
At time of going to press, fares start from about 600