In the Indian Ocean, near the southeast coast of Africa, is a small island covered in a sea of green.
Like its sister islands that adorn the tropical ocean, the lustrous land of Mauritius is famed for beaches and coral reefs, but it rivals the likes of the Maldives with rainforests, waterfalls, hiking trails and wildlife like the flying fox, pink pigeon and, once upon a time, the dodo.
The north and west coast of the mountainous country are popular with tourists, while in the south you will discover many natural wonders. There is the Seven Coloured Earth, the 23 Coloured Earth in Black River Gorges National Park and, slightly central to the island, Trou aux Cerfs –a dormant volcano crater with a small lake.
Then, nestled into the quiet east coast of the island, in beautifully landscaped tropical gardens near the sleepy village of Belle Mare, a modern Mauritius boutique resort lives.
LUX* Belle Mare boasts soul-stirring sea views, powder-soft sands, beryl-blue waters, coconut palms swaying gently in the breeze and the island’s largest swimming pool and I can promise you, it does not disappoint.
I stayed in one of their Beach View Junior Suites with an extra-large double bed and a sofa bed with coffee table. It had a grand. Cavernous bathroom with both shower, bath and twin sinks. Along with the balcony overlooking the beach, my favourite part was the walk-in wardrobe as, however long or short my stay, I always unpack.
I caught sight, rather enviously, or the villas while exploring the grounds and would definitely recommend an upgrade. These offer small private pools and garden areas.
A cross every inch of LUX* Belle Mare you can discover small, but spectacular, personal touches. From the soft paintbrushes painted blue at every entrance labelled “for sandy toes”, to the wishing tree that allows every guest to leave a little something behind to be remembered, and the two red phone booths can be found which allow you to call anywhere in the world for free.
There is a small, outdoor, private dining table in the middle of a pond for a more intimate moment, and this can even be won by anyone. Scattered around the resort you might be lucky enough to spot a message in a bottle, that message will reward you with a free treat from LUX* during your stay.
The offering is extensive with 10 food and drink spots leaving you spoiled for choice. The different places draw on the varied influences from around the world that can be found throughout the island’s history.
Choices include Indian cuisine at Amari by Vineet, home style Chinese cooking at Duck Laundry, international dining at Mixe herb garden cooking masterclasses.
LUX*’s Indian restaurant, Amari by Vineet, has to be my favourite choice for food. Amari, meaning eternal in Sanskirt, is the creation of the first Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star, before being the first Indian chef to be awarded a second. Needless to say, the food was decadent marvel from start to finish.
For drinks, my favourite bar was the Mari Kontan rum shack. I have not drank much rum in my life, because I have never cared to, but when a neat honey rum touched my lips I was swayed and managed to get my hand on two bottles to take home with me.
There is an impressively endless amount of activities on offer at LUX*Belle Mareso if you are not the type to lie down by the pool or on the white sand beach overlooking the clear blue sea with a cocktail in hand, then you will be happy here also.
You can begin your day with a yoga session or a trip to what is the best hotel gym I have ever seen. Offering all the kits you need, including a Pilates machine. Then head to the beach for water activities from a glass bottom boat, snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding, water skiing and so much more.
If you fancy leaving the LUX* altogether and exploring the local area, grab a Martone bicycle and embark upon a journey through the real Mauritius. Begin with a short ride to the spectacular Palmar Beach, then continue your journey to the charming fishing jetty at Trou d’Eau Douce to witness first-hand the daily fish auctions between the local fisherman and villagers.
The pièce de résistance
Even if you don’t feel like splashing out of a treatment (although I would highly recommend it), make sure you track down the spa before you leaving. It is tucked away at the entrance, a little way away from where you will spend most of your time.
The outdoor spa is the epitome of harmonial bliss. My partner and I indulged in a couples massage before going to the garden spa area.
We had it all to ourselves for a couple of hours by pure luck. It was celestially quiet and peaceful.
Mark Twain once wrote, ‘Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius’ – making our idyllic spa day the perfect escape from what already was a perfect escape in the Eden island of Mauritius.
I decided to drive to the airport, rather than bothering with a taxi or braving public transport. I parked with Holiday Extras, and booked myself into the No 1 Lounge where I could have a nice, hot meal and a few drinks in a quiet, relaxing space that overlooked the runway. This took any stress out of the day, and meant I boarded for my 12 hour non-stop flight completely relaxed.
Holiday Extras is the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels and lounges, and in 2018 customers who pre-booked their parking with Holiday Extras saved an average of £59 each vs the price they’d have paid on the day. Meet and Greet parking takes the hassle out of your trip to the airport and is the best way to start your holiday with a smile. To book Meet and Greet parking for 8 days from £50 and an airport lounge at Gatwick South Terminal, visit HolidayExtras.com or call 0800 955 5989. Price searched on 17th December for arrival on 14th February 2019.
Room rates at LUX* Belle Mare start from €209 for a Junior Suite on a room only basis in low season.
I stayed as a journalist, not a blogger.