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mauritius

101

all you need to know about this island paradise

activities hotels sights shopping restaurants

kanoo world traveller

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Pleasure Island

The Indian Ocean is an area blessed with some of the most idyllic spots on Earth. The Maldives and the Seychelles are both stunning, but if you like your tropical island to come with a vibrant culture – alongside the clear turquoise seas, white powder sands and endless sunshine – then you should turn your attention to Mauritius. This small but proud nation has a rich history, delicious cuisine, ancient, hikeable mountains and an old colonial capital – Port Louis – as well as mile upon mile of palm-fringed shoreline. Get ready for the holiday of a lifetime... About This Guide We’ve compiled the 101 best things about Mauritius and placed them into simple-to-reference sections, making it easy for you to plan your perfect trip. Our recommendations try to cater for all tastes and requirements.

Port Louis

Contents 5 The Hotels – the country’s most exciting and alluring accommodation. 11 The Shopping – key souvenirs to bring back from your trip.

Mauritius

13 The Sights – Mauritius’ natural and manmade highlights.

Production in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in this publication.

15 The Restaurants – from local dishes to international dinners. 20 The Activities – a huge spread of options both on land and on water.

Produced by HOT Media Publishing FZ LLC

Mauritius 101

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MAURITIUS

Welcome to Mauritius

Essential facts for getting to and around the island. GeTTinG THeRe

coast: it’s far easier to work your way around the

Air Mauritius is the national airline of Mauritius and

periphery than driving straight across the centre.

flies to the island regularly from the city of Dubai. A

Most main roads converge in Port Louis, the capital,

series of other airlines, including Emirates, Oman Air

which means that during rush hour there can be

and Qatar Airways also fly from a cities in the Middle

major jams – it’s important to avoid the hours of

East to Mauritius. For airline ticketing information

7.30-9.30am and 5.30-7pm or you could end up

and to make a booking, visit your nearest Kanoo

stuck for quite some time. Do be careful on the roads

Travel or American Express Travel outlet.

as road-users in Mauritius have a tendency to drive quite near the centre right up until they pass you,

TRAnSpoRT

which can be offputting until you get used to it.

The single best way to get around Mauritius is by car – whether you take one of the good-value cabs,

Money

book a hotel car or hire a car yourself. If you decide

The Mauritian Rupee is the official currency of

to hire and drive, you’ll find that most of the major

Mauritius. Banknotes are available in denominations

car rental companies are represented at the airport

of 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 and

and that picking up a car when you arrive is simple.

ATM machines are widely available throughout

You’ll also find that Mauritius is an easily-navigable

the country. One US dollar is the equivalent to 27

island, with good roads, particularly around the

Mauritian Rupees.

2

Mauritius 101


1

The original cost in pennies of a Mauritian Blue Penny stamp, which was the first British Empire stamp to be produced outside of Britain and is now worth thousands of pounds to collectors.

4

The number of colours on the flag of Mauritius, each of which has a meaning. There’s red for freedom, blue for the colour of the Indian Ocean, yellow for the sun and green for the nation’s agriculture.

330

The number of kilometres of coastline and beautiful beach which encircle the island of Mauritius. 31

The main events to enjoy...

June

July

August

It’s time to take in some horseracing, as the Barbé Cup kicks off at Port Louis’ Champs de Mars racecourse, one of the world’s oldest. Make sure to book a box.

Bel Ombre beach sees the yearly Beach Rugby tourmament take place, a friendly and exciting daylong festival which sees big crowds turn up to lend their support.

September

The annual Mauritius Marathon takes place, with runners racing round the coastal road from Black river to Saint Felix beach, where they jump in the sea for a swim.

October

November

December

The Mauritius indian ocean Triathlon takes place, starting from Les Pavillons Hotel in the Black River Gorges district and careering its way across the island in a carnival atmosphere.

Party time: the Festival international Kréol, a celebration of all things Creole, comes to the nation’s beaches and parks: expect displays of dance, music and superb food.

January

opera Mauritius takes place, bringing together talented singers and conductors at the Conservatoire de Musique François Mitterand for workshops, performances and recitals.

March

April

May

March 12 sees the whole country come together to celebrate national Day, the anniversary of independence and a celebration of the Republic.

The horse-racing season

A huge racing challenge takes place in the form of the Royal Raid, a run which goes on for as long as 22 hours, through beautiful scenery.

February

It’s a big month for anglers, who pit their wits against the sea – and each other – in the South indian ocean Billfish Competition. Expert fishers are welcome.

begins at the Champs de Mars racecourse in the nation’s capital with the Duchess of york Cup.

The Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre hosts the Mauritius Ball Room Dancing Spectacular, which sees couples from across the region compete.

A festival celebrating the new year takes place, lasts for almost a week, and is mixed in with a celebration

of the harvest – special dishes are cooked and the streets are decorated.

Mauritius 101

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The Hotels

The accommodation in Mauritius is among the best in the world: there are dozens of blissful hotels and resorts in which you can relax and make the most of the island. The big news in 2011 is the launch of Long Beach

captivated for hours. And if you’ve got kids with

Mauritius, a new resort only just opened which

you, they’ll be captivated too – by the hundreds of

has – rightfully enough – created huge anticipation

fun activities on offer at the Penguin Kid’s Club.

on the island. At the resort’s heart is an ‘urban-

Shanti Maurice boasts one of the island’s

style piazza’ where guests can saunter between a

finest beaches, as well as a battery of villas taken

series of lovely lounges, restaurants and shops, all

straight from your tropical getaway fantasies. The

surrounded by gorgeous tropical and urban styling.

pick of the bunch is the lovely Shanti Villa, which

With an enormous stretch of coastline, every room

has picture postcard views over the bay and no less

has as much as 109 square metres of beach

than 800 square metres of space, surrounded by

to itself: space, modern decor and style are the

landscaped gardens. The private swimming pool

keynotes here.

