Dazzling white sands that stretch to an iridescent sea, bright blue skies and that rarest
Dazzling white sands that stretch to an iridescent sea, bright blue skies and that rarestof things, tranquillity—it’s almost as though the island of Mauritius exists only to offer a home to some of the world’s most luxurious retreats. Year after year, this tiny jewel in the Indian Ocean has drawn the wealthiest, savviest travel connoisseurs. Its shores are crammed with exclusive leisure resorts and spas that could outdo one another on all but one count: the magical setting. A setting that has in recent years begun to lend itself perfectly to yet another kind of luxury, one often eclipsed by the glut of options here. It may come as a surprise to all you golf enthusiasts (and we know that there are plenty of those out there) that some of the most spectacular golf courses across the globe reside on these tropical beaches. Here’s a list of our favourites.
Belle Mare Plage
It’s the golf course—or rather, the courses— that come first at the Constance group’s resort, and not the redoubtable spa or the hotel itself. The Legend and The Links are possibly the best-known 18-hole courses in Mauritius, and for good reason. Both have played host to a string of prominent tournaments, the most noteworthy being the Mauritius Open (the country’s biggest golfing event), which has been held here for the past decade. This year will see BMP organise the Senior European Tour. While The Legend is a narrow, short, flattish course, with each hole presenting water in some form and requiring straight shots, The Links is contrastingly hilly; it’s also more open, longer and encourages blind shots. Also, unlike The Legend, it’s an unusual par 71 course. Built to US Professional Golf Association specifications and with Tif dwarf grass for flawless greens, both these courses ensure excellent golfing experiences. But for those not inclined to the game, there’s also another kind of holiday to be had here. Check into the 256-room resort to soak up some tropical warmth on an exclusive two-kilometre stretch of sun-drenched beach along a lagoon blessed with coral reefs that are perfect for snorkelling. Or luxuriate in their Shiseido spa, where you truly feel like a million miles away from the real world.
The Legend golf course
Tariff: from €255. Valid till April 18. Golfing fee (not applicable for The Legend): approximately €110. Includes green fees and club car.
Contact: +230-4022600, www.bellemareplagehotel.com
Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita
Imagine 8 kilometres of immaculate white beach set between an endless, glassy expanse of turquoise water and verdant, rolling countryside. Where you can savour a meal and quiet sunset on the water’s edge with nothing to mar your view. Where your villa opens out into your private garden—peaceful, lush and with its own plunge pool. Where you can step into your palm-filled porch and bathe beneath an open blue sky. Where your hardest decision is where to spend your time: within your massive, fabulously luxurious villa or on the beach. Or perhaps on a spectacular 18-hole golf course designed by South African golf major Ernie Els. That place is the Four Seasons. Part of a private mixed-use development—Anahita World Class Sanctuary—the two-year-old resort and its 6,828m-long golf course borders one of Mauritius’ largest lagoons, dramatically framed by the Bambou Mountains. The course is the hotel’s pride and joy, and why not? The first in Mauritius to meet the US Golf Association’s standards, this course is characterised by wide fairways with hard-to-beat vistas of the Indian Ocean and sugarcane fields all around; tricky greens; six oceanside holes (the walk between the 16th green and 17th tee is particularly stunning); and five sets of teeing areas, categorised as championship, tournament, members, senior and forward. With a state-of-the-art golf academy to sharpen your skills, a thoughtfully equipped clubhouse and service that comes only with a place like the Four Seasons (when you are playing a round, a buggy bearing refreshments arrives almost telepathically), this is the kind of place that stays with you long after your holiday is over.
Tariff: from €700. Valid till April 14. Green fees: €80 (nine holes), €110 (18 holes). Includes golf cart and 55 practice balls.
Contact: 4023100, www.fourseasons.com
Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Spa Resort
Sometimes luxury just means beautiful. Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Spa Resort isn’t the biggest, the newest or the most extravagantly indulgent, but it certainly is the prettiest among all the resorts I visited. Yes, it’s on a palm-fringed, powder-soft beach and its rooms open out to azure seascapes. Yes, your personal balcony overlooks a tropical garden with plants in abundance. For all that, Le Telfair is more than just a pretty view. The style is white-washed colonial: a colour scheme that reflects the hue of the surrounding sands and extends all the way from the façade to the interiors, with ivory slatted doors and floor-to-ceiling french windows lending an old-world glamour to the place. Flowing water fountains, a river that courses through the property, dark timber flooring along with sumptuous period furniture within… Le Telfair’s luxury lies in its understated elegance. Here to golf? Your answer is the scenic Golf du Chateau, which Telfair shares with its sister concern, the Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort. Spread over an expansive 100 hectares of undulating landscape backed by mountains and the sea, the 18-hole course is split into two nine-hole courses scattered with several lakes and streams. New to the game and intimidated? Golf du Chateau also provides a nine-hole, par-three, ‘pitch and putt’ introductory course.
