It’s not every day that sugarcane gets the right of way on a national highway. But whizzing through emerald green, shoulder-high sugar cane fields, which sway in the early morning breeze, it’s clear that the sweet stuff gets special dispensation here in the Indian Ocean’s Sugar Isles. It’s everywhere, in every corner, on every horizon, covering every hill and jutting up against the main road, which resembles a black python asleep in the grass.
Located off the coast of Madagascar in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is one of those destinations coveted by travellers in the know. Together with its sibling isles Réunion and Rodrigues, the three make up the Mascarene Islands, and have been a favourite destination for affluent travellers for decades. Mauritius is the name of the country as well as the main island; a flat, sun-kissed landscape punctuated by towering volcanic peaks, including Piton de la Petite Rivière Noirev, the island’s tallest at 2,717 ft.
There are towns and villages scattered along the rocky coastline, where powder-sand beaches slip into azure seas, but the majority of the island retains a rural and distinctly tropical tranquillity, with sugar plantations clustered around tiny, colourful villages and the odd luxury resort.
The island was known to Arab, Malay and Phonecian sailors as early as the 10th century, but it wasn’t until ships from the Dutch Second Fleet were blown onto the island’s idyllic shores in a cyclone that it was officially inhabited. The Dutch and then the French controlled Mauritius before the island fell into the hands of the British after the Napoleonic wars. Mauritius achieved independence in 1968 but still holds its links to France close to its chest. English may be an official language, but it’s French-sounding Mauritian Creole that’s spoken in the markets and plantations, and the rumbling public buses, which trundle down the island’s narrow highways, display destinations like St. Louis, Camp de Masque Pave, and Plein Bois. There’s little doubt that Mauritius is more French Riviera than British seaside.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
With its laid-back atmosphere and picturesque landscape, it’s no wonder Mauritius is popular among newlyweds. The oldest resort on Mauritius, located near its namesake shipwreck, One&Only Le Saint Géran, is the grande dame for many honeymooners looking for seclusion and sophistication. Opened in 1975 and remodelled in 1999, this luxurious hideaway is famed for its discrete service and stunning peninsula location, making it popular with A-list celebrities. Rooms look out through thousands of coconut palms to a tranquil lagoon, immaculate tropical gardens bursting with colour and over a mile of private beachfront.
Accommodation for the amour-inclined comes in the form of 162 lavish suites, each of which boasts a private terrace or balcony, state-of-the-art technology and spacious bathrooms. But for the ultimate in luxury, head to the resort’s sole villa, with its private swimming pool, private entrance, 24-hour butler service and personal chef.
The two-bedroom villa is located in a quiet corner of the resort and is equipped with Indian Ocean views, four-poster beds, and bathrooms with cascading showers and whirlpool baths, as well as the finest china and silverware for lavish impromptu dinner parties. The villa includes a welcome bottle of Dom Perignon, as well as daily canapes and sunset cocktails, an aromatherapy bath menu, and a complimentary dinner at La Terrasse.
Dining plays an important role at the One&Only, and with good reason; there is a broad showcase of culinary offerings. But for romance personified, head to Rasoi by Vineet, which opened in 2007 and is located at the lagoon’s edge. The restaurant features the multi-award winning cuisine of Indian chef Vineet Bhatia, whose Michelin-starred restaurant in Chelsea was named Indian Restaurant of the Year after only 12 months of operation. Book ahead for a table at the end of the pier and prepare yourself for a night to remember.
Across the island, a new resort offers honeymooners a sense of luxury amidst otherworldly surroundings. Designed by Thai architect Lek Bunnag and Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre is a quick drive from the airport, and yet with its South Coast location, is blissfully a world away from the hustle and bustle of the rat race, making it a perfect escape for honeymooners.
A new brand extension for Sofitel, the resort’s 86 suites, six beach villas and two Beaulieu villas look almost sci-fi, with eggshell facades and stylish organic lines. Rooms are small by comparison to other resorts on the island and are not really ‘suites’ as there is no separate living space. However, they’ve been intelligently designed and feature plenty of Kenzo’s influence. Couples will love the roomy al fresco bathtubs in each suite’s private courtyard.
Escape from the world at the Beach Villa, with its king-sized bed, private garden, plunge pool and stunning sea views. The 110 sq m penthouse has been seamlessly integrated into the natural environment and comes with complimentary WiFi, a spacious sun patio, and customised amenities by Kenzo. Couples can also pamper themselves at the luxurious So Spa – the island’s most advanced – with its soak tubs, Turkish Hammam and menu of spa rituals that incorporate the fresh tropical fruits and spices of local plantations.