is gigantic and there’s an immaculate ‘Sala’ dining

The Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre is located on the gorgeous south coast of Mauritius, the wildest and most untamed stretch of this lush

pavilion for entertaining – plus two bedrooms, three bathrooms and a luxurious living room. The Intercontinental Mauritius Resort,

tropical island. Designed around a beautiful deep

Balaclava Fort on the north coast has a prime

blue lagoon, it is the incarantion of ‘eco chic’, a

position. Not only does it overlook the beautiful Bay

welcoming retreat where light, water and sun have

of Balaclava, it is also just a 15 minutes drive from

been prioritised by the architects, with plenty of

the fun seaside town of Grand Baie. But there’s

open-air elements in your private rooms (you’ll also

plenty to entertain you at the resort itself, including a

have a private garden or pool) so you can smell

gorgeous pool, an Angsana Spa, nightly music and

the scent of flowers in the air and hear the waves

dance shows and – should you choose to book one

breaking on the shore as you stroll around. For a

of the Duplex Presidential Suites, a private hot tub,

real treat, check in to one of the six beach villas.

terrace and balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Cradling the beautiful bay of Pointe Aux Piments

The Grand Mauritian Resort & Spa is also

on the north-west coast is Le Méridien Ile

close to Grand Baie, and is set between verdant

Maurice, which is surrounded by beautiful gardens

fields of sugar cane and an ocean nature park.

and backed by mountains. If you’re feeling in the

This Marine Park, whose edge is marked by a

mood to indulge, book a ‘Premium Nirvana’ room

reef that runs along the hotel front, is filled with

with ocean view: the scenery is enough to keep you

life, including angel fish, star fish and grunt fish,

Mauritius 101

5


Le Touessrok, Mauritius Le Touessrok is one of the world’s truly great resorts – the essence of cool, modern elegance, imbued by the cultural warmth of tropical Mauritius. It is set upon a beautiful stretch of white – sand coastline overlooking the tranquil Trou d’Eau Douce bay. Across the water are two exquisite islands, including the spectacular championship golf course by Bernhard Langer. A wonderful array of restaurants and bars have been designed to cater for all tastes, moods and occasions. And in order to indulge in a real rejuvenating cure, the glamourous Givenchy Spa is the ideal refuge. Three private villas, designed for maximum privacy and comfort, offer the highest level of service with a dedicated chef and a team of waiting staff to make sure that all the special wishes of guests are met. www.letouessrokresort.com


Clockwise from left: The Grand Mauritian; Le Touessrok; The One&Only Le St Géran Mauritius.

‘The One&Only Le St Géran is a typically brilliant One&Only property, where huge thought has been put into creating experiences the guests will remember forever’ as well as lots of gorgeous coral. The Grand has

seafront protected by a coral reef, making it calm,

much to recommend it, including Mauritius’ largest

tranquil and perfect for snorkelling. The hotel is well

swimming pool and, for true island relaxation, a

equipped for families, with children welcomed with

batallion of hammocks slung between palm trees,

a present when they arrive, and a dedicated club

where you can while the day away under the sun.

set up where they can socialise with other kids their

The One&Only Le St Géran Mauritius is a

own age. There’s even a babysitting service which

typically brilliant One&Only property, where huge

means you can make the most of the lovely inhouse

thought has been put into creating experiences

restaurants and enjoy a quiet dinner à deux.

the guests will remember forever. There are the

Le Touessrok is one of the hotels which is

private dinners at sunset on the beach – a silvery

really defining the island’s luxury status. Everything

strip on the hotel’s own private peninsula – the

has been created to the highest possible level of

brilliant spread of all-inclusive watersports, and the

quality, and the staff is absolutely flawless. As well

thrill of teeing off at the lovely nine-hole Gary Player

as the wonderful accommodation, which shows

links golf course. The Ocean Suites – which lead

off this sun-soaked slice of Mauritius to its best

directly out towards the water – come particularly

advantage, there’s also a Givenchy spa, a Bernard

recommended.

Langer-designed golf course and a private island –

Out on the East Coast is the Constance Belle

Ilot Mangénie, where you can get the full Robinson

Mare Plage, with direct access to two separate 18

Crusoe experience (all with five star service,

hole championship golf courses, and a stretch of

naturally).

Mauritius 101

7


Below left: The Oberoi’s pool. Right: Villa at Four Seasons at Anahita

‘The Sofitel So Mauritius is located on the gorgeous south coast of Mauritius, the wildest and most untamed stretch of this lush tropical island’ The Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort is set on the Domaine de Bel Ombre, not far from the You’ll find only villas on offer at the Four

lovely Chateau de Bel Ombre and the Valriche

Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita – so we’re

nature Reserve, and draws on Mauritius’ African

afraid it has to be luxury all the way if you check

heritage in its style and decor. The resort has a lot

in here. You’ll find the villas have been beautifully

of ticks in its boxes – particularly for keen golfers

and traditionally decorated, using local materials

who will love playing the immaculate 18 hole

like wood, thatch and volcanic stone. Out on your

course, and spa aficionados, who will be blown

private terrace you’ll discover a plunge pool, an al

away by the Seven Colours Spa.

fresco private bathroom and views that will melt

A good value option on the North West coast,

your heart. Meanwhile, just off shore is the hotel’s

Veranda Grand Baie proves that you don’t have

own private island, Ile aux Chats – make sure to

to pay a huge amount in order to experience the

pop by for a visit.

best of Mauritius. Located in the sunny seaside

On Mauritius’s West Coast you’ll find The Oberoi

town of Grand Baie, which offers increasingly good

Mauritius, a very laidback retreat where you can

shopping, it has rooms decorated in fresh and fun

happily let all the stresses and strains of life melt

Creole style with good facilities and direct access to

away. Whether you’re lazing in a hammock by

the local beach. Just a short way south along the

the beautiful pool, taking a walk along the shore,

coast lies sister property the Veranda Pointe Aux

enjoying an al fresco spa treatment in a private spa

Biches, another good value winner of a property,

garden or just tucking in to some of the country’s

where guests can enjoy a stay that’s perfectly

best local and international cuisine at the torch-

geared up for families (check out the cute bunk

framed restaurant, you’ll love this place.

beds for kids in the family rooms).