The Four Seasons’ lagoon pool villa
Tariff: from €222. Valid till April 10. Green fees (except for guests staying in suites who get one free green access per day): €15 (nine holes), €25 (18 holes).
Contact: 2669777, www.heritageletelfair.mu
Say Le Touessrok anywhere in Mauritius and you’re likely to be looked upon as some sort of royalty. For this prestigious, award-winning resort—hugging the gentle curve of the Trou d’Eau Douce Bay along the eastern edge of the island—has long been favoured by some of the world’s biggest names, from the Duke and Duchess of York and Nelson Mandela to rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Naomi Campbell and more. Not surprisingly, then, an air of snobbery hangs about the place. But if you can disregard this, there’s plenty to love about Touessrok, starting with its architecture—a romantic Mediterranean-style village of cool white, timber and thatch, amid frangipani-scented lawns and lush tropical vegetation. I checked in for two nights, only to be rewarded with broad, crystal-blue ocean views that I could enjoy right from the comfort of my bed. But that’s what makes Touessrok special; no matter which one of the 201 rooms you choose, you will be guaranteed a fabulous seascape, not to mention a 24-hour personal butler at your command. Wait, there’s more. Aside from the strip of coast that the main resort occupies, Touessrok also has two islands to call its own: one a leisure retreat for water-sports enthusiasts and the other, the 38-hectare 18-hole golf course, designed by golfing great Bernard Langer. A short ‘water-taxi’ ride across the lagoon transports you to the course, which skilfully incorporates the island’s natural topography—inlets and promontories, volcanic rock outcrops and lakes, tiny bays and gullies. Water is predictably an integral feature of this course, with nine natural lakes serving as water hazards and each of the 18 holes affording sea views. Interestingly, three of the holes require tee shots across inlets to the fairways. Designed to challenge advanced golfers and recreational players alike, Touessrok’s course is probably its biggest star yet.
Tariff: from €610. Valid till April 9. Free green fees for all hotel guests. Includes boat transfer and golf cart.
Contact: 4027400, www.letouessrokresort.com
Paradis Hotel & Golf Club
Inhabiting the well-chosen curl of shoreline along the Le Morne Peninsula on the southwest tip of the island, Paradis Hotel & Golf Club is one of the most desirable places to stay in Mauritius, especially for golf aficionados. For starters, it’s the only resort in the country to have the golf course built within its grounds. Not surprising, given that it is one of the largest properties around, both in terms of accommodation (300-odd rooms) and the length of private beach—a creamy, miles-long ribbon of sand beside the largest lagoon in Mauritius. The 18-hole, par 72 course, which extends to the foot of the historic Le Morne Mountain, benefits from its beachside location; all the back nine holes are practically on the waterfront with tee offs steps away from the sea. Velvety green fairways lined with coconut palms and vibrant bougainvillea render this course a visual treat. However, as is also true of the rest, golf isn’t the only draw here. There is plenty else to keep you occupied, especially if you are a water buff: snorkelling, scuba diving, glass-bottomed boat rides to view the nearby reefs, water-skiing, windsurfing, sailing… the list goes on. And after a long day out on the course, or in the water, there’s no better way to wind down, than at their Clarins Spa—an Oriental-themed haven of calm with special ‘after golf’ and ‘sports’ massages among others.
Tariff: from €217. Green fees: approximately €20 for hotel guests.
Contact: 4015050, www.paradis-hotel.com
Getting there: I flew Air Mauritius (Rs 22,770), which offers direct flights from Delhi every Sunday (return only on Saturdays); from Mumbai on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (return every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday); and from Chennai every Tuesday (return every Monday via Bangalore). However, from Mar 31 the airline will offer another flight from Delhi, which will depart on Thursdays (return on Wednesdays).
Visas: Indian passport holders can get a visa on arrival at the airport, provided they present a valid passport and a ticket that confirms return within 60 days.
Where to stay: Aside from being an excellent golf destination, this island’s smooth beaches offer some of the world’s most luxurious resorts and spas.
Ananda, India’s first destination spa, took its brand of luxury ayurveda a few years ago to the southern shores of Mauritius with Shanti Ananda Maurice. The property offers only 61 suites and villas, with each villa offering sea views. The highlight is, of course, the spa — spread over a luxuriant 70,000 sq ft garden, surrounded by water. Its 25 treatment rooms offer various ayurvedic and international therapies, while experienced nutritionists, yoga experts, physicians and personal trainers keep you healthy (from €355; +230-6037200, www.shantiananda.com).
