One way to avoid the grogginess of a post-midnight arrival in Mauritius is a pop of champagne, shimmering in a tall glass. Welcome to Club Med La Plantation d’Albion. Even though it is the middle of the night, Jean Benoît Nissin, the ‘Chief of Village’ (in common terminology known as the General Manager), and a team of ‘Gentil Organisateurs’, greets us with smiles and warm, soothing hugs. The Air Mauritius flight was restful, but five hours in, I was in need of a little pampering. I wasn’t disappointed. The affable welcome and the champagne combine perfectly as I meander a tropical maze in a buggy, under the dark, velvet sky.
My suite resembles a studio apartment and faces a garden. I can make out the silhouette of tropical plants, and convince myself to rise with the sun in order to take in the beauty outside the glorious French windows.
Golden streaks of sunshine trickle through the sheer curtains and draw me out of bed. The plants were dripping green after the night’s downpour. The musical chirping of birds filled the air, punctuated with the croaking of a solitary frog. I wish I could have bottled the dewy petrichor as a reminder of that magical morning. If it weren’t for the hunger pangs, I could have spent hours soaking in the ambience.
The sweet aroma of freshly-baked croissants and muffins drew me to the Distillerie to devour a breakfast that was fit for a king (or queen). I piled my plate with an assortment of delights and settled down for a meal overlooking the blue sea. I knew at that moment I was going to enjoy every waking moment of this epicurean vacation.
Club Med La Plantation d’Albion is perched on the west coast of Mauritius. The sprawling property is set between majestic mountains, sandy shores awash with sapphire waters, and ridged by an abundant coral reef. The rich natural surroundings of the aptly named ‘sunset coast’ stretches from the Mauritian capital of Port Louis to the Unesco World Heritage Site of Le Morne Peninsula, making this village an homage to self-indulgence.
Drive down the meandering roads and you can spot white sandy bays, colourful Creole villages, and breathtaking vistas of the Rivière Noire district. All of this is home for the next three days.
The main pool at the resort is always bustling with activity. A group of enthusiastic Chinese tourists are taking their session of water aerobics a little too seriously. A group of golfers, sipping on chilled Phoenix beers, discuss their morning game at the adjoining bar. I was in the mood for something a little more zen so I signed up for a tai chi session. Daniel takes us through the basics of this ancient martial art that balances the dynamics between Yin and Yang. A feeling of reinvigoration seeps through, even though this was my first lesson ever. I was ready for any excesses that came my way.
Or so I thought. The hamlet of Chamarel is well-known for its panoramic viewpoints, rolling hills, and cascading waterfalls. ‘Art is nature speeded up and God slowed down,’ wrote Malcolm de Chazal, the acclaimed Mauritian writer, poet, painter and visionary. A popular attraction here is the Seven Coloured Earths—a cluster of dunes formed naturally of seven shades of layered sand.
Personally, the Rhumerie de Chamarel was a bigger draw for two reasons. This gorgeous distillery with its enormous copper pots brewing seven different types of rum seriously threatened my post-tai-chi calmness. My tipsiness was reined in by the gourmet lunch at L’Alchimiste. The boutique restaurant served up dishes, crafted with local produce, that were as tasty as they were aesthetically appealing.
The northern part of the island has its own share of natural and manmade wonders. It is home to Club Med’s decadent gem, La Pointe aux Canonniers. The newly-relaunched resort boasts an all-tropical spa that is decidedly Mauritian. The redecorated suites are equipped with the latest amenities, and the Kids Club allows families to enjoy an all-inclusive holiday.
There were guests from 14 different countries or more at La Pointe aux Canonniers to mark this carnival of food, wine, music and dance. As laughter and the clinking of glasses filled the air, new friendships were forged of unforgettable memories. All the action on the northern coast centres around the Grand Baie, a balloon glass-shaped bay with a tranquil emerald lagoon. This is where you land up if you want to party in Mauritius. The sundowners are the perfect way to let your hair down after a day of parasailing, kayaking or caving. One of the best ways to explore the Mauritian north is on a cycle. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, a boat trip to certain smaller islands for snorkelling should be on the cards.
Within approximately 2,000 sq km, Mauritius offers a multicultural tapestry of flavours, sounds, natural beauty, and architecture. A holiday here is nothing short of an adventure of a lifetime—offering travellers exactly what they are looking for and a little more.
Air Mauritius is the only airline that offers direct flights to Mauritius from Mumbai. You can also opt for Emirates that has a one-stop option. One can get a visa-on-arrival when you enter the country at Port Louis.