8

Mauritius 101


Below, left to right: Suite at So Sofitel; Beachfront villa at Trou Aux Biches.

Also on the North West coast is the ultraluxurious Royal Palm hotel. It’s a grand, opulent place where everything has been designed and created to the highest possible standards. The Royal Suite offers some of the very finest accommodation on the island, with its own hammam, gazebo and even a private pool in which

mini-golf, snorkelling and windsurfing – and the

you can swim lazy laps while looking out over the

emphasis on traditional Mauritian service and

ocean. When it comes to unwinding, you’ll love

hospitality make this a winning choice. Also by

taking a treatment at the Spa by Clarins, which has

Naiade is Les Pavillons, a five star beach resort

been decked out in gloriously attractive fashion with

whose attributes include a beautiful view of the

lava stone, slate and wood, and which comprises

peak of the Morne Brabant, six hundred metres of

private cabins. each with a private patio in case you

sandy shoreline and no fewer than four pools.

want to enjoy your treatment out in the fresh air. Villas Valriche is a residential development

For a romantic couple’s break, head for the Trou aux Biches Resort & Spa, which offers gorgeous

attached to a Peter Matkovitch-designed golf

chalet-style and villa accommodation, built in eco-

course which is one of the very best on the island.

friendly fashion. Book a beachfront suite and you’ll

The fairways are crossed by a pair of rivers – St.

get our own private pool – although that turqouise

Martin and the Citronniers – at a few key points,

sea is just a few steps further away. And for real

and the panoramic views of mountains, sugar cane

indulgence, hit the large and popular Spa by Clarins

fields and sea are superb. There’s also a great PGA

for a treatment or two.

golf academy on hand should you need some

Finally, the south-westerly tip of Mauritius is the

pointers. The villas themselves are exquisite and

location of the fabulous Paradis Hotel & Golf

serviced by private chefs and butlers: gorgeous

Club. Its set of suites and villas are scattered

villas and a great spa complete the mix.

around the largest lagoon in the country, and

Beau Rivage Ile Maurice is a property from

its facilities are unbeatable - particularly as it

the Naiade group, located on the white sands of

shares restaurants and activities with Dinarobin, a

Belle Mare. This beach hotel is great for families

neighbouring property from the same Beachcomber

– activities for children include a dedicated club,

hotel family.

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Mauritius 101


The Shopping While the prime focus in Mauritius is on culture, watersports and sun, you’ll find the shopping’s not bad either – there are some interesting boutiques to stroll around where you can pick up some top souvenirs of your trip. Shopping in Mauritius is a laidback, bargainous

metres down the road you’ll find the slightly

affair involving lots of locally-produced goods.

lower-key Designer Paradise, which specialises

Artisanal specialities include diamond jewellery,

in GF Ferré, Abercrombie & Fitch and upmarket

glassware and incredibly detailed model ships.

bikinis. The neighbouring Designer Depot sells

You’ll also find lots of highly-discounted factory

a similar range of names, plus miniature sailboats

outlet clothing on offer, much of it seasons out of

and, somewhat oddly, bongo drums. Once you’ve

date: it’s well worth a browse as there are some real

stocked up on discount clothing you might like to

gems dotted among the dross.

swing by interiors emporium Piment Rouge, which

Grand Baie’s central drag has a dedicated Shopping Village, where you’ll find a series of fun little stores in which to abuse your credit card.

does a nice line in stylish lamps, bowls, stenciled pots and pillows. A medium-sized mall in downtown Port Louis,

There’s River Woods for preppy beach wear,

Caudan is home to lots of homegrown stores and

motto-ridden Ts and light summer jackets – ideal for

a scattering of international names, spread over

slinging over your shoulder in case of a downpour.

a series of boulevards. Hit up Out of Africa for

Then there’s Hemisphere Sud for handmade

dresses, Indya Vogue for brightly-coloured saris,

leather bags, wallets and diaries, and Equateur for

Koki for big, loud shirts for men and Billabong

tasteful tropical shirts (yep, it is possible). Finally,

Girls for outlandish jewellery. If you’re in need

don’t miss out on Montali for stylish womenswear

of beachwear, you’ll find a bunch of good value

and Kavanagh for diamond jewellery set in

offerings from Billabong, O’Neill, Rip Curl and

platinum and gold.

Quicksilver. Then there’s the Mauritius Glass

The factory outlets of Route Royale in Arsenal

Gallery for ethically-conscious trinkets made from

– in the North of the island, not far from Grand Baie

recycled glass heated and shaped using recycled

– sell designer products at greatly-reduced prices.

cooking oil. There’s also a dedicated Craft Market

There are ten or so stores here, all selling a similar

of some forty stalls, featuring rugs, bags and

mix of stuff. The biggest and best of the bunch

pashminas, plus a surfeit of carved wooden dodos,

is K.N.E. Rayinale where you’ll find D&G, (with

coconut knickknacks and bottles of coloured sand

a particular emphasis on handbags and wallets),

from Chamarel. And don’t leave without checking

Chanel, Versace and Armani. A couple of hundred

out Tea Route, home to scale models of 17th

Mauritius 101

11


This page: The local markets.

