The island of Mauritius has long been a popular destination, and with good reason says Phoebe Bath after she paid a visit.
Home to a swathe of white beaches, unspoilt reefs and prehistoric-looking mountains, it’s not hard to imagine why the first humans to visit Mauritius decided to colonise the island. This enchanting dot on the map, some 1,200 miles off the coast of east Africa, is the epitome of the tropical island.
Once upon a time we’d have called it picture postcard-perfect; today, of course, we’d use the word Instagrammable, and few things on the island are more so than Le Morne Brabant, the mountain whose unforgettable silhouette dominates the south-west corner of Mauritius. Sitting almost in the shadow of the outcrop is the St Regis Mauritius Resort, a 5-star hotel catering to everyone from honeymooners, adventurers and families to those merely seeking respite from busy urban life.
Upon arrival at the St Regis Mauritius Resort, a chilled pineapple juice and warm towel are handed to me as the ultimate tropical concoction to banish my post-flight fatigue as I walk across to my Manor House Suite, complete with a private butler who will be at my disposal for the duration of the stay. My smiling butler happily offers to start things off by unpacking for me, and looks after me throughout — also bringing personal gifts such as macaroons and fresh strawberries, which are left each night in my bedroom.
And once you’re settled in? There are all sorts of things to do (see below), but should you choose then this is a spot for a perfect slice of relaxation and mindfulness, where you can order a fresh cocktail via a buzzer on the beach umbrellas, dip in the pool, take part in yoga or tai chi on the beach. Mindfulness and wellness are part of the philosophy, and it shows.
If even leaving the room seems like hard work, the in-room massage service — a 45-minute session, complete with peppermint and almond body oil — is blissful, and is followed by tea on a tray with fresh hibiscus flowers, fruit and almonds on your private terrace. Is there a more idyllic way of adjusting back to reality? I think not.
The greatest challenge? Attempting not to drift into a tropically-induced sleep whilst stretching to the waves flickering at the reef. When the time comes to leave, I take one last stroll along the beach, drinking in the tranquility of this subtropical oasis. It may have been my first time to the island, but I’ve already mentally pencilled in a return visit…
A Manor Ocean Suite at St. Regis Mauritius Resort starts from $915 per night (approx £740 per night) — for more information and to book: www.stregismauritius.com. British Airways fly from London to Mauritius from £529 return per person — www.ba.com.
Things to do
Bikes can be borrowed through the hotel, giving guests the opportunity to explore the Le Morne peninsula. For keener athletes, the hotel’s gym offers multiple classes every day and a whole range of sports equipment, so you can drink the hotel’s signature La Belle Créole cocktails guilt-free.
As Le Morne is one of the world’s hallowed water-sports destinations and hosts the annual kite-surfing world cup, it would be remiss of you not to try a lesson with ION Club, located just around the corner from the hotel. An hour’s lesson with a member of their adventurous team will have you feeling like a pro in no time.
Private kite surfing lessons at ION Club start at £130 for two hours, including all gear and insurance
Chamarel Coloured Earth and Black River National Park
Half an hour from the hotel is one of the island’s most striking spots: the famed coloured earth of Chamarel, in the Rivière Noire District. This incredible geological formation consists of sand dunes that have divided naturally over time into seven distinct colours, unsurprisingly earning it a place as one of the top tourist attractions in the area.
Close by — and doable in the same day trip via Solis 360 — is the Black River National Park, which has never been deforested and is home to abundant wildlife and staggering waterfalls. If you’re lucky, you might spot one of the park’s monkeys, who are known to play up to an audience.
The Maroon memorial
A dark chapter in Mauritian history is remembered in a memorial at the foot of Le Morne Brabant. A group of escaped slaves named the Maroons had used the mountain and its surrounding area as a hideout in the early 19th century, and feared recapture when they saw official boats arriving on February 1, 1835. Rather than re-submit to slavery, they chose to throw themselves off the mountain — not realising that the officials on board were actually bringing news of abolition and freedom. The monument includes an inscription from the poem Le Morne Territoire Marron by Richard Sedley Assonne: ‘There were hundreds of them, but my people the maroons chose the kiss of death over the chains of slavery.’
Food and drink
The St Regis Mauritius has five restaurants, each providing a different type of cuisine. Set in the pavilion of the Iridium Spa, The Floating Market restaurant was the pick of the bunch, a Pan-Asian eaterie dishing up Thai, Vietnamese, Malay and Indonesian wonders, decorated with charming lanterns that make you feel completely detached from the rest of the world.
There’s also the Boathouse Bar anf Grill, the Atsuko Japanese restaurant, Le Manoir dishing up French-Mauritian dishes and an Indian restaurant, Simply India. The latter is superb — but make sure you have a light lunch before feasting here in the evening; there’s a vast array of traditional meat, fish and vegetarian dishes that are all sorely tempting.