Given Mauritius’ idyllic setting, it’s no surprise that Oberoi Hotels & Resorts — known for picking spectacular locations — has a property here. Inhabiting a sprawling 20 acres, The Oberoi Mauritius has 71 guestrooms, several with ocean views, and all with a personal bar, butler and sunken baths overlooking manicured gardens. To unwind, check out the spa — it offers individual spa suites, private jacuzzis and traditional Mauritian treatments (from €950, valid till Apr 17; 2043600, www.oberoihotels.com).
Part of the award-winning One&Only resort chain, the 35-year-old St Geran, with 162 suites and one villa, is as luxurious as it gets. Nestling along a sheltered lagoon, the hotel’s biggest achievement is the complete tranquillity it offers — you feel as though you are the sole occupant of this place. Gorgeous Dutch colonial-style accommodation opens out on to your own private beach, while the Jeeves-worthy butler service manages to keep even the most demanding guest satisfied. Golf enthusiasts should give it a go on the par 33, nine-hole course (from €1,045, valid till Mar 26; 4011688, www.oneandonlyresorts.com).
Grand without being ostentatious, Beau Rivage — on the popular Belle Mare coastline — is one of the most charming five-stars in Mauritius. Rustic thatched roofs, polished wooden interiors with pretty tile-work, wrought-iron and period furniture…the whole effect is very romantic. Excellent food (one of the most inventive menus I’ve ever sampled employed essential oils such as verbena, ginger, cardamom among others to create unique flavours), decadent spa treatments, 186 well-appointed rooms and a range of water activities make this place a must-visit (from €347, valid till Apr 30; 4022000, http://naiade.com).
What to eat & drink: Mauritians enjoy all sorts of seafood, and the dominant cuisines are French, Indian, Chinese and the local Creole. Some of the best fine-dining options are found, of course, in the five-stars. However, if you care to venture out of your hotel, you should try Le Jardin de Beau Vallon in Mahebourg in the south (6312805) and Le Fangourin (2437900) in the north for Creole food. Chez Tino Restaurant (4802769) in Trou d’Eau Douce is a great seafood place as is Le Capitaine (2636867) on the Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis. Mauritius has a decent nightlife, with various bars, nightclubs and even casinos contributing to the scene. Both Casino of Mauritius (6021300) in Curepipe and Le Caudan Waterfront Casino in Port Louis offer black jack, roulette, poker and slot machines. Royal Road in Grand Bay is where you’ll find bars and nightclubs. Check out Zanzibar (2633265), Les Enfants Terribles (2638117) and N-Gyone (2637664).
What to see & do: The undersea walk is one of the most popular activities here — you are submerged in the middle of the ocean and are able to walk on the seabed among brilliantly coloured fish; you can even feed them (approx. €30, 2637819). You also have the option of a sub-scooter ride, where you can drive a scooter underwater to explore the coral reefs/marine life (from €89; 2633333, www.blue-safari.com). The clear tropical waters of this island also present good diving opportunities (from €30; 7663168, www.osdiving.org).
Shopaholics won’t be disappointed either. Le Caudan Waterfront (2119500, www.cau dan.com) in the heart of the capital, Port Louis, is the best place to go for souvenirs, local artwork and handicrafts, fashion apparel, jewellery etc. Those who can bargain will love the neighbouring Chinatown and the Flacq Market — the largest open-air market here, on the east side of the island — for spices, clothes and souvenirs.
For a spot of sightseeing and culture, visit the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden, commonly known as the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, which is spread over 37 hectares and showcases over 8,000 species of plants (www.gov.mu). Or check out the National History Museum (2126912), where you can see a skeleton of the extinct dodo bird, and the Blue Penny Museum at Caudan Waterfront for its collection of stamps, maps, paintings and more.
Cat walk If you think the closest you can get to a big cat is on a safari, you haven’t visited the Casela Nature and Leisure Park. Spread over a leafy 25 acres inhabited by around 140 species of birds and a variety of animals, the park’s biggest draw is its ‘Walk with the Lions’ tour. Yes, you really do get to go on a walk through the restricted parts of the park with unchained, fully grown lions! And no, they are not drugged. The walk not only ensures that the lions get adequate exercise, it also encourages an understanding between these predators and humans. The 1hr walk costs approx. €50 per head. There’s also a shorter, cheaper option available: for approx. €12, you enter either the lion or the cheetah enclosure for a 15- to 20-minute interaction. Entry: €6. Contact: +230-4525546, www.safari-adventures-mauritius.com