century sailing ships, proper three-masted beauties

bikinis and sarongs, at Villebrequin there are racks

equipped with rigging, flags and miniature cannons.

of upmarket swimshorts and at Altitude they’ve

Where Le Caudan is slick and westernised, Port

got cool, original Ts and pretty cutaway summer

Louis’ Central Market is unabashedly no-frills

dresses. Visit Passion for delicate necklaces and

and local. Huge piles of spiky fruit, vibrant chilis

rings, featuring diamonds, zirconia and local shells

and dried vanilla are enthusiastically hawked from

and the small but imaginative Xxbelle for Euro-style

tiny stalls and the air is filled with noisy banter. You

fashion. You can pick up some local art from the

may well be picked up by a salesman from the

gallery and buckets of cashmere and Abercrombie

spice shops which line one side of the market,

& Fitch from the factory outlet. The real standout for

and persuaded over to look at their tiffin tins and

souvenirs is Manshree, where you’ll find gorgeously

presentation cases of saffron – expect lots of

light Indian dresses, kaftans, pashminas, elaborately-

football chat and a free print-out of a curry recipe to

decorated pillow cases, rich swathes of silk, bolts of

loosen you up, followed by feigned consternation

velvet, wood carvings and outsized solitaire kits with

and teeth-sucking from the owner when you start

speckled marbles.

to haggle. Le Ruisseau is a lovely, low-rise complex of 60

Finally, buy jewellery in Mauritius and you won’t be charged tax – just bring your passport and air

boutiques, more chilled out than Caudan and with

ticket with you to prove you’re a tourist, or else

a smarter bunch of stores. Work your way around,

collect the tax back at the airport. The biggest

stopping off for regular refueling sessions at Le

jeweller is Adamas – visit them in Floreal (686 5246)

Kiosk Café, with its pleasant outdoor terrace – if

and Grand Baie (269 1609). They cut and set the

you’re there for lunch, the gourmet paninis are a

diamonds themselves, which helps keep the prices

sound bet. At Delire you’ll find a barrage of colourful

highly attractive.

12

Mauritius 101


The Sights There’s lots to see in Mauritius – and happily because the island’s not huge, you can take almost all of it in during a single visit... Head to Black River Gorges national park in the

There are no bells or whistles here – it’s all about

south west of the island, and you can check out the

the fish, housed in simple tanks, adorned only with

geological wonder that is the Earths of Chamarel.

earnest missives about their genus and habits. But

The volcanic rock in the area has been eroded and

what fish! To a soundtrack of crashing waves (slightly

weathered over the millenia, producing an amazing

superfluous given that the beach is directly opposite)

array of multicoloured sands – as you stroll along

you’ll check out the humbug-esque blue and yellow

you’ll see seven colours including yellow, blue and

cerulean damsels, the ruffle-wearing devil firefish,

green, which create an appealing, alien landscape.

Jurassic era yellowmouth moray, luminous palette

Just nearby is the imposing Chamarel waterfall,

surgeonfish and vicious-looking ribbon morays.

an 83-metre beauty where you can take some fantastic snaps. The Aquarium, on Coastal Road, Pointe Aux

Over in Port Louis, on Rue du Vieux Conseil, you’ll find the kooky Musée de la Photographie. It’s crammed with ancient cameras (of the old

Piments, claims to offer visitors a unique experience

school, ‘head under a blanket, hand holding up a

‘without the fear of being eaten’. It’s only one

flash’ style), plus thousands of photographs (and

of many advantages of a trip to this low tech

even some daguerrotypes) of Mauritius. The island,

attraction, a key stop-off on any tour of the north.

it seems, has always been in love with photography: one of the first people to buy a camera when they went on sale in 1839 was a Mauritian, Fedinand Wöhrnitz. The glimpse into the development of the island and the life of its inhabitants is fascinating. For a chilled afternoon of strolling in the sunshine, hit the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, better known as Pamplemousses Garden. It’s a 37-acre plot in Pamplemousses, in the north of the country, and features rolling hills, tranquil lakes, and an onslaught of tropical plants. You can take an organised tour (guides wait in a special hut by the entrance and call out as you pass by), or simply make your way around on your own, checking out the 80 different species of palm trees,

Mauritius 101

13


Previous Page: Earths of Chamarel. Below: Chamarel waterfall. Right: Pamplemousses Garden.

and sugar booms. Anyone who likes ancient engineering will love the big main room filled with tugboats and distilling contraptions, not to mention the decommissioned heavy machinery and steam engines which dot the grounds outside. The gift shop is good fun too – pick up some natty sugar t-shirts, homemade lollies and no fewer than twelve types of sugar. The Blue Penny Stamp Museum, next to Le Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis, gives you a good overview of the country’s social, artistic and stampy history, with lots of old maps, paintings – check the pond filled with tyre-sized water lilies and the

out the drawings of Port Louis when it was little

aromatic spice plantations. There is also a small

more than a pair of sheds – and etchings of the

enclosure filled with ultra-cute deer and a score of

island through the ages. The centrepiece exhibits

giant turtles – although in contrast to places like La

are the one and two penny stamps, the first issued

Vanille Reserve you can’t go and pet any of them.

in Mauritius, bought back for the nation at a cost

History buffs keen to learn about the island life of yesteryear should try L’Aventure du Sucre. This place, located at Beau Plan near

of two million dollars. There’s a nice little museum shop, too, for all your mug and postcard needs. Finally, down on the south coast at Rivière

Pamplemousses offers a great introduction to the

des Anguilles you’ll find La Vanille Reserve des

history of Mauritius. Sure, there’s a fair amount of

Mascareignes, a captivating nature sanctuary filled

technical information, plus some slightly tenuous

with exotic animals. First stop is the insectarium,

connections – Nostradamus is pressed into the

where you’ll find 23,000 species of butterfly and

service of sugar promotion at one point – and

creepy-crawly – some live, some mounted. Next

feeble games – a ‘spot the sugar’ cartoon for kids

up are the water-filled network of pools containing

marks a particular lowpoint. But in the main, it’s a

2,000 Nile crocodiles: you can pick up and play with

well thought-out museum which takes you through

baby crocs and, if you visit on a Wednesday, you

the whole rambunctious history of the island, with

can watch them tucking into their weekly helping of

its corsairs, epidemics, rats, refinieries, slaving

chicken. The whole site is a joy to walk around.