One of the largest resorts on the island, the Constance Belle Mare Plage, is set on the beautiful east coast of Mauritius, overlooking the turquoise sea. A favourite with golfers looking to squeeze in a round on the adjacent Legends golf course, guests can also bide their time sun-worshiping on the resort’s two-kilometre white sandy beach, snorkelling on the nearby coral reefs, and sampling some of the best cuisine on the island.
The resort has 92 rooms spread over three levels, but for a true indulgence, head to one of the 20 luxurious beachfront villas, each of which measures between 375-525 sq m, with two to three bedrooms apiece. The airy villas are perfect for honeymooners; they come with their own plunge pool, spacious living areas and direct beach access. Enjoy romantic dinners in your private poolside sala or massage treatments on the beach in front of the villa, and be waited on by your own private butler.
For such a large resort, dining remains an important part of the experience, and the culinary offerings at the Belle Mare Plage range from seaside buffets to intimate fine-dining restaurants. Dinner at the Deer Hunter restaurant showcases the best of tropical à la carte cuisine (come here for breakfast and you might spy the resort’s resident deer herd), while at La Spiaggia you’ll try fresh Mediterranean dishes in an intimate beachside setting. During the day, be sure to try the salads and snacks at Indigo Beach, famed for its down to earth but delicious lobster nights and relaxed beach chair service.
If eating like a king isn’t spoiling enough, head to the resort’s Le Spa de Constance, where a series of specialist Shiseido treatments will help couples energise their bodies and minds, while creating a true sense of harmony.
Down a road that winds through lush sugar plantations and skims past deserted beaches is the intimate Constance Le Prince Maurice, which emerged last month from a lavish facelift that will guarantee its position as one of the most luxurious resorts in the Indian Ocean. Another favourite among couples, you’ll find far fewer children here. Instead, there is a sense of tranquillity throughout the 60 hectares of gardens, swimming pools and beachfront. Located on its own peninsula, Le Prince Maurice feels more like a private estate rather than a resort that couples have to share with others.
There are 76 well appointed and spacious junior suites, each with thatched roofs and eight of which are located above a natural fish reserve, but for true pampering head to one of the 12 villas. The nine Senior Villas have direct beach access and heated pools, while three are located above the lagoon. All villas have whirlpool baths and outdoor soak tubs, perfect for whiling away warm evenings with a chilled bottle of wine.
Newlyweds can spend their days windsurfing, sailing, kayaking or exploring the nearby Flacq Markets, and finish with a poolside sunset cocktail followed by dinner in L’Archipel, an elegant al fresco restaurant with sweeping sea views and a menu of spicy Creole favourites. The Prince Maurice is also home to a new Spa de Constance, offering European-inspired spa treatments and wellness rituals created by Sisley.
One of the most lavish resorts in the tiny island nation, the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita’s 123 spacious villas are wreathed by coral seas and tropical gardens. Part of the expansive Anahita complex, the Four Seasons is especially good for couples who like to be active and would enjoy the complimentary rounds at the resort’s Ernie Els-designed course.
Each villa displays breathtaking vistas through floor-to-ceiling windows that look over the lagoon and distant Bamboo Mountains, as well as seamless indoor/outdoor living. Dressed in rich natural wood, volcanic stone and other indigenous materials, all villas feature landscaped gardens with plunge pools, open-air bathrooms with deep soak tubs, and high-tech conveniences.
Honeymooners would be wise to book one of the resort’s opulent Ocean Villas. Secluded on the resort’s private island of Ile aux Chats, each features an ocean-front plunge pool, private beach access, covered patios and extra touches for those who are feeling amorous.
The Four Seasons is best known among golfers, and for good reason. Its immaculate course is an 18-hole, par-72 championship green that’s remarkably kind to the visiting player, while still offering enough challenges for return matches. Four Seasons and Anahita villa guests get complimentary access to the course, which remains the best in Mauritius.
Work out those post-golf aches and pains in the Four Seasons Spa, with an enviable menu of treatments. Located in the heart of an ancient mangrove forest, the Spa draws on Indian, African, Chinese and European wellness traditions. Cool down in one of the two Aqua Vichy rooms with a purifying sauna and ice fountain to follow, before commandeering a couples room for one of the Spa’s unique Sugar Adventure treatments, which consists of a cocoa ylang ylang sugar scrub foot bath, purifying sugar body polish and sugar cane massage. Finish off with a private dinner served on the patio of your villa under a canopy of stars.
THE GOLDEN BOOK
One&Only Le Saint Géran
T: +230 401 1688
Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre
T: +230 605 5800
Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita
T: +230 402 3100
Constance Belle Mare Plage
T: +230 402 2600
Constance Le Prince Maurice
T: +230 402 3636