By Lauren Jarvis
After months of waiting for the long shadow of coronavirus to lift, Mauritius is open for business and ready to reclaim its rightful place in the sun.
I’ve never been a one-resort kind of girl: tropical islands, for all their tempting hotels, are to be explored, their customs uncovered and their cultures absorbed.
So I find myself in Mauritius with a dilemma of the best kind, as their dreamy resorts with luxe spas, world-class dining and golf, exciting activity centres and, in some cases, entire nature reserves, pretty much cater for every fathomable holiday whim.
The temptation to cocoon myself in such blissful surrounds with a lychee-martini in hand is strong, but venturing beyond my resort to discover the island’s lush landscapes and turquoise bays, and to mingle with the lovely locals, has some pretty heavenly rewards, too.
From snorkelling the reefs, to exploring forests and waterfalls by 4WD, sampling delicious rum, and zip lining over sand dunes, Mauritius offers no end of adventures to lure me away from my comfort zone. And at the end of each sun-drenched day, I return relaxed and happy to enjoy all my spare-nothing resort has to offer, as the sun sets over the Indian Ocean. The best of both worlds? Mais, oui!
It was daydreaming about dipping our toes into a turquoise ocean under a bright blue sky that kept many of us who work in travel motivated through the darkest days of the pandemic. Now, at last, the Indian Ocean’s grande dame of luxury travel is getting ready to draw back the drapes and welcome travellers into her dazzling, frangipani-fragranced boudoir once more.
“Mauritius is ready and waiting: a sensational destination with a plethora of activities, outdoor life, nature and fantastic food,” says Shamira Kaumaya-Hatt, Commercial Director at Sunset Faraway Holidays.
At the time of writing, fully vaccinated travellers are currently allowed to enter Mauritius, but they must remain in their ‘resort bubble hotel’ for 14 days before being allowed to explore further afield. However, from October 1, the island will open up to fully vaccinated international visitors, who will be allowed entry subject, to a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to boarding, and who will then be free to roam to their heart’s content.
“From October, fully vaccinated travellers will face no restrictions and will once again be able to enjoy all that our wonderful island has to offer,” enthuses Arvind Bundhun, Director, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority.
“The UK is one of our most important and valued markets and we are greatly looking forward to working with the trade to invite holidaymakers back to our island and extend a warm welcome.”
For now, Mauritius remains on the UK government’s amber list, so those that are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine on their return, but COVID-19 testing advice still applies. But if there’s one destination worth testing for, it’s Mauritius.
“The island’s resorts offer excellent value for money, and they are developing fabulous concepts for wellness, family and nature escapes for 2022 and beyond,” says Sunset Faraway Holidays’ Shamira.
“Mauritius will be welcoming a brand-new resort in the north, LUX* Grand Baie, situated on one of the most prestigious beaches on the island, where villas with pools and residences will offer travellers a great holiday while ticking the boxes of social distancing and privacy. The demand for pool villas post-COVID is high, and LUX* has a great selection of resorts catering towards these needs.”
The island’s abundance of heavenly hotels with self-contained villas is also proving appealing to those answering the call for long-stay ‘digital nomads’ to work on the island via the new one-year Premium Visa scheme.
LUX* Grand Baie Resort & Residences will open on November 1. The resort features 86 spacious Junior Suites, a range of Pool Residences and Villas, a beach club and spa. luxresorts.com
LUX* Resorts & Hotels and SALT Resorts have launched a range of immersive Collectible Experiences, including Mindfulness the SALT Way at Salt of Palmar; Luxury Outback at Lux* Belle Mare Resort & Villas and The Spirit of Island Living at Lux* Le Morne Resort. luxresorts.com
Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita will reopen on September 15 with 84 refurbished one-bedroom Pool Villas, each with a private pool, terrace and garden. Two- to five-bedroom Pool Villas are also available for larger groups. fourseasons.com
Veranda Resorts has launched a programme of experiences to support local communities, ‘Deep into Mauritius’. veranda-resorts.com
Air Mauritius is to once again offer direct flights from Heathrow to Mauritius, starting October 2 2021.
Enjoy sweet treats in Pamplemousses: Take a stroll around the lively Caudan Waterfront in the capital of Port Louis, before stepping back in time at the beautiful Château de Labourdonnais, a 19th-century mansion set amidst tropical orchards. At the nearby L’Aventure du Sucre museum, learn about Mauritius’ sugar-growing history and taste delicious sugars, honeys and rums, then drop in to the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden for a meander through the giant lily ponds and greenery.
Meet the marine life in the Indian Ocean: You can’t visit Mauritius without seeing the beauty that lies beneath its turquoise lagoons. The Blue Bay Marine Park on the island’s south-east coast near Mahebourg is one of the best places to snorkel, or take a glass-bottom boat tour to see tropical fish and 50 species of coral. Trou aux Biches, Isle aux Cerfs and Flic en Flac are magnets for snorkelers and divers, too. Check mauritiusnow.com for updates.
Zip a valley and sip a rum at Chamarel: Zipline over forest and waterfalls at La Vallée des Couleurs Nature Park, then visit its famous ‘Seven Coloured Earths’ – multi-hued sand dunes – before a long, lazy lunch at the Rhumerie de Chamarel Restaurant & Rum Distillery. It would be rude to leave without a tasting, so take a tour of the distillery and sink some of its organically produced tipples.
Explore and pamper at Heritage Le Telfair Resort: Hit the lush, off-road trails of the UNESCO Biosphere Bel Ombre on a guided nature drive, stop for a champagne picnic by the river at the Heritage Nature Reserve, then head back to Heritage Le Telfair for a blissful chakra-balancing massage in the Honeymoon Suite of the Seven Colours Millesime Spa, or a yoga, tai-chi or forest bathing session.
Take a historical hike in Le Morne: For stunning views of Mauritius. Hike to the top of Le Morne Brabant, a spectacular mountain rising 556 metres above a peninsula at the southwestern tip of the island. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Le Morne has great historical, cultural and spiritual significance, serving as a sanctuary for escaped slaves – ‘or Maroons’ – in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Taste the sweet stuff at LUX* Grand Gaube Resort: Home to over 240,000 honeybees, LUX* Grand Gaube Resort & Villas produces around 16 kilogrammes of honey annually. Guests of the Hug Me Honey experience will join the resort’s resident honey expert on a guided tour of the eight working hives, sharing details of the creation of honey.
Where to book it...
Premier Holidays – 08444 937 444
Stay seven nights B&B in a Deluxe Suite at Heritage Le Telfair from £1,999pp. The deal includes return flights from the UK with Turkish Airlines. A ‘Gourmet Bliss’ supplement costs £145pp pn, with unlimited drinks and dining at any of the resort’s 12 restaurants, free green fees at Heritage Golf Club, and specified sport and a choice of wellness activities.
Sunset Faraway Holidays – 020 8774 7100
A seven-night stay at LUX* Le Morne, located on the South West coast, in a Superior room is priced from £1419pp. The package includes half board, return flights with Air Mauritius, private transfers, free night offers and a honeymoon discount. Complimentary watersports and tennis is also included.