14

Mauritius 101


The Restaurants

We hope you’re bringing a big appetite: this island has a truly world-class line-up of restaurants and dishes to offer. One of the biggest parts of Mauritius’ gastronomic

that’s deer curry. It’s an intensely-flavoured stew of

appeal is the intense taste of the ingredients used,

venison and lilva beans, with lots of tomatoes, bay

particularly the seafood – you’ll not find fresher

leaves and an undercurrent of coriander. Heavenly,

octopus, prawns or langoustines anywhere in the

if done well. You should also try rougaille. It’s the

world. Once you’ve tried a local pineapple, you’ll

Mauritian national dish and comes in many forms,

never look at an air-freighted, plastic-encased

the best of which is the saltfish version, a top

supermarket number in the same way again.

concoction of fish, tomatoes and herbs, served with

Chances are you’ll be on half or full board at your

lots of pickles and dal. Brace your tastebuds: you’re

hotel, so you may not want to eat out a huge

going to love Mauritian food – as with the rest of

amount. When you do, though, you’ll find a host of

the island’s culture, it’s a winning mix of French,

wonderful hotel restaurants – read on for our pick

Indian, Chinese and Creole, a heady fusion of haute

of the best.

cuisine, spice and blistering tropical flavours.

You’ll need to phone in advance to make a

Over at the Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre you’ll

reservation and get your name on the security

find Le Flamboyant, a lovely modern Mauritian

gate. If you’re staying at a sister hotel (i.e. one in

restaurant where you can enjoy contemporary

the same chain) you’ll have no problem getting in,

national cuisine mixed with the occasional classic

but if you’re not they may not have space as they

French dish while enjoying views out over the infinity

prioritise inhouse guests. Still, if you book a few

pool. If you’re in the mood for something less

days in advance you should be fine. If you’re in the

formal, check out La Plage, their beach restaurant

towns or on the beach, you’ll have the opportunity

which offers dainty, tapas-style dishes.

to try some Mauritian street food. By and large

Belle Vue restaurant at Veranda Grande Bay

this is good and very cheap but you should always

does a great line in authentic local cuisine, with fine

make sure to take your cue from the locals and only

views to accompany it. And the Veranda Pointe Aux

go for stalls and vendors which have drawn a line

Biches has a national buffet restaurant at Senses

of customers – the quieter vendors are less popular

restaurant, as well as a great meat and seafood

for a reason and their nibbles may leave you with an

place at the Sandy Lane Grill.

upset stomach. You may find the menus at traditional Mauritian

Mauritian food is served at Les Pavillons at Nautile, where you eat on a delightful veranda

restaurants a little baffling, but do not worry. We

by the beach, and get a real crash course in the

advise starting out with a helping of cari cerfs –

best of the country’s cuisine. The hotel also has a

Mauritius 101

15


This page, left to right: Spoon des Iles at Le St Geran. Le Touessrok’s Three-Nine-Eight. Opposite page: Blue Ginger at Trou aux Biches.

good Mediterranean restaurant, Obergine, offering straightforward healthy fare. For something spicier, try Nipa, which has made a name for offering the very finest Thai cuisine: powerful and delicious curries and noodles are the stock in trade here. At La Ravanne at the Paradis Hotel & Golf Club, you’ll get smashing Creole food out under the stars: this is a taste of the very best Mauritian lifestyle. There’s also seafood on offer at the Blue Marlin restaurant, and note perfect Italian at La Palma,

‘You’ll find your attention is torn between the antics in the kitchen and the view outside, where a series of swimming pools are lit by torches’ A similarly tranquil beachside spot to Infinity

where you can choose to eat indoors or out on the

Blue is found at La Méditerranée at Beau Rivage,

beach: blissful.

where you can sit with your feet on the sand

At Shanti Maurice they run Mauritian-style

and enjoy pizzas, salads, barbecues and local

barbecues on the beach each night, where they grill

delicacies. In the same resort is Indochine, which

up meats, game and fish (the likes of snapper, tuna,

whips up a glorious Southeast Asian mix with a

prawns and sea bass), all locally-sourced, under

view of the ocean. And then there’s Le Langoustier,

the light of lanterns, right by the water’s edge, and

a seafood restaurant par excellence, where you can

with the sound of Sega music in the background.

indulge yourself on the freshest local catch.

When it comes to serious fine dining, meanwhile,

There are a series of great treats available at

they have a great option in Stars, which offers South

the Intercontinental Mauritius Resort, Balaclava

African-style haute cuisine – simple dishes using the

Fort, first among which is their Noble House

very finest ingredients.

Asian fusion restuarant, which blends influences

If you enjoy eating with your toes in the sand,

from multiple countries (hint: the roasted duck is

try Infinity Blue at the Heritage Awali Golf & Spa

particularly fine). Also excellent are Segala – which

Resort. It offers a grand mix of seafood and modern

does a particularly good line in freshly-grilled

Mediterranean food, and is guaranteed to leave you

seafood – and the modern Indian restaurant Veda.

feeling sated and relaxed. Equally lovely is its sister

There’s also first class Indian food on offer at

restaurant, Balafon – which offers multiple cuisines

Cumin At Le Meridien Ile Maurice, where the local

each night in a pretty restaurant.

spices are used to great effect. If that doesn’t appeal,

16

Mauritius 101


check out their beachside restaurant La Faya,

& Only Le St Geran’s Spoon des Iles, created

which does a great line in modern Mediterranean

by Alain Ducasse, one of the titans of the French

and Mauritian food, or their excellent light seafood

gourmet scene. Ducasse has put together an

restaurant, Shells, which also comes with wonderful

imaginative mix of Mauritian and European flavours

sea views as standard, before head on to the Bay

and dishes (check out the banana-leaf-wrapped

View lounge for a relaxed after-dinner coffee.

