Make Mauritius even more memorable by adding extra-special touches, says Katie McGonagle
Mauritius has all the ingredients for an idyllic island paradise – brochure-worthy beaches, tropical temperatures and sublime hotels, to name but a few – so you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s special enough already.
Like any good recipe, though, it’s the finishing touches that turn it from a tasty treat into a mouth-watering masterpiece – or, in this case, from an enjoyable beach break into the kind of once-in-a-lifetime holiday that will cement client loyalty for ever. Here, we look at how to pick out those memorable moments that will keep customers coming back.
EASE THE WAY
Holidays don’t start when you touch down on a runway – they begin as soon as you leave your own front door.
If Only suggests upgrading flights, particularly for honeymooners or other special occasions, or even booking a helicopter transfer to the resort for a superb bird’s-eye view of the island (from £310 per person). Elegant Resorts also highlights the
James Bond-style airport transfer for guests at Beachcomber’s Royal Palm, who can be driven to the Grand Baie hotel in a Rolls-Royce Phantom.
CHECK IN, CHILL OUT
Beach breaks are all about rest and relaxation, so take it to the next level with an extra-special spa experience. Lux’s Vitalité programme combines three 90-minute spa treatments with fitness and yoga sessions, a cooking class and eating plan, from €369.
Maritim Hotel also offers spa treatments in its Magic Moments programme, a range of add ons covering everything from champagne breakfasts on the beach to customised fireworks. They include couples’ massage lessons, from about £30, and an in-room Oriental bath, from £46.
If customers are feeling blue, recommend the Seven Colours spa at Heritage Le Telfair and Heritage Awali. Guests pick a colour then treatments are themed around it: choose purple, for instance, and the room is sprayed with lavender and lighting turned to purple hues.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Mauritius is the latest must-try destination for foodies, if the number of high-profile chefs setting up shop on its shores is anything to go by.
Celebrity chef Atul Kochhar has brought cutting-edge fusion cooking to the newly-opened St Regis Mauritius. He joins two-Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens, who is running a masterclass in modern French cuisine at the Royal Palm next month, and Masterchef: The Professionals winner and native Mauritian Shelina Permalloo, whose cookery school is at Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa; the first four-day course is next month (from £570), with another to follow in September or October.
For clients who are more at home with home-cooking, try true Mauritian cuisine with the locals. Rainbow Tours recommends Shanti Maurice’s ‘Grandma’s Kitchen’ experience, where guests visit a local home to cook dishes such as honey lamb and fish curry. Attitude hotel group also invites guests to dine at home with its staff, or try cooking classes at each of its Mauritian properties.
Little chefs can join in too: Heritage Le Telfair has introduced children’s cookery classes, from £28, though it’s worth warning parents they’ll be the guinea pigs who get to taste the results.
A SPORTING CHANCE
Work off those extra calories with a few fun activities. If Only suggests the kitesurfing school at the St Regis, run by specialists Club Mistral with one-to-one tuition and a specially-designed spa treatment to soothe tired muscles.
To blow away even more cobwebs, Angsana Balaclava can organise sky-diving, with a 25-minute flight over the eastern coast then 30 seconds’ freefall (from £253).
It doesn’t all have to be adrenaline-fuelled activities: most resorts offer a mix of free and paid-for sports. Centara Poste Lafayette Resort & Spa, for instance, has free snorkelling, beach volleyball, and introductory scuba diving in the pool, plus bike rental from £6 per half-day, diving packages from £229, and a day’s deep-sea fishing in Grand Baie or Tamarin from £475.
Golfers, meanwhile, will love the chance to play on two championship courses at Constance Belle Mare Plage in the northeast, or you can get the next generation swinging with the new junior golf academy at Beachcomber’s Paradis Hotel & Golf Club (for children aged six or more).
Blue skies, sandy shores, skimming the ocean blue – this is the stuff holiday dreams are made of, so book your clients on one of myriad boat trips around the island. Centara offers catamaran trips to Ile aux Gabriel or Ile aux Cerfs from £53, or speedboat trips to the stunning nature reserve of Ile aux Aigrettes and the Grand River South East Waterfall.
Kuoni’s pre-bookable Island Retreat is a private one-day excursion combining Ile aux Cerfs with lunch at Le Touessrok restaurant Paul et Virginie (from £60).
Lux Le Morne guests can also enjoy total seclusion on private Ile des Deux Cocos – excursions cost £74 and depart three times a week – while boutique property 20 Degres Sud offers dinner cruises in the bay aboard a vintage boat.
Mauritius has plenty to be proud of when it comes to natural beauty. Elite Vacations suggests twinning a beach stay with boutique guesthouse Lakaz Chamarel in the mountains near Black River Gorges National Park.
Alternatively, schedule in a visit to one of the island’s nature reserves. Gold Medal highlights the range of species at Casela Nature and Leisure Park in western Mauritius, where daring visitors can even walk with lions and cheetahs. Guests at Anahita The Resort on the east coast, though, get special access to the smaller charms of Domaine de L’Etoile and Vallée de Ferney: the former has added an under-12s adventure park, plus there’s hiking, quad biking and wildlife-spotting for adults, while the latter boasts rare plants and animals including the formerly-endangered Mauritius kestrel.
In the southwest, the 2,500-hectare Domaine de Bel Ombre – home to the Heritage resorts – is also the site of Frederica Nature Reserve, complete with waterfalls, hiking trails and adventures such as a 4x4 Flora & Fauna Discovery Tour (£49, half-price for children).
The Maritim Hotel has its own on-site equestrian centre, animal farm and even a giant tortoise park, while the Oberoi Mauritius offers a nature walk around its diverse tropical gardens in its ‘Oberoi Experiences’ programme, which also includes stargazing, art and sculpture classes, and wine tasting.
FUN AND FROLICS
Film fans can feel like a VIP at St Regis’s private cinema, or enjoy impromptu beachfront movie screenings at Lux resorts.
After dark, dance the night away with music from Parisian DJs at Heritage Resorts’ Glam Parties, coming up at the C Beach Club on April 20 and June 21, with Sunday brunch the morning after.
Long Beach also offers a grown-up twist on classic milkshakes at its recently-added vodka milkshake bar, while guests at Constance Le Prince Maurice can sip a sunset cocktail while listening to live music at its new floating bar.
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