Dorado) in a gorgeous restaurant. But Ducasse is

Thai food and show cooking is the order of the

not the only superstar under their roof – at Rasoi

day at Blue Ginger at the Trou aux Biches Resort

by Vineet you can tuck in to the Indian food of

& Spa. You’ll find your attention is torn between the

Vineet Bhatia, a Michelin-starred chef who works

antics in the kitchen and the view outside, where a

magic in the kitchen.

series of swimming pools are lit up by torches. Trou

Le Barachois in the Constance Prince Maurice

aux Biches also offers Indian food, at Mayiha, which

Hotel is fabulous – reached by means of an

is ornately designed as an Indian palace and where

elongated boardwalk, it sits out in the Belle Mare

delicate cithara music forms the soundtrack to your

bay, floating on a series of pontoons. You’ll enjoy

fabulous dinner. If you’re not feeling like a big meal,

the slight rocking of your table and the easy access

then grab a seat at the resort’s Le Deck, where

to the starry night sky, but better than all this is

you’ll eat simple, delicious fare just metres away

the teeming Mauritian sealife that swishes around

from the shore.

the bottom of the restaurant, lured by the bright

When it comes to flagship restaurants from international big name chefs, you’ll love the One

spotlights that pick them out. Shoals of fish chase each other, jump up for bits of your delicious bread,

Mauritius 101

17


This page, left to right: Le Château; Beau Champ at Four Seasons Mauritius.

‘f you’re in the mood for a steak, head on over to the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius, and its Beau Champ restaurant ’ and generally lark about much to the amusement

and fresh seafood restaurant Tides, all of which

of the diners. The food is light, tasty French with a

have been eagerly awaited by the island’s foodies.

smattering of Creole and the seafood is wonderful. For Italian cuisine, there’s La Spiaggia at the

One final Italian option is on offer at The Grand Mauritian: Brezza, whose tables overlook Turtle

Constance Belle Mare Plage Hotel, a small and

Bay and the beach, and which has its own lounge

intimate spot offering great Tuscan classics. At the

for pre-dinner mocktails right nearby, on the

same hotel, the Blue Penny Café sticks up for local

poolside. The Grand Mauritian has also impressed

Creole food, presenting it gourmet-style in glorious,

the local market – and its international guests – with

regularly updated degustation menus which zip

its ‘Season’ restaurant where guests get up close

you through the best the cuisine has to offer before

with the chefs for a fun and tasty interactive dining

depositing you on the other side, sated, smiling and

experience.

in need of a delicious stogie from their cigar cabinet.

There are culinary treats aplenty at Le Touessrok,

The waterfalls which surround the restaurant, filling

home of Three-Nine-Eight, a three floor restaurant

it with the sounds of falling water, are definitely a

offering nine different cuisines from eight show

nice touch, too.

kitchens. Choose from Thai, Indian, Mauritian,

Another exciting Italian is to be found at the

Spanish, French, Middle Eastern, Italian and

recently-opened Long Beach Mauritius, in the form

Chinese meals, plus food from the rotisserie. Then

of Il Sapori, which puts fine Italian product to the

there’s Barlen’s beach restaurant, which offers

fore, and creates highly memorable dishes. It’s only

a fusion mix of European and Asian dishes, with

one of five restaurants at the resort – there’s also

dishes cooked on a volcanic rock grill. Finally, the

the show-cooking Le Marché, Japanese fine-diner

Safran restaurant, which looks out over Hibiscus

Hasu, contemporary Chinese restaurant Chopsticks

bay is great for Indian food.

18

Mauritius 101


Left: Le Flamboyant at So Sofitel Mauritius.

If you want to gaze at an Indian Ocean sunset,

romantic night, head to Le Château Restaurant

book yourself in at The Restaurant, at The Oberoi,

at Domaine de Bel Ombre. It’s housed in a 19th

Mauritius. You’ll find your table on the edge of a

century mansion surrounded by ancient gardens,

palm-thatched, open-sided restaurant lit by flaming

a mountain and a golf course. You can book up for

torches dotted about the grounds. The service is

high tea or lunch, but it’s loveliest at dinner: enjoy a

among the best on the island and the menu offers

note-perfect French meal in the main dining room,

a delightful spread of local and European food. The

decked out with antique wood-paneled walls, and

stillness of the evening is broken only by murmured

then head out to the veranda to check out the stars.

chat from neighbouring tables and croaking frogs in

It’s the ideal spot for suitors to pop the question

the middle distance.

– none but the steeliest of hearts could refuse a

If you’re in the mood for a steak, head on over to the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius, and its Beau Champ restaurant. Just on the lagoon, this

post-dinner proposal made here, particularly if the chef’s on form. Finally, if you’re dining with a group that can’t

steakhouse has three separate outdoor dining areas

make up its mind what it fancies for dinner, try

and the sort of menu that makes true carnivores

Natureaty at the Royal Palm hotel. Every night

go weak at the knees. If you’re not in the mood

it offers three separate themed menus – one

for prime rib, you can be taken over to Bambou

showcasing Asian or Mediterranean food, one

instead, which is located on the private island

which focuses on Wellness and another which

owned by the resort, and which runs a particularly

takes on a special theme or product and deals

fine tropical buffet, with entertainment from a jazz

with it imaginatively. There’s so much inspiring and

trio and some Sega dancers.

intriguing choice that everyone will find something

When you feel the need for a truly special and

they love...

Mauritius 101

19


The Activities

Whether you’re into your golf, your watersports, your mountainclimbing or your nature-watching, you’ll find there’s plenty to fill your diary while you’re in Mauritius. The raft of activities offered to tourists in Mauritius

Bathing sign – everywhere else is prime snorkelling

tend to fall under the management of White Sand

territory. Expect to see exquisitely-coloured

Tours – you’ll probably find one of their reps in your

corals, angel fish, lionfish, clownfish, bonefish and

hotel – and they’re your best bet for heading out to

surgeonfish among dozens of others. Snorkelling

sea, offering a couple of great catamaran cruises.

off the beach at Flic en Flac is particularly brilliant.

The first is Eastern Sailing Magic, a full day’s jaunt

You’ll find that the majority of the big hotels have

along the east coast including a stop-off to check

snorkelling excursions by boat to reefs further

out Ile aux Cerfs and the Grand River waterfalls.

out at sea: if yours doesn’t, you can organise a

The second is Northern Islands Sailing, another

trip through Tropical Dream Tours in Flic en Flac

full day’s outing, including stops at Les Palisades

(453 8480) who will take you by speedboat to the

and the sheltered parts of Flat Island and Gunner’s

Aquarium site on the west coast.

Coin Island. Both cruises include opportunities for

If you’ve got your PADI you’re all set to dive in at

swimming and snorkelling (flippers and masks are

some of the terrific sites off the island, where you’ll

provided), drinks, transportation to and from your

see a whole new world of wondrous sea creatures,

hotel, and an onboard barbecue lunch prepared

including sharks, stingrays and strikingly coloured

and served by the crew.

fish. If your hotel doesn’t organise trips, try Sea

You can also hop aboard a White Sands

Urchin Diving Center (913 0208) in Flic en Flac,

catamaran for a visit to the home of a pod of

who can take you to around 30 dive sites on the

dolphins in Tamarin Bay. The dolphins are a

west coast. Each dive lasts around 30-35 minutes

delight, although sadly you can’t swim with them

and their prices are very reasonable. You can also

as they leg it as soon as you get in the water.

take your beginner’s PADI certificate with them,

There is also the opportunity for some spectacular

which will take you from swimming pool to ocean

snorkelling during the day (all equipment is

and includes four dives.

provided) and a barbecue lunch is prepared and served by the crew on board.

Most sightseeing tours will include a trip to the waterfalls at Chamarel or Tamarin. But the very

If you’d rather swim with the fishes, there’s some

best one for swimming in is at Eureka (433 8477)

fabulous snorkelling all over Mauritius, starting just

in Moka in the centre of the island. Here you’ll find

a few yards from the beach. Anywhere it’s unsafe

four smallish waterfalls in a ravine that you can

to take the plunge will have an obvious Dangerous

visit with a guide before jumping in for a swim. An

20

Mauritius 101


This page: Aqua activities are myriad.

‘If you’d rather swim with the fishes, there’s some fabulous snorkelling all over Mauritius, starting just a few yards from the beach’ out with a guide on Boerperd ponies for between 90 minutes and two hours, taking in the lush scenery as you trot along. There are both morning and afternoon extra bonus is the magnificent neighbouring Creole

sessions and children between 7 and 12 years old

colonial house and garden (now a museum) which

can join in as long as they have some previous riding

is open for tours.

experience. The rides can get quite dirty so you’re

A different sort of swim – one involving super-fast slides – can be had at Le Waterpark (415 2626). Located near the Constance Belle Mare Plage

advised to bring a change of clothes and a towel so you can take a post-trek shower on site. Head to Domaine de l’Etoile (433 1010) and you

Resort on the east coast of the island, it’s a small

can make your way down one of three archery

but fun affair – a couple of swimming pools, a gently

trails where you’ll be confronted by a series of

winding lazy river, a pirate ship to clamber about

3D animal models. The longest trail takes around

on and a bunch of giant slides: try the 80-metre

three hours and sees you loosing off arrows at 20

‘multilane’, which four people can slip down at the

fake beasts, while the shortest trail, with just five

same time and the Black Hole – a whizz down a

targets, takes only 45 minutes. Children under

darkened tunnel on a rubber raft.

seven are not allowed and those over seven must

Back on dry land, horseriding can be organised

be accompanied by an adult. Rates include your

at various places around the island but the pick of

bow and arrows, assistance from a coach and

the bunch is Domaine de L’Etoile (433 1010/729

lunch. You can shoot arrows at targets elsewhere in

1050) on the east coast. You saddle up and head

Mauritius but it’s nowhere near as much fun as this.

Mauritius 101

21


Both pages: Quad biking and the island’s outdoor pursuits.

Over at Casela Nature Park (452 0693, on the west coast near Cascavelle) you can embark on a 4x4 tour which whips you through the park and then on through the Yemen Nature Reserve. Along the way you’ll see zebras, deer, African antelopes, wild pigs and billions of birds. This safari-style trip takes two hours in a ten-seater vehicle. Casela Nature Park is the proud owner of a clutch of lion and cheetah cubs. You can stand on a viewing platform and watch them at play, walk

three hours followed or preceded by lunch. Make

in their enclosure with a guide and touch them, or

sure to bring a change of clothes (as things can get

go for an hour’s walk around the reservation with

quite mucky), sunblock and a camera to capture

two or three lion cubs. Kids who want to walk in the

the beautiful scenery.

enclosure or round the reservation with the cubs

There are a couple of ways to enjoy a bird’s

must be a minimum of 1.5 metres tall for the lions

eye view of Mauritius. Helicopter tours of the

and 1.2 metres for the cheetahs.

island are available for 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes.

The best quad biking on Mauritius is at Domaine

The Air Mauritius choppers (www.airmauritius.

de l’Etoile (433 1010/729 1050) on the island’s east

com/helicopter.htm) seat up to four. Tours can be

coast, where you zip about among an extraordinary

taken from a series of helipads around the island

array of flora and fauna, including ebony, banana

so there’s no need to travel to the airport to catch

and cinnamon trees, Java deer, wild boars and

your ride. It takes an hour to see the whole island,

monkeys. There are two trips every day – morning

but even with just 15 minutes you can expect to

and afternoon – and each lasts between two and

see mountains, jungle and picturesque swathes of

22

Mauritius 101


A Peter Matkovich-designed course, Golf du Château rises up from sea level into the foothills of the Black River Gorges nature reserve, giving players awesome views of the Indian Ocean from many holes, while several holes play by the Château de Bel Ombre, a magnificent colonial building. Other eye candy includes a welter of brightly-coloured flora and fauna which lines the ruggedly beautiful coastline. But if you posses an even bigger head

course. Our favourite hole? The beautiful par four

for heights, make a beeline for the factory site of

6th, which plays down a narrow valley surrounded

Saint Felix sugar estate in the south of the island

by jungle on one side and rocky scrub on the other

for an adrenaline-fueled two-kilometre trip along

with a magnetic stream crossing the hole just in

eleven swift ‘zip-lines’ – cables which you clip

front of the green.

yourself onto and slide down – at heights of around

Le Touessrok Golf Course was designed by

30 metres. The route takes you over the Rivière des

two-time US Masters champion and Ryder Cup

Galets with stunning views of sugar cane fields,

captain Bernhard Langer, and is a breathtakingly

banana plantations, verdant forest and waterfalls:

beautiful but fiendishly difficult course that everyone

book through White Sand Tours.

should play at least once. Those who have strode

Mauritius takes its golfing extremely seriously –

its fairways include Nelson Mandela. This is the

the island is dotted with courses (a frankly farcical

only course on the island that can’t be reached by

number, considering the size of the population), and if

road, meaning that you have to take a helicopter or

you’re into your game you’ve got to try some of them

a ten minute boat ride over to the delightful Ile aux

out as they’ll blow you away. You’ll always have to

Cerfs. Holes 11-13, consisting of a par five, par four

call in advance to book, and be warned that if you’re

and par three, all play right beside the white sandy

calling from outside the hotel which hosts the course

beach and turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.

then you won’t necessarily get a booking on the day

They are tough - but not too tough – and by far the

you want as they give priority to inhouse guests.

most beautiful holes on the course.

Mauritius 101

23


Below and left: The different style golf courses on offer.

‘Links Course, Belle Mare Plage Resort is beautiful, with some really wonderful holes played around outcrops of volcanic rock. The dog-leg par four 18th is also a fantastic finishing hole’ Tamarina Golf Estate and Beach Club is home to the first independent course on Mauritius. Set in the shadows of Mount Rempart, its fairways

and 13th holes which play parallel to each other down one side of the lagoon. Links Course, Belle Mare Plage Resort is

are framed by seas of natural grasses including

beautiful, with some really wonderful holes played

purple pampas, lemongrass, red grass, citronelle

around outcrops of volcanic rock. All buggies are

and vetiver. Tamarina is very welcoming to visitors

fitted with the latest GPS systems and the locker

and a real joy to play. The great views of Mount

room facilities are truly luxurious. The top holes?

Rempart from virtually every hole and the troop of

The par four 13th and par three 14th, which both

monkeys that lurk around the club’s signature 13th

require long carries over water to reach the greens,

hole make every round a pleasure.

are absolutely great. The dog-leg par four 18th is

The Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita was

also a fantastic finishing hole.

designed by the ‘Big Easy’ himself, Ernie Els. Its

Finally, there are some superb spas in Mauritius

best points? Six oceanside holes, four different

where you can get scrubbed down, kneaded up and

terrain elements (tropical ocean, forest, Scottish

pampered silly. One of island’s finest is undoubtedly

links and mountain), large fairways and the fact

The Oberoi Spa, at The Oberoi, Mauritius. It lists a

that it’s the only USGA course on the island. Plus

swimming pool, steam baths and a beauty parlour

it has a bunch of other facilities including an air-

among its top-notch amenities, but our favourite

conditioned gym, a Mauritian style clubhouse, a

element is the magnificent private spa suites,

beauty centre and a Big Easy grill.

complete with their own plunge pools. Elsewhere,

Paradis Golf Club, Le Morne, is the oldest

The Seven Colours Spa at Heritage Golf & Spa Resort

18-hole championship course on the island and

houses no fewer than 20 treatment rooms, offering a

lies in the shadow of the magnificent Le Morne

smart concept based on the seven chakras and the

mountain, a World Heritage site. Though it can be

seven-coloured earth at neighbouring Chamarel. Over

the easiest course on Mauritius, when the wind

at Le Touessrok you’ll find the quite beautiful Givenchy

blows it can be a beast. We love the par four 12th

Spa, which almost relaxes you on sight alone.

24

Mauritius 101


Mauritius is Magnifique

Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre An intimate getaway on a turquoise lagoon, Sofitel Mauritius Bel Ombre offers supreme luxury while celebrating the natural environment. Strikingly modern and timelessly elegant, it is a haven of peace designed by Lek Bunnag and decorated by Kenzo TAKADA. Luminous suites feature private tropical gardens and provide absolute tranquility and comfort. Bel Ombre - Île Maurice Tél. : + 230 605 58 00 – e-mail : h6707@sofitel.com

www.sofitel.com

Mauritius101_June'11  

A guide to holidays in Mauritius

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